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Entertainment In Gainesville, FL
Gainesville is well known for its music scene and has spawned a number of bands and musicians, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stephen Stills, Don Felder and Bernie Leadon of The Eagles, The Motels, Against Me!, Charles Bradley, Less Than Jake, Hot Water Music, Loyal Revival, John Vanderslice, Sister Hazel, Hundred Waters, and For Squirrels. It is also the location of independent labels No Idea Records and Elestial Sound, and the former home of Plan-It-X Records, which moved to Bloomington, Indiana. For two years, the Gainesville nonprofit Harvest of Hope Foundation hosted the Harvest of Hope Fest in St. Augustine. Gainesville is also the home of Florida Rocks, the founders of “Santa Jam”, who hold concerts every December throughout North Florida as a toy fundraiser for sick, injured, and homeless children and a showcase for local musicians. Since 2011 they have distributed nearly 700 toys to hospitals, local churches, homeless charities, and needy families across the area.
No Idea Records puts on an annual three-day rock festival known as The Fest, typically during the last weekend in October, coinciding with the annual Florida-Georgia football game, played in Jacksonville to minimize tensions between the largely out of town music festival goers with the University of Florida students and alumni.
Between 1987 and 1998, Gainesville had a very active rock music scene, with Hollywood star River Phoenix having the local club Hardback Cafe as his main base. Phoenix’s band Aleka’s Attic was a constant feature of the rock scene. The Phoenix family is still a presence in Gainesville, with Rain Phoenix’s band Papercranes and Liberty Phoenix’s store, Indigo.
Gainesville is still known for its strong music community and was named “Best Place to Start a Band in the United States” by Blender magazine in March 2008. The article cited the large student population, cheap rent, and friendly venues.
Over the past decade, Gainesville has been home to a wide variety of bands, from the Latin/afrobeat sounds of Umoja Orchestra, to the rock of Morningbell, to ska staples The Know How. Since 1989, Gainesville has been home to Theatre Strike Force, the University of Florida’s premier improv troupe. Gainesville also hosts several sketch comedy troupes and stand-up comedians.
In April 2003, Gainesville became known as the “Healthiest Community in America” when it won the only “Gold Well City” award given by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA). Headed up by Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers, and with the support of Shands HealthCare and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, 21 businesses comprising 60 percent of the city’s workforce became involved in the “Gold Well City” effort. As of July 2011, Gainesville remained the only city in the country to win the award.
About Gainesville, FL
Gainesville is the county seat of, and the largest city in, Alachua County, Florida, and is both the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida, metropolitan statistical area and the largest city in North Central Florida. In 2018 the US Census Bureau estimated Gainesville’s population at 133,857, a 7.4% increase from 2010, and the metropolitan statistical area’s population at 288,212. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the fifth-largest university campus by enrollment in the United States.