GramFest returns to plaza on Friday

Ian Dunlop, Gram Parsons’ former bandmate in the International Submarine Band, headlines Friday’s salute to Parsons, GramFest, at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

Courtesy of Ian Dunlop
Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.

In the mid-’60s, Ian Dunlop and Gram Parsons would trade the hazy hubbub of Los Angeles for Joshua Tree, Calif., an area in the nearby desert known for its serene, almost mystical beauty and namesake vegetation.



What: Annual salute to country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons
When: 8-10 p.m. Friday
Where: Bo Diddley Community Plaza, 111 E. University Ave.
Cost: Free

There the two members of the International Submarine Band would recharge their musical batteries and revel in the expansive landscape between performances by their pioneering country-rock group.

“In 1967, I went out there several times with Gram,” Dunlop says about Joshua Tree. “We went out there with friends and sleeping bags and spent the night out under the stars. And I’m not quite sure, but I think I was probably the first one to take Gram out there in 1967, not long after we moved out there.”

On Friday, Dunlop returns for the third time to perform at GramFest, Gainesville’s annual musical tribute to Parsons, which also features Mick Marino and the Couch Messiahs, Quartermoon, Hal Shows & Curt McKenzie, and Karl Miller at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

Parsons also recorded with The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, influenced the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” and discovered Emmylou Harris among other accomplishments before dying in 1973 from a drug overdose at the Joshua Tree Inn. The 26-year-old singer/songwriter was born in Waycross, Ga., but grew up in Florida in his mother’s hometown of Winter Haven.

At GramFest in Gainesville, which lies between those two points, Dunlop will join the Couch Messiahs for performances of songs he once performed with Parsons as well as some of his own newer material.

“I will be doing some of the songs that influenced us, Gram and the Submarine Band,” Dunlop says about the mid-’60s group, which featured Parsons on guitar and vocals, and Dunlop on bass.

Dunlop says he always looks forward to performing at GramFest and in Gainesville, which the British-born musician appreciates for attributes that make it stand out in Florida.

“Gainesville’s sort of a cultured place, and it’s still in the Deep South in a way. That’s what I find very attractive about the Gainesville area. And of course, there are some good musicians in this town.

“There is some still interesting, roots-Americana music here that you don’t get in other places. And it has a history as well.”

Contact Entertainment Editor Bill Dean at 374-5039 or at, and follow on Twitter @SceneBillDean.

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