Grosse Pointe FarmsJuly 3, 2012
Music Festival plays in War Memorial’s lakefront backyard
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
Summer time, and the music is lively on the shores of Lake St. Clair.
The Grosse Pointe War Memorial is bringing back a roster of favorite acts, along with one newcomer, for its Wednesday evening outdoor concert series, which starts July 11 with the rock and pop stylings of Steve King & The Dittilies. The band plays music from the 1930s to today that’s designed to get audiences up on their feet.
“He’s always a huge hit,” said War Memorial lifelong learning director Wanda Kosowicz. “He just plays to the crowd. It’s a wonderful family concert.”
The Summer Music Festival continues with the easygoing folk and country of Grosse Pointe Park’s own Devin Scillian, joined by Arizona Son, on July 18; the Beatles tribute act Toppermost, the sole newcomer this year, on July 25; the Jimmy Buffet tribute band Air Margaritaville Aug. 1; and a return engagement Aug. 8 by New Odyssey, a three-man band who play 30 instruments among them and perform 30 years worth of music, from country to classic rock to contemporary tunes. Kosowicz said New Odyssey wowed audiences during its debut last year, with one of the musicians performing an uncanny Tina Turner impression in full Tina Turner costume.
“They put on a phenomenal show,” she said. “They’re back by popular request.”
Tami O’Shea, a programming coordinator with lifelong learning, said the concerts draw about 600-800 attendees to the War Memorial’s lakeside back lawn.
“We draw an older crowd,” as well as families, she said. “It’s fun to see young kids dancing up near the band. It’s just a great way to spend a Wednesday night.”
Adding to the excitement is a raffle featuring a ladies’ bracelet from Ahee Jewelers, tickets to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and gift certificates to local restaurants, stores, a florist, a car wash and a family photographer. Tickets are $3 apiece, or four for $10, and the drawing takes place at the Aug. 8 concert, although Kosowicz said the winner need not be present. Tickets can be purchased at the concerts or from the War Memorial. Proceeds help support the summer music program, she said.
The Lake St. Clair view is almost as engaging as the artists, and because the concerts take
place on the water, the air is a little cooler than it is inland, O’Shea said — a relief for those tired of the blisteringly hot summer we’ve been experiencing so far. And once the sun goes down, she said, it cools off quickly.
The concerts start at 7:30 p.m., but the grounds open at 6 p.m., giving concertgoers a chance to stroll through the gardens, stake out a prime spot and enjoy a picnic before the bands hit the stage.
Attendees can bring their own food and beverages, or they can purchase those on site. Kosowicz said they can buy a hamburger, bratwurst or chicken sandwich cooked on the grill and accompanied by a bag of chips and a beverage for $5. Chocolate chip cookies are sold as well, she said.
“It’s a nice option if they just want to come to the event and not pack (a meal),” O’Shea said.
Sponsorship by local businesses helps keep ticket prices affordable, especially for families. Tickets cost $8 per person, and a child under the age of 10 is admitted free with a paying adult. Each additional child is admitted for $4.
Even the War Memorial staff enjoys working on the festival.
“Summer is the Summer Music Festival to us,” Kosowicz said. “We all look forward to it.”
Concerts take place rain or shine. In the event of inclement weather, they’re moved indoors to the Fries Auditorium.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are — it’s just a great attraction,” O’Shea said of the concerts. “It’s a great family event or a night out with your girlfriends or a night out as a couple.”
The War Memorial is located at 32 Lake Shore. Tickets to the concerts can be purchased at the gate or in advance. For advance tickets or more information, call the War Memorial at (313) 881-7511 or visit www.war memorial.org.
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