Annual concert series comes home to Riley Park

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 11, 2015

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FARMINGTON — It’s time to put your iPods down and back away. Slowly.


It’s for your own good: The annual Rhythmz in Riley Park will soon descend upon Farmington with 11 performances from acts new and old, guaranteed to keep your attention tuned.


“Rhythmz is really our kickoff for the weekend,” Annette Knowles, assistant to the city manager and Farmington Downtown Development Authority executive director, said recently. “We want to start our weekends off with really lively, fun weekends. (It is) an opportunity to gather with neighbors and friends for concerts featuring performances by animated, enthusiastic musicians that really try to engage the audience.”


The Friday performances run June 12-Aug. 28, with a break July 17 for the Founders Festival.

The concert opener features returning musicians Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies, who play a mixture of rockabilly, honky-tonk and swing.

“He is always a crowd pleaser,” Knowles said. “Billy croons (for) the ladies, which is entertaining to watch. He gets dressed up like (an) old rockabilly and weaves through the crowd. It is a fantastic way to kick off that series.”


Knowles added that this is the concert series’ first year back to Riley Park after renovations last year moved the event elsewhere.


New to this year’s concert series is Motor City Soul, a wedding and cover band that will perform June 19. The Scott Martin Band will play June 26, Bar None July 3 and The Paisley Fogg July 10.


Tom Birchler, producer of the 2015 Rhythmz in Riley Park concert series and a member of The Paisley Fogg, said that as the producer, he always tries to bring a variety of acts to the series.


“I like to have some bands that do some original stuff, but I also like bands that do familiar material that people know,”  Birchler said. “I think people like some of each.”


Other performances include 2 Dayz Gone July 24, The Luddites July 31, Allie Louise Aug. 7, Hullabaloo Aug. 14, Twisted Root Revival Aug. 21 and Third Coast Kings Aug. 28.


Birchler said bands like Third Coast Kings perform mainly original material, as does Hullabaloo — which mixes Afro-Caribbean rhythms, horns and jazz — and The Luddites.


“People really, really like them, so they have developed a very nice following with that crowd in Farmington,” Birchler said of The Luddites. “People always pack the crowd out for them.”


The Paisley Fogg last played at Riley Park in 2013.


“We love it,” Birchler said. “It has always been one of our favorite shows of the summer, and the crowd really, really likes the band.”


Birchler said the 10-year-old band plays music from the ’60s and ’70s. Birchler’s two brothers are featured in the band.


“We grew up together playing Beatles songs and Buffalo Springfield,” he said. “Once we got older and got our kids out of the house, we said, ‘Hey, we can have a hobby now.’”


Grosse Pointe Shores resident Bob Hayes, 61, is known as the band’s No. 1 fan. He said he plans to attend the concert series.


“They’re perfect,” he said. “If you heard these guys and then listened to the record of what they actually play, it is remarkable.”


Hayes said the group always puts on a good show.


“If you remember the ’60s and ’70s, they are the best at that genre,” Hayes said.


Riley Park is located at 33113 Grand River Ave.


The rain location for Rhythmz in Riley Park is at First United Methodist Church, across Grand River Avenue.


For more information, go to www.downtownfarmington.org.

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