Former student body president to rock SuperFest

Dargan Thompson

(Photo by Andrew Noble)

John Brandon remembers holding band rehearsals in abandoned UNF classrooms when he was a student in the late ‘90s.

“We would rehearse there until security came and kicked us out, and we’d go on the other side of the campus and find another room and rehearse there,” Brandon said.

Brandon, who was UNF’s student body president in 1998, played in bands throughout college and said UNF was a launching pad for his musical career.

Now the lead singer in The John Brandon Project, Brandon describes his band’s music as progressive rock with a flavor of electronic. The band has been together for six years and recently recorded its fourth album.

After he graduated in 1998, Brandon said he never thought he would come back to perform at UNF again. But a few months ago, some people from Apollo Worldwide came to one of the band’s concerts and wanted it on the bill for Jacksonville SuperFest, the outdoor music festival that will be held in Lot 18 April 14-15.

Brandon said he is excited for the festival’s potential to give Jacksonville artists more exposure.

“I think it’s an opportunity for so much hidden talent that’s within the city that doesn’t really get a chance to showcase for a larger audience,” he said.

Jacksonville can be a sheltered environment for its music acts, Brandon said. People do not come out to see shows very often, especially because of the size of the city. He said he hopes SuperFest can help draw more people out and inspire them to get more involved in Jacksonville’s music scene.

Because of the members’ schedules, the band only plays a few shows each year. Daryl Phenneger, the band’s drummer, said the group wanted to play at SuperFest to help get its music out to a wider range of people.

“We’re gonna be hitting groups of people that would never ordinarily come to a John Brandon show, just for the fact that they ordinarily like hop-hop only,” he said, “but they’ll come out and go, ‘Oh, we really like these guys. Let’s check them out online.’”

Thousands of people will crowd Lot 18 for the event, which will feature over 75 bands on three stages, as well as an arts market, food, face painting and other vendors. Greg Bruce, general manager of Apollo Worldwide, which is putting on the event, said the festival seeks to highlight Jacksonville musicians and will have music of all genres, from dubstep to country, with a mix of DJs and live musicians.

Bruce said he wanted to concentrate the festival in an area people could easily get to, and he thought UNF was a good and credible location that would make the general community more inclined to come.

Bruce said he expects around 3,000 to 5,000 people to attend the festival each day. Apollo Worldwide has given away lots of tickets through radio promos and other events, but Bruce said he expects that most of the ticket sales will take place on the day of the event.