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Posted on: May 3, 2023

2023 First Friday Concert Series returns this week, May 5

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (May 3, 2023) – Delivering the high-energy melodies a Cinco de Mayo event demands, Willie Ziavino & C.O.T (Circle of Trust) Band will jumpstart the 2023 First Friday Concert Series with a Latin-based playlist starring “… a musical fusion of Caribbean rhythms [intertwined] with elements of funk, pop and Brazilian beats,” states

The Main Street Gainesville-hosted concert takes place from 7-10 p.m. Friday, May 5, on the historic square in downtown Gainesville.

“First Fridays feel like the start of summer on the square; it’s a time when the whole community comes together,” said Main Street Manager Nicole Parham.

The summer concert series continues monthly through September, featuring the following performers the first Friday of every month: Willie Ziavino & C.O.T Band (salsa band), May 5; Hot Flash (‘80s rock 'n' roll), June 2; Backyard Loveseat (country rock), July 7; Mixtape (variety band), Aug. 4; and Six Foot Ramblers (country folk), Sept. 1. Events are free and open to the public.

“First Friday concerts are held with the goal of bringing our community downtown to support our small businesses,” Parham said. “Our hope is to give our retailers a boosted night of shoppers, our restaurants a full evening of patrons, and to remind the community about all the great services and businesses that make up the fabric of downtown.”

Based in Atlanta, C.O.T. Band was founded in 2010 by lead vocalists Willie Ziavino and Juan Bonini, who’s also a percussionist. Ziavino’s Ecuadorian roots combined with Bonini’s Panamanian background are to thank for the band’s fusion of trova, jazz and Caribbean/Brazilian rhythms.

“We play a mix of salsa, merengue, funk, bachata, Caribbean rhythms, jazz, rumba, trova Cubana and Brazilian beats with our own twist,”, the band’s official website, states.

American band members Kevin Hyde (trombone, vocals) and Dan Baraszu (electric guitar) also influence C.O.T. Band’s sound, as do El Salvadorian Hector "Perico" Mancia (keyboard, vocals) and Puerto Rican Luis "Chunky" Gonzalez (drums, percussion).

“This world music style blends perfectly with the melting pot that is Atlanta,” states.

So perfectly, in fact, that C.O.T. Band is well known in Atlanta's Latin music scene, performing weekly for the last 13 years in the best Latin venues in the city.

“The C.O.T. Band was invited in 2014 to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival and Chattanooga, [Tennessee’s] Riverbend Festival,” states. “They have also performed for Coca-Cola, [the] High Museum of Art, Georgia State [University], National Society of Hispanic MBAs, Hispanic National Bar Association, among others. C.O.T. Band has also been invited to several Southeast music festivals.”

The main stage will be located at the corner closest to Roosevelt Square, at Bradford and Spring streets. Bradford and Spring streets will close by 3 p.m. to allow crews to set up the stage and other equipment.

"We’ll close parking earlier, but by 5 p.m., Washington and Main streets will be closed to traffic, allowing time for food trucks to get in place," Parham said.

Set up your chairs/blankets on the lawn starting at 6 p.m., then grab a bite and/or beverage downtown or at a nearby vendor.

Be sure to visit with City of Gainesville staff who will be slinging some freebies and cool Main Street- and Gainesville-branded merch at the “The Gateway”, the Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new mobile welcome center.

Find free and covered parking at any one of the following downtown parking decks, all located within walking distance to the historic square: Main Street Parking Deck, 301 Main St.; Gainesville North Parking Deck, 100 Brenau Ave.; and Hall County Parking Facility, 225 Green St.

For updates, “Like” and follow @DowntownGainesvilleGA on Facebook or Instagram, or visit

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