Townesfest and Gramfest in Gainesville
On successive weekends, the Heartwood Soundstage hosted festivals that honored two of the greats: Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons. Both festivals were on the outside stage and were free, but donations were suggested to support the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank and local radio station Wombat, which supports local and area musicians. A diverse group of Florida-based artists provided covers of some of the best-known songs from these catalogs.
The folk-oriented Van Zandt show was largely acoustic, with performances by Uncle Mosie, guitar master Sam Pacetti, and singer/songwriters Michael Claytor, Ricky Kendall, Quincy Flint, Jordan Foley, and Hannah Harber. Quartermoon and the Front Porch Backsteppers performed at both shows. Townesfest included some fine covers of some of his legendary songs: “Pancho and Lefty,” “If I Needed You,” “Waiting Around to Die,” “I’ll Be Here in the Morning,” ” To Live is To Fly,” and “Tecumseh Valley” and several more obscure songs, including “Snowing on Raton” and the soul-crushing “Marie.”
The next weekend gave country-rock innovator Gram Parsons his due. The Mark Miale Band, the Couch Messiahs with Ric Kaestner, blues player Barry Sides, the Hard Luck Society, and the Shambles and others all tuned into the late ’60s/early ’70s country-rock Parsons catalog: “Hickory Wind,” “Return of the Grievous Angel,” “Oooh Las Vegas,” “Sin City,” and “Still Feeling Blue.” A few Byrds numbers, including “Mr. Spaceman” and “”You Ain’t Going Nowhere” were interspersed with some original tunes.
Heartwood has become a sought-after venue, hosting all genres of music and emphasizing giving back to the community. A former recording studio, both the indoor and outdoor stages have excellent acoustics. Heartwood serves as one of the hosts for the Fest, a punk-rock festival, and regularly have Latin music, Southern rock bands, and progressive jazz as well as acoustic shows such as Tommy Emmanuel, Richard Smith, Roy Book Binder and Mary Gauthier. Keep an eye on their calendar for future shows.
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