By Emily Hoover | email@example.com
Photos By Phillip C. Sunkel IV
For Jonathan Bosworth, Flagler College senior and founder of Conmoto Music and Art Festival, Jacksonville is the cultural hub of Northeast Florida.
Because of his passion for Jacksonville as well as his love of the area music scene, on Saturday, Nov. 13, Conmoto Fest celebrates Jacksonville music and art from 1990 to 2010.
“Jacksonville has an incredible music scene,” Bosworth, 36, said. “I’ve been aware of that since I’ve been aware of live music. Kids from St. Augustine and other Northeast Florida towns come here to play. Just like South by Southwest highlights Austin [Texas] culture, Conmoto is Jacksonville’s fest. It’s a city-wide festival with tons of kids downtown, in the streets. Bands are playing simultaneously.”
Bosworth created Conmoto in 1994, without corporate sponsorship. He was playing bass in a local rock and roll band, Icabod Prufrock, and he and other bands were looking for places to play around Jacksonville. He said he booked a talent show at the Lion’s Club in Jacksonville, including three or four other bands.
“We made it a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity and about 100 people came,” he said. “But, the bands really got into it. It wasn’t this corporate thing and it was a chance for punk rockers to look nice. They kept asking me and it got bigger and bigger.”
Bosworth said that he has selected Harvest of Hope Foundation as the featured charity for the 2010 Conmoto Fest, due to lack of promotion and support from Habitat for Humanity.
“[Habitat for Humanity] has a religious slant and they wanted to approve bands, filter bands,” Bosworth said. “We talked to Phil [Kellerman from Harvest of Hope] and they do these rock concerts to support migrant farm workers. Half the proceeds from Conmoto go to the organization itself while the other half goes to the Willy Harvey Fund, which lends support to those who make our local fruits and vegetables.”
This year, Bosworth said, community is the theme. In addition to housing 56 bands at seven venues in downtown Jacksonville, the festival also extends to St. Augustine. On Friday, Nov. 12, Dead Prez is scheduled to play in the Present Moments Cafe parking lot on West King Street. St. Augustine bands Blood Hippo and Amy Hendrickson and The Prime Directive are scheduled to play the festival as well.
The Jacksonville Band Project, an exhibit shown at Nullspace Gallery, will feature art made from fliers and posters from Jacksonville bands. He said that local artist Tommy Armageddon will also put together a Jacksonville Family Tree, which will trace the interaction and origins of Jacksonville bands over the years.
“This will be an area of immersion for former bands in the scene,” Bosworth said. “Bring your fliers and stickers. I’ve seen amazing fliers, amazing collections, like promotional or movie style posters painted silver. With computers, fliers aren’t as interesting these days.”
He also said that Conmoto will set up listening stations, with “old school headphones,” so people can gain exposure to bands in Northeast Florida since the 1990s.
As last year’s Conmoto theme was death and destruction, the 2010 theme is transcendence, Bosworth said. He said he chose the 2009 theme because of a downturn in the economy and decided on the 2010 theme after of the death of his friend and local musician, Brian Hicks.
“Brian played in the band Gizzard and was a very instrumental character in the Jacksonville scene,” Bosworth said. “He was also a big advocate for multiple venues. He passed away over the summer from cancer. We chose the theme of transcendence, in tribute, because Brian has transcended to another world.”
Bosworth does not play in a band anymore, he said. He said that, currently, he illustrates creative energy with his pen. He said that playing the bass was like a mistress to him. As a creative writing minor and English major, he prefers to express himself through writing.
Although he is not involved with a band—he said he has worked as a journalist for The Drift and Folio Weekly and also owns a marketing company in Jacksonville—the pressures of finalizing Conmoto without support from corporations has been a difficult task. In addition to being a full time student at Flagler, he has been married for 15 years to his wife, Cassie, and has two daughters, ages 14 and 11.
“Part of me was so frustrated because we didn’t have the corporate sponsorship to make it all work at the Florida Theater [in Jacksonville] that I wanted to cancel it,” he said. “But, the bands were on board and the venues were excited. I said: ‘Let’s do it. I’m a student, a writer, a husband, a father and I’m running a fest.'”
According to conmotofest.com, Jacksonville bands Crash the Satellites, After the Bomb Baby, Angel Angelfire, Willie Evans Jr., Christina Wagner and dozens more have already confirmed. Tickets are $10 for the seven venue pass and $15 at Present Moments.