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Concert series to heat up Monroe

MONROE - The downtown parties are back this summer in Monroe.

Be it bluegrass, cowboy twang or Jimmy Buffett-style beach grooves, the Walton County Historic Courthouse Lawn will continue rocking through September.

Important note: The boogie is free of charge.

For the third year running, the Monroe Downtown Development Authority is hosting an eclectic grouping of regional and national musicians as part of its First Friday Concert Series.

Held the first Friday of each month on Monroe's renovated square - tucked between Atlanta and Athens, as town leaders are fond of saying - the shows are a treat for residents and a boon for local merchants. The music starts each concert night at 7 p.m.

The shows routinely drew crowds of 1,000-plus last summer, DDA leaders said.

Two more shows are planned this summer:

· Aug. 7: Rockasaurus and

· Sept. 5: The Swingin' Medallions.

Seasoned vets Rockasaurus, a five-piece band based in metro Atlanta, run the variety band gamut between The Beatles, John Mellencamp and Bon Jovi. They're veterans of The Braselton Festival and Norcross Fall Festival, according to the group's Web site.

Party band stalwarts The Swingin' Medallions have traipsed the South since the early '60s, chalking up chart hits like "She Drives Me Out of My Mind" and their signature tune, "Double Shot (of My Baby's Love.)"

Founding member John McElrath still performs. He's usually accompanied by a more youthful ensemble of about eight members, all backed by at least a four-piece horn section.

The present Medallions stage show coins the group "The Party Band of the South."

For more information on the concert series, call the DDA at 770-266-5331.