Lathrup Village launches ‘Summer Stroll’

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published August 6, 2013

 Marvin Thompson Jr. leads the jazz and soul band Blueprint during the Lathrup Village free summer concert series June 19.

Marvin Thompson Jr. leads the jazz and soul band Blueprint during the Lathrup Village free summer concert series June 19.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

LATHRUP VILLAGE — Marvin Thompson Jr. has been playing the piano and keyboard since he was 9 years old. At the age of 42 now, this Lathrup Village resident says he’s still shocked when he learns of other performers in the community — especially in a small, humble one like Lathrup Village.

“It’s a small little town, but even as we’ve come to organize this event, I’ve met many talented people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” Thompson said about the city’s first Lathrup Summer Stroll. The new event is a festival of artists and musicians that will be showcased in the northeast section of town 2-6 p.m. Aug. 18. These selected performances will be lined up on porches and front yards, putting on a free summer show that evening.

“Events like the Summer Stroll will bring awareness to the community about the variety of talent that is here in Lathrup Village. … I think that the residents and even the people from surrounding communities will be surprised,” he said.

The event was inspired by Ann Arbor’s annual Water Hill Music Fest, established in 2011, in which around 100 names make the lineup. The event is so popular there that the crowd reportedly spills into the streets for the live music festival — something that is now a tradition of sorts.

With his jazz band Blueprint, Thompson plays piano with Djallo Djakate on drums and Takashi Iio on bass. They recently opened this season’s Concerts in the Park, the annual free summer concert series that highlights artists after the weekly Farmers Market in Lathrup Village. Thompson said he’d really like to see even more demand for live performances right there in town.

“I think (the Summer Stroll) will open up discussion about displaying our talent in venues and other locations in the city, like restaurants and coffee houses,” he said. “I think they will be the ones who really benefit from this when they begin to think about how they can bring the talent to the forefront of their venues.”

Water Hill Music Fest happens the first Sunday in May each year and puts the spotlight on a variety of different community artists: from high school groups leading sing-alongs on an acoustic guitar to full-fledged rock bands with sound systems, and from new and emerging bands hoping to break into the city’s vibrant indie scene to the 35-year Water Hill resident who entertains on her harmonica.

Lathrup Village organizer Kim Hodge, who checked out the event in advance, said the event aims to be a genuine neighborhood experience, all about locals sharing homemade music with each other and passers-by.

She suggests grabbing a snack, a bottle of water, and setting off to explore the sights and sounds. The event will be held in only the northeast section of Lathrup Village in order to promote walking or biking, she added.

“Hence the name ‘stroll.’ We want to encourage people to come out and walk around,” she said. “It’s meant to be a neighborhood gathering event.”

Additionally, only one member of a band was required to be a resident in order to sign up, so the event will also promote artists in the larger area and even kids showing off their talent, according to Hodge, as local students were encouraged to take part, too.

“One that I can think of does paper art, kind of like origami,” Hodge said of 12-year-old Brenden Bowers.

Local musicians and artists scheduled to perform at the Lathrup Summer Stroll include musician Ian Ferguson of a steel drum band, original musician Blake Hart-Negrich, acoustic guitarist Steve Gulian with band Rosetta Pebble, pianist Tom Houghtby, artist and photographer Blake Mulligan, an a capella group led by Kelly Mulligan, watercolor and multimedia artist Kirsti Hart-Negrich, nature-centered photography by Patty Keenan, and pastel artist Richard Reeves.

Hodge said the Lathrup Summer Stroll lineup includes more than a dozen names in total.

Thompson added that the event will be very low key, and both musicians and visual artists will interact with strolling audience members to keep things relaxed and approachable.

“We want to keep the aspect of what Lathrup Village represents alive and well throughout this event,” he said.

Individual artists and performers will show off their works for the first three hours of the event, and then at 5 p.m., everyone will come together for a final jam session at the stage behind City Hall, according to Hodge.

The event is hosted by the Lathrup Village TimeBank and the Lathrup Village Homeowners Association. For more information about taking part in the Lathrup Summer Stroll, contact Hodge by calling (248) 424-7455 or emailing

For more information about the upcoming event and to download a map/schedule, visit