The Day The Music Revived
Article and Photography by Michael Culotta
After years of silence from the music scene in downtown Jacksonville, Roland’s Next Door has opened its doors once again. The venue, established nearly twenty-five years ago by Roland and Gayle Brown, returned to life on Friday, December 14th. Thanks to Karen Johnson Cameron and partner Andy Boehmer, who have taken over the reins, music enthusiasts can once again enjoy a room full of music and friends.
The Browns opened their doors in 1994 in the attic of Roland’s law office in downtown Jacksonville. It was then called Roland’s Upstairs. It soon gained fame and followers and Roland had to move the monthly event next door, ergo Roland’s Next Door. Since then such entertainers as Chuck Pyle, Beyond the Pale, and Lynn Langham have performed, along with many others. Roland moved his law practice, and Gayle, to Wimberley, Texas a few years back and had to close the doors to the popular showplace. Roland kept up with his music interests, making new friends and playing in venues in and around the Hill Country. Roland is also a well-known figure at the annual Kerrville Music Festival in Kerrville, Texas.
Karen had hosted numerous home concerts and rubbed shoulders with many singers and songwriters while living in Dallas. She was instrumental in helping Roland line up artists from around the country to perform at his popular monthly event. Karen fell in love with a particular house and property in Jacksonville and made a casual comment to Roland about reopening the old music hall. She soon made the move from Dallas to Jacksonville, and had hardly unpacked the boxes when she started getting phone calls from musicians asking when they could perform at Roland’s once again. Of course, Roland and Gayle gave their blessings for the reopening of the popular listening room.
And that is just what Roland’s is all about. It is a music listening room located at 102 South Ragsdale Street in Downtown Jacksonville. Roland’s was enjoyed and then missed by many music lovers around the area. Now, the music has returned.
As the lights dimmed on the night of December 14th, Karen welcomed everyone and announced a partial lineup of artists for the beginning of 2019. She then passed the mic to Roland. After some very touching and heartfelt words of appreciation to Karen, Andy, and many of the loyal Next Door followers, Roland offered up some familiar songs by fellow songwriters he admires, as well as some of his own original creations.
Then guests were treated to a selection of inspirational and thoughtful music by a very popular Next Door artist, Tom Prasada-Rao. This singer/songwriter has graced the stage quite a number of times and mesmerized his audience with well-crafted songs and unexpected humor.
Karen and Andy are keeping Gayle’s tradition of offering coffee, tea, and treats during intermission. As usual, many fans bring their own instruments for an after-concert picking circle.
You don’t want to miss this new Downtown Jacksonville experience. Come on over to Roland’s Next Door, 102 South Ragsdale Street, and relax and enjoy the music. Doors open at 6:30pm and concerts start at 7pm. There is a suggested donation of $20 at the door. RSVP to (214)794-0706. This is a family-friendly listening room. No alcohol allowed.
Be sure to mark these upcoming dates on your calendar:
- February 16th: Tom Kimmel
- March 8th: John Gorka
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