Heartwood Soundstage to host Tom Petty Weekend after family pulls plug on Depot Park event – Gainesville Sun

Heartwood Soundstage to host Tom Petty Weekend after family pulls plug on Depot Park event – Gainesville Sun

After months of controversy and uncertainty surrounding the yearly tribute concert in Gainesville for late Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty, it appears the show will go on.
Heartwood Soundstage, 619 S. Main St., is set to host three days of free music and stories beginning Oct. 20, Petty’s birthday, and running through Oct. 22.
“We have about 15 acts coming from California and New Jersey and all points in between,” said producer and Heartwood Soundstage volunteer Dan Spiess. “We’ve come got some really incredibly talented people coming that all love Tom Petty.”
Those scheduled to perform include Jake Thistle, former Mudcrutch guitarist Tom Leadon, The Mudpies featuring former Mudcrutch bassist Danny Roberts, guitarist Nancy Luca, local favorite Shine and the Shakers, The Shambles and many others.
A storytelling session late Friday afternoon will feature tales from several of Petty’s friends, including Paul Zollo, author of “Conversations with Tom Petty,” Gainesville natives Mike Boulware and Nancy Luca, Roberts (Mudcrutch) and author Bob Kealing.
Spiess said about 90% of the music will be performed outside, while the other 10% will be performed live inside the venue for VIP ticket holders. Those outside will still be able to see the inside performances thanks to a large video screen that will be set up on the lawn.
The festival comes after the Tom Petty family had planned to organize an event this year at Depot Park that would have brought in nationally recognized acts to honor the late musician who died on Oct. 2, 2017.
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In November 2021, however, the family was taken aback after the city received backlash from residents following a proposal to close the park for several days for the event.
“I think we’re just hitting pause right now,” Petty’s daughter, Adria Petty, told The Sun last November.
Plans for the Full Moon Fever Festival — as the Petty family event was to be called — also upset local organizers of the original Tom Petty Birthday Bash, which was free and open to the public at Depot Park in 2018 and 2019.
Bash organizers said the idea of fencing off a public park and charging an admission fee seemed like bad policy and against the original idea of the show. They also were concerned that local musicians and vendors would be pushed out.
“They are all going to be replaced by the corporate people that they bring in,” said Paula Hedges, an accounts manager for the bash, in November 2021.
Spiess said that pushback from residents and bash organizers gave the city a black eye.
“I think it really hurt this town in some respects,” he said. “It was like watching one of your good friends go through a divorce or something — nothing good can come from this.”
Spiess said that once the Petty family made it clear that it had no plans to put on a festival this year, those at Heartwood Soundstage “proceeded to go through the long, drawn-out process of asking for their permission.”
“Everyone at Heartwood really feels strongly that honoring Tom Petty is really important,” Spiess said. “One of the very few famous people in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that was literally born and raised right here in Gainesville.”
Spiess also said that if the Petty family decides to hold its own festival here in the future, Heartwood Soundstage would gladly take a backseat.
“We will hold the door open because we think it will do nothing but good for Gainesville if they hold a yearly festival here,” he said.
Tom Petty Weekend is the start of three consecutive weekends full of music in Gainesville. The Fest, the city’s annual punk-rock festival, is scheduled for Oct. 28-30. That event will be followed up by The BASH Music Festival, a rebranding of the original Tom Petty Birthday Bash, Nov. 4-6.
The BASH at Depot Park and will feature national, regional and local artists playing a variety of music, including rock ‘n’ roll, Americana, blues, soul and country.
Among those scheduled to perform are Mavis Staples, Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood, Lilly Hiatt and more. For more information, sponsorship information or to upgrade to a VIP package, visit thebashgnv.com.
Tom Petty Weekend
Where: Heartwood Soundstage, 619 S. Main St., Gainesville
When: Oct. 20-22
Schedule: Oct. 20 – music from 7 to 10 p.m.; Oct. 21 – stories from 3 to 6 p.m., music from 6 to 10 p.m.; Oct. 22 – music from 3 to 11 p.m.
Cost: General admission tickets are free but you must register online at tompettyweekend.com. VIP tickets and parking passes also are available online.

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