For more than 100 years, artists have eased down to Florida to rest, recuperate and recharge their batteries. For Jacksonville native Glenn Van Dyke, however, who recently moved home after a decade-long stint in New York City and touring the globe with bands like BOYTOY, returning to her Florida roots wasn’t about taking it easy.
Her first order of business after buying a house in Springfield? Kickstarting Winterland Presents, a booking and promotion company that will host its inaugural festival on Friday, Jan. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 27 at The Space Gallery. “When I sat down to plan this with Matt Shaw [of The Mother Gooses], the initial goal was to do a one-off festival that could evolve,” Van Dyke tells Folio Weekly. “Depending on how things go, the festival could turn into an annual thing, or Winterland could become a small record label. For now, it’s all about bringing more entertainment through Jacksonville.”
This weekend’s two-night rock ’n’ roll shindig does just that, attracting The Tropics, a legendary cult act that dominated the Florida club circuit in the 1960s before taking a 40-year hiatus; Miami hell-raisers Jacuzzi Boys, Plastic Pinks and Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser; fresh St. Pete New Wave punks GLOVE; Orlando’s Timothy Eerie; Jacksonville’s own The Mother Gooses; St. Augustine’s DL is OK and The Young Step; Atlanta’s Gringo Star; and of course BOYTOY Friday night’s headliners featuring Van Dyke and her New York-based bandmates.
“If you get good bands, people will come,” Van Dyke says. “For this first Winterland, I wanted to bring in some of my favorite Florida bands, in addition to a couple regional acts. I can’t wait to meet The Tropics; I wrote them totally cold after finding out about them from Tom Petty’s biography. The Jacuzzi Boys are sweet guys that rock so hard, and I’m really excited to see GLOVE since I’ve been a sucker for ’80s synth sounds recently. I’m excited for all the bands to come.”
Van Dyke says the logistics of planning a new festival weren’t as tough as she expected. She and Shaw started with a bigger idea than they thought they could initially execute, then pared back around the edges to make Winterland fall together seamlessly. “We wanted to hold it in an off-the-beaten-path space, and The Space Gallery is perfect,” Van Dyke says. “Matt Shaw knows the owners, Matt and Laura Bennett, and when we pitched the idea to them, they seemed excited.”
Matt Bennett concurs: “The Space Gallery is a place for people with a desire and drive to push Jacksonville forward culturally through art, action, music and performance. Glenn and Matt are at the forefront of our city’s cultural renaissance.”
For Shaw, who’s organized more than a few shows around here, in addition to writing for national outlets like Surfer Magazine and helming Folio Weekly for a spell, planning Winterland was a no-brainer. “Glenn’s really a natural impresario,” he says. “This festival is really a product of her drive and passion for her community. After she moved back to Jax from New York, we were meeting up in the mornings to surf, and she would tell me about how she wanted to start a promotional outfit and maybe do a festival. I tried to curb her ambition on multiple occasions—I didn’t want her to feel let down if such a promotion didn’t receive adequate support. Then she started booking the bands and I realized there was no stopping her. So I linked her up with Matt Bennett and Wyatt Parlette at The Space Gallery, which is just so gritty and beautiful. I can’t think of a better venue for a garage rock festival.”
And there’s additional fun to be had: in the form of a Florida craft beer garden; good eats thanks to Misty Lake and Ed Baltzley of The Bullet, an Airstream food truck serving up delicious local Florida eats; and sumo wrestling, Karaoke, fort building, dice games and photo ops. Consider Winterland a homegrown, grassroots antidote to all the big corporate-sponsored music festivals crowding the calendar. “I just want to offer something fun for music fans in Jacksonville, which is such a cool town, and for the bands coming from all over Florida,” Van Dyke says. “People seem thirsty for stuff like this to happen. I go out to bars and sometimes people seem defeated about living in Jacksonville, and I’m like, ‘Guys, this place is beautiful!’ I want to see people encouraged and not dragging their feet about living here.”
Van Dyke laughs as she recalls how increasingly difficult it became for her to board a plane and fly back to New York City after her annual visits home. “I’d get legitimately sad about leaving the palm trees and the warmth,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong—when I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of Florida. But there’s nothing else like it. And it’s so nice to come back here after 10 years and see young people taking the initiative to open up businesses in Riverside, Five Points and Springfield. The best part of all is, in Florida, it’s cost-effective. It’s doable. I could have never pulled off a festival like this in New York City—even if I had wanted to.”