City has plans for weekend entertainment


Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.

Thanks to the upcoming “Free Fridays” concert series and the inaugural Jest Fest!, residents will be in for a real treat with free entertainment offered by the city of Gainesville.

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Little Jake Mitchell & The Soul Searchers will perform June 7 at Bo Diddley Community Plaza. (Special to the Guardian)

Facts

CONCERTS/COMEDY

What: The annual “Free Fridays” concert series and the new Jest Fest!.
When: Concerts, 8-10 p.m. Fridays, April 5-Nov. 8; Jest Fest!, 6-8 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for roving entertainers) Saturdays, April 6-27.
Where: Bo Diddley Community Plaza, downtown Gainesville.
Information: Call 352-393-8746 or visit www.gvlculturalaffairs.org.

This year, the concert series has been expanded and will offer weekly concerts from 8-10 p.m. on Fridays beginning April 5 through Nov. 8. The Jest Fest! will make its debut for a month of family entertainment from 6-8 p.m. on Saturdays beginning April 6 through April 27.

During Jest Fest!, performances will be featured beginning at 5:30 p.m. by entertainers who will move through the audience. Both events will take place at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza in downtown Gainesville.

David Ballard, events coordinator at the city of Gainesville, said the activities will be signature events to draw visitors to the area.

This year, Ballard said the concert series will feature a mix of returning old favorites and bands that are new to the series.

During African-American Music Appreciation Month in June, Gainesville's own Little Jake Mitchell & The Soul Searchers will kick off the concerts. “Little Jake is a consummate artist,” Ballard said. “He is an icon, a legend, a great entertainer, and he draws a great crowd.”

In keeping with the tradition of presenting a diverse selection of musical styles, the genres featured will include rock, blues, jazz, reggae, R&B, pop, folk, bluegrass, ska, funk Irish traditional, Latin Fusion, and the world music extravaganza presented by the University of Florida School of Music Ensembles.

Ballard said the entertainment planned for Jest Fest! will include “The Flying Wallendas,” who will perform a medley of circus acts and acrobatic feats on a high wire, jugglers, a magic show and a puppet show.

“Jest Fest! is a family event that everyone will enjoy,” said Ballard. ”Each Saturday will feature entirely different entertainers, so to enjoy all that Jest Fest! has to offer, patrons need to attend all four evenings.”

There also will be caricature artists, face painting and balloon art. Below is the Jest Fest! schedule:

April 6: The Cirikli Stilt Bird puppets of Epcot Center fame, the TreeMan stilt character and juggling by Todd Key, aka TreeMan. There also will be a short preview of the Hippodrome Theatre's production, “Robin Hood,” which opens April 10.

April 13: Barbara and Ina and their living and breathing human statue exhibition, Ken Silkie's interactive show, “An Evening at the Opera with Bob” and, silent clown Arsene Dupin of Paris performing his “Magikhana” magic/comedy show.

April 20: Marc Dobson's walking one-man band, Magical Mystical Michael's “cool magic show,” the Fort Clarke Middle School percussion group and the Jongleur Jugglers of Gainesville.

April 27: “The Flying Wallendas” and also Magic Mike, the Santa Fe College Theatre Department, Rainbow Tiger Circus, Alachua County Public Schools art students, Moxie Puppets and the Thomas Center Theatre for Young Audiences, all of Gainesville.

Below is the “Free Fridays” schedule for April, May and June:

April 5: “Mike Boulware & The Dreamcatchers,” songwriter classics.

April 12: “Quartermoon,” folk rock.

April 19: “The Shambles,” classic rock.

April 26: “Hot Club Deville,” gypsy jazz and western swing.

May 3: “Alley Cats,” rock/pop/jazz.

May 10: “64 Nickels,” classic rock.

May 17: “The Music of the Band,” a band tribute from various artists.

May 24: “Gainesville Community Jazz Band,” jazz.

May 31: “The String Kings,” classic rock.

June 7: Little Jake Mitchell & The Soul Searchers,” blues/R&B.

June 14: “Wester Joseph's Stereo Vudu,” rock/vudu rawk/ska.

June 21: “Fast Lane,” R&B/soul/funk.

June 28: “De Lions of Jah,” reggae.

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