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MusicGNV and Little Wing Rehearsal Studios come to the rescue of the Gainesville music scene

Andre Serafini (left) and Shane Haven in the upstairs lounge of Little Wing Studios. (Natan Solomon/WUFT News)
Andre Serafini (left) and Shane Haven in the upstairs lounge of Little Wing Studios. (Natan Solomon/WUFT News)

Whether it be passionately clanging on the cymbals of his walnut-colored drum set, forming ferocious punk bands or promoting his upcoming gigs, Shane Haven lives and breathes Gainesville’s music scene.

As a drummer for the band Radon, formed in 1991, Haven is one of many musicians who was affected by the Santa Fe College Foundation’s recent evictions at MiniMaxi Warehouse. After practicing at the self-storage warehouse space for almost 25 years, he and more than 30 other bands were abruptly kicked to the curb.

On Feb. 16, the bands at MiniMaxi found eviction notices taped to their doors, ordering them to move out by March 18. To their surprise, all the other tenants who were not in bands were allowed to stay.

The tenants at MiniMaxi were given no explanation for the evictions. After seven weeks of frequent requests for comment, Santa Fe College Foundation has declined to comment on the reason for the evictions or its plans for the property.

MusicGNV, a non-profit program, has been supporting the independent music community in Gainesville since early 2020. And according to co-founder Brandon Telg, the evictions at MiniMaxi only made matters worse.

“There was already a shortage of rehearsal space before MiniMaxi evicted the musicians, people were already not sure where to go, so now it’s at crisis level,” Telg said.

Like others, Haven began looking for a new place to practice after the evictions, but every space he called was either fully booked or not taking in bands. In his search, he discovered a demand that desperately needed to be filled.

He pounced on the opportunity.

“We’re billing it as Gainesville’s first dedicated hourly rate band rehearsal and recording studio. Pretty much the new wave of how bands can practice,” Haven said.

Little Wing Studios, located at 4430 SW 35th Terrace, offers a full backline of equipment in a climate-controlled space.

When sound engineer and fellow drummer Andre Serafini heard about the studio, he quickly came to Gainesville to work on the project with Haven, who he's known through the music scene for upward of 30 years.

“The passion in Gainesville with the musicians and the fans alike is something I’ve never witnessed, which is kinda what got me up here. There's no other town like this where music is so important,” Serafini said.

For $25 an hour, Little Wing Studios accommodates musicians in need, while also providing them with the ability to record.

“Musicians just rent the time, usually two-to-three-hour blocks but it can be longer, and bring their guitars to plug and play. Drummers just bring their own cymbals,” Haven said.

Serafini explained that Little Wing is also full-service. He offers his sound engineering expertise, which he has used to power shows like Ultra Music Festival, to make bands more comfortable with the audio.

“We can pretty much give these artists as professional a sound as they would get on a big arena stage. Most places have a very simple PA system and just let the artist do it, but we definitely go several steps beyond that,” Serafini said.

As two people who have been entrenched in the music scene, Haven and Serafini said the rehearsal space was inspired by a love for the community.

“We’re here to help. We did it to support the scene,” Serafini said. “Shane [Haven] and I are just in this to really help out, and we’d love to be instrumental in the development of some young artists.”

In its first two weeks, Little Wing Studios has been a solution for a handful of Gainesville bands, with some even booking out their time slot for the entire month.

With such a pressing demand, Serafini and Haven said they understand the potential for expansion.

“We want to give it a couple months to see how it's gonna go, but we’re definitely in a position where we’re ready and talking about an expansion if the town needs it,” Serafini said.

Haven said their plan is to be the beginning of a permanent solution to the rehearsal space shortage.

“We’d love to expand and be an even bigger part of it because of our interest and love for the community,” he said.

Although Little Wing Studios is directly addressing the rehearsal space shortage, the entire community is doing its part as it attempts to revitalize bands in need.

“When there’s a need, we try to find a way to address it,” Telg said. “Rehearsal space is the biggest need the community has seen since Covid.”

Telg explained that when you don’t have rehearsal space, you don’t have bands, and when you don’t have bands, you don’t have a music community.

In response, MusicGNV is partnering with The Bull, the Civic Media Center and How Bazar - three music-adjacent venues that are opening their doors to bands in need.

There are currently six time slots, and rehearsal time is available for $20 per hour. One band that’s applied has already started practicing at The Bull.

“The intention here is for this to be sort of a Band-Aid on a large wound,” Telg said. “We’re hoping that other businesses will follow our lead and create a space for artists to come rehearse in off hours.”

Natan is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.