Jessica Jones’ Women’s Empowerment Tour: Winter Park
[Great thanks to videographer Jordan Debard for the screenshots of both sets. There was no photographer on hand, but he offered to help out! That also explains why all the shots are from the same location. THANK YOU!]
The force of nature known as Jessica Jones returned to Florida for the third time this year, this time with three shows presented by Get Laws’t Entertainment (Jacksonville, Winter Park & Boca Raton) and a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza in St. Petersburg presented by Juanjamon. She had compiled a spectacular band and worked to have female-fronted local bands open two of the three Get Laws’t shows as part of this Women’s Empowerment Tour.
After performing at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville on December 27, they moved base camp to Winter Park for a show on December 29 at The Geek Easy. For this evening, Jones, working with Tom Laws, Clint McLellan, and Megan Baker (the queen of this run along with Jones), had selected Joy Wagon, an excellent multi-genre trio from Orlando to open the show. The band is fronted by guitarist and vocalist Colin Christopher with Jeremy Clapper (bass) and Remy Lundy (drums). For this show, the band was augmented by Mikey Guzman, keyboard master for Holey Miss Moley. Most importantly, the focus of the set would be Angelika Fumero, who demonstrated herself to be yet another queen with a powerhouse voice a great match for Jones’. For one night, the band became Every Which Wagon.
Joy Wagon (Every Which Wagon)
The theme for the night was guest appearances, and there were at least ten during the night. Joy Wagon had played two excellent shows at Monster Mash, and they picked up right where they left off, first with “Funky Town” to warm the room up and then on to “I Will Survive > Groove is in the Heart.” Fumero’s superb pipes were front and center. She is a great performer.
Next, they invited Arielle D’Ornellas up. She performs as Sweet As Folk and is also a great photographer and graphic artist. At Monster Mash, Joy Wagon backed her for half her set, so this was comfortable as she played original tune “Stardust.” Jay Umlauf of Grindstone Sinners sat in on guitar for a spirited version of “Valerie” into “Underneath It All.” Then two more women came up — Elizabeth Este and Ash Lynn — to perform one of Este’s very best compositions, “Come Inside (My Mind),” and they were magnificent. Guzman added great color to every tune in the set on his array of keyboards.
Then it was Juanjamon’s turn to play. He was part of Jones’ ensemble, and he joined Every Which Wagon on tenor sax for “Better Off Alone.” After “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” they knocked out a surprising version of “Believe,” the Cher hit. Let’s just say Fumero sounded better than Cher, and there was no autotune! She was dynamite and dynamic on every song she sang.
Called back for an encore, the OG Joy Wagon trio offered a great version of their tune “Second Breakfast” to close out a rousing and delightful opening set.
[EVERY WHICH WAGON: Funky Town, I Will Survive > Groove is in the Heart, Stardust, Valerie > Underneath It All, Come Inside, Better Off Alone, Can’t Get You Out of My Head, Believe; E: Second Breakfast]
A brief rant
This is as good a spot as any to talk about the sound inside The Geek Easy. The place is a box with no attenuators, so sound bounces around easily. I will credit the sound engineer with working hard to get the balance he wanted right, but the sound never really rallied beyond sub-par. When bass and bass drum drown out other instruments and make lyrics indistinct, there need to be adjustments made. Later vocals were so shrill they ran through the head. TURN THE DAMN THING DOWN. You can tell that incredibly funny joke, but then do the musicians a favor and make them sound great, not muddy.
The Jessica Jones Project
It was time for the main event, and we didn’t have to wait long. The band Jones had put together was stellar, with: D.J. Williams (Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), guitar; Juanjamon (CopE), keyboards, tenor sax, vocals; Shane Platten (Melody Trucks Band), bass, vocals; Ben Atkind (Goose), drums; and Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident), percussion. And a late addition to the band was Jeff Lloyd (The Heavy Pets) on guitar. Those are all heavy hitters.
They opened with “Sock It to Me,” Este joining Jones on stage, making a great Mutt-and-Jeff pair (Jones is a head taller than Este). They work so well together. Christopher came up to guest on “Crosseyed and Painless,” and he had a fine guitar solo before Jones turned Platten, Atkind, and Hann loose. Williams stepped up with his first solo of the night, followed by Lloyd also on guitar.
The only song that seemed to miss the mark the entire set was “Black Hole Sun.” It was frantic and less effective than the other tunes. Hann had some great conga action at the end. On the other hand, Parliament’s “Unfunky UFO” was outstanding! Tommy Shugart guested on keyboards with Clay Watson (The Legendary JCs) on trombone. Watson had a fine long intro, Juanjamon grabbed his tenor, and Shugart played electric piano as Jones belted this one like the powerhouse she is. Williams took a quiet as the band took it way down before roaring again at the end.
Leroy Sly added a rap to “La La La La,” and then Este and Fumero joined Jones for one of the evening’s highlights with Jeff Arevelo on percussion. Fumero sang the first stanza. Jones left the stage to allow Fumero to blow us away with “What You Won’t Do for Love with Este sounding great on backing vocals. Williams had yet another fine solo outing.
It was Funkadelic time with “Hit It and Quit”; Este remained on stage as Jones returned. Juanjamon took a spin on organ, Lloyd threw in an “Eleanor Rigby” quote, and he and Williams romped, Lloyd abusing his wah-wah pedal something awful. Jones again turned the spotlight on bass, drums, and percussion! Atkind was brilliant all night on drums, as was his partner in percussion Hann. And Platten’s footprint is always gloriously huge.
Jones left the stage to let Platten sing a fine heart-rending “Changes.” His big voice worked in the ballad context. Williams soloed, and Watson returned for a great trombone feature. The closing song of the set was Stevie Wonder’s “As,” a beautiful choice; Jones did this one proud. Juanjamon soloed on tenor, then it was Platten/Atkind/Hann time once more. Platten then had a solo, followed by drums and percussion, and Williams took it home.
Yes, of course there was an encore! Este came back for “Stiff Necked Fools,” the Bob Marley opus. Juanjamon (tenor) and Lloyd had the last solos on a wonderful night of music.
From Winter Park, the band headed to Boca Raton (The Funk Biscuit) on the 30th and then to St. Pete to headline Babe, Jones’ birthday celebration (oh, and also New Year’s Eve!).
[JESSICA JONES PROJECT: Sock It to Me, Crosseyed and Painless, Black Hole Sun, Unfunky UFO, Them Changes, La La La La, Come Inside w/Este and Angelika Fumero lead on first Verse and Jeff Arevelo on Percussion, What You Won’t Do for Love, Hit It and Quit, Changes, As; E: Stiff Necked Fools]