After a successful show last year, the Progressive Rock Experience is returning to Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

The Free Fridays Concert Series is dedicating a night to progressive rock of the ‘70s on Friday, Aug. 30 at Bo Diddley Plaza. The concert is being held from 8 to 10 p.m. and is free to attend. 

Progressive rock is a style of rock music that was developed in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and features a heavy focus on the technical components of playing while also combining classical, jazz and folk influences.  

Keyboardist Brad Bangstad, 63, and his band will be performing covers of popular progressive rock songs including “Highway Star” by Deep Purple, “Turn It On Again” by Genesis, “Point of Know Return” by Kansas and “Lucky Man” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

The Progressive Rock Experience is the natural extension of Bangstad’s involvement with the local music scene. He has been a member of numerous tribute bands, including The Imposters, a Beatles tribute band. In 2018, Bangstad decided he wanted to perform progressive rock, one of his all-time favorite music genres. After recruiting some band members, he and his bandmates played at Bo Diddley Plaza last August. The show was so well received that the Free Fridays Concert Series decided to invite them back.

Suzanna Mars, the social media manager and assistant to the Free Fridays Concert Series, said a big reason for the show’s success is because people are drawn to progressive rock.

“People love to hear this music. It’s part of the fabric of their lives,” Mars said. “They have an emotional response to it. You can hear the music all the way down to the Hippodrome and people who are outdoors will come and listen and stay.”

The band has been rehearsing for the past five months in order to prepare for the show. Bangstad said this is because of how challenging the music can be to play.

“The music we are doing is sometimes technically difficult,” Bangstad said. “It takes a lot of work playing together to get it presentable.”

For Bangstad, the best part of performing is not the music, but rather the people he plays with.

“As I get older, I realize that there is a family of musicians in Gainesville. Everyone plays with everyone else in some sort of ensemble,” Bangstad said. “You start appreciating the comradery of working with people who love something that you are doing.”

 The Free Fridays 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 performing 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 Free Fridays Concert Series’s website at http://gnvculturalseries.org.