In the maze of food trucks, pop-up art shops and beer stands, children on bikes pedaled along the sidewalks of Depot Park while thousands of rock ‘n’ roll and blues fans huddled around the three stages spread across the green festival grounds.
The BASH — a three-day music festival featuring national, regional and local rock 'n' roll, Americana, blues, soul and country artists — took over Depot Park this weekend. The festival began Nov. 4 with a VIP kick-off party that included exclusive performances by Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers and more.
The event was open to free general admission passholders. In addition to music, more than 70 arts, crafts and food vendors were also present.
Jason Hedges, 44, founded and organized The BASH with his wife, Sarah, the festival’s marketing director.
“Normally, [with] these kinds of festivals — especially the size and magnitude this one has turned into — you have 100 people on staff,” he said. “We don't have a staff. It's just us and a few of our friends and family who donate their time to do something for Gainesville.”
The BASH originally began as the Tom Petty Birthday Bash, which Hedges helped pioneer in 2017 — the year Petty died. Over time, the Birthday Bash evolved into The BASH, Hedges said, which expands beyond Petty and focuses on celebrating Gainesville’s heritage and diversity through music.
The festival featured over 40 musical acts divided across three stages: the BASH stage, Mojo stage and Shady Grove Stage. Performers included Mavis Staples, Larkin Poe, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, Lilly Hiatt and The High Divers.
Hedges' goal for the festival was to foster an inclusive environment within the community, he said. One of the ways he achieved this, Hedges said, was by spotlighting artists like Mavis Staples, a gospel singer who was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and Blues Hall of Fame in 2017.
“She was a very big piece of American history when it comes to [the] civil rights movement,” he said.
Hedges bought the screening rights to have the documentary, “Mavis!”, play for free at The Hippodrome Theatre Saturday at midnight. “Mavis!” is the first feature documentary on gospel music legend Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers, according to The Hippodrome’s website.
During BASH weekend, Hedges wanted to provide access to the documentary to give back to the community and continue celebrating diversity among the musical acts. Hedges hopes the festival succeeded in showcasing Gainesville’s identity as a city with a flourishing art and music community, he said.
Tom Miller, a 57-year-old performance artist and fan of Hedges’ festival, said that The BASH is an important part of Gainesville’s music scene and helps locals share their art and food with festival attendees who aren’t familiar with the city.
“This is the best of Gainesville and Gainesville’s musical community,” he said.
The BASH also reminds locals and visitors of the talent located in Gainesville, Miller said, as well as the inspiration the city has had on artists like Tom Petty and Bo Diddley.
“Sometimes it just takes people organizing something like BASH to remind us to look at our own backyards and realize the magic that we have right here in Gainesville,” Miller said. “It attracts people from all over Florida, all over the country and all over the world.”
The BASH also helps bolster local craft and food vendors, Miller said. The How Bazar Pop-Up Market, which was located at The BASH Saturday and Sunday, featured more than 70 artists selling art, jewelry, clothes and other accessories.
Bianca Williams, the 36-year-old owner of Bianca Williams Ceramic Designs, has sold her goods in Gainesville for nine years. This weekend, she sold ceramic incense burners, cups, dishes and mugs.
“It’s hard to find markets sometimes,” Williams said. “I was excited when they put out the call starting in fall.”
Joyce Hernandez, a 24-year-old UF College of Pharmacy student, learned about The BASH through social media. In addition to enjoying the food and music, she said, she also appreciated the festival’s ambience for both locals and new residents.
Samantha Pollack, 27, owns Wavy Smokes — a cigarette-alternative brand that sells cannabis and tobacco free smoke blends. Pollack has worked with How Bazar in the past, she said, and was excited when she was offered the chance to be a vendor at BASH.
“It seems like a really cool event that was Gainesville specific that supported Gainesville,” she said. “That, combined with How Bazar — I thought it would be a good mashup and an eclectic crowd of different people that might not have seen my stuff before.”
Contact Isabella at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @IsabellaMarzban.
Isabella Marzban is a fourth-year journalism major and an avenue reporter for The Alligator. You'll usually find her going on hikes, listening to classic rock on her record player, and doing yoga with her friends.