Area musicians make themselves heard at Sarasota’s first annual HomeGrown Palooza festival.
Is Sarasota ready to rock? The talents behind HomeGrown Palooza are betting that the answer is “yes.” This new live music festival showcases an all-star line-up of hometown bands on April 20 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds.
It’s all about the music. But it’s also about the musicians.
Jeffrey Hardy is the festival’s founder. The owner of West End 941 Productions and the founder and lead guitarist of Sound of Fury, Hardy’s been a fixture in the local music scene since he moved here in 1989. Like many area musicians, he felt the impact of the city of Sarasota’s noise ordinance, which became law in 1997.
“Back in the early 1990s, the Sarasota music scene was alive and well at various clubs in the area,” he says. “We were a tight-knit family. But after the noise ordinance went into effect, some local musicians moved to places that weren’t so hostile to live music.”
The noise ordinance turned down the volume. But it didn’t kill the area live music scene entirely. Over the past few years, local talents have pushed back and made their voices heard. Efforts include the Noise Ordinance concert and CD series. But Hardy wanted to do more. Most area-based musicians agree with him.
“We all want to change the law,” he says. “But before we can do that, we need to change minds. A high-profile local music festival is the obvious way to do it. We’ve been talking about creating one for a long time. I finally said, ‘Enough talk. Let’s do it.’”
Hardy reached out to his friends in the local music community. Twinkle Schascle Yochim (known professionally as Twinkle), a Sarasota-born blues legend, and the founder and lead singer of Rock Soul Radio, got the first call.
“I’ve wanted to do this for years,” says Twinkle. “The time is ripe for events like this that showcase our tremendous regional talent.”
Twinkle adds that the Sarasota-Manatee area is home to a rich base of musicians. As she sees it, they’re as vital to our cultural fabric here as ballet or theater.
“You don’t need to leave town to hear brilliant original music,” she says. “We have it right here. There’s absolutely no reason Sarasota can’t be a musical hot spot like Austin, Nashville ...”
Once Twinkle and her band agreed to headline the festival, Hardy quickly reached out to other homegrown talents, including Bri Rivera SRQ, Divine AF, Undr8ed, The Alvis Brothers, Sons of Thunder, Version 3.0, Nobody’s Fool and, of course, Sound of Fury. The festival will also feature food trucks, beer and a bazaar of artful wares by locals.
Hardy’s off to a good start. But when it comes to the future, Hardy thinks big.
“My dream is to grow HomeGrown into a yearly festival that area musicians and music lovers will look forward to every year,” he says.
But his dreams don’t stop there.
“Sarasota’s local music culture goes back for decades — and we’ve spawned so many music legends. Beyond the festival, I want to empower the legends of the future. My dream is to offer scholarships to musically talented kids and help them become the artists they’ve always dreamed of being.”