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This Little Underground

Bao Le-Huu takes on Localcopia, Christopher Paul Stelling, Mastodon and the Wholetones

Photo: Bao Le-Huu, License: N/A

Bao Le-Huu

As the debut for both a new festival and a new venue, Localcopia (Dec. 3, the Acre) was quite an adventure. Located just north of Fairbanks Avenue on Edgewater Drive, the wayfinding was a little tricky at night with not enough clear signage and lighting to lead you smoothly to the backside entry to the property. But once that was navigated, I came upon a rather enchanted setup.The sizeable, multi-building compound was turned into a welcoming art village with booths and food and beer trucks. The nicely wooded central lawn was anchored by a large outdoor stage set up under an oak and a palm. (Gotta love Florida!) The stage was impressively pro with good sound and even a dynamic lighting rig. And overall, Localcopia was a well-executed debut and a worthy event in both mission and quality. On its hopeful follow-up, a $10 cover might entice more goers than $15 for an all-local lineup, even if they have to scale back the production a bit to make it sustainable long-term.

As for the Acre itself, this multi-faceted place is pregnant with potential. Besides the pleasing open space, one of the interesting interior spaces was thankfully unveiled because things ran late and Telethon’s set had to be moved indoors last-minute. (Nothing says par-tay like a barn-like speakeasy with a coffin inside!) It’s truly an asset to have an events commune like the Acre without having to drive out to bumfuck. The venue is supposedly working toward more public events, which would make a great and distinctive impact in our scene. In terms of outdoor events, we’ll see how all that sits with the surrounding residences. You know how neighbors can be. But if this event is any indication, these guys are developing something very promising. If done right, both the Acre and Localcopia can become significant.

The beat

To showcase him while he was home for Thanksgiving, the Monday Sessions series did a special Sunday night engagement with Brooklyn-based but Central Florida-raised Christopher Paul Stelling (Blank Space, Nov. 27). In the years since I last saw him play, his music has traveled far. Back then, his florid guitar playing was the centerpiece. Now, he’s a three-dimensional artist with far more depth and guts.

His abstracted folk is simultaneously alternative and traditional. Along with echoes of John Fahey, the spirit of old frontier ghosts can be heard in all their strife and nobility. Moreover, he’s not just some elementary strummer. He plays guitar with a finger-picking style technical and expressive enough for even banjo or harp. His presence as an impassioned, often powerfully anguished singer has caught up to his other skills. No coffeehouse stool here, man. This guy played standing up, channeling each note of his music with his entire body. He’s the full package now, and his album will be released in February, so look for him to return soon.

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