There are a few things that locals along the Gulf Coast agree upon, including the unmistakable beauty of the beaches during the autumn months and an appreciation for live music. The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) has listened to the community's input and added an Autumn Concerts in the Village five-week series to its line-up of annual fall events. The series kicks off with MKAF's annual farewell to summer concert on Sunday, Sept. 1 during Labor Day weekend and continues every Thursday night throughout September.



"With the expansion of the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, we now have a permanent stage and expanded space to create an incredible outdoor event experience," said MKAF Executive Director Marcia Hull. "We surveyed participants during the spring/summer Concerts in the Village, and based on their input we selected artists and genres with the most appeal."



The fall series kicks off with LavaLamp, performing the quintessential '70s chart topping hits. LavaLamp even dresses the part wearing 1970's style outfits and donning afros, but don't let the costumes detract from their musical prowess. LavaLamp is comprised of four seasoned musicians who decided to immerse themselves in the 70s and expertly replicate the sounds of Abba, the BeeGees, Cheap Trick, KC & the Sunshine Band, Steely Dan, and the Steve Miller Band, among many others.



"Our attendees like to get up and dance so we've worked hard to select extremely talented musicians as well as genres of music that are lively and upbeat," continued Hull. "We think our Autumn series hits the mark. We're especially excited to bring back Dread Clampitt, who were among the original bands to perform when we launched the series 18 years ago."



On Sept. 5, MKAF will host the Fountain City Players. After their spring performance was impacted due to inclement weather, the Fountain City Players will be back with the sounds of Motown, R&B, and Jazz. Founded three years ago by Doug Norman, Ben Weldon and Norris Dates, the band brings more than 40 years musical experience, performing rhythm and blues, ranging from the 1960s to the sounds of present day.



With classic country ranking among the top three popular genres, MKAF secured the Modern Eldorados for the Sept. 12 performance. Formed in 1996 by singer/songwriter Gretsch Lyles, the band is heavily influenced by country greats, including Marty Robbins, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. The Modern Eldorados have a sound that taps deep into the roots of traditional country, western swing and rockabilly.



Tributes to the most recognized and respected bands of the past several decades also ranked high and MKAF is honoring the greatest, most influential band of the last century, The Beatles, on Sept. 19. Known as The Return, this four member band has perfected the Beatles experience. From the tiniest detail, such as John Lennon's on-stage gum chewing to using exact replicas of the Beatles' instruments, The Return captures the sound and the very essence of The Beatles themselves. Delivering a truly authentic and entertaining show, The Return has performed for audiences worldwide, including headlining Japan's 40th anniversary celebration of The Beatles visit to Tokyo.



The finale concert of the season will feature local favorite, Dread Clampitt, on Sept. 26. The talented group of four musicians, Balder Saunders, Kyle Ogle, Kenny Oliverio and John Reinlie, have become a staple at the Red Bar and MKAF is delighted to host them for their inaugural performance on the Dugas Pavilion. After playing one of their first performances at the MKAF concert series over a decade ago, Dread Clampitt has become a legend in its own right. Dread Clampitt's sonic gumbo of influences, ranging from bluegrass, rock & roll, blues, jazz and Louisiana Bayou funk, easily lures audiences to their feet for a toe tapping good time.



Similar to the summer series, concert-goers are encouraged to bring their favorite lawn chair and a picnic or purchase dinner prepared fresh on-site. Chef Gary Serafin of Emerald Coast Catering will join Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q and Carrabba's Italian Grill in the weekly rotation, serving his signature homemade paella. Bottled water and soft drinks are available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the MKAF's cultural and education mission.



Autumn Concerts in the Village complements MKAF's other seasonal events and fundraisers, including Celebrity Waiter luncheon, Sept. 25; Festival of the Arts, Oct. 26-27; Race for the Arts, Nov. 2, A Tribute to George Rodrigue, Nov. 7; and Sounds of the Season, Dec. 6.



Admission to Autumn Concerts in the Village is $10 per adult and children under 12 are free. MKAF members receive a preferred member price of $5/adult as well as the option to upgrade to the picnic supper club, which includes a table and four to six chairs. Attendees may park at the Grace Lutheran Church while the grass seed is under restoration for the on-site parking lot. For more information, visit www.MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org or call 850-650-2226.