Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the recently refurbished Polynesian Village hotel is undoubtedly the best watering hole to debut at Walt Disney World this year. The tiki-kitsch cocktails are rum-centric and ’spensive (running from $15 to $50 and upward), but they pack quite a punch and you get to keep the hefty punchbowls as a souvenir. You must sit inside the bar to experience the noisy special effects that accompany each drink, which often means a multi-hour wait; the outdoor terrace is a much easier place to unwind if you’re willing to forgo the aural experience.
As the city’s most established annual festival, FMF has long become synonymous with major label business. But rather than topple with that crumbling paradigm, the organizers this year made some seismic and, frankly, surprising shake-ups. First, they ditched the headliners because the fallacy of paying big bucks for washed-up names finally sunk in. Then they got back to refocusing on unsigned, mostly indigenous talent. Finally, and most notably, they made the shows free, thereby removing all barriers to what this is all supposed to be about: the music.
2. DJ BMF, facebook.com/deejaybmf
3. Jimmy Joslin, soundcloud.com/jimmy-joslin
2. Dancers Royale, 5221 E. Colonial Drive, 407-281-0120, dancersroyaleorlando.com
3. Pulse Orlando, 1912 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-3888, pulseorlandoclub.com
2. Queens of Noise, facebook.com/queensonoise
3. Moon Jelly, soundcloud.com/moonjellyband
Exhibit turnovers are usually the least public, least artistic times of a gallery. At the hands of gallery director Pat Greene and the network of art-forward musicians in his orbit, however, the Gallery at Avalon Island now uses this brief window each month to present a relaxed but engrossing evening of live conceptual music that has so far included percussive, electronic, audiovisual and orchestral performances. It’s cultured, it’s progressive and it’s free (but donations gladly accepted).
2. The Bloody Jug Band, bloodyjugband.com
3. Terri Binion, terribinionmusic.com
2. Luscious Lisa, facebook.com/lusciouslisamusic
3. Table for Three, facebook.com/tableforthreefl
Of all the hype and expectation leading up to the opening of this new crown jewel of the city’s cultural scene, practically none of it was about music, or at least cool music. This was supposed to be your parents’ nightlife. But it’s demonstrated some real taste already by making smart moves like partnering with leading Orlando indie promoter Foundation Presents to do excellent shows like Hundred Waters, Mark Kozelek and Justin Townes Earle. Bravo and encore to that.