The primary goal of the Orange County Regional History Center, located in the heart of downtown Orlando, is to preserve and share the rich history of Central Florida. The museum’s current exhibit, Figurehead: Music & Mayhem in Orlando’s Underground, offers a captivating glimpse into the vibrant music scene of the region spanning from 1985 to 2001. The exhibit highlights a unique piece culture as seen through the lens of local concert promoter, Figurehead. The company, an independent operation led by music enthusiast Jim Faherty, is credited with booking shows featuring some of the most recognizable names in alternative rock and beyond.
During this time, thanks in part to Faherty’s efforts, Orlando clubs and theaters welcomed iconic acts like Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, and many others. His shows, however, were not limited to any one style of music, as folk icons the Indigo Girls, electronic-pop duo Everything But The Girl, and jazz luminary Sam Rivers are among the eclectic list of artists that Figurehead worked with over the years.
The company also supported the development of local bands by giving them a platform to perform live and release their music through the Figurehead record label. Faherty is acknowledged by nationally renowned musicians, such as Seven Mary Three and Matchbox Twenty, as a key figure in fostering the musical scene that provided a platform for their success in Orlando.
“Jim really created what the Orlando music scene was at the very beginning,” says Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas, a massively successful musician who spent much of his early career performing in area clubs. “He had a real vision for what it could be, and he set it in motion and then helped continue to mold it.”
While musical performances are often a fleeting experience, the company insisted on creating unique concert posters that would serve as lasting documentation of their extensive list of shows. Frequently, local graphic artists created posters for the events, featuring captivating visuals tailored to lure in ticket purchasers.
After years of building his extensive collection, Jim Faherty donated hundreds of these posters to the History Center and many other items from his years in the music business. The exhibition features selections from his archive, concert photography, Figurehead record releases, and first-hand accounts from the musicians, designers and facilitators who know this story best.
A visually stunning experience, the gallery focuses on the music and the community created by a group of talented and driven individuals who called Orlando home during this era.
“I loved it because it was a passion project,” Faherty says of his time with Figurehead. He is pleased with the History Center showcasing his company’s work and contributions to local history. “The exhibit is unbelievable; I’m very honored.”
Figurehead: Music & Mayhem in Orlando’s Underground is on display through September at the Orange County Regional History Center. Visit thehistorycenter.org to learn more.