Free live music is on tap for those who patronize downtown Royal Oak with the return of the city’s summer concert series.
Produced by the Royal Oak Commission For the Arts, Live Music Thursdays brings performers and audiences together on Center Street between Fourth and Third Streets in a pop-up park setting.
“It usually brings out hundreds of people,” said James Krizan, assistant to the city manager and city liaison to the arts commission. “A lot of people are there for the whole night and set up camp with lawn chairs. We get a lot of other people who pop in, then go to a restaurant and then come back.”
All the concerts run from 6 p.m. to about 9 p.m. and the series of six concerts is on Thursdays from July 11 through August 15.
The concerts are geared for adults and children. The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department brings in retro games for children to play and a climbing tower.
There is also plenty of food with local restaurants such as the Royal Oak Brewery, Bar Louie and Lockhart’s BBQ selling their specialty dishes at the concerts this year.
Musical acts for the concerts are curated by the Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music in Royal Oak, founded by Jason Gittinger, who is also a member of the arts commission.
“Whether it’s Miss Paula and the Candy Bandits singing rock or punk songs with lyrics that kids love and beats that adults can rock out to, Kris Kurzawa showing his incredible guitar skills performing Led Zepplin, or Detroit rock singer and songwriter Barbara Payton … with her soulful bluesy voice, there is serious talent at” the concerts, Gittinger said in a news release.
Other top acts that have become regulars at the annual summer Live Music Thursdays include the Killer Flamingos, the Orbitsuns and Theo Gridiron Spight & Friends.
“The concert series continues to grow every year,” Krizan said. “We’re expecting this to be a pretty good year.”
The concerts started several years ago as a way to celebrate local talent and the wide variety of clubs, restaurants and shops in the downtown, he added.
“Music draws people to the community and helps create that sense of place that we’re looking for,” Krizan said. “It’s a blast and very relaxing.”
Mayor Michael Fournier has been a regular attendee at the concerts since they started.
“It’s a great opportunity to hear some great live entertainment in our downtown and it supports our local businesses,” he said.
Live Music Thursdays also tie in with special musical performances at downtown venues such as 526 Main Dueling Pianos, Fifth Avenue, Goldfish Tea, Goodnight Gracie’s, The Morrie, Motor City Gas and Oak City Grille.
The concert series is sponsored by the city’s Downtown Development Authority.
Jay Dunstan, chair of the DDA, said in a statement that Royal Oak has it all, with “great live music, outstanding restaurants and bars and some of the best breweries and vibrant shopping.”