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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Heartwood Soundstage, Gainesville’s newest music venue and live recording studio, is set to open this weekend with the Heartwood Music Festival, a multi-stage, all-ages event that will run from noon to 2 a.m. Saturday.

Heartwood Music Festival will host bands from all around the state of Florida, including popular locals. Half of the bands will play full sets on an outdoor stage, and the other half will play a short live recording session on the Heartwood Soundstage, which is located indoors.

The event will also feature food trucks, a bounce house, art vendors and art installations.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the general public. Patrons can come and go as they please, as re-entry is allowed.

Dave Melosh, one of the four co-owners of Heartwood Soundstage, said the idea of the new venue came from the idea of having an audio file listening room in Gainesville. This turned into the concept of having a recording space where bands can record music in front of a live audience, which musicians will be able to do at Heartwood Soundstage.

They have been planning the venue for two years and started renovating the space, which used to host Mirror Image Studios, in July 2016.

“This is a premium facility being built by the best woodworking company in Gainesville,” Melosh said. “It’s going to be a really high-end place.”

The event is being presented by Springbok Booking & Media and Swamp Records. Melosh said Swamp Records has been a huge help in preparation and spreading the word about this event.

“They’re incredible,” Melosh said. “That is truly an organization that there’s no profit motive. Everyone’s in it because they love music. I think they’ve managed to bridge the gap between Gainesville and the University of Florida.”

Christine Long, the events director of Swamp Records and a UF tourism, event and recreation management senior, said it made sense for the Swamp Records team to bring the UF community in.

“The other owners and Dave kind of have the Gainesville community covered, but they weren’t sure how they were going to get students and young people to come,” she said. “We have a promotions team, we have 100 people in Swamp Records, and we were like, ‘Oh! We can have our promotions people flyer for it.’”

Long said the bands performing inside will be playing one-song sets, which will be filmed live.

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“You’re not really allowed to talk in there,” she said. “It’s an immersive experience on the inside. Put away your phone, stop talking, just watch the music and appreciate the music.”

Both Melosh and Long said they hope Heartwood Soundstage will be able to fill a bit of the void that the closing of The Jam, another multi-stage venue in Gainesville, left about a year ago.

Melosh said although the venue will be nothing like The Jam appearance-wise, he hopes the Heartwood Soundstage will cater to a similar crowd.

“We hope that we have the heart of The Jam, where people are going because they love the music,” he said.

Blake Briand, the former owner of The Jam and a member of the band Locochino, which will be performing at Heartwood Music Festival, said he too hopes Heartwood Soundstage will provide what The Jam once did.

“There was definitely a shift in the scene once The Jam closed, because we were kind of filling a void that other people just weren’t,” Briand said. “Heartwood is possibly going to pick up on some of that.”

Briand said although nothing will ever replace The Jam completely, he thinks Heartwood Soundstage will be a pseudo-replacement, especially because of the outdoor aspect.

“It’s kind of like getting a new pet after the old one dies,” he said. “You don’t name it the same thing, and it never replaces the unique love you had before, but it still fills up that place in your heart.”

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