One clear high note pierced the air. The drum and bass pulsed in time with the audience’s heartbeats. Grammy-winning artist, songwriter, producer, performer and keyboardist Shaun Martin held the note as he pointed out at the crowd. Meanwhile, band members in Electric Kif improvised music, blending their parts with Martin.
Thirty-seven musicians with about half a dozen national acts performed at the fourth-annual Heartwood Music Festival last weekend. According to producer and partial owner Dave Melosh, a 39-year-old Gainesville resident, about 1,200 people came.
“Everyone seemed to have a great time,” he said. “I think it worked out wonderfully.”
While electronic-rock duo King Complex played, Lisa Holland, a 59-year-old from West Palm Beach, was all smiles. Her son Cody Doss is the singer and drummer of the group.
“It's been a lot of fun watching him,” she said. “He's a true performer, that's what he loves. You just gotta be proud that someone takes enough risk to follow a passion like I don’t think very many people do that. But he's going to make it though, and he's determined to make it.”
The band Electric Kif formed about seven years ago and has toured for four years. They describe their music as a mix of Weather Report, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Anderson .Paak.
“It's not rock, it's not jazz, that's why we said we just have to make our own term of it, and we called it post-nuclear,” keyboardist Jason Matthews said.
According to Matthews, they were one of the first to perform at the Heartwood Soundstage.
“Gainesville is our favorite place to play in Florida,” Matthews said. “It always feels like coming home here.”
For Billie Greenstein, 57, the crowd feels like family.
“These are my people, that's why I'm here,” he said. “We’re trying to all be positive and love and be supportive.”
Martin said that as he played with Three-O bassist Matt Ramsey and drummer Mike Mitchell, his goal was to emit love to the audience.
“I want the audience to feel love. I want the audience to feel joy. I want the audience to feel equal. I want the audience to feel embraced and included,” Martin said. “I think those are the things that are missing in today's society, and I really, really hope and desire to create music in a private setting and a public setting that evokes all of those things.”
In addition to playing the albums “7Summers” and “Focus,” Martin and Three-O played unreleased music they recorded in October.
“I played a lot of new music, and they were very receptive to it, very attentive,” he said. “Everybody came to show me love last night. It was nothing but love, and I appreciate it.”
Even for Melosh, the bands and audience feel close.
“That's why we named it Heartwood. Because we wanted it to be a venue that came from the heart, and we wanted it to be a place that treats the bands like they're family,” he said. “Most of the bands that are regional or local we've had a few times, and most of them we consider friends and some of them are actually closer to family.”
From Melosh to audience members like Greenstein and performer Martin, the festival felt like a place of love. And for many, that is why they return.
Contact Katie Delk at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @katie_delk.