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Friday, August 13, 2010

Lynyrd Skynyrd to Rock the Beach Aug. 15

Daily News
OKALOOSA ISLAND — Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform at the next Rock the Beach concert.
The Southern rock favorite will perform Aug. 15 on Okaloosa Island.
“Lynyrd Skynyrd is coming here because of the oil disaster and wanting to help out our community,” said Mark Bellinger, executive director of Okaloosa County’s Tourist Development Council. “For them, that is a major goal.”
Country newcomer Josh Thompson will be the opening act at the free concert. The county also has a verbal agreement with the Charlie Daniels Band to perform that night, Bellinger added.
The Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau sponsored the first Rock the Beach concert in June as part of an effort to boost morale and businesses in the area after the oil spill.
The June concert, featuring Kenny Loggins and the Doobie Brothers, drew more than 7,000 people and raised almost $6,000 for the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.
“I’m ecstatic that I can get bands that have a recognizable name (with) us booking them one week out, three weeks out from a concert and having them excited about playing on the beach and supporting our efforts,” Bellinger said.
Local businesses said they did well during the first concert and have high hopes for the next one.
“I think we’re going to have a much bigger crowd than we did for the last one,” said Joe Guidry, the general manager of the Ramada Inn on the Island. “It is a positive thing. … And it just puts a great spin on what’s happening on the island here and the area – that the beaches are fine, and the area is good, (so) come on down.”
The atmosphere at this concert might be a little different from the last show, said Bill Leaman, general manager at the Emerald Coast Conference Center.
With a little more time to plan than last time, organizers hope to bring in more local businesses as vendors to make the event feel more festive. They also plan other minor changes such as altering the angle of the stage, he said.
“We hope to duplicate the success (of the last concert) and make it even better,” Leaman said.
The August concert will be the last for this summer, but Bellinger is hopeful the county will continue the free concerts next season.
If the concert series continues next year, they might switch the venues between Destin, Okaloosa Island and Fort Walton Beach, he said.
“It’s a continuing effort to support our community and our businesses,” Bellinger said.
Rock the Beach 2 will begin at 7 p.m. on Okaloosa Island behind The Boardwalk.

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