Musicians sought for next Trail Tunes

Madison Heights festival set for Aug. 7

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 21, 2021

 Colin & The Cougars were among the groups who performed at Trail Tunes 2020, a strolling music festival held at Civic Center Park in Madison Heights Oct. 3. The inaugural event was organized by the Madison Heights Arts Board as a safe, socially distanced way to enjoy music and fun outdoors. Applications are now being accepted for musicians to perform at the 2021 event to be held in August.

Colin & The Cougars were among the groups who performed at Trail Tunes 2020, a strolling music festival held at Civic Center Park in Madison Heights Oct. 3. The inaugural event was organized by the Madison Heights Arts Board as a safe, socially distanced way to enjoy music and fun outdoors. Applications are now being accepted for musicians to perform at the 2021 event to be held in August.

File photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — The strolling music festival, Trail Tunes, was such a success during its debut last fall that city officials in Madison Heights are already excitedly planning the next one, set for this summer, and performers are needed.

The next Trail Tunes is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. Aug. 7 at Civic Center Park by the corner of 13 Mile and John R roads. Musicians will be spaced out along the trail loop, and guests will be encouraged to tour the various acts.  

“Like last year, any musician, of any genre, is welcome at the festival,” Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss said in an email.

Bliss is the founder of the city’s Arts Board. He also serves as its council rep, and as the co-chair for the Trail Tunes project committee.

“There is no cost to perform,” he said. “In fact, musicians will receive a stipend of between $50 and $300 for participating, depending on sponsorships (the city receives). Additionally, festival-goers will be encouraged to tip the musicians along the trail.”  

For the application form, visit bit.ly/2LYwHA0. Those with questions can email Bliss at markbliss@madison-heights.org.

The 2021 event will also feature small business vendors throughout the park, with table locations available for as low as $50 for the duration of the event. Interested vendors, or those looking to simply sponsor the event, can email Bliss.

The inaugural Trail Tunes took place Oct. 3 and was declared a success by city officials in a council proclamation Oct. 12, citing strong attendance by more than 500 people.

There were 15 musicians performing more than 300 songs, and a variety of kids crafts and games to play at fun zones run by the Madison District Public Schools PTO, the Escape Room Zone, the Madison Heights Goodfellows and Red Oaks Church.

Food and drink at the inaugural event was provided by three food trucks: The Grilled Wrap, Motor City Sweet Treats, and The Salt & Sugar Co.

In addition, there were pop-up sales by the Arts Board, the Environmental Citizens Committee’s Bloom Project and the Friends of the Madison Heights Library that helped raise more than $2,000 for their programming. The Madison Heights Food Pantry collected nonperishables and financial donations to help provide holiday dinners for 150 families.

Trail Tunes itself was funded 100% by donations and put together with volunteer sweat equity. Groups that provided funding and volunteers include Alternative Rx, Giffels Webster, Clark’s Fabrication and Design, Interstate Auto Care and Woodpile BBQ.

All of this was done while taking care to observe social distancing guidelines, with the event taking place outdoors with abundant spacing between musical acts.

In addition to Bliss, the Arts Board’s music festival planning committee included members Vita Palazzolo, Steve Dombroski and Jason Theodoroff. For the 2021 event, there is a new addition in the form of Arts Board Chair Amber Platzke.

“Everyone loved the first event, so we’re not changing the format at all. This festival is just going to be bigger and better than our inaugural event last year,” Bliss said. “Moving it to the summer means better weather, and more performance time. We’re also inviting more bands, more entertainment and more food trucks to participate.”

He also teased that there are “a couple of big surprises in store for everyone,” but the city will wait until closer to the event before announcing them.

“For me, the first festival was an emergency response to the needs of our community during the pandemic. People were struggling, and every single community event was being cancelled. My thought was, if we can do a music festival safely, then we owe it to the community to try and bring some normalcy to them in the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19,” Bliss said. “It ended up being hugely successful, and created the standard for other events that followed: The Arts Board’s Pumpkin Walk, and our Drive-Through City Tree Lighting.”

Bliss recalled how back when he was a kid growing up in Madison Heights, there would be several summer festivals in the park each year.

“I’m thrilled that through the creativity we exhibited during the pandemic, we’ll now be able to bring one of those summer festivals back in a new and exciting way,” he said. “This event is one of my favorite things that I’ve been able to work on in my seven years on council. We’ve got an incredibly creative team of volunteers, immense support from city staff, and a tangible boost to the spirit of the community. In our first year, we put the festival together pretty quickly, and I’m excited to show everyone what we’ll be able to put out there with some additional planning time.”

Palazzolo, the co-chair, said in an email that the first event was a major accomplishment.

“It still blows me away that three people were able to find 15 of the finest local bands and musicians in less than three months, and then bring together a community of over 500 people, all during a worldwide pandemic,” Palazzolo said. “I’m so very excited about Trail Tunes ’21, and all the new ideas we have to make this year even bigger and better.”

Dan Dombrovich played at last year’s event with the band Leisure Machine. He said in an email that the event was “so much fun.”

“It was organized, well-attended, and I loved having the chance to see other bands,” Dombrovich said. “We can’t wait to sing our hearts out again with everyone!”

Colin Lazorka, of the band Colin and the Cougars, is a Madison Heights resident who also played at the inaugural event.

“I think I can speak for a lot of bands and music fans when I say that last year’s Trail Tunes was something we all needed in more ways than one,” Lazorka said via email. “The city of Madison Heights provided an amazing opportunity to help bands get back on stage and entertain folks who just wanted a nice, safe way to listen to some live tunes. As a performer and resident, I’m beyond excited for Trail Tunes 2 this summer, and cannot wait to play for ya then!”  

Added Bliss: “Music heals and inspires, and we could use a lot of both right now, with more than a year in this pandemic.”