Concert-goers at one of last year's TGIF events in downtown Morganton dance to the music on the Historic Burke County Courthouse Square.

Those longing for warmer weather and outdoor fun received something to look forward to on Tuesday morning.

That is when the Morganton Main Street Department and Historic Morganton Festival announced the artist lineup for this year’s TGIF summer concert series on the Historic Burke County Courthouse Square in downtown. The first concert will take place on May 1 and the series wraps up on July 31.

“We usually have 12 concerts annually, but this year with it being a Leap Year and how the dates fall, we have 13 concerts planned spanning the whole summer season,” said Abby Nelson, marketing and events coordinator for Main Street. “May 1, we’ll start things off and we’ll go through every Friday through July 31. The only Friday that we do not have a concert, as usual, is Friday, July 3.”

That first show will feature Hickory-based classics/R&B band The Extraordinaires while Morganton’s own Eagle Joe Leatherman, a southern rock singer/songwriter, will cap off the summer’s 13 shows.

In between, TGIF will feature Morganton native singer/songwriter Chris McGinnis (May 8), variety group ACE Party Band (May 15), cover group 20/20 Rock Band (May 22), local favorites Greg Mastin and The Druthers (May 29), Morganton classic rock band Sweet Revenge (June 5), modern rockers Porch 40 (June 12), Celtic-style Tuatha Dea (June 19), singer/songwriter Hobo Cane (June 26), Taylorsville’s The Night Move Band (July 10), singer/percussionist Melody Trucks and her band (July 17) and series staple Throwdown Jones (July 24).

The vast majority of those artists are local to the region, something Nelson described as a goal for the series.

“With TGIF, we usually get a lot of submittals for bands from across North Carolina, but they tend to be concentrated to our region from Morganton to Charlotte and Asheville,” she said. “That tends to be our crop of entries. ... TGIF has always really prided itself on being local and having a local flair to it.”

This year’s lineup also features artists who have reeled in a plenitude of accolades, particularly the finale artist, who will make his TGIF debut.

“I know (Leatherman) has played at Catawba Brewing quite a bit and a few weeks ago, The News Herald did a story on Eagle Joe and him winning a southern rock song of the year award,” Nelson said. “That really piqued my interest in doing some more research on him. I think he’ll be a good one, too.

“We’ve got quite a few bands that have won various awards. The 20/20 Band is local, but they recently won a national Cheerwine radio commercial. They’ve been on WBTV in Charlotte. Hobo Cane has notoriety that goes along with him, as well as the Melody Trucks Band. (Trucks is the daughter of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks.)”

Food vendors are a staple of TGIF, and food trucks exploded in popularity in Morganton last summer. Many of those good eats will be back for this year’s concert series.

“I am working now to get the lineup of our food vendors in place,” Nelson said. “We will have each Friday food and novelty food out on the square. We’re working with Cousins Maine Lobster to be there the majority of the events, and some other food trucks, as well.

“I just want to encourage people to come hungry, because we’ll have plenty downtown and around the square to eat on our Friday night concert evenings.”

Morganton’s summer officially will come to an end with the 39th annual Historic Morganton Festival from Sept. 11-12. Free outdoor concerts, as well as food, art and craft vendors again will line the event’s famous half-mile. Vendor applications already are being accepted for the festival.

For more information about events in downtown Morganton, go to downtownmorganton.com or morgantonfest.org.

Justin Epley can be reached at jepley@morganton.com or 828-432-8943.

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