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Southfield’s summer concert season kicks off

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published June 15, 2011

 Saxophonist Rick Steiger of Harper Woods, a member of The Sun Messengers, performs with his band at the Eat to the Beat lunchtime concert series at the Civic Centre Plaza in Southfield June 9.

Saxophonist Rick Steiger of Harper Woods, a member of The Sun Messengers, performs with his band at the Eat to the Beat lunchtime concert series at the Civic Centre Plaza in Southfield June 9.

Photo by David Schreiber


SOUTHFIELD — Kevin Turner, 51, of Clawson spent his lunch hour June 9 the best way he knows how.

Sitting at a picnic table, soaking in the sun, Turner read a newspaper as he nibbled on his packed lunch, the sounds of The Sun Messengers filling the air.

Turner works at Raymond James in Southfield and headed over to the City Centre Plaza, on Central Park Boulevard, for the annual Eat to the Beat lunchtime concert series.

“I do this a couple times every year,” he said. “There’s something about listening to music outside. And it’s a nice break in the day.”

It’s re-energizing, said Southfield resident Daniel Brightwell, who’d heard about the concert series for years but never paid a visit himself until June 9.

“I thought I’d come by and see what all the noise was about,” he said with a laugh. “It’s wonderful.”

Kari Pritchett, 27, of Sterling Heights, Tara Botero, 29, of Highland, Tara Roth, 24, of Harrison Township, Ryan Knollenberg, 29, of West Bloomfield, and Megan Hoef, 28, of St. Clair Shores chatted away during their lunch hour, having headed over from where they work in the Town Center.

“This is a nice break to come out at lunch,” Knollenberg said.

“It’s nice to get outside and walk around, and the band is great,” Hoef added.

Some bring their own lunches; others grab a hot dog or sausage from a stand onsite. Others, like Steven Copeland, 57, of Southfield, just come for the music.

“I think it’s great,” Copeland said. “I like a lot of music. Although I’m disappointed they’re not offering this as much as they did last year.”

In previous years, Eat to the Beat took place every Thursday throughout the summer months. This year, the concert series has been scaled back to just once a month due to budget constraints, according to David Duchene, cultural arts programmer for the city of Southfield.

The concerts were created for the business district, and are put on by the city of Southfield and the City Centre Advisory Board. All concerts are from noon to 2 p.m. The next performance will be July 14, by Zamar, a hybrid jazz band, followed by Straight Ahead, a virtuoso jazz ensemble, Aug. 11, and The Brothers Groove, a soulful funk and jazz band, on Sept. 8. All performances are free and open to the public. The City Centre Plaza is located on Central Park Boulevard, one block west of Evergreen, between Civic Center Drive and 11 Mile Road.

Also kicking off this summer in Southfield is the Burgh Park Gazebo Concert Series, held every Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m. July 5-Aug. 16 at the Burgh Historical Park, located on the northeast corner of Civic Center and Berg Road.

This year’s lineup includes the Motor City Street Band’s New Orleans-style jazz July 5, the Straight Ahead Trio’s smooth and classic jazz July 12, the Horizon String Quartet, performing everything from baroque to Broadway July 19, the tribute band Alvin Waddles’ Fats Waller Revue July 26, the Southfield Jazz Orchestra’s classic big band tunes Aug. 2, classic American tunes from The Peter T. Fetters Band Aug. 9, and the classic 16-piece big band The Rhythm Society Orchestra Aug. 16.

“It’s a beautiful, peaceful setting on a nice summer night,” Duchene said. “I’ve gotten the feeling over the years that a lot of folks who come to that are attracted by two things: one, a lot of the music we present there is the sort of music you really don’t hear much anymore, and a lot of people really look to that series as an excuse to get out, to get together with friends and have an activity to be involved with. I’ve heard that an awful lot of people in that audience plan their summer outings around the schedule for the concerts. A lot of them just show up week after week, even if they’re not particularly drawn to the music. This is a good excuse to be in a very nice setting and listening to good music for a couple of hours.”

The schedule for this year’s Burgh Park Gazebo Concert Series was also shortened by a number of weeks due to budget constraints.

“We probably will be looking for sponsorship in the future … and restore it to an eight- or nine-concert season,” Duchene said.

For more information about Eat to the Beat or the Burgh Park Gazebo concert series, call (248) 796-4620 or visit