And the bands played on
SALES at Jack Rabbits, March 28, 2019
Much has changed on Hendricks Avenue since Jack Rabbits opened in 1999. There are two restaurants on their block alone, and businesses now stretch all the way from San Marco Square north for blocks to Aardwolf Brewery, V Pizza, and the Sidecar bar. “There is way way more traffic in our little section of San Marco,” said Wind. “We like to think that we played a role in making that happen.”
Jack Rabbits has seen periodic remodeling and now has a listed capacity of 300. Over the years, this unpretentious space on Hendricks Avenue has played host to everyone from established veterans to brand new up and comers, and bands representing every conceivable genre. Jonathan Richman, Vampire Weekend, the Wailers, Genitorturers, and Jacksonville’s own Yuno are a few of the thousands of musicians who have played Jack Rabbits. Some of Hall’s favorites include the Hives and Le Tigre, while Wind names Cracker, booked as a birthday present for her, and Hank Williams III, who put on a genre bending show that attracted three generations of families to Jack Rabbits.
Though Hall and Wind focus on touring acts and work largely through agents, they’re always willing to book local bands. This is both a way to give a break to local talent, and a good business move – as Tim Hall told The Florida Times-Union in January 2020, local bands typically bring their friends along. “If you’re local, I’ll gladly book you, even if you don’t have any recorded music,” he said.
The Pauses at Jack Rabbits on October 9, 2019
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of the economy, but Jack Rabbits and venues like it are particularly hard hit, needing as they do large groups of people in close quarters to make their money. While some businesses have begun to reopen, concert halls will remain closed for some time. In the meantime, Hall and Wind say they have not qualified for small business relief or been approved for unemployment benefits.
As with the post-September 11 slowdowns, Hall and Wind have softened the blow through meticulous preparation. Wind attributes this to her grandfather. His tenets included watching fixed expenses and putting money in reserve. “If you don’t have money to put in reserve for the lean times, then you’re in a lean time!” said Wind. “So it’s time to tighten up and trim your fixed expenses.” However, COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge. “The difference here is that we, like most small businesses, just can’t build up the reserves that allow us to survive for months with zero income,” said Wind.
Hence the GoFundMe. It appears that Jacksonville music lovers are heeding the call; within one day, the GoFundMe had raised more than $6,000 of the requested $22,000 amount. “So many people have reached out since we first had to close,” said Wind. “The support is amazing from bands and fans alike!” For their part, Hall and Wind are taking a long term view of the situation. “We know that music is as much a part of life as breathing is to so many people,” Tim Hall wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Shows WILL happen!”
Article by Bill Delaney. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.