The annual Free Fridays Concert Series closed out the 2010 season with a spectacular performance by the UF World Music Ensemble.  Individual ensembles performed music from the Middle East, Cuba, Brazil, and Africa.  Agbedidi Africa is a favorite of mine and it disproves an old notion that white people can’t dance; some of them can and do so brilliantly.  Agbedidi Africa mixes percussion and dance into a thundering showdown of sound and movement that ultimately worked its way into a dance-off between audience members whom the group invited to the stage.  Before that, it featured an explosive drum-off between two African musicians whose hands beat like wings on the skins of their instruments, so quickly that the hands nearly appeared transparent.  For me, Agbedidi Africa’s joyous and dramatic performance was one of the highlights of the 2010.

My Monday concert feature will be back in May.  Today, I thought I’d throw some personal observations out there, plus pics of Friday’s concert.

RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY HEAD:  In the best tradition of Uncle Sam’s military, the U. S . Navy Cruisers rocked on despite an intense nearby display of Mother Nature’s stormy might.  The weather reports kept the audience numbers low, so you probably missed this great show.  I hope the band will be back on tour next summer. All-American Songfest also got hit hard by rain, leaving a few hardcore fans huddled around the edge of the stage for Boulware and Co.’s final number.

STEPPING UP:  Both Other Voices and Quartermoon stepped up their games on the Plaza stage.  Other Voices’ “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is the song of the season for me, and luckily we got to hear it twice. Quartermoon’s show with blistering lead guitar by Ned Stewart and virtuoso fiddling by Geoff Perry made me see this band in a new light.

BEST GEE-WHIZ MOMENT:  Velveeta Underground’s asking if anyone had a camera to take a picture of their large Plaza crowd.  Shit-eating grin on Jim Wegman’s face.  Velveeta Underground owned that stage on this very special night.

BEST COURSE IN MUSIC HISTORY:  Hands down, Chuck Levy (and friends).  This living-room-intimate primer in banjo/fiddle musicology was a real treasure.

BEST “I SURVIVED THE SIXTIES (OR SEVENTIES) MOMENT”:  A three-way tie.  Mick Marino’s stunning tribute to the Allman Brothers; the Relics’ nod to Woodstock; the Imposters’ happy Beatles covers.  I’d like to see further projects along these lines.  They make me irrationally happy.

CONCERT I MISSED BECAUSE I HIT MY HEAD:  Little Jake.  The day before, I’d been loading the Sinbad props and costumes into David Ballard’s van at the Thomas Center.  I stood up too quickly while getting out and thwack!

BEST PHOTOGRAPHIC MOMENT:  Guest drummers from Africa with Agbedidi Africa.  Talk about personality.



SONG I’M STILL SINGING IN THE SHOWER:  “Marching Off to War” (Morningbell).

Thanks to the City of Gainesville Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs for making the concert series happen.  The fact that the series was up for a cut reminds me that if you love something, you need to speak up about it or risk having it appear as if you don’t care.  If you’re passionate about theatre, sports, parks, music, historic buildings or what-have-you, make some noise on their behalf.  In keeping with this thought, I am also posting some more photos of downtown Gainesville.

Roof of the Hippdrome Theatre.  Always remember to look up.

Friday night at 7 PM; fountain in back of the Hipp.  A few restaurant patrons at Amelia’s.

Courtyard at Boca Fiesta.  I am still looking for that Mission-style burrito I enjoyed in San Francisco.

The Hipp wearing yellow….

…and some Hipp theatregoers wearing black, before Friday’s performance of “Dracula.”

How much “more green” can it get?

The Lunchbox Cafe through a palm.

Love the way the artificial light looks here.

Rush hour.