Michelle Jones has toured the world throughout her music career, but she’ll be playing in her home community for the first time in November.
“This is our community: Horizon West,” Jones said. “We’ve lived here in this community for 13 years in our house … and this is the first chance that I get to play here. I haven’t played in Horizon West. We’ve played in Orlando, but we’ve never played anywhere in what is considered the Horizon West area.”
Jones is president and band leader of local instrumental band Fretless Rock, sister band of her larger band, Violectric. Fretless Rock will be the headlining performer for the inaugural Flavor Fest of Horizon West from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. The free event will take place at the green space in front of Cinépolis in Hamlin, 14111 Shoreside Way, Winter Garden.
Stephanie Lang, co-owner and acting director of community engagement Horizon West Happenings, said the goal of the Flavor Fest is to showcase the local talented individuals who call Horizon West home. The organization plans to make Flavor Fest an annual event.
“It’s basically a fusion of art, culture, music (and) passion,” Lang said. “We’re just trying to highlight all of the talent that we have back here in our community. The Flavor Fest, for us, is a big deal, because we want Horizon West to have its own unique identity and culture, so I think events are a really big way of making that happen.”
Although casting calls have ended, vendors and volunteers who want to get involved can register online at hwflavorfest.com or by sending an email to [email protected]. A stipulation for vendors is that they must be local to Horizon West.
“We want it to be an interactive experience,” Lang said. “We’re looking for more of a ‘streetmosphere’ atmosphere, so we’re going to have interactive art exhibits, we’re going to have things like stilt walkers and jugglers and LED hula hoops.”
THE MAIN ACT
Eleven years ago, Jones started Violectric — a seven-member fixed band that consists of two violins, a viola, a cello, an upright bass, keys and drums. Fretless Rock is a smaller ensemble of musicians from Violectric, but both bands play similar music. The bands perform instrumental versions of popular rock songs and high-energy dance music. All members are from Central Florida, with many residing within the Horizon West and Orlando areas, Jones said.
“We found that sometimes that (Violectric’s setup) is not the right fit for every environment, especially when you want a certain look or a certain sound or a certain style,” Jones said. “So we started doing smaller ensembles, and in order to distinguish the difference between them, that’s when we came up with the name ‘Fretless Rock.’”
Another signature aspect of the bands’ performances are the musicians’ instruments. All of them light up — including the bows for the violins, violas and cellos — making the performance a visual spectacle, as well. Jones’ husband, Jerry, created the technology to give the instruments a new look. The glowing stringed instruments are a signature part of the band, which even has a trademark for the technology, Jones said.
“(Our performances are) a visual as well as an auditory experience, and that’s where the instruments come in,” Jones said. “The instruments that we use are nothing like you’ve ever seen before. … The instruments light up — they’re LED — and the bows are lit with lasers.”
In the years that Jones has been performing with her bandmates from Violectric and Fretless Rock, she’s traveled the world and has met — and in some cases even shared the stage — with numerous celebrities and musicians. She’s toured and played alongside Wayne Newton, and more recently has shared the stage with Lady GaGa in Las Vegas. At one point, she played Vivaldi for Chef Emeril Lagasse and shared a table with Morgan Freeman at a charity dinner that she and her band were hired to play.
“I’ve been everywhere all over the world,” Jones said. “I did a solo tour in Japan in 2017 that was sold out in five cities, and they’re begging to get us back as the group. … I (also) tour regularly, and have for over a year now, with Wayne Newton wherever he’s off performing.”