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The Scene in Six Sounds: Gainesville, Florida

Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake

With a population of just a touch over 100,000, you might not expect Gainesville to be hiding a particularly prolific music scene. You’d be wrong. This small corner of Florida has produced members of the Eagles, featured as “Rock City” in a number of tracks by hometown heroes Less Than Jake and been voted by Blender Magazine as the best place to start a band in the US. While there are ample great music scenes to be found around the States, few match this corner of Florida when output is compared to size, or inspire such passion in their native bands, our James Hendicott reports. Welcome to small town rock and roll, done in a big way.


The Eagles: Okay, so strictly speaking the Eagles aren’t from Gainesville. But two of them are, and that has to be enough to qualify one of the world’s most popular rock bands for a mention. Love them or hate them, The Eagles have made an all but indelible mark on music culture. Besides, we’ve all had out ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Take It To The Limit’ moments, probably whilst driving down the highway on a hot summers day, heading off on vacation. Don Felder and Bernie Leadon (both from Gainesville) and the rest, thank you.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Long running kings of the Gainesville scene, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers started out way back in the mid 70s and are still going strong to this day. They have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a number of Grammy Awards and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame to show for their achievements, as well as ten studio albums (including six US top tens). Petty himself has also been given the keys to the city of Gainesville, and is currently working on further solo material.

Less Than Jake: Perhaps the most Gainesville-themed band of them all (Less Than Jake love to reference the city in their music), the resident ska punk stars are right at the heart of their genre, having a legitimate claim as one of the most successful ska punk bands of all time. Feisty live shows and a fixation with Pez candy dispensers are all part of the every day for a band known for their trumpet-infused rock and ‘forever young’ outlook on life. So beloved of the author that he once saw them live three times in four days.

Sister Hazel: Named after a nun at a Gainesville homeless shelter, Sister Hazel have been strumming their brand of alternative folk since 1993, producing a number of hits that starred in films such as ’10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Bedazzled’. 1997 single ‘All For You’ was the band’s crowning moment in terms of chart success, but they continue to tour, having built up an impressive cult fan base over the past few years.

Against Me!: A band at the heart of the homegrown punk era of U.S. rock stars, Against Me! formed in 1997 and have featured on iconic record labels such as Fat Wreck Chords and Gainesville’s home-grown label ‘No Idea’. With four studio albums to date, the band has recently been supporting Dave Grohl’s pop rockers Foo Fighters, and are scheduled to tour with Billy Talent early in 2010. A great reflection of Gainesville’s DIY punk ethos, Against Me! are seriously loud and lairy.

Aleka’s Attic: A band best known for containing star actor River Pheonix, Aleka’s Attic used Gainesville as their base, performing regularly in the hard rock café that River owned. When Pheonix died from a drug overdose in 1993 the group disbanded, with their debut album — written in full — later shelved, never to be released, though material can be found on the Internet after R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe bought the rights to the band’s material back in 1997.
Tune in next week, same time, same place, for a new local playlist from James Hendicott, your guide to Celtic punk in Museyon’s Music + Travel Worldwide. To read more of his musings on music and other topics visit hendicottwriting.com.
Photo via NewRegrets/Flickr

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