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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Muck City Showcases: A family of creatives

The story behind the new Gainesville-based artist showcase circuit

<p>Artist Danny B emcees a Muck City Showcase in front of an electric crowd Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the Fox Lounge.</p>

Artist Danny B emcees a Muck City Showcase in front of an electric crowd Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the Fox Lounge.

With the strum of his guitar, the room went silent. Not one person ordered a drink from the bar. Audience members stood still, tears filling their eyes. 

Dozens locked into Rayvon Rollins’, also known as Purple Kloud’s, heart-wrenching performance of his unreleased song, “Rose Gold Soul,” about his mother’s passing. 

“He froze time,” Danny B. Hodges Jr., the 23-year-old founder of Muck City Showcases, said.

Rollins was one of the musicians who performed at the Muck City Showcase event held at How Bazar May 7. He regularly performs and hosts shows for Muck City Showcases, a local artist showcase circuit aiming to uplift smaller local musicians started in January. The shows are held at small businesses and feature dozens of artists from across the state.

Rollins met Hodges at an open mic show in 2018. The pair instantly bonded over their shared love for music. When Hodges thought of the idea for Muck City Showcases, Rollins was the first person he recruited to his team. 

No Muck City Showcase is the same. Rollins said one could be more relaxed while the next is full-on rock ’n’ roll.

Muck City Showcases provides a platform for him to gain exposure and improve his artistry through observing other musicians. The organization is also his family, Rollins said.

“We cry together,” he said. “We laugh together.”

Hodges started rapping while growing up in a trailer park in Belle Glade, Florida — known as Muck City because of the area’s surplus sugarcane field muck. 

“When you are in an environment like that, you come up with things to do, and for me, music was that thing,” Hodges said.

His passion took over, so much so that he would get in trouble in high school for freestyling in class.

During his first year at Santa Fe College, his grandmother and uncle were diagnosed with cancer. Juggling the life of a student and caretaker, Hodges dropped out of school to earn a living loading trucks. 

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One day, while working a 12-hour shift on his 20th birthday, he felt the sudden urge to focus on his greatest passion again — music. His entrepreneurial instincts kicked in, and he left in the middle of the shift, never turning back.

After quitting his job, he started street performing and attending open mics in Gainesville. He launched his first business, Cypher House, which acted as a circuit of house parties to facilitate collaboration between artists in 2020. 

Hodges eventually decided he wanted to make a greater impact on the Gainesville community. He channeled his new creative energy and ambitions into Muck City Showcases, a hat tip to the city where his music journey began.

Hodges assembles his lineups, which tend to gravitate toward hip hop and R&B, by advertising purchasable performance slots on social media. 

“Life is all about bonds, and we just give them the platform to come and bond,” he said.

Muck City Showcases helped 21-year-old experimental hip hop musician and Detroit native Chaunzey Motley, also known as KZ King, find his life purpose. As a DJ for Muck City Showcases, he gets to pursue music while uplifting other artists.

“When I moved out here, I was homeless with $2 to my name,” Motley said. “[Hodges] saw me DJ one time … and asked me to be a part of this. I don't regret a minute of it ever.”

R&B and hip hop musician Kelsea Martinez, a 24-year-old from Jacksonville discovered Muck City Showcases through social media. She was eager to return to Gainesville’s music scene after the COVID-19 pandemic and her time studying dance at Santa Fe College from 2015 to 2018. Before she even had a chance to contact Hodges, he reached out to her about an open slot. 

She didn’t think twice about taking it.

Martinez credited Muck City Showcases as one of the most supportive and respectful live-music environments she has been in. She said she has felt unprioritized and disrespected at other Gainesville venues; working with Hodges was refreshing.

“As a female artist, I will be the first to tell you it has been hard to have respect whenever you come into a joint,” she said. “Danny B. truly cares for not only his craft but the community in itself and creating a space for people to feel safe.”

Hodges said organizations like his provide necessary resources and exposure to smaller artists that would otherwise not have access. 

“We suffer because of a lack of knowledge, lack of resources and just a lack of connection,” he said. “When we put together small resources, we create something bigger.” 

Caileigh Rugar, the owner of the media production company Unbrvnded Media, provides multimedia services to Muck City Showcases. She said she feels blessed to capture artists’ passion through her camera lens and be a part of the family that is Muck City. 

To Rugar, Muck City Showcases represents the importance of establishing organizations that prioritize community impact over financial profit.

“For me, it's always been about healing a hurting community through art,” she said. “Having an organization is cool, but having a specific type of organization that actually touches people and leaves an impact on their life is better.”

Contact Amanda at Follow her on Twitter @afriedmanuf.

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Amanda Friedman

Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande. 

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