Gainesville is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a rock concert this Saturday.
Gainesville150! Music Legends Concert, the first city-produced event of the yearlong celebration, will take place at Bo Diddley Plaza from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m, said David Ballard, the 66-year-old event coordinator.
The free event will honor Gainesville’s Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductees such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; a total of five tribute bands will perform, he said.
The Bayjacks with Tom Leadon of Mudcrutch, who played with Tom Petty, will be the headliner of the concert, he said.
Ballard said he expects at least 2,000 people to attend. The event will also include food trucks, arts and crafts vendors and street entertainment such as puppeteers.
“It’s my pleasure to bring in other artists and to put shows together to share with the citizens of the greater Gainesville area,” Ballard said.
Jason Hedges, the lead singer of Heavy Petty, said his band will perform Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, “U Get Me High”, for the first time on Saturday.
“There’s so many hit songs that they had,” Hedges said. “Even if you don’t think you know it, you’ve probably heard it.”
He said Heavy Petty prefers to perform locally to keep the legend’s music alive in his hometown. Hedges said the tribute band began almost a decade ago after a friend suggested he start one.
“I realized that I had a natural ability to kind of sound like him when I sing,” Hedges said.
Hedges said the band is excited for the upcoming audience on Saturday and to play after not performing for awhile.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Hedges said. “Hopefully some people who haven’t heard of Tom Petty will look more into this guy.”
Hedges said he has the same birthday as the city of Gainesville - April 14 - which is also his mom’s birthday. He will turn 41-years-old Sunday.
Heavy Petty, a tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, will perform alongside four other tribute bands to celebrate Gainesville's 150th anniversary.