As summer heats up in the lakes area, so too are the local outdoor concert series being sponsored by west Oakland communities. Featuring everything from The Beatles tribute bands to singer/songwriters and beyond, lakes area residents can take in — free of charge, no less — an evening of music, family, and entertainment virtually any night of the week.
What follows is a run-down of the outdoor concert series coming to the lakes area in the sweltering summer months, and the rules established by the communities for behavior at the events.
Milford Township will hold its annual summer concert series at Central Park in the village of Milford on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The series kicked off on Thursday, June 2 with a performance by the Plymouth Community Band. The next scheduled concert is tomorrow, June 9 with the pop/rock sounds of Serious Jack, followed by rockin’ oldies group Billy Mack & The Juke Joint Johnnies on June 16.
Fans of The Beatles will want to check out the Fab Four tribute band Toppermost on June 23, while the patriotic Motor City Brass group will help people celebrate the Fourth of July just a few days early on June 30.
Kimme Horne will bring her mix of jazz, pop and R&B to Central Park on July 7 before Steve King brings his nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll to town on July 14.
Masters of Big Band will provide a swinging good time on July 21, and Alan Turner & The Steel Horse Band will entertain the public with smooth country sounds on July 28.
The lineup for Aug. 4 has been left open as a make-up date in case of rain. Gemini will close out the summer concert series on Aug. 25 with music for children.
There will also be two concerts held at Center Street Park this summer, with the Nice Palise’ Sovereign Blues Band performing on Friday, June 24; and pop/rock duo Rick & John entertaining the public on July 22.
Milford Township Supervisor Don Green said that a team of three people — Alan Smith, Marylin Fisher and Phyllis McKuster — are responsible for selecting the acts and that they do it by traveling to different venues and by listening to demo CDs from a variety of artists.
“We try to cover everything, but the music is all family-oriented,” Green said.
The total cost for putting on the concert series is around $14,000, which includes $3,500 for staging and $1,000 for advertisements.
Fans are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets and can also bring food to the free performances. But non-profit organizations — including the Knights of Columbus, the Boy Scouts and the Milford Senior Center — will also be on hand to sell burgers, hot dogs, non-alcoholic beverages and ice cream.
Green added that the township doesn’t encourage alcoholic beverages at the concerts, but that people still bring them. He added that the township tries to keep dogs out of concerts because of the waste they can leave in the park.
The concerts at Central Park have been held for at least 10 years and started with about 50 or 60 people attending any given show, according to Green. Since the series began, attendance has swelled to an average of around 1,400 concert-goers per show.
West Bloomfield Township Parks and Recreation will be holding its summer concert series at the newly renovated Marshbank Park (located on Hiller Road north of Commerce Road) on the north side of the Marshbank Lodge on Monday nights at 7 p.m., beginning on July 13 with a performance by Toppermost, a Beatles tribute band.
That performance will be followed up with the reggae sounds of the Gratitude Steel Band on July 20, and the The Groove Council’s funky sounds on July 27.
Planet D Nonet, a jazz group, will hit Marshbank Park on Aug. 3 and the series will conclude with Rick Lieder & The Motown Rockin’ Review on Aug. 10.
Marshbank Park will also be hosting “Kids Komotion” concert days on select Thursdays starting at 11 a.m., beginning on June 23 with a performance by Palamazoo.
That performance will be followed on July 28 with a concert by San of Gemini. Rick & Dayna’s Playground will then perform on Aug. 25.
Susan Reeves, public information coordinator for West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation, said Recreation Coordinator Nancy Keener selects the acts for the outdoor concerts.
“Sometimes artists e-mail us or send us CDs and some artists have websites,” Reeves said.
“We also work with other communities through the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association. They get together in early January and discuss acts,” she said, adding that one of the priorities is to not have repeat acts playing the concert series and that entertaining both adults and children is a critical aspect of putting on the series.
Reeves said that West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation tries to showcase different genres of music, but also keeps in mind that it’s a government organization and won’t schedule performances by groups that could be construed as too edgy, such as rap or heavy metal artists.
The concert series doesn’t cost the township any money because it’s being funded through sponsorships by businesses, including ITC Holdings and Best Source Credit Union.
People attending the concerts are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and food to the shows, but alcoholic beverages are not permitted inside Marshbank Park.
Reeves added that the West Bloomfield Optimist Club will be selling refreshments at the concerts.
The summer concert series dates back 26 years, but for the past five years, the shows have been held on consecutive weeks, according to Reeves.
While Marshbank Park was being renovated over the past two years, the summer concerts were held at Drake Sports Park.
“We would get 350 to 450 people a show at Drake and we expect more to come to Marshbank. We used to get about 500 there,” Reeves said.
Starting on July 6, the Highland Township Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will once again be hosting its sixth annual Summer Concert Series. Like in years past, family favorite Gemini will be kicking off the six-week concert series.
“It has been a tradition to start our concert series off with Gemini and we will do that again this year,” said Missy Dashevich, the Highland DDA’s acting director. “Gemini is a family/folk-oriented performance, and the kids and parents alike just love them.”
The DDA’s Promotions Committee, in collaboration with the Huron Valley Council for the Arts, select the concert performers. Dashevich said they try to mix up the genres for all audiences, and concert organizers have come up with the following “great line-up” for this summer:
• July 6 — Gemini (family/folk);
• July 13 — Infinity Hour (contemporary rock);
• July 20 — Bill Bynum & Co. (country/bluegrass);
• July 27 — Michael May & the Messarounds (jazz/blues);
• Aug. 3 — Gia Warner Band (pop/rock); and
• Aug. 10 — Toppermost (The Beatles tribute).
Dashevich said the DDA will be hosting a few special events and children’s activities, like face painting, in conjunction with the first concert. For the show featuring Toppermost, there is also talk of holding a Beatle look-alike contest.
All concerts start at 6:30 p.m. with an opening act followed by the main act at 7:00 p.m. The concerts will be held at Veterans Park on Livingston Road at John Street.
Depending on the weather, Dashevich said the concerts usually draw a crowd of 100 to 200 people.
In the case of inclement weather, the concerts — which are free to attend — will be held across the street in the Highland Station House.
Audience members may bring lawn chairs, blankets, and food to the concerts.
However, Picasso Pizza will also be on site offering a variety of foods. In addition to pepperoni pizza slices at $1.50 each, there will be specialty pizza slices, fruit cups, brownies, and soft drinks available for purchase.
The Huron Valley Council for the Arts, headquartered at the Highland Station House, will open its doors during the concerts, as well.
“They have a beautiful gift shop featuring local artists. One will also want to check out the gallery featuring different artists monthly,” Dashevich said.
Commerce Township residents will have the opportunity to listen to some live music this summer, as the township’s Parks and Recreation Committee gears up to host its first-ever free outdoor concert series.
“Several of our neighboring communities have had great success with similar programs, and we think it’s time for Commerce Township to join in the festivities,” said Peter Pace, chairperson for the concerts and a member of the township’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
The three concerts will take place at the newly developed portion of Dodge Park No. 5, located on the east side of South Commerce Road between Commerce Road and Oakley Park Road. Weather permitting, the concerts will be held at the picnic area starting at 6 p.m.
“We’re really excited about these events,” Pace said. “It’s a chance to showcase one of our newer park facilities and an opportunity for Commerce residents to gather during the summer months and enjoy some excellent music and quality time with their families.”
Pace said the concerts will feature “outstanding musical talent,” including local singers and bands. While the acts for the July 22 show are still being finalized and Aug. 12 acts are being interviewed, the Parks and Recreation Committee has selected Tavistock — a classic rock band — to perform the first show on June 24.
“We’ll have plenty of activities for children of all ages,” Pace said, including a face painter, a magician, and a Home Depot Kid Workshop.
“In addition, there will be a number of vendors providing picnic-type food and refreshments at a nominal charge,” Pace said.
The vendors are expected to include Hungry Howie’s, Carvel Ice Cream, and Hot Dog Express.
Audience members should bring blankets and chairs; however, drugs, alcohol, and weapons are prohibited.
Meanwhile, the township is looking for volunteers to help the concert team with parking, setting up and tearing down, and cleaning up after the performances. Those interested in helping are encouraged to call the township offices at 248-926-0063.
For over 15 years, Walled Lake has sponsored a family-friendly concert series for the community. This year, the Parks and Recreation Commission is encouraging people to come out and enjoy an eclectic blend of sounds, from rock ‘n’ roll to concert band music.
The city’s concerts are held Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. beginning June 16 at the gazebo in Riley Park located on Common Street, west of Pontiac Trail and north of East Walled Lake Drive.
Each concert is free of charge, so pack your blanket or lawn chair, grab a cooler stocked with cold refreshments and get ready to be entertained.
On June 16, Sum of Us, a local classic rock band, will start off the 2011 series.
With their energy and passion on June 23, the classic rock group The Laughing Madmen take the stage at Riley Park.
On July 14, the concert series moves to the patio of The Villa, located at 1035 Walled Lake Villa Drive. Vintage Sounds, a musical duo, will perform oldies, country and jazz standards.
Groove Therapy, a local band hailing from Commerce Township, steps into the spotlight on July 28 at Riley Park. The classic rock and blues-based band infuses various genres of music into their sound.
Lastly, the Novi Concert Band will soothe audiences on Aug. 4 at The Villa.
The band line up is selected by the Parks and Recreation Commission after fielding a number of inquiries and researching the candidates.
“Most are returning bands who have quite a following,” said Events Coordinator Janell Joyce, adding that the commission looks for a wide variety of music to appeal to the general public. “Groups come forward and send us information, but we have so many inquiries.”
Despite the longevity of the concert series, Joyce said attendance historically has been low. Therefore, the Parks and Recreation Commission moved the events from Mondays to Thursdays to increase participation. This year the city tried marketing the event to draw bigger crowds.
“We usually only have between 100 and 150 attendees, and that’s a good night,” Joyce said. “We’re trying to do more advertising.”
Costs to the city average between $300 and $700 per band.
Waterford residents will be swaying to the music and kicking back at the Concerts in the Park series held at Hess-Hathaway Park located at 825 S. Williams Lake Road, beginning Thursday, June 16.
Each concert is free of charge.
This year there will be four concerts held, all on Thursdays starting at 6 p.m. One difference this year is that each headliner will feature an opening act prior to coming on stage.
The line-up begins with the New Horizons Concert Band on June 16. The band is comprised of local musicians of all ages under the direction of Gerald Spry and Terry Odell. Dorenne Ridge, a Waterford’s Got Talent contestant and comedienne, will perform before New Horizons takes the stage.
On July 14, the Beatles tribute band Toppermost will be spotlighting the Fab Four’s legacy, from their early live performances all the way up to their more avant garde stylings of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mark Stewart, a singer/guitarist, will be featured as the night’s opening act.
For Bob Seger fans, the band Lookin’ Back will perform on July 28. The band is comprised of six Detroit area musicians united to keep Seger’s four decades of music in the limelight. Guitarist and singer Mike Bass will open up for Lookin’ Back.
Lastly, on Aug. 11, Annabelle Road, a young country band, will take the stage. The band’s website states they “blow in from the intersection where rural and urban sensibilities meet.”
Local teen sensation and singer Erica Keith will be featured as opening act for Annabelle Road.
This is the second year the Parks and Recreation Department and the Waterford Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to hold the Concerts in the Park series.
Waterford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marie Hauswirth and staff seek out talent from around the state and around Michigan for the events.
“Local residents and other communities send us referrals,” Hauswirth said. “We’re picky about who comes in, but there are other factors such as who will work for us from a budgetary standpoint.”
Hauswirth’s team also reviews band websites or YouTube for examples of their work. Sometimes bands submit demo CDs.
“We try to diversify genres and mix it up,” Hauswirth said. “We try to use local people.”
When lining up talent, groups are advised that they are responsible for all stage and sound equipment.
Budgeting for the event is difficult, but each year the onus is on the Waterford Chamber of Commerce to solicit sponsors.
“Last year we broke even,” Hauswirth said. “This year we hope to put money back into the concert series, but we couldn’t pull it off without our sponsors.”
The event draws large crowds each year depending on the weather and entertainment venue.
“We’re so fortunate to have a venue like Hess-Hathaway Park,” Hauswirth said. “It’s like a mini-DTE with the hills and small gazebo, and the playground there is a great diversion for the kids.”
Spectators are advised to tote along lawn chairs or a blanket for the events.
Pizza, ice cream and water will be sold at a nominal price. Pizza by the slice is $2, while ice cream is $1 per scoop and bottled water is $1 each.
“It’s economic for everyone in the community — it’s not for profit,” Hauswirth said.
Lakes area residents can “Make it a Wixom Day” as the city kicks off its 2011 Village Center Summer Concert Series at Sibley Square Park located at 48900 Pontiac Trail beginning tomorrow, June 9.
Each concert will be held on Thursdays from 7-9 p.m.
The concert series kicks off with Motor City Soul, a funk and R&B band. Kids’ inflatables will be part of the festivities.
On June 16, modern rock band The Crutches will take the stage. Playing a mix of pop and rock, The Crutches bring classic and modern songs with funk and dance rhythms to the series. The June 16 event will also feature inflatables for kids.
National recording artist Justine Blazer will bring her blend of country and rock ‘n’ roll back to her native metro Detroit on June 23, a concert that will also include a special microbrewed beer tasting at $15 per person. Participants must pre-register by June 20.
On June 30, the classic rock ‘n’ roll band Zap Toro will entertain audiences. Inflatables for kids will be provided.
Gia Warner follows on July 7 with her distinct Motown and soul sounds.
The event scheduled for July 14 will be even bigger and better. The “Hot Blues and BBQ Special Event” runs from 5-10 p.m. and features the blues sounds of the Randy Brock Group, which will take the stage from 8-10 p.m. There will be kids’ rides, face painting, a climbing wall, inflatables, barbecued food, and a beer and wine tent available. All refreshments are individually priced.
“We will have abut five or six vendors available this evening,” said Wixom Parks and Recreation Director Deanna Magee. “It’s a full-blown event.
On July 21, Wixom welcomes classic rock band Mass Transit followed by The Bluescasters on July 28. The evening includes a Ford Mustang Club display.
The Shawn Riley Band, a classic rock group, starts off the month of August. The band’s concert on Aug. 4 includes a summer wine tasting night at $15 per person for wine and cheese samplings. Pre-registration is required.
On Aug. 11, local legend Steve King and the Dittilies will break out their classic rock renditions. There will also be an Eagle Riders Bike Night attractions, along with “Operation Can Do,” a food drive to support The Hospitality House. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable items as donations.
The series wraps up on Aug. 18 with the Oakland County-based Novi Concert Band playing from 7-8 p.m.
According to Magee, Wixom contracts with local business Signature Audio to line-up talent for the concert series.
“The company brings back options of a line-up to choose from,” Magee said. “It’s worked well for us and that’s their expertise. They also do the same service for Northville and Plymouth.”
Wixom pays Signature Audio $16,000 a year to provide entertainment and sound for the concert series. Costs are covered through the Parks and Recreation coffers and defrayed via a sponsorship program.
“Local businesses have donated $10,750 to offset our contribution,” Magee said.
In all, businesses have ponied up $22,975 for various events hosted by the city.
Magee said concert attendees should come prepared with chairs or blankets. Glass bottles are prohibited.
Food and drinks are permissible, but Magee said she encourages attendees to patronize local businesses during the events.
“We encourage people to participate with the downtown businesses,” she said.