Charles Bradley Concert to Re-Open Bo Diddley Plaza

Closed since early this year for extensive renovations, the Bo Diddley Community Plaza re-opens Feb. 25 with a free concert featuring the Gainesville-born R&B singer.


Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley, a Gainesville native known for his soulful and captivating stage presence, will make his first-ever hometown appearance when the Bo Diddley Community Plaza re-opens on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

The free concert, from 6-10 p.m, is part of frank2016, an annual gathering of public-interest communicators sponsored by the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

The public event will also feature live art by 352Creates, performances by local bands and a variety of food trucks and micro-brews.

Concert organizers said that Bradley embodies the personality of frank—vibrant, passionate and determined. He recently performed at Bonnaroo, South by Southwest (SXSW), Coachella and Newport Folk Festival and is mentioned on the “Year-End Best” lists from GQ, Rolling Stone and MOJO.

Bradley, 67, is signed to the Daptone record label under the Dunham Records division. His performances and recording style are consistent with Daptone’s revivalist approach, celebrating the feel of funk and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s.

Charles Bradley in concert
Charles Bradley in concert

Although born in Gainesville and raised by his maternal grandmother, Bradley moved to Brooklyn at age 8 to live with his mother.

In 1962, his sister took him to Harlem’s Apollo Theatre to see James Brown perform. Bradley was so inspired by the “Godfather of Soul” that he practiced Brown’s style of singing and stage mannerisms at home. He wasn’t discovered until 1996, when he was moonlighting as a James Brown impersonator at local clubs.

Bradley’s next album, Changes, is scheduled for release on April 1, 2016. He is expected to perform many of his new songs at the Bo Diddley Plaza concert. Following that concert, festivities will continue with “Changeville.” Presented by frank, Changeville showcases those who use music, film and virtual reality to drive positive social change.

Changeville performances will take place at venues throughouot downtown Gainesville. Headlining acts include The Mountain Goats, an American indie-folk artist from Durham, North Carolina, at High Dive (210 SW 2nd Ave.) and Hurray for the Riff Raff, an American folk blues and Americana band from New Orleans, at the Wooly (20 N. Main St.).

Additional performers will be announced soon. Music and production for frank and Changeville is coordinated by local booking and promotions company Glory Days Presents! Local and regional bands that share a passion for driving positive social change and want to be a part of Changeville can apply at

Tickets for Changeville start at $25 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at

In February 2015, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s free concert was part of frank and was the last performance at Bo Diddley Plaza before it closed for renovations.

In this recent aerial photograph, renovations continue at fenced-off Bo Diddley Community Plaza.
In this recent aerial photograph, renovations continue at fenced-off Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

The Bo Diddley Plaza improvements include a gently-trickling water wall with 250 programmable lights, an informational kiosk, a green room for performers and a second café space. Led by the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in conjunction with several city departments, the rejuvenation will draw more events such as yoga, concerts and food-truck rallies to the downtown core.

While Bo Diddley Plaza has been closed, such events as the city’s Free Fridays Concert Series and the Union Street Farmers Market have moved temporarily to Lot 10, at the corner of Southwest 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street. Those events will return to Bo Diddley Plaza in the spring.

frank is inspired by Frank Karel and his wife Betsy, who endowed the Karel Chair at his alma mater, the UF College of Journalism and Communications, to build the field of public-interest communications. The gathering’s name, frank, refers to both the candor and directness associated with public-interest communications and pays homage to Karel’s contributions to the field.

For further info, visit the frank website.