The sounds of summer
Concerts benefit Monroe merchants

MONROE - Be it bluegrass, cowboy jams or Jimmy Buffett-style beach grooves, the Walton County Historic Courthouse Lawn is alive this summer with the sound of music.

Think of it as a gigantic, free picnic. With a groovy soundsystem.

For the second year running, the Monroe Downtown Development Authority has kicked off a summer concert series that's playing host to an eclectic group of regional and national musicians. Held the first Friday of each month on Monroe's renovated square - positioned midway between Atlanta and Athens - the shows are a treat for residents and a boon for local merchants, leaders say.

"It's definitely brought new people to downtown Monroe," said Loren Roberts, promotions committee chair for the DDA. "It's been great for our restaurants, especially."

Several downtown eateries have created specially boxed, take-out dinners for concertgoers. The music starts each concert night at 7 p.m.

The Tams, a beach-music quintet and inductees in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, opened the concert series May 2 to a crowd of 1,000 plus, Roberts said.

Following that performance, Athens-based group The Sensational Sounds of Motown played the lawn Friday.

Three more shows are planned this summer:

July 4: The Walnut Grove Bluegrass Band;

Aug. 1: The Kinchafoonee Cowboys;

Sept. 5: The Swingin' Medallions.

Concert event chairperson Michele Thrasher said the upcoming shows will piggyback the momentum The Tam's got rolling in May.

"The concerts are just going to get bigger and better," she said.

For more information, or to reserve a VIP table or request menus from downtown restaurants, contact DDA Coordinator Ansley Holder at 770-266-5331 or aholder@monroega.gov.