Monday Spotlight: Aug. 29, 2016

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karnesChicago-style Blues musician Pete Karnes, left, is the featured artist during the  Monday Night Jam at Tall Paul’s Brew House, 10 SE 2nd Ave. Show begins at 8:30 p.m. No cover. The evening is hosted by Little Mike and the Tornadoes. Karnes, a Blues Hall of Fame harmonica master, has played with many of the legends, including Walter Horton, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Robert Lockwood, J.B. Hutto and Lightning Slim.

Also tonight, Leonardo’s 706 and Emiliano’s Café feature Monday jazz. …
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Gainesville Has Treasures Waiting to Be Found

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With an influx of thousands of freshmen to UF and Santa Fe College — and new residents arriving in town every day — this is a great time to boast about what the Gainesville area has to offer.

This painting by Gainesville artists Miriam Novack incorporates many landmarks in Gainesville and on the UF campus.

This painting by Gainesville’s Miriam Novack incorporates many landmarks in Gainesville and on the UF campus.

There are people who have been to Paris but never visited the Eiffel Tower. There are people who have been to New York City but never explored the splendors of Central Park.

And, as puzzling as it might seem, there are people who have been to Gainesville but have never descended the Devil’s Millhopper or attended a performance at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Don’t let that happen to you!

Gainesville has much to offer in terms of nature, history and entertainment. There is more to see and do here than in most cities our size because, yes, it is a college town (Go Gators!), but it’s also a thriving community away from the two campuses.

If you’re new to Gainesville, welcome to town! If you’ve been here awhile and plan on sticking around, you might as well immerse yourself in what the area has to offer.

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Years in the Making, Depot Park Worth Wait

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Thousands of people turned out on a sunny Saturday morning to enjoy everything that Gainesville’s newest park has to offer — and there’s a little something for everyone!

Kids enjoy the splash pad.

Kids and adults alike enjoy Depot Park’s Blue Grotto Splash Pad. (Photo by Raphael Michael/Gainesville Downtown)

The opening of Depot Park in downtown Gainesville is a life-changing event for Aretha Carter. The resident of the adjacent Springhill neighborhood now has a safe place to take her children — and to breathe a little easier.

Aretha Carter and her son.

Aretha Carter and her son.

“This is my third time here!” said Carter while pushing her 2-year-old son, Tyreque, on one of the modern new swing sets in the city’s newest and largest public park. “I love that it’s right here in our neighborhood.”

Within eyesight was Carter’s 10-year-old daughter, Tomasia, playing on a huge piece of playground equipment that resembles a locomotive. She and hundreds of other children were frolicking around the Adventure Play Area on Saturday morning during Depot Park’s grand-opening celebration.

The 32-acre park off South Main Street and Depot Avenue began welcoming visitors on Aug. 1, but Saturday’s festivities allowed city officials to showcase Depot Park in all its glory. More than 3,000 people enjoyed live entertainment, family activities, food trucks and much more on a sun-splashed day.

“This day has been a long time coming,” said Cindi Harvey, project manager for the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which spearheaded the project. “The citizens of Gainesville have waited two decades for this to come to fruition. It took a village to build this park and, look, we’ve done it!”

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Gator Baked to Satisfy Late-Night Cravings

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The newest restaurant in downtown Gainesville is hoping that late-night partiers will have a huge appetite for comfort food once the bar scene closes down. 

You cant miss the home of Gator Baked at 12 SW 2nd St. Photo by Gainesvil;le downtown)

You can’t miss the home of Gator Baked, at 12 SW 2nd St. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Three once-vacant storefronts on Southwest 2nd Street, in the shadow of the city parking garage, are coming alive this month, doubling the number of eating and/or drinking establishments on the block.

DSCN4336Last week was the grand opening of the FishHawk Spirits Distillery Tasting Room at 21 SW 2nd St. Although not a formal bar, customers can sample rum, vodka, whiskey and other products made by the distillery and then purchase bottles and other merchandise.

“FishHawk Spirits is very excited to part of the growth on the near west side of downtown Gainesville,” said David Molyneaux, CEO of the Ocala-based distillery. “Our distillery tasting room will add a new dimension to the area.”

Next door, at 15 SW 2nd St., the husband-and-wife team of Romain and Sita Challandes are converting the old Motor Room dance club into a French bistro called Alpin. They hope to open within a few weeks.

And this week, at 12 SW 2nd St., is the soft opening for Gator Baked, a late-night carry-out and delivery food service that has set up shop in the former Infinity Lounge hookah bar. Continue reading

For Savants of Soul, Future is Now

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savants logo 2

The nine-piece Gainesville band returns to the Bo Diddley Community Plaza stage this week for a Free Fridays concert that is sure to be a crowd-pleasing event.

The Savants of Soul performing at Bo Diddley Plaza in February. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

The Savants of Soul warm up for Charles Bradley at Bo Diddley Plaza in February. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

The last time the Savants of Soul performed on the large outdoor stage at Bo Diddley Community Plaza, they opened for the legendary Charles Bradley in a memorable concert event in late February.

On a chilly winter evening, the band’s soulful music warmed up a spirited crowd of more than 2,000 people during the highlight of a special event known as Changeville.

“That was a really special night,” said Alex Klausner, drummer for the Savants of Soul. “I can’t even describe the thrill of getting the email inviting us to play that night. And Charles Bradley was one of the most gentle, warm-hearted people you’d ever want to meet.”

This week, the Savants of Soul are not a warmup act but rather the headliners at Bo Diddley Plaza for a Free Fridays Concert Series event from 8-10 p.m.

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SpinChill a Hot Topic for Reality TV

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The downtown startup will be featured on CNBC’s West Texas Investors Club this week. There will be a viewing party at Tall Paul’s Brewhouse on Wednesday night.

Trevor Abbott and SpinChill are ready for prime time!

On Wednesday night at 10, the Gainesville entrepreneur and his downtown-based company will be featured on the season finale of the CNBC reality series West Texas Investors Club.

Trevor Abbott

Trevor Abbott

During the hour-long episode, taped in March, Abbott and SpinChill co-founder Tyler Parker pitch their product to big-money Texas investors Mike “Rooster” McConaughey and Wayne “Butch” Gilliam. The goal, as in in the popular ABC series Shark Tank, is to convince the investors to buy a stake in the company.

SpinChill is a product that enables people to turn warm beverages ice cold in a single minute by spinning the cans in ice. (Bottles take a minute or two longer to chill.) The handheld spinning tool resembles a drill but with an attachment that clips onto the top of an aluminum can or a bottle.

“By spinning something in ice or a cold liquid, you’re increasing the heat transfer by 40 times the amount,” Abbott explained.

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Miller Tries Making Sense of Absurd

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Tom Miller

A longtime fixture of Gainesville’s entertainment scene, Tom Miller will give an Artwalk performance with Alan Bushnell on Friday night at the Hardback Café. It’s titled “Sex, Religion, Fastfood.”

Tom Miller fixates on the mouth of Ted Cruz during the February Artwalk at the Hardback Café. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Tom Miller fixates on Ted Cruz’s mouth during a recent Artwalk at the Hardback Café. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

The great thing about Tom Miller is that you never know what Gainesville’s most unpredictable performance artist will be up to next.

Tom Miller during a contemplative moment outside Maude

Tom Miller during a contemplative moment outside Maude’s Side Car in the Sun Center.

Earlier this summer, he and a dedicated team of artist friends erected a sculpture about nothing smack dab in the middle of Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Two weeks later, they painstakingly reversed the process to remove the invisible three-dimensional piece.

In the spring, Miller undertook perhaps his most, shall we say, daring project to date by sitting in front of a large poster of Ted Cruz’s face and staring directly into the then-presidential candidate’s gaping mouth for two hours without breaking eye contact.

That was during an Artwalk event at the Hardback Café, and — we’re happy to report — he survived the traumatic ordeal!

On Friday night, Miller will be at it again, performing at the Hardback Café along with longtime friend Alan Bushnell in a collaboration titled “Sex, Religion, Fastfood.” The show, starting at 7 p.m., will feature artwork and musical performances by both men, and most likely a surprise or two.

The event will be one of the highlights of Artwalk Gainesville, the monthly self-guided tour of downtown galleries and art spaces. Most events are from 7-10 p.m. This month’s events include walking tours of the downtown murals as well as downtown public-art sculptures.

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Zombieville Bringing Atlantic to Life

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If you have an inexplicable appetite for the undead, you might want to make plans to spend Saturday night downtown at the Atlantic Nightspot.

A scene from Night of the Living Dead.

A scene from Night of the Living Dead.

Rachel Wayne’s favorite zombie movie is, without question, Night of the Living Dead.

Director George Romero’s 1968 film shows how a group of individuals huddled in an abandoned farmhouse deal with each other while fighting for survival against ravenous corpses rising from a nearby graveyard.

“Many people still look at that as the definitive zombie film,” Wayne said. “It has a strong script that explores the complexities of humanity in the face of crisis.”

Filmed in black-and-white on a $114,000 budget, Night of the Living Dead remains a cult classic almost 50 years after its release.

On Saturday night, Wayne pays homage to Romero and all things zombie by producing Zombieville, a film festival and variety show at the Atlantic Nightspot, 15 N. Main St.

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Busy High Dive Worthy of High Five

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A poster wall draws attention to upcoming events at High Dive.
The downtown concert venue has been around for a few decades in various forms, but this weekend marks its fifth anniversary as High Dive. Tonight, the Savants of Soul crank up the party.

Inside newly renovated High Dive, which marks its fifth anniversary this weekend.

Inside newly renovated High Dive, which marks its fifth anniversary this weekend.

Chris DeMakes vividly recalled the first time Less Than Jake played the downtown Gainesville music venue now known as High Dive.

“We were on stage, it was pretty loud and people were getting wasted,” he said. “Then suddenly the lights came on. They locked the doors and started checking IDs and arresting people.

Big Business from Los angeles performs at High Dive on Friday night. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Big Business from Los Angeles performs at High Dive on Friday night. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

“The ATF was doing a raid and it was wild!” DeMakes said. “Thank God I’d just turned 21.”

That was 20 years ago, when High Dive was known as the Covered Dish and vocalist/guitarist DeMakes and his five-member punk-ska-rock band were still trying to get a little name recognition.

Two decades and eight studio albums later, Less Than Jake has seen the world — and the world has certainly seen them. But they still call Gainesville home. As proof, each year on Labor Day weekend, they host the Less Than Jake Wake and Bake Weekend at High Dive.

That’s because High Dive is the kind of concert venue musicians love. Fans can crowd the stage and reach out and touch the artists, creating an energetic atmosphere for everyone.

This weekend, High Dive is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a full schedule of events that began Friday night with a metal show headlined by the L.A.-based duo Big Business. The fun continues today with the Gainesville Girls Band Camp Showcase at 4 p.m. and a concert tonight headlined by Savants of Soul. The show also includes Oranga Tanga from Melbourne and PopCanon, an eclectic rock band that will be reunited for the first time in 15 years.

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Ricky Kendall Revival Includes the Healers

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Almost a year after releasing his second album, the Gainesville singer/songwriter appears on the Bo Diddley Plaza stage tonight alongside Michael Claytor, Sam Moss and his trusted band.

Ricky Kendall puts heart and soul into all of his music. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Singer/songwriter Ricky Kendall puts heart and soul into all of his music. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

All you need to know about singer/songwriter Ricky Kendall is that his latest project is a children’s album that comes directly from the heart.

Ricky Kendall: a self-portrait

Ricky Kendall: a self-portrait

The album, to be released later this year, will feature seven songs Kendall wrote with young patients at UF Health Shands, where he works as a musician-in-residence with the Arts in Medicine program.

“The themes in the album are very relatable to children and adults,” Kendall said. “I’ve tried to elevate the musical scope for the whole family.”

The album is funded by the family of a young girl who Kendall worked alongside in the hospital and who was undergoing a heart transplant.

Tonight, Kendall will take a break from his Arts in Medicine work to provide musical therapy for the Gainesville community in the form of a Free Fridays concert at Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Kendall will appear with his band, appropriately named the Healers, from 8-10 p.m.

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