The Savants of Soul Play at the “Free Fridays” Concert Series Oct. 18


The Savants of Soul play at “Free Fridays” on Friday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville.

The Savants of Soul are a nine-piece Motown soul band built on a foundation of blues, soul, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, punk and ska. In 2015, the band released the EP “Sunday Best,” which followed the release of 2014's full-length LP “Downtown Sound.” The band has performed at notable festivals, such as Suwannee Hulaween (2016), the Red Gorilla Festival at South by Southwest (2017) and at the Gasparilla Festival this past March. The Savants of Soul have been featured alongside Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Benjamin Booker, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Original Wailers and Thomas Wynn & The Believers.

According to the band, “Soul music, like all great American popular music, is the blues cleaned up for a specific audience. In this case, divorced from its rigid 12-bar structure and filtered through jazz with a healthy dollop of rock ‘n’ roll, it retains its gritty heart but moves from the delta into the city as dance music. The Savants of Soul, in this tradition of genre melding, have taken southern deep soul and seasoned it with Motown, added some punk energy, jazz and modern R&B to end up with a sound that reveres its traditions without slavishly emulating them. The Savants of Soul are here to spread their gospel their way.”

The Savants of Soul are Justin McKenzie (lead vocals), Will Campbell (guitar), John Gray Shermyen (bass), Zachary Emerson (keyboards), Alexander Klausner (drums), Mandy Ferwerda (trumpet/vocals), Jacob Armstrong (trombone), Jordan Jones (tenor saxophone) and Ray Vigil (baritone saxophone).

“Free Fridays” is presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department and 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. The entire “Free Fridays” 2019 schedule can be viewed at  The Bo Diddley Plaza is located at 111 E. University Ave. in downtown Gainesville. For general information, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at or 352-393-8532. For more information about this event, please contact David Ballard at or 352-393-8746.