Sam Pacetti, with special guest Gabe Valla and opening act the Obscure Bothers, Perform at the Last Jewel Box Concert of the Season at the Thomas Center


The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, in cooperation with Shakerag Culture Center, Inc., is pleased to announce the upcoming Jewel Box Concert at the Historic Thomas Center Friday, July 31, featuring the virtuoso guitarist Sam Pacetti with special guest flatpicking guitar champion Gabe Valla. Also sharing the bill is opening act the Obscure Brothers. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the Obscure Brothers start at 7:30 p.m. Sam Pacetti starts at 8 p.m.  Admission is $20 at the door - cash or check only, please.

The evening’s concert has been dubbed, “Once in a Blue Moon,” as it aptly falls on a blue moon, the second full moon in the same month. At the show, Pacetti will be celebrating the long-awaited release of and playing songs from his new CD “Origins.”   


Tradition and innovation neatly balance in Sam Pacetti's music, the whole infused by a relentless intelligence intent on musical and philosophical synthesis. Martin Simpson, Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell and Merle Travis are touchstones to Pacetti, and, while there are strong elements of the American primitive school of guitar wizardry throughout his work, there is a powerful raw emotionality evident as well. Pacetti has been called a fingerstyle guitar wizard, a deft songwriter and capable of haunting depth and wry humor in the space of one song. Onstage he is an impassioned and ecstatic vocalist, as well as a mesmerizing performer, seamlessly melding head-spinning guitar pyrotechnics and raw emotion into one breathtaking package.

Sam Pacetti grew up in north Florida. At age 13, he found the music of both Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, profound influences on his early musical development. Then fate intervened shortly afterward in the person of Gamble Rogers, the legendary picker and raconteur from St. Augustine, who took the young Pacetti under his wing. It was a time of astonishing musical and emotional growth. Pacetti and Rogers met and played weekly for a year, until Rogers tragically died while trying to save a drowning tourist caught in an undertow at Flagler Beach, Florida. Though brief in their time together, Rogers was able to instill in Pacetti the importance of the folk process, the passing of music and oral tradition from teacher to student. Pacetti still counts Rogers as his most influential mentor.

Of the artist, Eric Fidler of the Associated Press says, “If Kottke, Fahey and Procter are household names where you live, consider getting familiar with Sam Pacetti's work. This young guitarist is an enormous talent. Pacetti is a simply astonishing guitarist."        

Videos of the Sam Pacetti performing “Breakthrough” can be viewed at His website can be viewed at


Gabriel Valla was born in 1975, and grew up in a musical family in northern Florida. His mother, Kathy, played piano and guitar, while his father, Ray, was a guitar and mandolin teacher and recording studio proprietor. As Valla was growing up, a succession of musicians passed through the Valla home and recording studio, including John Hartford, Bernie Leadon, Gamble Rogers, Vassar Clements, Tony Rice and more. By the time he reached his teen years, Valla was assisting his father in the studio. His skill with a guitar was confirmed when, in 1991, Valla won the guitar flatpicking contest at MerleFest. He had been playing the guitar for two years. During the early 1990s, as guitarist/vocalist, Valla was a member of the Gainesville bluegrass group Endless Highway. They traveled to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to compete in the Southeast Regional Showdown and scored second place. Spotted by Mid-Knight Records, the band recorded a self-titled album during 1996. That same year, the group played a showcase at the last International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) convention held at its original location in Owensboro, Kentucky. During 1997, Gabriel Valla produced Same Pacetti’s debut solo recording “Solitary Travel.” It became the third release on the then-fledgling Waterbug Records label.  In addition to Pacetti, Valla has participated in studio projects with Larry Rice, Mark Johnson, Scott Vestal and Aubrey Haynie.


Well-known solo performing artists Bob Patterson and Charley Simmons have recently joined forces as the Obscure Brothers, something Renee Unsworth of calls a "perfect pairing." Both Patterson and Simmons have spent their whole lives entertaining folks with their music and stories. Patterson received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Storytelling Association, the Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award from the Stetson Kennedy Foundation and numerous songwriter awards, including Best Florida Song. Simmons is a Utah State Flattop Guitar Champion, a Wyoming Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, a Gamble Rogers Fingerstyle Guitar Champion and a winner in the KRCL Singer/Songwriter Competition. The Obscure Brothers are a unique collaboration, showcasing their songwriting and performing abilities in the folk, blues, swing, bluegrass and jazz tradition to the delight of their audiences.

Photographs of Sam Pacetti, Gabe Valla and the Obscure Brothers can viewed at  

Guests are welcome to bring their favorite wine or champagne, and an attendant will tend their bottle. Plastic glasses will be provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own glassware as well. Authentic homemade Indian cuisine will be available for purchase.

The Jewel Box Concerts at the Thomas Center has been a series of multi-genre musical events staged in the historic Thomas Center’s Spanish Court. They featured a spectrum of national and international touring artists from folk to classical and from jazz to bluegrass, with special holiday shows and surprise guests.

The Jewel Box Concerts at the Thomas Center are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

The Historic Thomas Center is located at 302 NE Sixth Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601. For additional information, please contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at or 352-393-8532, or contact Joseph Saccocci, vice president Shakerag Culture Center, Inc., at or 352-373-5514.