March 3, 2024

Outdoor Summer Sounds Abound

Your guide to Up North concerts in the park, on the streets, in the woods, on the lawn …
By Ross Boissoneau | June 9, 2018

Sure, you can spend the big bucks at concert venues across the region, from Interlochen to Bay View to the new Great Lakes Center for the Arts at Bay View. Who doesn’t want to see Yes, Blondie, or Pink Martini? Add the bars, clubs, casinos and festivals, and you’ve got tons of listening fun to be had.

But wait, as the commercials say, there’s more. Lots more, and it’s typically free or just a donation. Throughout the area, city and village downtowns offer music from regional and traveling artists in their parks. The settings are convenient and conducive to the casual fun of summer, with lawn chairs and a picnic, or just a blanket and something cold to drink.

From Cadillac north to Petoskey, music will fill the air this summer. Whether you prefer rock, folk, country, pop, jazz, even electronic sounds, you’ll find it somewhere among the offerings. Among the “name” artists traveling to the area are folksingers Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers, jazz flutist Ali Ryerson, and blues duo Mulebone. Local and regional favorites include the Bay Area Big Band, Miriam Pico, Pete Kehoe, May Erlewine, and the Pistil Whips, among others. 

Here’s a rundown of the towns and times:

While Gaylord used to hold concerts featuring various artists in its parks downtown, that has devolved over the years into a few performances in July featuring the Gaylord Community Band. Into the breach has stepped Veterans Education, Training & Support, a.k.a. VETS Inc. of Northern Michigan, an NPO benefiting veterans. It is headquartered at the Gaylord Bowling Center, 1200 Gornick Ave., which is where the concerts take place. Unlike most of the others listed here, these are ticketed events; call (989) 732-3574.

June 9             Bowling for Veterans Association Re-Creation

June 23          Elvis Kelly and Garrett Veal

July 21             Donny Rod & Kelsey Rose

July 28            The Michael Carluccio Show

Aug. 11           Jakey Thomas & Distant Stars

Aug. 25           Neshama

Sept. 8            Rock Harley & Mario

Sept. 22          The Legend Brothers

Legacy Art Park
So, it’s not downtown, but one can consider Legacy Art Park the park for Crystal Mountain. And its annual summer concert season features a host of new and returning favorites. These too are ticketed shows; for more information go to This year the schedule includes:

July 6              The Bergamot

July 13             Nina & The Buffalo Riders

July 20             Sally Rogers & Claudia Schmidt

July 27             Jonathan Timm

Aug. 4             Grupo Ayé

Aug. 11           Nashon Holloway Band

The Pavilions
This is another one that’s not quite a downtown park, but the Concerts on the Lawn at Grand Traverse Pavilions is another great place for a family get-together. The music runs the gamut from pop to blues, oldies and goodies. The Thursday night 7pm concerts include:

June 14          The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute

June 21          Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums

June 28          Peter, Paul and Mary Remembered

July 5              Song of the Lakes

July 12             Petoskey Steel Drum Band

July 19             ebooted featuring Judy Harrison

July 26             Nexus

Aug. 2             Miriam Pico

Aug. 9             Bay Area Big Band

Aug. 16           Jim Hawley: Remembering Dan Fogelberg

Aug. 23           K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys

Aug. 30           The Backroom Gang

Boyne City
The Evenings at the Gazebo summer concert series takes place in Old City Park on Wednesday evenings beginning at 6:30pm. The 2018 schedule features:

June 20          Jordan Valley Community Band

June 27          Project 6

July 4            No concert (4th of July concerts held in Veterans Park)

July 11            Up North Vocal Institute

July 18            LofTeez

July 25            Mike Dhaseleer

Aug. 1            Olivia Millerschin

Aug. 8             Full Circle

For those who want more, you’re in luck. Boyne’s Stroll the Streets returns for its 15th season, with musical entertainment in any number of places throughout the downtown every Friday night. The sounds range from country, bluegrass, traditional, folk and jazz to pop and rock. If the music isn’t enough for you, Stroll the Streets also features magicians, caricature artists, face-painting, balloon twisting and more fun activities for kids of all ages. 

Two nights for the price of one: On Tuesdays from 8pm to 9pm the Charlevoix City Band will entertain the masses. Thursdays will feature Buskers On Bridge Street at various locations (four performers each week) from 5pm to 7pm. At 7pm the headliners take the stage as follows:

June 28          Charlie's Root Fusion

July 5              Liquid Monk

July 12            Jim Gill (special 5:30pm family concert)

July 12            Trey Connor

July 19            Petoskey Steel Drum Band

Aug. 2             Moxie Strings

Aug. 9             Brian Randall

Aug. 16           Ali Ryerson & The Little Big Band

Aug. 23           Distant Stars

The Charlotte Ross Lee Concert Series finds performers in the park in downtown Petoskey’s Pennsylvania Park every Wednesday and Friday, except July 4. Unlike the evening concerts, these shows give audiences an opportunity to upgrade their lunch break: They take place from noon to 1. In case of inclement weather, the shows move to the nearby Crooked Tree Arts Center Theater.

June 20          Michelle Chenard

June 22          Northern Michigan Chorale

June 27          Charlie Reager

June 29          Ryan Cassidy

July 6             Chris Koury

July 11            Blair Miller

July 13            Story & James

July 18            Wyatt & Shari Knapp

July 20            The Rough and Tumble

July 27            Kellerville

Aug. 1             Kirby Snively

Aug. 3             A Brighter Bloom

Aug. 8             Keith Scott

Aug. 10           Indigo Moon

Augl. 15          Pete Kehoe

Aug. 17           Lara Fullford

Music in the Park begins the last Thursday of June and continues every week to the second Thursday of August. Musicians play at the pavilion in Beulah Park at the edge of Crystal Lake starting at 7pm. Bonus: Enjoy the sunset over Crystal Lake while you listen to the sounds.

June 28          Keith Scott and Friends

July 5              Awesome Distraction

July 12            The Accidentals

July 19            Don Julin

July 26            May Erlewine

Aug. 2             Ramblin’ Band

Aug. 9             The Standing Hamptons

East Jordan
Friday nights, the East Jordan Memorial Park Band Shell at 101 Spring Street comes alive with the sound of blues, folk and more. The south arm of Lake Charlevoix serves as the backdrop for its Music in the Park summer concert series. In addition to the Friday concerts, the Jordan Valley Community Band plays in the band shell Thursday nights in July beginning at 7:30.

June 15          Jelly Roll Blues Band

June 22          Jenny Thomas

July 6              Blue Water Ramblers

July 13            Jon Archambault Band

July 20            The Pistil Whips

July 27            Steel and Wood

Aug. 3             Full Circle

Summer in Northport means sunshine, sailing, and on Friday evenings, music at G.M. Dame Marina Park. The music begins at 7 and lasts until 9.

June 29          Microtones

July 6             Jazz North

July 13           Igor & the Red Elvis's

July 20           Mulebone

July 27           Cabin Fever String Band

Aug. 3            Looking Forward

Aug. 10          Zen Stew

Aug. 17          New Third Coast

Aug. 24          Electric Fusion Project

Aug. 31          The Jimmys

Bay Harbor
Bay Harbor’s newest weekly event takes place Thursdays on Main Street in the Village at Bay Harbor through Aug. 30. Each week will feature artist performances from 6pm to 8 pm, with some additional 8pm to 10pm sessions. For those looking for transportation, the Petoskey Downtown Trolley has expanded its routes to include stops at Bay Harbor. The artists performing on Main Street and their dates include: 

June 7                        The Real Ingredients

June 14                      The Real Ingredients

June 21                      Plumville Project

June  28                     Kellerville

July 5                         The Real Ingredients

July 12                       Erik VanHorn

July 19                        Charlie Millard Band

July. 26                      Kellerville

Aug. 2                        Sean Miller

Aug. 9                        Kellerville

Aug. 16                      Erik VanHorn

Aug. 23                      The Real Ingredients

Aug. 30                      Special Musical Guests TBA

On Aug. 30, the last Thursday of Music on Main will be held at the Bay Harbor Foundation’s Guinness World Record Community Dinner, in support of the health and human service needs in the community.

Upbeat Cadillac showcases touring and regional musicians on Thursdays. But the other nights are noteworthy as well. Mondays feature the Ancient And Honorable Clam Lake Dock And Dredge Marching And Chowder Society Silver Cornet Band, performing concert band music July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Aug. 6 and 13, as well as Saturday, July 21 at 1pm for the Cadillac Arts Festival. On Tuesdays, Jack Pine Pickers perform old-time gospel and country music, while Wednesdays you may hear the Cadillac Community Chorus or one of various religious music groups.

If you’re waiting on Upbeat Cadillac Thursdays, this is what you’ll hear:

June 21    Mary Rademacher Reed w/the Tom Hagen Quartet

June 28    Biscuit Miller and the Mix

July 5       Big Boss Band

July 12     Paul Keller's "At Sundown" Quintet

July 19     Tell Yo Mama

July 26     James Cloyd Group

Aug. 2      Planet D Nonet

Aug. 9      Bennie Reeves

Aug. 16    Jeremiah Johnson Band

Aug. 23    Jenna Mammina/Rolf Sturm

If this looks like the Cadillac series, you’re right. Different night, same stellar lineup, with one additional show. The Manistee ShoreLine ShowCase Series hosts shows every Tuesday at 7pm (rain, wind, or shine) at the Rotary Park Pavilion at Douglas Park across from First St. Beach. 

June 19          Mary Rademacher Reed w/Tom Hagen Trio

June 26          Biscuit Miller

July 3             Big Boss Band

July 10           Paul Keller’s Sundown Quintet

July 17           Tell Yo Mama

July 24           James Cloyd Group

July 31           Planet D Nonet

Aug. 7            Bennie Reeves

Aug. 14          Jeremiah Johnson Band

Aug. 21          Jenna Mammina/Rolf Sturm

Aug. 28          Sunset Grove

That’s not the only music series in the Victorian Port City. Roots on the River is hosted by the Manistee Jaycees. “Roots,” as it is known, features some of the best bluegrass and other varieties of music by top regional musicians. It takes place Thursdays beginning at 7pm.

June 28          Escaping Pavement

July 5             Harper and the Midwest Kid

July 12           Barefoot

July 19           Awesome Distraction

July 26           Plain Jane Glory

Aug. 2            Blue Water Ramblers

Aug. 9            Local Showcase

Aug. 16          Jim Crocket

Aug. 23          The North Carolines

Monday nights, the place to be is the Onekama Village Park (unless it rains; then head to Onekama Consolidated School). The Portage Lake Association hosts the 7pm concerts, this year featuring:

June 25          Peter, Paul and Mary Remembered

July 2             Shrock Brothers Band w/Peter Madcat Ruth

July 9             Barefoot

July 16           Awesome Distraction

July 23           Scottville Clown Band

July 30            Ray Kamalay and Joel Mabus

Aug. 6             K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys

Aug. 13           Miriam Pico and David Chown 


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