by Savannah Evanoff
Live music doesn’t need walls.
As the spring air flows into Northwest Florida, the region welcomes a variety of outdoor concerts featuring local and visiting artists. The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation is among the organizations hosting an outdoor concert series, the 22nd annual Summer Concerts in the Village on Thursday evenings May 4 through June 29.
Marcia Hull, chief executive officer for the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, said it expanded the series to 15 concerts in a variety of genres. Mattie Kelly Arts Village is known for dance music, she said.
“By the time the sun starts to set and the second half starts, you can see everybody out here dancing,” Hull said. “From children to seniors. You’ll see a lot of women getting up and dancing together. It’s a great way to spend the evening with the community.”
The concerts in the Dugas Pavilion are not ordinary, though. Artists from all around the country, such as Nashville and Austin, have called it a “phenomenal venue,” Hull said.
“From an artist’s perspective, they feel like they’re on a very commanding, majestic stage,” Hull said. “Here you have a naked venue, is what I call it, and all of a sudden you have this stage with lights, backdrops and all the production equipment on stage. It just transforms into a music venue.”
The event series will feature Emerald Gold, a popular Niceville band; The Embers, a beach music group from North Carolina; Triggerproof, an emerging cover band; The Maxx, an energetic pop group and more, Hull said. Hull is particularly excited to see Flow Tribe, a funk and rock group from New Orleans.
Alter Eagles, an Eagles tribute band, will return to perform at the concert series May 25. Its last performance marked the largest attendance at a concert, with 2,000 attendees, Hull said.
Hull encourages concertgoers to bring lawn chairs, blankets, a picnic or a cooler and bottle of wine. Food trucks and restaurants will also be on-site offering food and drinks such as shaved ice, barbecue, Italian Ice and Italian food, Hull said.
The concerts will also feature a raffle drawing at intermission. Guests can purchase raffle tickets for $1 each for a chance to win paddle board rentals, golf certificates and other activity certificates. The money will go toward Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s outreach initiatives such as Warrior Arts, a program to help military members with post-traumatic stress disorder enjoy art projects.
It’s a moving experience when an artist honors the military with patriotic songs during a concert, Hull said.
“There’s just something that makes you, as the saying goes, proud to be an American …” Hull said. “We recognize and salute the military families that are sacrificing for our freedom so we can sit here and enjoy, in a very safe environment, the music and camaraderie we can as we come together as a community.”
The Summer Concerts in the Village shows the influence of music and how it enhances our quality of life, Hull said.
“Lyrics or songs enhance our emotions and you have great memories of it,” Hull said. “I know especially how music can be impactful for those with autism or special needs; it’s very powerful.”
Here is a list of outdoor concert series in Northwest Florida:
Summer Concerts in the Village
Where: Dugas Pavilion and Village Green at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, 4323 Commons Drive W, Destin
Time: 7-9 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m.
Dates: Thursdays, May 4- June 29; Emerald Gold, Flow Tribe, Fountain City Players and Alter Eagles are scheduled for May.
Cost: $15 general admission, free for Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation members and those 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Details: Visit mattiekellyartsfoundation.org.
Bands on the Blackwater
Where: downtown Milton
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Dates: Fridays in April-June
Cost: Free admission
Details: Visit ci.milton.fl.us/.
What: Enjoy music alongside the Blackwater River from the comfort of your lawn chair or seating on your boat. Modern Eldorados, The Blenders, The Reunion Band, and Dusty Sanderson Band will perform in May.
Concerts at The Landing
Where: Fort Walton Landing Park, 139 Brooks St. SE, Fort Walton Beach
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Dates: Fridays through July 7, excluding June 2
Cost: Free admission