This Little Underground: Sapphire Supper Club revisited
Cherlene live, Deltron 3030
Published: April 9, 2014
Although we as a music scene generally have little sense of it, Orlando does actually have some notable history. That’s why it’s cool that events like the Sapphire Supper Club 20-year anniversary party (April 2, the Social) happen from time to time. This progenitor of the Social – now a leading venue of national indie prestige – was a beacon in a more formative time of the city’s independent rock scene, often considered a golden era when downtown was still a bit of a frontier, a nocturnal playground for alternative culture. My, how things have changed.
The big event was defined by certified local OGs like Eugene Snowden, Jeff Nolan, Terri Binion, Joseph Martens, Brian Chodorcoff and Steve Foxbury, as well as Georgia notables that had historical ties to the Sapphire, like Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and Donkey. But apart from soaking in the warm reunion vibe, probably the biggest single draw for me was on the more current end of the spectrum.
As viewers of the hit FX cartoon series Archer already know, Cherlene is the country-singer alter ego of Cheryl Tunt this season. But regular readers of this column know that this national pop-culture juggernaut is tied to a local talent: singer-fiddler Jessy Lynn Martens. Actress Judy Greer still voices the character, but any time she sings, it’s all Martens. And since the bandleader of this season’s Archer soundtrack – Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s Kevn Kinney – was already in the house, us locals were specially treated to a live, full-band Cherlene performance. It was a powerful primetime set that showed the big star power of Martens’ voice in ways only hinted at before.
Even though I hold fast to the philosophy that freshness, forward motion and sometimes even revolution are critical to a scene’s health, I believe Orlando suffers from its lack of institutional memory. That’s why events like this Sapphire anniversary party are valuable. They remind us that our city has some depth of past. Whether it’s perpetuating institutions like Sapphire, Visage, AAHZ or Phat-N-Jazzy, these reunions are more than just good parties – they celebrate pivotal eras in Orlando’s music history. These movements, these people gave us a sense of place and terroir. However, the legacy dims by our own amnesia. Our music culture gets shallower and all that work on which we could build is scrapped. Lest we forget, these are the shoulders on which we stand, atop the ones that paved the way to make the exponentially more colorful and kaleidoscopic Orlando scene of today possible. So, cheers to the pioneers.
Old photos document the magical era of Sapphire Supper Club
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