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Downtown Countdown


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GAINESVILLE, Fla.  – Come out and celebrate this New Year’s Eve in downtown Gainesville. The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is expanding your downtown New Year’s Eve experience with a grand celebration. All festivities are free and open to the public, so there is something for everyone this year! 

 

The evening begins at Depot Park, located at 874 SE 4th Street. At 5 p.m., bring blankets and chairs and find a spot in the park to enjoy the last sunset of 2018 while a DJ hosts a family-friendly dance party on The Hill.  At 6:30 p.m., the fun continues with “Sparks in the Park,” a musically choreographed fireworks show over the main pond. Following the fireworks display, guests will be guided by a glowing rainbow of lights through downtown to enjoy dinner, drinks, festivities and all that downtown has to offer.  

 

The Downtown Countdown begins at 9 p.m., and continues until midnight in Bo Diddley Plaza at 111 E. University Ave.  It features two bands and a countdown to ring in 2019 with the sounds of noisemakers provided free to the audience. Headlining this experience are The Impostors (The Beatles tribute band) with The Shakedown (contemporary blues) opening the concert. Revelers are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to the plaza for seating.

 

The Impostors, formed in 1984, are one of Gainesville’s most popular local groups, featuring some of the area’s most accomplished musicians. The Impostors include local musicians Michael Derry (guitar/vocals), Mike Boulware (guitar/vocals), Don David (guitar/vocals), Ron Thomas (bass/vocals), Brad Bangstad (keyboards) and Pat Jarnagin (drums). They play a wide selection of The Beatles’ favorites from the popular hits of their early heydays, through the experimental era of the “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” albums, to the “Abbey Road” album and their final rooftop appearance.

 

The Shakedown is a five-piece, Gainesville-based band specializing in contemporary blues with a rock and classic soul edge. The Shakedown’s featured vocalist, Michelle “Velvet” Banfield, is “a vocal powerhouse who can rip the paint off the walls with her blistering full bodied voice and then stir you to your core with her soulful, emotional performances.” The band has some of its greatest influences from blues greats like Albert King and Koko Taylor to the newer stylings of artists like Walter Trout, Susan Tedeschi, Eric Clapton and Danielle Nicole. The Shakedown’s featured vocalist, Michelle “Velvet” Banfield, is a vocal powerhouse who can rip the paint off the walls with her blistering full bodied voice and then stir you to your core with her soulful, emotional performances. Over the years of her singing career, Michelle has enjoyed success and recognition as lead singer in a funk band, a jazz ensemble, and a classic rock group but fondly describes singing the blues as “coming home”. This band enjoys sharing their genuine love of the music with its listening audience and especially loves to make people dance. Get ready to be moved. Be prepared to get shook!is comprised of stage veterans well-seasoned in a variety of musical genres but who have a special affinity for the unique expression of heart and grit that blues music offers. The band has some of its greatest influences from blues greats like Albert King and Koko Taylor to the newer stylings of artists like Walter Trout, Susan Tedeschi, Eric Clapton and Danielle Nicole. The Shakedown’s featured vocalist, Michelle “Velvet” Banfield, is a vocal powerhouse who can rip the paint off the walls with her blistering full bodied voice and then stir you to your core with her soulful, emotional performances. Over the years of her singing career, Michelle has enjoyed success and recognition as lead singer in a funk band, a jazz ensemble, and a classic rock group but fondly describes singing the blues as “coming home”. This band enjoys sharing their genuine love of the music with its listening audience and especially loves to make people dance. Get ready to be moved. Be prepared to get shook!The Shakedown also features veteran Gainesville musicians Keith Whitesel (percussion), Frank Bougher (lead guitar), Carlo Schuster (bass guitar) and Randy Hensley (keys/rhythm guitar).

 

The Downtown Countdown is sponsored by classic rock radio station WIND-FM (92.5, 95.5, 107.9).

 

The New Year’s Eve celebration is produced by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, and is funded in part by grants from Culture Builds Florida and Visit Gainesville.. For general information, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at etlingrh@cityofgainesville.org or 352-393-8532. For more information about Sparks in the Park, contact Cindi Harvey at HarveyCK@cityofgainesville.org or 352-393-8533. For more information about Downtown Countdown, contact David Ballard at ballarddg@cityofgainesville.org or 352-393-8746.

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The Shakedown (photo by Suzanna Mars).jpg
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