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Baby, What a Big Surprise… Chicago Tribute Band in Town for Labor Day Concert

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Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and Trustmark Bank give the Emerald Coast a whole new reason to smile with a special Labor Day Concert in the Village featuring the 10‑member Chicago tribute band Make Me Smile.


Make Me Smile takes the Dugas Pavilion stage Sunday, Sept. 3, in the MKAF Cultural Arts Village in Destin. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7.


Hailing from Nashville, Make Me Smile features a 10‑piece ensemble, including a seven‑piece rhythm section and a three‑piece horn section to authentically represent every nuance of those classic Chicago hits. Make Me Smile features A‑list musicians Scott Sheriff, Gene Miller, Tom Hemby, Steve Ebe, Scott Kinney, Roy Agee, Jim Hoke, Tim Buppert, Boh Cooper and Gary Lunn.


Get ready to dance your way down memory lane and groove to many of Chicago’s greatest hits—“Wishing You Were Here,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park,” “Call On Me,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “Make Me Smile” and lots more.


Formed in the Windy City in February of 1967 by three DePaul University music majors, Chicago remains an iconic and legendary American band. During its 50‑year career it has racked up staggering statistics and accolades including 36 albums that have sold well over 100 million copies, 20 Top 10 pop hits and 22 Top 10 adult contemporary hits.


Chicago’s hits have been on Billboard charts in five different decades. Of its first 20 albums, 17 were certified platinum and nine went multiplatinum. Chicago 17, released in 1984, went platinum a whopping six times.


Initially called the Big Thing, the band relocated to Los Angeles in the summer of 1968, and manager and producer James Guercio changed its name to Chicago Transit Authority. Shortly after the release of its debut album in April 1969, the band received a cease‑and‑desist order from the actual Chicago Transit Authority. Consequently, from late 1969 onward, the group became known simply as Chicago.


“How appropriate to honor all working people over Labor Day Weekend with a tribute to a band known for lyrics that carry us away from the cares of the day,” says MKAF CEO Marcia Hull. “We invite music lovers of all ages to come join us for an end of summer evening of music, food and family fun.”


After five decades, millions of fans worldwide are still happy to hear Chicago’s stunning legacy of hit singles, which collectively cover an extraordinary variety of musical styles—funk, rock, jazz, blues, classical and power ballads. A career‑spanning documentary, Now More Than Ever, appeared on CNN in January 2017.


General admission tickets to Make Me Smile are $25 ($20 for MKAF members) and FREE for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the gate.


A limited number of VIP tables (seating eight) are available for $225. Tables are sold on a first come, first served basis and can be reserved by calling 850‑650‑2226 during office hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


MKAF will have a drawing of nearly a dozen exciting prizes and packages at intermission. Visit the donation table located near the stage before the concert to enter to win.


Proceeds benefit MKAF and its arts education community outreach programs.


The concert is rain or shine, so no refunds will be provided. Patrons are invited to bring picnics and wine or beer or purchase dinner and drinks (bottled water and soft drinks) on site. For the comfort of all guests, tables over two feet long, drones and pets (except service dogs) are not permitted.

Zandra Wolfgram
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