“The goal is to bring people downtown and to these storefronts,” said Kristen Redmon, manager of Main Street Gainesville. “The hope is that we get people coming every month and that we get some repeat customers and maybe, when we switch up the band options, to maybe bring some new people who haven’t been downtown before.”
Before the concert gets started, at 7 p.m., Main Street Gainesville will have arts, crafts and games at the center of the square for the kids to enjoy.
“When parents are there getting food and drinks, it provides a little bit of entertainment before the show actually starts,” Redmon said. “There’s bowling, bubbles, chalk games, and the whole idea behind that is community … and to give the parents time to just relax and not feel like they have to rally the kids the entire time.”
After the kids are done playing, Redmon hopes people will grab some food from one of the restaurants on the square — or grab a meal from The Inked Pig, ChopBLOCK Food & Spirits or Kona Ice, which will be on-site at Roosevelt Square — and take it to the concert. Beer and wine from any of the places downtown are allowed to be carried to the concert, too, in the downtown dining district.
When it comes to the band, Redmon said Main Street Gainesville uses a third-party company that sends a list of local bands to choose from. Redmon and others choose a band from that list after researching the bands and watching videos of them online.
“You’re more so looking for an assortment of music,” Redmon said. “The sound is important, but also how lively and how personable the bands are. They could play good music, but they could be really boring, and that's not fun. So we’re looking at all these different characteristics.”
She said the Markey Blue Ric Latina Project is far from boring. They play blues and soul music, but also throw in some modern-day hits.
“They’ll do (hits) but in a different way than you’ve heard them before,” Redmon said. “We chose them just because it’s a good mix. It’s something different and that's really why we went with them.”
The First Friday concerts have been successful, even after just one show this season. About the same amount of people — at least 1,500 — showed up to see an Allman Brothers tribute band on May 3, which is about how many showed up to the last concert in the series for 2018. Usually, the first concert’s attendance isn’t as strong.
That gives Redmon hope for this year’s concerts to bring new visitors gain even more traction than it already has.
“I hope we have a reputation of bringing some good bands downtown,” Redmon said. “Maybe this will expand the repertoire of Gainesvillians and the kind of music they're into and continue to show that this is a fun place to come hang out.”