The 2018 series opens with Sing Me Back Home: In Memoriam to the Music of Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard and Gregg Allman by Mike Boulware and All My Friends. The concert pays tribute to these recently-departed musicians who each greatly influenced popular American music. Local musician Mike Boulware has put together a core band that he calls The Mudpies, named after Tom Petty’s early Gainesville based band Mudcrutch. It includes Boulware (guitar/vocals), Don David (guitar/vocals), Peter Frizell (bass/vocals), Jimmy Millsaps (drums/vocals), Brad Bangstad (keyboards), Tom Holz (guitar) and Jon Alexander (pedal steel). A number of special guests are also expected to join the band on select songs.
For the Tom Petty tribute, The Mudpies will concentrate on songs by the Gainesville band Mudcrutch. Mudcrutch was formed in 1970 by Tom Petty and Tom Leadon. In addition to Petty, Mudcrutch included future Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, as well as other popular Gainesville musicians. The group was the long time house band at Gainesville’s iconic music venue Dub’s.
Sing Me Back Home also pays tribute to other recently-departed musicians. A selection of hits from Grammy award-winning country music artist Merle Haggard, including “Mama Tried,” “Silver Wings” and “The Running Kind” will be featured. The tribute to celebrated singer/songwriter, television host and actor Glen Campbell will include his hits “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Line Man” and others from his career that sold more than 45 million records worldwide. The tribute to Gregg Allman, who was best known as part of the Allman Brothers band, will feature songs from his later solo career, including the hit “I’m No Angel.”
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 classic rock, blues, jazz, soul, reggae, R&B, pop, folk, ska, country, big band, progressive rock 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 special tributes especially for the concert series. In addition to the opening tribute, new tributes for 2018 include Jackson Brown, Santana and Janis Joplin, Buffalo Springfield, The Progressive Rock Experience, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and the return of The Relics with a tribute to Woodstock era music. Popular tribute bands, Heavy Petty (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) and The Impostors (The Beatles) will also play.
Sing Me Back Home is one of the select “Free Fridays” classic rock concerts sponsored by classic rock radio station WIND-FM (92.5, 95.5, 107.9).
“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 Culture Builds Florida. The entire “Free Fridays” 2018 schedule may be viewed at www.freefridaysgnv.com. The Bo Diddley Plaza is located at 111 E. University Ave. in downtown Gainesville. For general information, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-393-8532. For more information about this event, please contact David Ballard at email@example.com or 352-393-8746.