Orange County Regional Historical past Heart presents a visible historical past of maverick live performance promoter Figurehead – Orlando Weekly
It is lengthy been mentioned that those that overlook historical past are condemned to repeat it. And the Orange County Regional Historical past Heart has been steadfast in its battle in opposition to that exact curse, evidenced by affecting exhibitions on the Pulse nightclub taking pictures and the Ocoee bloodbath. Within the case of their latest exhibition unveiled final week, Figurehead: Music and Mayhem in Orlando’s Underground, the optimum consequence is each to make individuals conscious of this vibrant interval of Central Florida’s nightlife historical past and possibly even encourage a couple of museumgoers to maybe take a couple of ideas from Figurehead’s improvisatory playbook and repeat a “mistake” or two.
Figurehead the exhibit chronicles the highs and lows of maverick live performance promotional group Figurehead by means of a visually dazzling and punctiliously constructed exhibition of live performance posters and flyers fastidiously collected over time by “head Determine” Jim Faherty. The poster designs are jaw-dropping, courtesy of a small corps of Orlando artists and designers who created a unified visible id and aesthetic up there with 4AD and Manufacturing facility — each influences Faherty readily cops to — utilizing summary imagery that guarantees a lot in the best way of musical “shock of the brand new.” For a lot of, the exhibition will probably be considerably revelatory in discovery: This went on in our yard? For others, it is a form of high-school reunion, every poster conjuring up reminiscences of forgotten nights out, some listening to gladly misplaced within the service of daring new music.
The exhibition is artfully organized and materials thoughtfully defined each literal step of the best way. By dint of quantity, it turns into a veritable avalanche of other music coming straight for you: Lydia Lunch, Elliott Smith, Seven Mary Three, Modest Mouse, Bauhaus, Sonic Growth, Unhealthy Afro Expertise, Matchbox 20, Sam Rivers, Stomach (with Radiohead opening!), Henry Rollins, Sonic Youth all jostle for house on posters and stay pictures from the reveals — many offered by our personal Jim Leatherman (we are saying pridefully).
From the years 1985-2001, Figurehead — named after a very bleak Remedy music from Pornography (with This Mortal Coil’s just-as-bleak “Velvet Stomach” being the runner-up) — was a power to be reckoned with amongst impartial promoters in Central Florida, luring superb touring acts to the Metropolis Lovely, whereas fostering a robust core of native worthies as effectively. Although nominally presided over by the Tony Wilson-esque (with all the great and not-so-good that suggests) Faherty, Figurehead does appear to have been a household affair, as evidenced by the oral histories you possibly can entry through mock payphones all through.
The exhibition will probably be up by means of September 2023, augmented by a strong slate of programming — the weekend earlier than going to press we caught a full of life speak from Insomniac zine writer and WPRK alum Israel Vasquetelle, punctuated by a Q+A with plenty of younger of us choosing his mind on publishing and hip-hop historical past.
Slightly than being one-and-done, Historical past Heart workers categorical curiosity in utilizing Figurehead as a launching level for extra deep dives into unchronicled areas of Orlando music historical past. Hold an ear out.
Shayni Rae is a vital a part of the Figurehead story — and, certainly, the story of other music in Orlando — because the co-owner of iconic downtown live performance hotspot Sapphire Supper Membership (now the Social) with Faherty. When the Sapphire opened in 1994, Rae was on the forefront, ensuring each musicians and viewers had a singular expertise, and an in depth cocktail menu, each time. Extra than simply only a collection of reveals, Rae and Faherty have been attempting to create a scene.
Are you stunned to see a few of your work fostering the music group in Orlando find yourself in a historic archive?
The workforce on the Heart did only a super job with their execution of the entire present design. In idea, you recognize, Jim donated a bunch of paper flyers, and so they actually took that and went deep and created one thing that I feel, for anyone who both was a part of the scene or was not, is a extremely visceral expertise.
On the time, what have been your impressions of the Orlando music scene and the way have they modified wanting by means of the lens of this exhibit?
I had come from Cleveland and the primary live performance I went out to was the Butthole Surfers and Unhealthy Afro Expertise. … “I’ll see the Butthole Surfers at a spot known as the Seashore Membership?” I believed I used to be actually going to be pissed off. However what did occur was a extremely incredible, eclectic crowd. Instantly I might see that there was a reputable music scene right here.
An enormous a part of why issues have been so fascinating then is that there have been a variety of artistic artists there … with out that wealth of expertise in Orlando it could not occur. It was a capsule of time that I feel is basically spectacular. And after leaving the Sapphire and going to extra small golf equipment across the nation, it was noticeable that we have been doing one thing a bit above and past what the traditional 500-capacity membership was doing.
Jim has taken pains to emphasize that Figurehead was a collaborative enterprise.
100%. Jim is the figurehead, however the figurehead of an entity that had a variety of transferring elements — particularly once you’re mainly constructing a scene and a cultural community, in an natural sense earlier than the web, earlier than Pitchfork, earlier than cell telephones … It is vital that we had a variety of totally different viewpoints. And the graphic artists, I imply, Thomas Scott and Jeff Matz are two of the very best graphic designers within the nation. So it took a variety of totally different individuals to make it work.
After we opened the Sapphire it was my thought to do a supper membership. I grew up across the jazz scene and, you recognize, various music simply implies that it is a substitute for the mainstream. So we have been doing each single sort of music there and we simply could not be educated in each single style. So we needed to work with many individuals to carry these concepts to us. Due to that, we have been efficiently open to a variety of totally different and new concepts as a result of a lot of it was new to all of us.
Have been there any explicit posters that spurred reminiscences?
Elliott Smith. That was an enormous one. We had labored with him a few occasions, and only a actually, actually incredible artist and doubtless one in all my favourite reveals.
And the Sam Rivers image by Jim Leatherman was tremendous spectacular. Considered one of my highlights of reveals on the Sapphire was working with Sam.
At the beginning, Jim Faherty needs you to know that he is nonetheless, in actual fact, with us. “On the opening, I simply stored listening to ‘it is a celebration of his life,'” exclaims Faherty. “Cease saying that! I am nonetheless alive!” Certainly, he is poised to open a brand new artists’ market in Sanford very quickly. After that, he needs you to know that Figurehead was a lot multiple individual, and Orlando music is a lot greater than Figurehead. All that apart, Faherty appears happy with how the Figurehead exhibition turned out, and the way it precisely chronicles years of reserving reveals by means of pay telephones, dropping cash fortunately, driving to cities throughout Florida simply to staple posters to phone poles (barely again in time for his day job the subsequent morning), and making all of it up as they went alongside.
Did you ever assume that your life’s work would find yourself in a museum?
It is creepy. Wait, that is not the proper phrase … Look, I donated 10,000 posters and items however I by no means noticed the complete exhibit earlier than it opened. I used to be by no means concerned within the narrative or the ultimate picks, they would not let me undergo it. However I am so pleased with it. It is superb, it is actually type of unbelievable.
How did you handle to save lots of all of them over time?
I used to be so appreciative of the artists that made these posters. I had this ridiculously big occasion home downtown in Delaney Park and I had a music room with all flat information. I had a bin for flyers and I’d simply make it a behavior each present to maintain a number of copies of each flyer and poster. I stored every thing from each present as a result of I actually wished to have a historical past for myself. Even when I acquired senile, I might bear in mind I did a Camper Van Beethoven present
Was it vital from the begin to have a robust visible id for Figurehead?
The 2 largest influences have been Manufacturing facility and 4AD. I went to see Cocteau Twins in 1983. And the man who did that present was an enormous affect. So I went to see the Cocteau Twins and he had a program — and that is mainly a punk band — of the music he is taking part in, the music movies he is taking part in, he is taking part in the Fall, Nick Cave, the Buzzcocks. Now he is doing releases, after which the posters are all hand-done by all these artists. I acquired to interview the Cocteau Twins. I acquired to satisfy the artists that really made the posters. And I mentioned, “That is what I wish to do. Once I begin doing reveals in Florida I wish to try this precise factor. I wish to have artists do these superb posters. I would like the artists concerned.” I emulated Manufacturing facility Information. Have you ever seen 24 Hour Get together Individuals? That is how I used to be again within the day.
There have been a variety of very artistic individuals pitching in to make Figurehead.
The most important factor, actually, for me was that we had an enormous committee serving to me out with this, with the artists and the bands and the followers. Individuals helped me with the sound and loading within the bands. It is such an enormous friends-and-family factor, serving to nonetheless they may. There have been so many fingers reaching out to make these reveals occur. Now every thing’s very singular, one individual attempting to do it. It was an enormous group. It wasn’t simply Jim taking the lead. It was like Jim with 30 individuals to tug off one present.
Rock & roll is an enterprise that trades on myth-making and larger-than-life figures — and that features Jim Faherty and a good quantity of the creatives in and round Figurehead. So give exhibit curator Jeremy Hileman and the hard-working workers on the Historical past Heart credit score for getting the names, dates and timeline untangled from a haze of late-night reminiscences. The Historical past Heart used Faherty’s donation of posters and ephemera together with in depth oral history-style interviews to inform the story of a singular sector of Orlando nightlife. If Hileman and the Heart have their druthers, that is just the start.
What was the preliminary genesis of this exhibition?
This all began from our work on the One Orlando Assortment on the Historical past Heart of things that pertain to the Pulse nightclub tragedy. Every year, for the final 5 years after the tragedy, the Historical past Heart hosts an exhibition that showcases a few of these gadgets. For our fourth yr … one of many issues that we actually wished to search out out extra about was the historical past of the constructing.
And with Jim being concerned with Dante’s [pre-Pulse club] and proudly owning it for a time frame — which was simply previous to Pulse taking on the house — I believed, “Hey, this man could be fascinating to speak to.” Additionally I knew a little bit bit about him when it comes to his identify getting thrown round fairly a bit, so far as music historical past domestically. We have been capable of come up with him to do an oral historical past, and we talked about Dante’s after which he had so many tales associated to his work as a promoter.
He instructed us tales about when he promoted the Lifeless Kennedys present in 1985, and all these items right here that he had achieved, and that is nice for our oral historical past assortment … nevertheless it simply so occurred that he introduced in a couple of gadgets to point out us. Ultimately, he went by means of his assortment and donated a number of hundred posters and just about the complete discography of his Figurehead file label.
Fairly rapidly as soon as we began getting this materials we’re like, “How will we showcase this indirectly?” I feel that it could have been a disservice to simply slap the posters up on a wall and name that an exhibit. So we have been capable of collect these oral histories and quotes and images from Jim Leatherman — which was an enormous hit. I do not assume that we might have correctly instructed this story with out his images.
Would you thoughts naming a number of the different individuals you interviewed …
We have been capable of converse to Shayni Rae, who labored with Jim over time, with each Figurehead and once they have been co-owners of the Sapphire Supper Membership. She was an enormous useful resource.
We additionally talked to Michael McRaney, who was an area musician who performed many Figurehead reveals after which went to work for Jim after which ultimately run Basis, reserving each the Social and the Beacham.
We interviewed 5 individuals who have been contributors to the design work of the posters: Thomas Scott, Jeff Matz, Scott Sugiuchi, Greg Reinel and Klaus Heesch. They weren’t the one ones that did posters, however I feel these have been the people that Jim leaned on probably the most so far as his design work.
However so far as extra distinguished names, I imply, we have been capable of do interviews with Jason Ross from Seven Mary Three, Henry Rollins, Robert Pollard from Guided by Voices, Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, Lydia Lunch, Jonathan Richman …
The exhibition goes to be up for a few yr. How will you be additional exploring it through the run?
We have been fortunate sufficient to get a grant from Florida Humanities to do some issues by means of the top of the yr and we’re attempting to increase our viewpoint of the music group right here in Orlando. We’re doing a program this weekend that is centered round native hip-hop tradition, which isn’t one thing that is actually centered on within the exhibit, however that is an vital a part of the Orlando music group. There’s a number of different areas, dance music being one of many fundamental ones, that I’d like to get some people who find themselves concerned in that to talk to us and be concerned in a few of our programming.
I’d say the primary focus going ahead could be constructing out our programming and that includes a few of these issues and permitting individuals the chance to current or be concerned that do not essentially match cleanly into the Figurehead story, however utilizing that as a springboard to cowl Orlando music a little bit extra comprehensively.