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Gainesville Bands, Music & Musicians, Part Four
The Richenbacher's Era; Scott Hampton & The Blue Monday Band, Urban Folk at the Thomas Center, the rise and fall of the Music Hall, and the Greenpeace and Stop The War benefits

by Gary Gordon

The Blue Monday Band: Mike Lowe, Scott Hampton, Hal Saylor, Barry Sides, Dwight Champagne, Gordon. Not pictured: Dave Mason. Feb. 1987.

I may have this wrong, but to my way of thinking there were two people who turned Richenbachers into the rock n roll music center of the Gainesville universe in 1986. One was Tommy Leadon, and the other was Scott Hampton. With a little help from Barry Sides, Trish Lombard, Jane Yii & Kenny Shore with Skatterbrainz, the Archer Road Band Revisited, and the Blue Monday Band.

Richenbachers was mainly a jazz-type place. Keep it mellow. Heck, I remember when it was a place called Stag N Drag, and the Young America Shop, both clothing stores in the late 60s. I don’t know when it turned into a bar. I know my friends Jan Elliot and Richard Haines used to talk about Frank Sullivan and his jazz trio, playing there all the time. I think I went there a couple of times for drinks, but mellow jazz was not my scene, and still isn’t. I’m way too pedestrian. And it was an unlikely place for any kind of scene, other than a VFW reunion. The theme was WWI flying ace Eddie Richenbacher: the place was decorated with WWI helmets and kit bags and war posters and an airplane wing hanging from the ceiling. Who thinks of this crap? And can great music happen here, other than Lili Marlene?

Sometime in 1986 Tommy Leadon, a guitarist, singer and songwriter who wrote Hollywood Shuffle for the Eagles and whose older brother Bernie had been in the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Eagles, formed a quartet that included Kenny Shore and Bruce Shepard, and broke the jazz barrier at Richenbacher’s. At least that’s the way I understood it.

I went in to hear them because it’d been awhile since I’d heard Kenny and Bruce, and I don’t know that I’d ever really listened closely to Tommy. This would be sometime late spring/early summer ’86, as I was leaving political office and wondering who I was and what was next.

Tommy is just a fine, fine guitarist. He can do the rock n roll and the soul, similar in some ways to Jeff Jourard when it comes to nailing those chords, variations of chords and chordal licks. He’s not the lead player Jeff is, but then, nobody is.

Tommy and the boys were doing covers, like “I Want My MTV” and “Centerfield”, some really choice material. And I guess I mentioned to Barry something about seeing Tommy and Kenny and Bruce at Richenbachers.

“You oughta get the Archer Road Band back together and play there,” Barry said.

I told him I understood they really didn’t book rock bands, that Tommy’s group was the exception.

Barry said he’d talk to Trish, who was a bartender there and knew of Archer Road from the “old days”.

Meanwhile, I called Kenny, Bruce and Chaz and ran the idea by them. And they all said it’d be fun, although Kenny and Bruce said they were mostly working with Tommy and they were also working with Jane on Skatterbrainz.

Barry and Trish talked to the manager, a lady whose name I don’t remember, and I guess she ran it by the owner, and by late July or early August we suddenly had a three-night gig at the end of August. Kenny suggested Billy Bowker for drums; Bruce seconded the motion, and we began to rehearse in my house-the first time there’d been a band rehearsal there in maybe 10 years.

The Archer Road Band Rides Again: Chaz, Bruce, Gary, Billy Bowker, Kenny

We also booked a gig at the Alibi, which was still alive, and suddenly we had a tour: three nights at Richenbachers, then a weekend at the Alibi.

Well, the joint was jumpin’, and I was certainly overcome by the bug. We pulled out some of the old songlist (“Love The One You’re With” and the Grateful Dead’s “Not Fade Away” into “Goin’ Down The Road”, and Kenny doing “Mr. Spaceman”), added some of the songs I’d written and learned between ’78 and ’82 (my version of David Bromberg’s “You Got To Suffer If You Wanna Sing The Blues” and my blues song “Roget’s Blues”), added Chaz singing some songs (“You Really Got Me”), and we had a blast.

A full-page advance article in the Scene and in the Alligator (Bill DeYoung and Brad Davis, respectively) didn’t hurt. And although I knew some folks were coming out to point at me and say “he used to be the Mayor”, mostly it was old fans, friends, and people who’d read the huge articles and wanted to see what the heck was going on.

As a thank you to Barry, we brought him up to sit in with us for a couple of songs around 11pm, which is when the place was the most crowded. It was kind of the “show off to get laid” time of the night. I knew Barry as a musician, a fellow singer/songwriter, but I think a lot of people in the late 80s knew him more as the bartender at Lafitte’s.

Barry sits in with The Archer Road Band when it plays Richenbacher's, Aug. '1986

(Barry and I became pretty tight friends during this period; he helped me through my separation/divorce, we worked together writing songs [like Springsteen In Paris], we worked together on my comedy radio show on WGGG, then on WUFT-FM, he was in two of my plays [North By Mideast, Primary Colors], we produced some shows together and assisted each other, relied on each other for honest criticism and a kick in the pants, and folks ended up knowing that he was much more than just the bartender at Lafitte’s.)

Gordon at Throat Aid, a benefit for Jane Yii that also featured Skatterbrainz and The Prairie Dogs with Don David

The Archer Road Band played at Richenbacher’s maybe two more times in the fall, but the next big change there, the one that really put the place on the local map as the center of the universe, occurred on the Monday night between Christmas and New Years.

Scott Hampton, as he was known, a bassplayer and Gainesville musician who I hadn’t known, had worked his way into the Richenbacher’s “family” with an eye on booking the music there. He wasn’t crazy about the Archer Road Band, but for some reason he did want to involve me in his plans-I still don’t know why.

His plan was to put Richenbacher’s on the map by turning it into a blues club, or mostly a blues club (with certain exceptions for reggae, ska and other popular non-top forty music).

He did what I don’t remember anyone else ever having done, and he did it with one brilliant maneuver that, as a promoter, I still admire.

He four-walled the place on the Monday night between the two holidays when Frank Sullivan and his jazz trio were on vacation. Booked it. Just flat out made arrangements to cover everything, be in charge of everything, pay for everything, and either make some money or take the hit.

He had a Christmas Blues Jam.

He told all the musicians about it-“Come and bring your guitars”. He charged $7 at the door (a high price then), offered free champagne, had Charlie Hargrit’s band for the house band, and after they played the first set the jam would start. And he was damn insistent that I be there, and I’ll be forever glad and grateful that I was.

I walked in, Charlie’s band was playing. I turned down a bump, asked Scott what the deal was and Scott said to just put together a band ‘cause I’d be going up soon. Guitarist Mike Lowe was standing there, so he was in the band. I asked Scott to play bass. He said sure. We needed a drummer. Mike suggested Hal Saylor, who I didn’t know, but Mike had worked with him alot. I saw Rob Peck walk in and raced over to him like lightning and recruited him to play harp. (Rob, thanks to his girlfriend Pat, who was also a fan of mine for some reason, had come into some of the places I was doing solo gigs and sat in on harp-I was always amazed at his playing and enjoyed his quiet, humble demeanor. He was a mix of the classic, gracious southern gentleman with the soul of a bluesman with an endless well of musical talent, and I always loved it when he sat in. Although we worked together now and then between that night and ’91, I always wished I’d worked with him more. He’s another great guitarist, singer, and harp player.) I don’t remember how, but we ended up with two keyboardists, Dwight Champagne (somewhat new to town) and Dave Mason (a longtime G-ville keyboardist). Within minutes we were a seven piece band, and the only one I’d ever played with before was Rob. And I had a lot of doubts about myself, playing with other folks. I’d stuck mostly to Kenny and Bruce and hadn’t had a whole lot of experience on stage with guys I didn’t know.

Some jammers went on after Charlie’s band, then, around 11pm (timing is everything), we went up. I turned to Mike and Scott and asked who was singing? They said I was.


We did Kansas City, we did my humorous blues song Roget’s Blues-but if you didn’t know the lyrics you’d think it was just a straight-ahead blues shuffle; after that Scott stepped up to me and said “Do a slow fuck-in-mud blues”. So I sang a slow blues version of my song “I Do Not Have The Blues”, with Mike wailing on guitar, Rob wailing on harp, and Dwight and Dave each taking solos. Then we closed it out with Dylan’s Highway 61-a Johnny Winter-style version. Even though it was only four songs we were up there for maybe 40 minutes, what with everyone taking one or two solos.

And it was, well… we blew the roof off the place. You’d have thought we were the best blues band in the entire world. The crowd was going nuts. Everybody was high on the music and the excitement as well as the alcohol or drugs or whatever.

A week later Scott came into the Alibi, where the Archer Road Band was playing again, and spoke to me during the break.

“We’re the new house band at Richenbacher’s. Every Monday night. We bring the equipment. We play a set. You help me run the jam. We go up a few times during the night. Everybody in the band gets paid. We call it Blue Monday, we’re the Blue Monday Band. And everybody probably gets work on other nights.”

It was a gift. For me, and for Gainesville. For me, because I knew I wasn’t really a blues musician, but having decided to pursue an identity as a musician again (being a former politician), I needed the money, and going thru a separation and divorce, I needed the activity. And being a recently defeated politician who never really was a politician and a person who was no longer among the married, I needed the identity.

It was a gift for Gainesville because it was really the first time that there would be a place, every week, where musicians could show up and play and see each other and discover new pairings and groupings; and it opened up job opportunities at Richenbacher’s for a lot of musicians. Skatterbrainz became a headliner, getting the choice weekend gigs. I was in pick-up bands on odd nights with guitar players like Bruce Klein and Michael Cripe, bassists Billy Fritzius, Pete Frizzell, Kevin Wilson and Joe Loper, and drummers Larry Thompson and Jimmy Milsap, and many others. But Mondays were the thing. We didn’t start til around 9:45pm, but people were there at 9; not just musicians-the public. Almost overnight it became the happening place, especially on Mondays.

As I recall, Rob couldn’t do the Monday night gigs. I think he went on tour with a Nashville group. So I recruited Barry, who’d been out of town and missed the jam. Shortly after that Dwight was out-don’t know why, and we became a pretty tight 6-piece blues band: Lowe, Saylor, Hampton, Mason, Sides, and me, with Mike taking a couple of vocals, and Barry taking several.

The first wave of heyday went on at a frenzy for eight months. If you wanted to play, you went to Richenbachers. If you wanted to hear great music, you went to Richenbachers. If you wanted to meet women and or find one that you’d already met, you went to Richenbachers. If you wanted to do business-music or otherwise, you went to Richenbachers. (All the players I later worked with in the Luca-Gordon Band, Buffalo Springsteen, The Band That Never Was, The Gary Gordon Band-- Nancy, Pete Frizzell, Larry Thompson, Kevin Wilson, Don David, Bob Harris, Michael Cripe etc., I met at Richenbachers.)

Then, one Tuesday in August, Barry and I showed up to get our equipment which we’d left there the night before and the place was locked up. It turned out the owner had lost it. And like that, the center of the universe disappeared.

Barry, who was working at some restaurant/bar on west 13th, hired me to start a rock n roll jam night. I brought Nancy Luca and Melvin Bunk in on that. Pete Frizzell usually played bass, but sometimes it was Billy Fritzius or Joe Loper. Sometimes Larry Thompson or Jimmy Millsaps took Bunk’s place playing drums. It was regular money, but it wasn't the same.

Newspaper photo promoting one of the Urban Folk concerts: Gordon, Nancy Luca, Don David. 1987.

During this time I was also running a folk music series I called Urban Folk, at the Thomas Center. The Thomas Center was a city facility used by a variety of people for a variety of events and productions. The kicker was this: it cost on $25 to rent!!! And seated over 100 people. Do the math. I rented the place, bought wine and plastic cups, printed programs (with advertiser support-- Phil Heflin at Chaucer’s was always generous), and booked the talent. Even at only $3 or $4 admission there was always enough to pay everyone. I produced several of these over two years with musicians/singer/songwriters including Jane Yii, Don David, Anna Moo, Charlie Hyde, Nancy Luca, Don Oja-Dunaway, Whitey Markle, Don Grooms, Dale Crider, Steve Goodie, and many, many more. The irony is, I got the idea originally as a way to kick Barry’s butt into playing solo again, but he never was ready during that period to get back into it. I also produced the First and Second Gainesville Folk Festival Concerts there, with a variety of bands including the Burr Oak Ensemble, Dancing Horse Band, Marty Schuman, and many of the folks who played at the Urban Folk concerts.

Singer/songwriter Anna Moo at one of Gordon's productions at The Thomas Center, circa 1988

Another newspaper photo promoting one of the Urban Folk concerts: Jane Yii, Charlie Hyde, Gordon.

In the fall of ’87 a new owner took over Richenbachers, Scott was still involved but the ground was shifting. The Blue Monday jam was revived and was popular, but never quite reached the frenzy that had been there. Backstabbing promoters like Bunk started moving in, cutting gigs out from other folks. Scott’s focus shifted to the vacant Music Hall across the street. Nancy and I put together the Luca-Gordon Band with Pete Frizzell and Larry Thompson (although Mark McConnell was the drummer sometimes)-- Nancy couldn’t stand Bunk-- it took me several more months to realize I’d trusted the wrong person by helping him move into the scene.

The shortlived but vital and volatile Luca-Gordon Band: Pete Frizzell, Nancy, Gary; Mark McConnell on drums; the setlist included Take Me To The River, Piece Of My Heart, American Girl, The Last Time, For What It's Worth, Highway 61, Gloria, Rocky Mountain Way, Roadhouse Blues, and Gordon's rock 'n roll dance song: Do The Jim & Tammy Bakker.
(The Telecaster is the same one I bought in '67; about a month later I bought a Strat.)

What all of us didn’t realize rightaway was this: the crowd was getting smaller. The new drinking age was almost completely phased in so that 18-, 19-, and 20-year olds could no longer come into bars. On top of that, we were all getting older. Several folks I met in bars in ’86 had settled down by ’88 and weren’t coming out at all or as often. But several of us hung in there, playing where we could, trying to make It happen.

Scott put together a group of folks, including me, and got the Music Hall open. The Luca-Gordon Band played there several times and I ran some singer/songwriter nights. James Cotton played the main stage. So did Bonnie Raitt, Billy Preston, Koko Taylor, John Mayall, and more. Barry produced his Alachu-Aid benefit there in ’87, which included our band Buffalo Springsteen, Jane’s trio, Mike Boulware’s band, and many other folks. I opened for Roger McGuinn there in Feb. ’88.

Alachu-Aid I: Mike Boulware, Don David, Kevin Wilson

Alachu-Aid I: Buffalo Springsteen players Barry Sides, Scott Hampton, Gordon

Nancy and I broke up our band (that’s a whole other story and may never be told-- but we didn’t talk to each other or play together for awhile-- it gets so silly sometimes...).

Dub bought Lillian’s and hired the Blue Monday Band (which at that point was my band as Scott wasn’t around), featuring Rob Peck, Billy Fritzius, Bob Harris, and Hal Saylor-- Barry got upset at that, arguing that Blue Monday was special and historic and shouldn’t just be a band that jumps from place to place. I needed the money and disagreed and we probably didn’t talk for a week or two but we’re buds so ultimately it was cool. There was some action at the Banana Boat on south 13th for several months, including a weekly jam that Barry and I helped promote-then Bunk took over and cut us out of the band. He also took over booking for the place and eliminated a singer/songwriter night I was running there. Ah, coke.

Meanwhile my comedy hour radio show was running on WUFT-FM and Barry got a job as an ad exec at KISS 105 and ended up on good terms with the new owner at Richenbachers, so Richenbachers was reborn. Blue Monday returned to Richenbachers (with Dub furious at me, but I was tired of him telling us to “turn down, turn it down”). And Barry created a Sunday night jam, which I ran, as a weekly food-aid jam-- people got in for two cans donated for the folks who needed the food. And Barry talked the owner of Napolitano’s into creating a singer/songwriter night, with me running it, which provided a different kind of showcase for folks like Jane Yii, Steve Peters, Whitey Markle and others. The Music Hall folded (awash in mismanagement and, allegedly, coke), Lillian’s under Dub was somewhat revived, with Rob Peck’s band (can’t remember the name) featuring Fritzius on bass drawing crowds every weekend; Richenbachers was happening again Sunday and Monday with jams, and with a variety of things during the week, and, very often, Skatterbrainz on the weekends. At some point I had a 60s band with Bunk, Chaz, Kristen Vogt on bass and Dave Mason-- but I don’t remember when that was or what we called ourselves. (Bunk put together another band and snagged the night away from us.) And I had an all-original band that played at the Thomas Center a few times, with Cripe, Vogt, Shepard, Cathy DeWitt on piano and Bill Hutchinson on drums-- everyone was playing in everywhichaway kind of configuration. And one of comedy-writers from the radio show, Bob Fontneau, was running a comedy night every Monday night at Lillian’s, often featuring Gainesville actor and comic Gregg Jones, and Rob Peck and friends as the musical entertainment.

A Gary Gordon Band, with Kristen Vogt, Bruce Shepard, Gordon, Cathy DeWitt, Michael Cripe, and (not pictured) Bill Hutchinson. Set list was all originals, including Roget's Blues, When I Play My Guitar, How Is The Sky Tonight? Rosa Parks, Dewey, and Springsteen In Paris

During this time The Band That Never Was was born. It was a pick-up gig at a place called Fitzgeralds on University across from the courthouse-it had been The Gamery briefly in the late 70s. The guy called me and I did what I’d done so many-- too many?-- times, I started making calls. Don David on bass. Bob Harris on keyboard. Bruce Shepard on sax. Chaz Scales on guitar. Billy Bowker on drums. And me. Four of us could do vocals. And we had no idea that we would become such a jam band. As we were setting up someone came up and asked me the name of the band. I made something up quick: “The Band That Never Was” I said. Don David grabbed my shoulder, wearing a very stunned look. “That’s exactly what I told someone in the store today, after you called me.” I never knew if he was putting me on, but he seemed so intense that I figured it was one of those cases of cosmic wavelength synchronicity. And when we started to play, I was sure of it, because, without deciding on the song, I just counted of “one, two, three, four” and Don and I hit a D at the same time, and after a few minutes of jamming went into “I Know You Rider”.

Fitzgerald’s was also the site of a fundraiser for the tree-huggers and tree-sitters who were trying to stop development on Paynes Prairie. As I recall, they had just won an injunction or further review of the development proposal, so some of the folks who’d been living in the trees for a few days were there. Enthusiasm was high, but there was one guy who’d sat in the tree as an ardent environmentalist who apparently also supported the Contras over the Sandinistas ‘cause when I did my song blasting Old Ollie North he started shouting at me. Later, tempers still hadn’t cooled and there was a scene on the street with him in his pick-up, wielding a sizable revolver. Don Grooms and I were standing on the sidewalk, watching, about ten yards from this nut. A Vietnam vet friend of mine was wearing an ankle gun, and no telling who else was packing. It was too weird. Jim Connor had a video camera and kept going up to the troublemaker asking him for comments which, at first, made the whole thing even more tense; then comical, and finally whatever was roiling up some of these guys defused and the troublemaker drove away. Maybe the videotape is still kicking around. I just remember thinking, hmmm, what is a former Mayor, an armed Vietnam Vet once shot by the GPD, and two of Gainesville's most renown songwriters doing on the street at 11pm confronting a drunken militant, gun-wielding environmental activist?

(I still have a copy of the audiotape when the police busted Jim Evangelist’s Reality Kitchen when it was located on south Main, south of Depot-the cops behaved like they were faced with a riot when all it was was a bunch of dancing kids, and Jim ran a tape recorder under his jacket, getting all their remarks. I was on the city commission then and when Jim played the tape for me, I got together a meeting with the city manager and police chief and Jim and me: the c/m and chief gave their version of what happened, then Jim played the tape, demonstrating the police were totally over-reacting. But, I digress…)

During that time I was also going to Boston (twice) to do a set a the Catch, performing the comedy song Barry and I wrote, Springsteen In Paris, and my rock 'n roll "Blue Suede Shoes" song, Do The Jim & Tammy Bakker.

Gordon at the Catch, Cambridge, '87.

As the legal age audience decreased, benefit fundraisers for various causes seemed to increase. It was the end of the eighties and almost ten years of Republican rule had fucked things up quite a bit. Money had to be raised for everything.


Class, with J.P., a wild-man guitarist who was a regular at the Blue Monday Jams

Lightnin' Harpo, with Rudy Young, Kristen Vogt, and Larry Thompson

The Other Ones

Gainesville musicians have always been active in helping organizations raise money. Anti-nuke. Anti-Death Penalty. Barry’s Alachu-Aid. Anti-US involvement in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Pro-ERA. Pro- Take Back The Night. Anti-food irradiation, pro-choice, etc. Jane Yii, Jan Schim, and Cathy DeWitt and others played at fundraisers for my city council candidacies in ’82, ’83 and ’86.

Alachu-Aid II front-page Scene Magazine promo, 1988. Among those pictured: Joe Loper, David Ottenberg, Cathy DeWitt, Barry Sides, Greg Webb, Gordon,
Richard Baxter, Bruce Klein, Michael Cripe, Kevin Wilson, Don David, Dino Campbell, Whitey Markle, Jeri Banta,
Larry Thompson, Rudy Young, Bob Harris, Billy Fritzius, Richie Bertone, and Rob Peck

In 1989 I was approached by a Greenpeace organizer out of Miami to put together as big a benefit as I could. With Richenbachers and Lillian’s being the primary vortex of night-time entertainment, downtown still being the center of things, and with developer Ken McGurn having recently taken over the Music Hall, I went after him and the Music Hall for the concert. Job number one was getting him to agree to a minimum amount of rent and to underwrite the insurance. After a brief negotiation during which I reminded him I'd supported one of his major, controversial projects when I was in city government, he agreed to my requests. When that was accomplished, I went after all the top bands, including the Rhythm & Blues Revue, NDolphin, the Neandertones, and, for variety, Whitey Markle’s band, and Barry for a solo set. And I put together a band called A Gary Gordon Band, with Bruce, Kenny, Tom Holtz on guitar, and Larry Thompson on drums. The folks from my radio show, including Bill Hutchinson, Gregg Jones, Joan Larrick, Bob Fontneau, Ira Luft, and Sybil Odom, did sketches in-between the bands. We raised close to $8,000 in one night, which, at that time, was a record for a benefit concert. Bob McPeek ran the sound, Bill Perry ran the spot, and Jim Aikin ran the door. Numerous political organizations set up information tables in the lobby. The Vets For Peace provided security.

The Gordon Radio Players did sketches between the bands at the Greenpeace benefit:
Sandi Goldring, Bill Hutchinson, Joan Larrick, Janet Bente, Ira Luft, Bob Fontneau. Not pictured: Greg Jones and Sybil Odom.


Whitey Markle, with Mike Boulware on mandolin

Jack Mason, NDolphin

Tone Unknown

Anneliese, NDolphin

The Neandertones

Roan, NDolphin

Greg Jones, MC

But as ’89 drew to a close it seemed the writing was on the wall. Different music was desired. A different age group was moving in. NDolphin and Tone Unknown were, deservedly, among the most popular bands. The Hardback Café became a strong center for alternative music, with bands there including Aleka’s Attic (River Phoenix), NDolphin, Tone Unknown, and the Bill Perry Orchestra.

I don’t remember the last time The Blue Monday Band formally played. Sometime in ’89, I guess. I don’t remember the last, formal Archer Road Band gig (though, as you may have read in Part III, I remember the last gig of the original Archer Road Band).

I remember the last time I played at Richenbacher’s. It was in August, 1990, with The Band That Never Was-- that time with Kevin Wilson on bass as Don was unavailable. I have a tape of that night. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” lasts almost twenty minutes. Although playing guitar with Nancy, jamming like we did on a Blue Monday night sometime in ’87, is the most fun I’ve had and have on stage, the Band That Never Was was the best jam band I’ve ever been in.

Just before I left town, President Bush was massing forces on the Iraqi border and Scott Camil asked me if I’d produce one more benefit, this one for Vets For Peace. I couldn’t refuse.

In January, 1991, a few weeks before the war began, many of Gainesville’s best musicians and bands gathered once again at the Music Hall to play, to help raise money to protest the war. Some of the musicians who had supported many, many other causes were not there, conflicted or sure that Bush was doing the right thing. But several thousand dollars were raised at a show that, once again, included the Rhythm & Blues Revue and NDolphin, and, this time, Aleka’s Attic.

In the years that I’ve returned to Gainesville, since my move to Venice, California, I’ve seen the places that I enjoyed disappear. But the music is still there. I don’t know what the happening place is now. I know when I was there in January ’97 there was a benefit for Mike Boulware’s wife, to raise money for a needed operation, and everyone was there. Sister Hazel was one of the headliners, with Rob Peck sitting in on harp. During that visit Chaz Scales, Pete Frizzell, Mark McConnell and I played at some open mic at a club downtown-playing like there hadn’t been seven or eight years between gigs, and the owner wanted to hire us when we finished. And when I was there last December I attended the annual Vets For Peace concert at the Thomas Center-a place I haven’t written about too much in these essays, but a place where I worked a lot to put on a variety of shows. And there was Bob McPeek and John Chambers and Cathy DeWitt and Bill Hutchinson and Janet Rucker and Dave Ottenberg and Rob Rothschild and many, many more folks, playing as they always have.

I have a band here in L.A., and we play my songs, and it’s a ton of fun, and it’s a very good band. I won’t compare it to the bands I had or heard in Gainesville; that would be as stupid as making a list. We played a gig the other night and it was so much fun I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. Barry and I talked about that a few days ago. It doesn’t matter where you are, or what “level” you’re playing at, whether your band is famous, or just a fun hobby; if you’re making music and it’s fun and you like it and there’s some folks that like it, well, that’s enough to celebrate.

Part of being part of a community is recognizing those who have contributed and who are no longer around. I can't name everyone who's gone, but I miss Don Grooms, Marty Schuman, Dewey, and Bobby Peterson.

Alachu-Aid I: Hampton and Bobby Peterson

This series of essays started out to put some flesh and blood on the brief remarks that Bill DeYoung collected for his Scene Magazine article about great Gainesville bands. I hope it’s turned out to be more than that, a celebration of music and musicians, of creativity and variety and invention and discovery. DeYoung and I used to talk about the wonderful history Gainesville had, with the folks who were playing music in the 60s and 70s. I think if he’d had more time and more space, his article would’ve covered more. Here, maybe, I’ve covered too much. Or not enough. I didn’t leave out anyone intentionally, and certainly as I’ve written this more and more memories have occurred. And I only changed one name. And if, for some reason, you’ve read this even though you’re not from Gainesville, in a larger sense this isn’t just about Gainesville. It’s about music all over.

In the words of Martha & The Vandellas:

Callin’ out around the world
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right
For dancin’ in the streets…

Gary Gordon
July, 2001

Three of Gainesville's finest musicians: Barry Sides, Jane Yii, and Kenny Shore, at Alachu-Aid I



For more of the story...
Great Gainesville Bands & Musicians, Part I
Great Gainesville Bands & Musicians, Part II
Great Gainesville Bands & Musicians, Part III
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--Gary Gordon