‘Free Fridays' concert series return this week

The Dreamcatchers with, front row from left, Jackson DeWitt and Carolina Boulware; middle row, Dino Campbell, Cathy DeWitt and Michael Boulware; and back row, Pete Frizzell, Rob Rothschild and Don David, will perform Friday in the first concert of the 2013 “Free Fridays” Concert Series. (Courtesy photo)

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:32 p.m.

David Ballard's biggest challenge is all mathematics: squeezing great talent into small spaces.


‘Free Fridays' Concert Series

What: Series opens with Mike Boulware and The Dreamcatchers
When: 8-10 p.m. Friday
Where: Bo Diddley Community Plaza, 111 E. University Ave.
Cost: Free
Info: www.gvlculturalaffairs.org

Upcoming ‘Free Fridays' concerts
April 12: Quartermoon, folk-rock
April 19: The Shambles, classic rock
April 26: Hot Club Deville, Gypsy jazz/Western swing
May 3: Alley Cats, rock, pop, jazz
May 10: 64 Nickels, classic rock
May 17: The Music of The Band, tribute with 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
June 14: Wester Joseph's Stereo Vudu, rock/ska
June 21: Fast Lane, R&B/soul/funk
June 28: De Lions of Jah, reggae
July 5: All American Song Fest, songs about America
July 12: Morningbell, psychedelic Rock
July 19: Uncle Morty's Rhythm Cream, R&B/pop-rock
July 26: An Triur, traditional Irish
Aug. 2: Little Mike and the Tornadoes, blues-rock
Aug. 9: Chris McCarty, acoustic rock
Aug. 16: Tom Shed, country/folk
Aug. 23: The Irie Ones, reggae
Aug. 30: Crooked Counsel, classic rock
Sept. 6: Monica Leadon Cooper & The Y'All Stars, country rock/acoustic
Sept. 13: The Impostors, Beatles tribute band
Sept. 20: Heavy Petty, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tribute
Sept. 27: Tropix, Latin fusion
Oct. 4: The Relics, Woodstock-era tribute
Oct. 11: In Flyte, The Music of the Byrds, tribute with various artists
Oct. 18: Patchwork, folk/bluegrass
Oct. 25: 6th Street Rhythm & Blues Review, old school R&B/jazz
Nov. 1: GramFest, Gram Parsons tribute with various artists
Nov. 8: UF School of Music Ensembles, world music

As events coordinator for the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Department, he picks the bands for the popular “Free Fridays” Concert Series, which returns Friday at 8 p.m. to the Bo Diddley Community Plaza for a season of free performances that runs through early November.

“Honestly, it comes down to picking who doesn't play,” Ballard says, “because I get so many great bands who apply for the spot.”

But, thanks to a sponsorship donation from The Hampton Inn and Suite downtown, the concert series starts a month earlier this year.

Ballard says the city should get ready for 32 weeks of concerts this year — the first of which features The Dreamcatchers, a first-time local supergroup assembled by native Mike Boulware.

“Mike's opened up the series for the last two years,” Ballard says, “and he always puts on great, great concerts.”

Boulware, 60, is a lifetime musician who was first exposed to country and rockabilly music through his parents.

“Mom and dad always played music,” Boulware, a member The Imposters, a local Beatles tribute band, says. “They were really talented, and I would play with them.”

Since the '80s, Boulware has owned various music shops in the city, cementing himself as a staple of the city's music scene. He remembers the days when Tom Petty sang in the choir and dropped out of high school, and he can rattle off every Gainesville musician who's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with ease; a few years ago, he and a group of local musicians even did a tribute show.

“There's a really thriving musical thing here,” he says about Gainesville.

On Friday, Boulware and a group of handpicked musicians — The Dreamcatchers — will honor well-known singer/songwriters of the 1960s and '70s.

Boulware says he found refuge in that group of performers after guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman (of The Allman Brothers) and Clarence White (of The Byrds) passed away in rapid succession in the early '70s. Artists like Carole King, James Taylor and Bob Dylan started to amazed him at the time with their sensitivity and poignant writing.

Friday's show, Boulware says, will be a homage to their contributions. “Those people held an incredible spot in my heart,” he says. “They've really changed our culture in a big way.”

For Ballard, fun is in observing. Once the work is over, he enjoys watching the musicians channel an audience.

“They work really hard and draw a lot of people,” he says. “I think that's kind of a way of the musicians: giving to the people and sharing with them.”

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