Sluggo’s has been a Pensacola staple for years. Regardless of the size, condition or location of the building, people have continued to support it. This weekend, Sluggo’s will hold a music festival Thursday through Saturday to celebrate its four-year anniversary at its current location on Jefferson Street downtown.
“It was originally just going to be a Friday and Saturday thing, but it really grew quicker than we expected,” manager Gina Mangold said. “It transpired into this event where we can celebrate the place, but also all the people that helped us get here.”
Twenty-three bands are scheduled to play over the three days and all but three are local.
“Those who are playing but don’t live here are old friends of Sluggo’s,” Mangold said. “Names you’ve probably seen or heard before.”
The shows are all ages and scheduled to start promptly at 8 p.m. each night to ensure that all the bands will fit into the schedule.
“I can remember cramming like seven or eight people into a van when we were younger and driving over to the Sluggo’s on Cervantes to see a show because it was one of the only all ages venues in the area,” Sluggo’s employee Josh Carroll said. “I moved back here last fall and started working at Sluggo’s in October. I used to go to lots of show at the Cervantes location, but
it’s been really great being downtown. There will just be a big crowd out front on a Saturday. It’s great.”
The Jefferson Street location has allowed Sluggo’s to embrace being a restaurant and build a larger clientele on that end, but maintaining its reputation as a key local music venue has always been on the forefront of their business plan.
“I feel like we’ve been able to grow a lot, but we’re finally getting back to where Sluggo’s started,” Mangold said. “It’s taken us four years to really get back to being a music venue.”
Regardless of age, experience or notoriety, local bands and artists are encouraged to take advantage of the platform Sluggo’s offers. Whether it’s organizing a show or dropping off artwork to be displayed on the walls, the opportunity to engage the community with whatever you’re making is there.
“If people want to put in the effort, they can show whatever they want,” Mangold said. “I feel like it’s pretty rare for a venue to say ‘what’s mine is yours.’”
This weekend’s music festival is a celebration of the open-ended community of people wanting to share and support one another in their various endeavors.
“I think it’s just going to be a good time for everyone to get together and show our appreciation for people who have given us a lot of support over the years and have been really crucial in the scene and instrumental in making things happen,” Carroll said. “And the lineup is great. There’s a really good batch of local bands.”
There will be drink specials. There will be people eager to check out music, both familiar and unfamiliar. There will be food. And of course, there will be reminiscing, nostalgia and general appreciation for a place that has served as such an important outlet in the community for years.
“If there are people who don’t usually come out to shows who come to this, I think it will give you a really good idea of what it’s like,” Carroll said. “It’s like the Cliff Notes version of the Pensacola music scene.”
The response to the weekend’s game plan has been so great that there is already talk making it a yearly event.
“I definitely feel like it’s something we can do annually. I feel like we can start small and build it up from here, and see if it can continually grow,” Mangold said.
Sluggo’s Four Your Fest
WHEN: Thursday April 17- Saturday April 19
WHERE: Sluggo’s, 101 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $4 per day