Foundational Orlando music scene maker Jim Faherty gets immortalized at the History Center

'Figurehead: Music and Mayhem in Orlando's Underground'

1990s Orlando band Tabitha’s Secret, featuring a young Rob Thomas and Brian Yale, at Club Nowhere
1990s Orlando band Tabitha’s Secret, featuring a young Rob Thomas and Brian Yale, at Club Nowhere Photo by Jim Leatherman

Few figures are as foundational to our music scene as Jim Faherty. From 1985 to 2001, he essentially laid the groundwork to make Orlando a destination on the national indie-rock touring circuit with his concert promotion company, Figurehead. By booking the likes of Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Jonathan Richman and countless others, Faherty became the godfather of our indie scene, and Orlando would likely be a cultural backwater without his work, passion and personality.

As a city of tourists and transients, it's been said that Orlando has no sense of history. Any active local can tell you what a shame that is. It's especially unfortunate for Orlando's underground music scene, which has more creativity, depth and edge than most realize, locals included. Spotlighting that, in case you hadn't noticed, is one of the raisons d'être for this column.

Well, in Faherty's very notable case, downtown's Orange County Regional History Center is about to make a momentous step in rectifying that with new exhibition Figurehead: Music & Mayhem in Orlando's Underground.

Opening Sept. 10, the feature exhibition won't simply enshrine Faherty's legacy in the official catalog of local history, but will also make Orlando's cultural record deeper and cooler. In making the Figurehead archives part of its permanent collection and curating relics from that seminal time for display here, the museum is turning a major part of contemporary Orlando history from local lore into institutional heritage. For the museum's part, they'll earn more street cred with this stylish exhibition than probably any other before it. And unlike the recent big splashes over at the Orlando Museum of Art, this one's certifiably legit (McDonald's grift notwithstanding).

The museum will host a series of local music-related events around this exhibition running through December. But this weekend's kickoff will feature an opening bash (Sept. 9, 6-9 p.m.) and a free panel discussion (Sept. 10, 1-2:30 p.m.) to tell the story of the Orlando music scene during the 1980s-1990s Figurehead era through the personal lenses of the movers of that time, including Faherty himself, Shayni Rae (Faherty's partner in Sapphire Supper Club) and veteran musician Ken Chiodini.

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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