Category Archives: Music

For Savants of Soul, Future is Now

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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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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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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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The Brainchild Behind Fest Does It All for the Fans

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Tony Weinbender started the annual punk rock festival in downtown Gainesville in 2002. This year’s event at the end of October — the 15th edition of Fest — will again draw bands and fans from around the U.S. and from around the globe.

Gainesvilles me-grown Less Than Jake will be one of the featured acts during Fest 15.

Gainesville’s home-grown Less Than Jake will be one of the featured acts during Fest 15.

For one long weekend each fall, Tony Weinbender has the punk-rock world at his fingertips. As organizer of the annual five-day music gathering known as Fest, he orchestrates hundreds of bands so that thousands of fans can have a blast the last week of October.

Tony Weinbender

Tony Weinbender

“My number one concern and priority is to create a festival I would want to attend and to think about the attendees above anything else,” Weinbender said. “I take a lot of pride in this thing. It’s my job. I want this to be fun for everyone.”

Weinbender is passionate about Fest, which celebrates its 15th year on Oct. 28-30 in downtown Gainesville. (There is also a Pre-Fest event Oct. 26-27 in Tampa’s Ybor City entertainment district.)

This year, the Fest 15 lineup will include 360 bands playing at a dozen or so downtown venues, as well as stand-up comedy and some pro wrestling thrown in for good measure. Best of all, Fest will return to renovated Bo Diddley Plaza to stage concerts for crowds of 5,000 or more.

We recently sat down with Weinbender at a corner table inside his favorite downtown haunt, Loosey’s, to better understand his love affair with Fest -– and with Gainesville.

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Art Festival, Medieval Faire Receive Dose of Sunshine

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Sunny Andrei is the City of Gainesville’s new events coordinator for the Fall Downtown Festival & Art Show as well as the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire.

Sunny Andrei, left, displays her combat moves during the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire.

Sunny Andrei, left, displays her combat moves with Ashley Baker during the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire.

The first thing that stands out about Sunshine “Sunny” Andrei is that glowing first name.

“People have a lot of fun with it,” she said. “It was really fun when they sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ in my fourth-grade chorus class. I just wanted to shrink into a corner.”

Sunny Andrei

Sunny Andrei

All puns aside (well, okay, not yet), Andrei puts on a bright smile (what other kind is there?) when she talks about her new role as events coordinator for the City of Gainesville’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

As of this week, she is the person overseeing two of Gainesville’s largest annual events — the Downtown Festival & Art Show and the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. That’s no small task considering that, when combined, the events typically draw crowds of 150,000 or more.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” she said. “There are so many details that go into each event and we’re working on them simultaneously. We have to juggle each event and make sure they each get the attention they need.”

The 35th annual Downtown Festival & Art Show is scheduled for Nov. 5-6, 2016, on the streets of downtown Gainesville. The 31st Hoggetowne Medieval Faire is set for the weekends of Jan. 28-29 and Feb. 3-5, 2017, at the Alachua County Fairgrounds.

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For Little Jake, It’s All About Heart and Soul

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The Gainesville-based R&B performer, known as “Mr. Excitement,” appears with his seven-piece Soul Searchers in a Free Fridays concert at the Bo Diddley Plaza.

Little Jake Mitchell, also known as Mr. Excitement, knows how to entertain. Photo by Randy Batista)

Little Jake Mitchell knows how to entertain. (Photo by Randy Batista)

Little Jake Mitchell has told the story countless times about how he broke into show business as a young teenager, but he never gets tired of sharing the tale. And people certainly never get tired hearing about it.

In 1957, Mitchell was 13 and living in the projects of west Tampa when his childhood hero, B.B. King, was performing at nearby Blake High School.

little jake album cover

“Everyone had told him about me,” said Mitchell, who sang throughout his childhood and was already dubbed “Little Jake” even though his first name was Arnold. “They pushed me up on the stage and B.B. King let me sing ‘Woke Up This Morning.’ The place went crazy.”

That wasn’t all.

“That night, B.B. King accepted me as his godson,” Mitchell said. “He pushed me to continue my career, and I did.”

If that’s the case, then everyone should look toward the heavens tonight and thank B.B King when Little Jake & the Soul Searchers perform a Free Fridays concert on the Bo Diddley Plaza stage in downtown Gainesville. The music starts at 8.

“It’s going to be one helluva show!” Mitchell promised.

Mitchell, who turns 72 in July, will appear with his seven-piece band that includes Tran “The Piano Man” Whitley on keyboard, Charles “Professor” Henry on guitar, Allen “Bass” McCollum on bass and Hal “Halag8er” Saylor on drums. Meanwhile, Charlie Blade (saxophone), Doug “Skywalker” Meyers (trumpet) and Brian “T-Bone” Stevens (trombone) comprise the band’s Silver-Sonic Horns section.

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Anglin Carries Torch for the Wailers

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Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin is the latest frontman for the legendary reggae band, which performs all their classic tunes tonight at High Dive.

Vocalist Dwayne "Danglin" Anglin performs during a recent Wailers concert. Photo by Charley Akers)

Vocalist Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin performs during a recent Wailers concert. (Photo by Charley Akers)

Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin was in his mother’s womb on May 11, 1981, when the legendary Bob Marley died of melanoma cancer at just 36 years old.

Bob Marleys music lives on with the Wailers.

Bob Marley’s music lives on with the Wailers.

When Anglin entered the world in Marley’s native Jamaica several months later, no one could have known that the child would one day carry on Marley’s cool rhythms as lead singer of the Wailers.

Although Marley would have turned 72 earlier this year, Anglin says his spirit lives on every time his music is played.

“Anybody who understands the significance of his music and its purpose will in some way channel Bob Marley when they’re singing his songs,” Anglin said in a telephone interview.

“I don’t think that’s something specific to me only because I’m lead singer of the Wailers. I think it’s something that transcends through all people who perform his music or listen to his music.”

Gainesville will have an opportunity to share in that experience tonight when Anglin and the Wailers perform at High Dive. The lineup also includes Gainesville’s The Savants of Soul, Maca Reggae Samba and Turnaround. Doors open at 6 p.m. The music begins at 8. The Wailers will take the stage close to 11.

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Hot Club de Ville Turning Back Clock

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The local jazz troupe pays tribute to legendary Django Reinhardt and his gypsy-jazz style during this week’s Free Fridays Concert Series at Bo Diddley Plaza.

Hot Club de Ville performs Friday night at Bo Diddley Plaza. The group includes, from left, Jacon Lawson, Erik Abernathy, Thompson Fletcher, Marty Liquori, Patti Markoch and Dave Forbes

Hot Club de Ville performs Friday night at Bo Diddley Plaza. The group includes, from left, Jacob Lawson, Erik Abernathy, Thompson Fletcher, Marty Liquori, Patti Markoch and Dave Forbes. (Photo courtesy of Annie Morien)

When the crowd settles in at Bo Diddley Plaza tonight and listens to Hot Club de Ville during the Free Fridays concert, they might think they’ve been teleported to Paris.

Django Reinhardt displays his two-finger strumming technique with his Quintette du Hot Club du France.

Django Reinhardt displays his two-finger strumming technique with his Quintette du Hot Club du France.

For one thing, vocalist Patti Markoch will perform many of the songs in French. For another, the five string instruments backing her up will create a sound with a certain, how do you say, je ne sais quoi.

That distinct sound is what is known as gypsy jazz or, as it’s referred to in France, jazz manouche. It is the style of music that Jean “Django” Reinhardt, a Belgium-born guitarist and composer, made popular in the 1930s with the help of famed jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.

Reinhardt named his band Quintette du Hot Club de France. Several years ago, local jazz guitarist Marty Liquori thought it would be cool to pay homage to Reinhardt by naming his Gainesville gypsy jazz group Hot Club de Ville.

“It could have been Hot Club de Hogtown, but I got voted down on that one,” Liquori said with a laugh.

Hot Club de Ville will try to replicate the gypsy jazz sounds of Django Reinhardt, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and other composers when it performs on the Bo Diddley Plaza stage from 8-10 p.m. The concert is free.

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The Jam is Going Away, But Won’t Be Forgotten

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The quirky little concert venue on West University Avenue is shutting its doors at the end of May, leaving local bands and music fans one less place to, well, jam.

Blake Briand stands near the entrance to the Jam, at 817 W. University Ave. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Blake Briand stands near the entrance to the Jam, at 817 W. University Ave. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

After a sure-to-be memorable Memorial Day weekend, the Jam will be just a memory.

The nightclub at 817 W. University Ave. will close its doors at the end of the month because its UF landlords are redeveloping the entire block on which the Jam stands.

The writing has been on the wall at the Jam.

The writing has been on the wall at the Jam.

“We knew this day was coming and we’ve dreaded it,” said Blake Briand, who has co-owned the Jam for the past three-and-half years with Veronica and Eddie Arenas. “I’m giving it my all so that I have zero regrets at the end.”

Later this year, the buildings that house the Jam and other tenants on the block —including two tattoo shops and the Unified Training Center—will be bulldozed to make way for the expansion of the Innovation Square neighborhood. A six-story luxury apartment building, called Inception at Innovation Square, will replace the strip of locally-owned businesses.

For Briand, 38, closing the Jam means losing a livelihood he has cherished.

“We’ve gone from amateurs to one of the premier venues in town,” he said. “When I lock the door for the last time and turn in the key, I don’t know how I’m gonna feel. And I’m a little scared of that.”

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