This weekend, Gainesville’s free concert series will pay tribute to one of the most iconic years in music history.
The Free Fridays Concert Series is hosting “The Summer of ‘69: Fifty Years On” at Bo Diddley Plaza on Friday, July 12. The show aims to celebrate both the music and the cultural events of 1969. The concert is from 8-10 p.m. and is free to attend.
Musician Tran “The Piano Man” Whitley and his band will be performing covers of songs released in 1969. The setlist includes songs such as “Get Together,” “Badge,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Son of a Preacher Man”.
While many people associate the summer of ‘69 with Woodstock, Whitley wants the show to be about the entire year, rather than a single event.
“Obviously, you can’t do a ‘Summer of ‘69 without doing something from Woodstock”, Whitley said. “What I wanted to do was expand the entire year of 1969.”
To achieve this goal, Whitley decided to incorporate different styles of music into his setlist, as well as reference societal events that occurred throughout the year.
“It’s not going to be just the songs”, Whitley said. “I also want to have a shout-out to other things that happened then.”
Whitley plans to show archival footage from the year, including the moon landing, television reporters delivering news, Rodney Dangerfield on the Ed Sullivan Show and black comedian Godfrey Cambridge doing standup.
During 1969, Whitley was 20 years old and an up-and-coming musician in Gainesville. He said there were more opportunities for new kinds of musical expression than in previous years.
“In 1969, there was a lot of excitement about being in a band. You could play your own music. You could do your own thing and be creative,” Whitley said. “You could play all over town and all over the area. It was great.”
The Free Friday Concert series is an outdoor concert series hosted by the City of Gainesville at Bo Diddley Plaza every Friday from May through October. Each week features different local and regional musicians playing both covers and original songs of a variety of genres including classic rock, reggae, soul, funk and blues.
Information about upcoming performances can be found on the series’s website