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02 November 2006
JSU Students Perform
at Java Jolt

The Hodgepodge Orchestra (Bruce Edminston Photos)

By Erin Chupp
News Bureau

The rich aroma of coffee filled Java Jolt on the square in Jacksonville Tuesday night as nearly 55 patrons listened to live jazz performed by the Hodgepodge Orchestra, which is comprised of five JSU students. Many of the customers and staff at the Jolt were festively dressed in Halloween costumes. Witches, police officers, devils, pirates and even a giant can of Sunkist danced, enjoyed drinks and fellowship, and relaxed to the music at candlelit tables.

The Hodgepodge Orchestra formed during December of 2005 with only three members, all JSU music majors: Micah Kennedy (guitar), Joe Skaggs (bass) and Aron Thompson (alto sax). After gaining popularity and experience playing at the Grind Coffeehouse in Gadsden, the band welcomed JSU music students Steven Ellison (drums) and Arnold Montgomery (tenor sax).

The five-piece group now performs in clubs, coffee houses, festivals and restaurants throughout the southeast, including Tuesday and Thursday nights in November at Java Jolt from 7-9.

"We're just doing what we love and working hard at it," says Skaggs.

This December will mark a large step for these musicians: the one year anniversary of the group, a big gig in Knoxville, Tennessee for New Year's Eve, and the tentative release of their first demo CD.

All coming from different cities, the group says music is their common ground, and that somehow when they come together to play, everything just clicks. The band's repertoire ranges from jazz standards to popular cover songs to original compositions.

"I didn't expect them to be so good the first time I heard them," says Java Jolt owner Bruce Edminston. "They really surprised me."

He says he doesn't know how they affect the business in exact dollars, but he does know there is always a crowd when the Hodgepodge Orchestra plays.

Edminston and his wife, Crystal, who also loves Hodgepodge's blend and sound, opened the store April 22.

"Second only to gasoline, coffee is the most traded product in the world," Crystal says. This coffee connoisseur has wanted to open up a shop for at least 20 years. She says it was a dream that kept coming back to her, and when she saw a need for a coffee shop in Jacksonville, she sought to fill both desires.

The Edminston's are slowly adding new features to their shop every month. First, it was longer hours of operation and then it was soups and sandwiches. They have already obtained their beer and wine license and hope to begin providing these beverages soon. For now, their newest excitement is live music on several evenings.

Another local performer, Abby Parks is scheduled to play Wednesday night, providing a folksier backdrop of sound.

As for the members in Hodgepodge, they are balancing classes with an average of three rehearsals and three performances each week. A taste of their sound can be heard at

"We get direct application from the things we learn in class;" says Thompson, "this is a unique opportunity most students don't get."

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