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Free summer concert series returns to Lawrenceville

Staff Photo: John Bohn Trumpet player Gordon Vernick of Grogus, a salsa and Latin jazz band, plays as the Moonlight & Music Concert Series began Friday evening at the Gwinnett Historical Courthouse in Lawrenceville.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Trumpet player Gordon Vernick of Grogus, a salsa and Latin jazz band, plays as the Moonlight & Music Concert Series began Friday evening at the Gwinnett Historical Courthouse in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Ramon Click, 9, of Winder, climbed a tree to obtain a good view as the Moonlight & Music Concert Series began Friday evening in Lawrenceville. Grogus, a salsa and Latin jazz band played a live show on the Gwinnett Historical Courthouse lawn.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul and Ann Hoffman, of Dacula, dance to the live music of Grogus, a salsa and Latin jazz band, as the season opens for Moonlight & Music Concerts on the grounds of the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse Lawn Friday evening.

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In this file photo from May, Maria Feltman, of Grayson, left, and Ruthie Oyola, of Lawrenceville, right, applaud the performance of Grogus, a salsa and Latin jazz band as the season opens for Moonlight & Music Concerts on the grounds of the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse Lawn.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Moonlight and Music Concert Series returned to Lawrenceville on Friday as locals and businesses alike benefited from the annual summer tradition in downtown Lawrenceville.

The series, which is free to the public, is held the last Friday of every month and features various bands throughout the summer. Friday night it was Grogus, a salsa/Latin jazz group from Athens.

"This series has been around for many years and it's a great way to bring the community together," said Mark Mullin, president of the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association. "Other cities in the county have been just as successful with these type of events because it's a good thing for everyone."

For Justin Bivins, outdoor concerts are something he's not accustomed to going to. However, after being invited by a friend, he decided to give the free concert a try.

"I love all types of music and the weather is beautiful outside," he said. "This is something new to me, so it's definitely something I'd come back to."

Mullin feels the free event is an advantage to many families on a budget.

"People are always looking for things to do and love outside events," he said. "The fact that they can come to a free concert is very appealing to many of them."

And if the salsa/Latin jazz isn't an attender's cup of tea, Mullin said there are four more concerts during the summer, featuring multiple other generes of music. And if locals continue to come out in droves, he said there's a possibility there could be more concerts next year.

"We'll have the lawn finished next year one block over from the courthouse," he said. "That will be city-owned property, whereas the courthouse lawn is county-owned. We can get a good feel for what people like and if we can make it successful, we'll do it."

He did caution that weather has a lot to do with what can be done as there are no contingency plans if the weather gets bad.

"Most of the bands we book have their own schedules they stick to," Mullin said. "So if it rains one night, then we just pack everything up and get ready for the next one."

Mullin noted that not only are people benefiting from a free concert, but businesses along the square are getting extra patrons.

"There are many people who are eating dinner at some of the restaurants along the square and going into our stores," he said. "Our businesses get an increase in traffic and citizens are getting a free concert. So, it's a win-win for everyone."

The rest of the summer will feature:

-- June 28: Abbey Road LIVE! (Beatles tribute)

-- July 26: Randall Bramblett Band (Americana singer-songwriter)

-- Aug. 30: Yacht Rock Schooner ('70s FM radio hits/variety)

-- Sept. 27: Electric Avenue ('80s MTV synthesizer pop band)

"We have a good variety of music coming in this year to suit the tastes of everyone," Mullin said.