Concert series gains steam at Farmington Civic Theater

 Rob Taube, Allie Louise and Mark Barnowski perform during a Friday Night Live concert March 31 at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Rob Taube, Allie Louise and Mark Barnowski perform during a Friday Night Live concert March 31 at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Photo provided by Maggie McCabe


By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published November 7, 2017

FARMINGTON — Associates Scott Freeman and Tom Birchler are just getting warmed up.

Freeman, the Farmington Civic Theater general manager, and Birchler, the producer of the Rhythmz in Riley Park concert series and a band member of the Paisley Fogg, have had music on their minds since the creation of Friday Night Live at the Farmington Civic Theater about 10 months ago. The live music series at the Civic Theater kicked off Jan. 27 with the Paisley Fogg, which presented a first-time, all-acoustic show to a nearly full house.

The concert series ran through April and is back again, with shows lined up throughout November. The series will skip December and will resume January-April.

The series at the historic theater, located at 33332 Grand River Ave., is presented by St. Joe’s Medical Group and is co-produced by Freeman and Birchler, of Go2Guy Productions.

Birchler said the idea for the series began when he met with Freeman in January to see if he was interested in doing a musical concert series outside of the summer months.

Birchler said that the theater’s naturally good acoustics lend themselves well to the musical performances’ sound onstage.

Birchler said that the feedback he has received on the series from audience members is that they enjoy the movie theater’s intimacy on the upper level, which has 132 seats; about 100 people enjoy the series on a regular basis. 

“I think it is bringing out the best performance in the artist, and I think they are really able to connect to the audience in an intimate and personal way,” Birchler said.

He added that the concert series’ tagline is “real music by real musicians in real time.”

“A lot of the ways people experience music now is as a background to their lives,” he said, adding that something special happens during a live performance. “When you’re in a room with someone creating their art, live in front of you, that you will never ever experience that way (again), that one time you are there — that is the real magic of live performances.”

Livonia resident Joe McCallion — a neighbor to Birchler and a frequenter of the music series and Rhythmz in Riley Park — said during a phone interview that the Civic Theater is a great venue to watch the performances, and it’s unlike hearing performances at a bar, which he doesn’t mind either.

“It is a great place to hear music; you’re nice and close to the entertainment,” he said, adding that the talent is good and much more professional than what the ticket cost suggests. 

McCallion added that if people like listening to live music — no matter what the style — the Civic Theater is the place to be.

Birchler said that in the past 10 months, the concert series has improved, with better lighting, better sound and stronger promotional efforts.

“(We’re) trying to use a little more social media and (trying) to learn how to get good at doing that,” Birchler said.

Freeman said that Friday Night Live is designed to be a colder-weather event. 

“Its focus is to primarily feature singer-songwriters, not cover bands or anything like that,” Freeman said, adding that there is a lot of great local talent.

“We try and work with them (musical artists) and bring in new people,” Freeman said.

Friday Night Live will feature Rochester Hills resident Olivia Millerschin Nov. 10. Millerschin won a John Lennon Songwriting Award and was a quarterfinalist on “America’s Got Talent.” 

She is known for her lyrics, deep melodies and folk style, among other styles; her band will accompany her that night, according to a press release.

Special guest Jason Longuski, from Livonia, plays guitar and is a songwriter and performer. He has played with the popular Detroit-area bands Summerwake, Satellites Over Moscow and The Split, according to a press release.

Sami Mei will also perform that night.

“We’re happy with where we are, but (would) love to see it (the concert series) full, and I think we’re on the track for that to happen,” Freeman said. 

The concert series includes two-hour shows that begin at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7.30 p.m. People of all ages are welcome. 

Tickets cost $12 in advance at the box office after 2 p.m. daily or at the door, cash only.

More information is available at the Farmington Civic Theater’s Facebook page and by calling (248) 474-1951.

For more information on the series, email Birchler at tombirchler1@gmail.com or Freeman at sfreeman@farmgov.com.