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Top Of The Park Music: Everything Under The Sun, Moon, And Stars

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June 14 through July 7 ushers in another season of The Ann Arbor Summer Festival 's 'Top of the Park' (TOP) Concert Series. With Ypsilanti's Frog Island Festival on June 21 and 22, this TOP series is yet another great musical event of the summer. Opening the Series are two excellent big bands - the modern, progressive II-V-I Orchestra on Friday and the traditional big band, The Ambassadors on Saturday . Both are a fine way to introduce someone to the bread th of talent in our area. Sunday the 1 6th brings one of the hottest groups in the area - Big Dave & the Ultrasonics. Theyll probably play tunes from their new Schoolkids live recording "No Sweat." On the 17th another Schoolkids recording artist - the Bird Orchestra hits the stage. They are loud and hot - worth every note. There is no better beltin' soul singer in the area than Thornetta Davis. She and the R&B ensemble - the Chisel Brothers - blast on stage Tuesday the 18th. The King of Pop Music- Frank Allison and the Odd Socks - squirm on stage on the 1 9th . Bring the kids and the grandparents for this one. The Luddites, on June 20, are a 1 1 -piece bunch of medical students who play a wide-range of material including zydeco, calypso, rock and swing. Check out their new CD on sale at the Park. The funky Sun Messengers play on Friday the 21st. They cook. Using a lot of rhythm they represent a brand of World Music not often heard around this area. Check them out. The handsome Michael Katon is new to TOP. From Heil, Mich., Katon plays searing blues, rock'n'roll, and hard rock - all nasty and tasty. Don't miss his anthem: "Proud to be Loud." We're fortúnate to have the group that usually opens for Junior Brown (who also open tonight for the Mavericks at the Power Center) - the Cigar Store Indians - at TOP. For you who like the music of Steve Narde lla and George Bedard, you' 11 love this world-class rockabilly ensemble performing on the 23rd. Midlife Crisis, on the 24th, play around the Washtenaw area - the Hamburg Pub and the Quarterback Lounge in Whitmore Lake. Theirmusic iselectric English blues. Althougb these guys don't get out much, they shouldn't be missed when they do. Similarly Al HUI & the Love Butlers, on the 25th, play riveting blues and funky R&B music. Hill's gritty vocals are legendary, and this ensemble will fill the Park with outstanding music. On the 26th, The Drovers will play their Chicago weird music. There's more than a hint of Celtic influence in their music, but there are also rock influences, powerf ui jazz impro visational leanings, and some great harmonies (more Eastern than Western) throughout. This stuff is truly different music and should be heard on those grounds alone. Tracy Lee wGeorge Bedard do Rockabilly on the 27th. These two will make you bump, wiggle, and shake. Bring the kids! I'm not sure if the jazz ensemble, Waka Jawaka. will play any Frank Zappa music on the 28th - given Zappa's 1972 recordingofthe same name - buttheirmusic is modern and smooth, focusing more on vocals than instrumentation. On the 29th two great groups play: Madcat & Kane and the inimitable Wally Duda Trumpet Orchestra. Madcat and Kane play harmonica and guitar focusing on down-home blues and classy jazz. They are a first-rate ensemble which the the whole family will enjoy. The drums, sax, trumpet and accordion instrumentation of Duda' s ensemble insures an eclectic sound. Although this veteran group has been playing the big band classics for close to 50 years their music is always up-beat and interesting. They will bring a smile to your face. On Sunday the 30th, Chris Benjey's Hobo King play New Orleans groove music, Memphis soul music and funky origináis. Featuríng veteran Detroit musician Richard Fidge on guitar - look for special guests to help out in this all-star revue. Probably the strongest show of the TOP season will be Paul Cebar and The Müwaukeeans on July 1 . Fresh from performing in New Orleans at the Jazz and Heritage Festival, this fiendish dance ensemble will make you a believer as well. Ranging from James Brown licks to other-worldly jazz soul music, this ensemble has driven audiences mad from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea. A tip of the hat to PJ Records et al. for sponsoring this great musical treat. The Latinjazzof the Lunar Octet will play on July 2nd. Their music is smooth and infectious - perfect for a lazy summer evening. Nite Flight on the 3rd will step things up a bit with their brand of reggae and Caribbean music. Skanky yet comfortable. Bring the kids to this one also. Jazz vocalist Janet Tenaj and multi-instrumentalist Swen Anderson will perform on the Fourth of July . They make a perfect prelude to the fireworks of the evening. The smooth sound of saxophonist Paul Vornhagen wil] be featuredon the 5th. Vomhagen' s tone and rubato playing is sensational ... and he sings like an angel. Don' t miss it. A real special show is happening on July 6th. Opening are the RFD Boys - Ann Arbor's phenomenal bluegrass ensemble. They' ve been around for over 20 years so they' ve earned their legendary status. Later that evening will be the Jim Tate Band. This country outfit plays at the Blind Pig's Friday night happy hour virtually every week. Tate's strong baritone coupled with a great supporting group and strong material makes this a must-see outing. George Bedard & the Kingpins close this season' s events. Bedard and the Kingpins focus mainly on rockabilly and the blues. But with their level of musicianship - rock, jazz, country, pop elements - all sneak into the mix. If one group was to represent Ann Arbor music to the world, Bedard and the Kingpins would do as good a job as any. They are a highlight. Note: A complete listing of Top of the Park events in June, both the tree concerts and f ree movies, can be found in this month's CALENDAR section of AGENDA, pages 11-15.


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