The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department announces the highly anticipated 2016 “Free Fridays” season concert schedule. The public is invited to join us for our annual series of free, family-friendly concerts at the newly-renovated Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville.
Featuring some of the finest local and regional musicians, the 2016 “Free Fridays” concerts open Friday, May 6, and continue each Friday night from 8-10 p.m., through Oct. 21. Since the Bo Diddley Plaza’s dedication in 1976, all ages have brought their blankets and lawn chairs into Gainesville’s downtown amphitheater and joined in the fun under the stars. With the recently completed renovation, the plaza features a new green room for performers and dressing rooms, as well as new speakers and a new LED-colored stage lighting system. The roof of the plaza also was treated with an acoustic spray foam to help improve the on-stage acoustics.
The 2016 series opens with Tapestry Rewoven, a Carole King Tribute, on May 6. This marks the 45th anniversary of the release of King’s landmark, multi-award winning “Tapestry” album. “Carole King’s Tapestry... Rewoven” features some of Gainesville’s finest musicians, including Cathy DeWitt, Mike Boulware, Janet Rucker, Don David, Heather Hall, Maggie Rucker and Carolina Boulware, along with bassist Ron Thomas, drummer Rob Rothschild and other special guests.
“Tapestry” was the first album in which the prolific songwriter, who co-wrote many hit songs for others, sang all the songs herself and wrote her own lyrics. It was also the first album by a female singer/songwriter to win three Grammys. “Tapestry” changed the face of American pop music, and became the best-selling album of all time, a position it held for more than a decade, beating out The Beatles and Elvis.
According to “Free Fridays” Event Coordinator David Ballard, “We have a great mix of returning old favorites and bands that are new to the series. We always try to present a diverse selection of musical styles, and this season we have music genres that include rock, blues, jazz, soul, reggae, R&B, pop, folk, ska, funk, country, big band, punk and Latin fusion, all culminating with the world music extravaganza presented by the University of Florida School of Music ensembles.”
A popular trend over the last several years at “Free Fridays” has been musicians who put together band tributes especially for the concert series. New tributes for 2016 include Carole King, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Bonnie Raitt and an Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale combination tribute. Other tributes include the return of the popular Impostors, The Beatles tribute; Heavy Petty, a tribute to Gainesville natives Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the annual Gram Fest tribute to country rocker Gram Parsons.
Free Fridays is funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council and a State of Florida Local Arts Agency grant. The entire “Free Fridays” 2016 schedule can be viewed at http://www.gvlculturalaffairs.org by clicking on the “Free Fridays” link under the events tab. The Bo Diddley Plaza is located at 111 E. University Ave. in downtown Gainesville.