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Posted on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival time for musical memories, according to locals

By Erica Hobbs

Top of the Park 1.JPG

Workers prepare for Top of the Park as part of Ann Arbor Summer Festival 2010 at Ingalls Mall in Ann Arbor. The festival runs from June 18 - July 11.

Erica Hobbs |

Ann Arbor resident Bill Burgard has been going to the Ann Arbor Summer Festival since it started in 1984.

The three-and-a-half week long annual event, running June 18 - July 11 this year, is full of free outdoor concerts and movies as well as a series of headlining indoor performances at local theaters.

With the festival now in its 27th year, Burgard smiles and says he still remembers seeing Johnny Cash perform some years ago.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival 2010

Top of the Park

  • Dates: June 18 - July 11
  • Location: Ingalls Mall at 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor
  • Time: Performances start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday - Thursday, 5 p.m. Friday - Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, with movies starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday - Thursday and Sunday
“He had his whole family, it was quite an extravaganza,” he said. “It just kind of makes you feel chills when you heard that sound on stage, listening to the music I grew up with.”

Burgard’s experience is just one of the many felt by townies and newbies alike who have kept the local tradition alive for more than a quarter of a century.

University of Michigan senior Kimmy Schroeder, slightly newer to the city, said Top of the Park was one of her first introductions to Ann Arbor the summer before her freshman year of college. The Lincoln Park native said she remembers checking out the live bands and dancing with the new friends she’d made during U-M’s Summer Bridge Program.

“With the new people I just met, it gave us something to do to get to know what the city was about,” she said. “I thought it was an awesome city, Downriver they never have anything like this.”

Ann Arbor Summer Festival 2010

Main Stage

  • June 17: Patty Griffin with special guest Buddy Miller, $30 - $45
  • June 19: "Come Together: Beatles 50th Anniversary Celebration," $15 - $30
  • June 23 - 27: “The Butterfly Garden," $18 for adults, $12 for children
  • June 26: "An Evening with Bernadette Peters," $55 - $75
  • June 30: John Pizzarelli's "Dear Mr. Sinatra," $30 - $45
  • July 2: "Cinematic Titanic," $20 per show, $30 for both
  • July 3: Caravan Palace, $20 - $25
  • July 4: The Capitol Steps, $30 - $45
  • July 6: Devo, $50 - $100
  • July 8: Juan De Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All-Stars, $30-$45
  • July 10: Die Roten Punkte, $20
  • July 30: Chris Isaak with special guest Marc Broussard, $25 - $65
Top of the Park Site Manager Steve Guttman remembers the intensity of the moment when My Dear Disco performed an all-Michael Jackson set just days after the pop icon died.

“It had been really hot all week, then it cooled down,” he said. “It was a magical moment. His music really transcended all the generations.”

That sense of magic and connection is exactly the feeling Ann Arbor Summer Festival General Manager Amy Nesbitt said she wants patrons to feel.

Nesbitt, now in her fourth year as general manager, said what attracted her to the job was the intensity of emotions she feels during a live performance. She said she remembers going to Top of the Park for the first time in the mid-'90s while visiting friends in Ann Arbor.

“I had a fantastic time as a patron before I ever lived in Ann Arbor,” she said. “It’s incredibly gratifying being with a crowd of people, hearing the audience oohing and aahing and sighing and seeing how the performers react. The interaction between the audience and artist, it’s a magic that happens only in a live performance.”

This year’s indoor concert lineup, though slightly smaller than previous years, includes a Beatles tribute concert, Broadway great Bernadette Peters, and “Whip It” band Devo, among others. Top of the Park, the festival’s free outdoor component, features at least two different live bands every evening and movies Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday. A DJ plays dance music Friday and Saturday nights. Top of the Park is closed on Mondays.

Erica Hobbs is a reporter for Reach her at



Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.

my dear disco!!! tonight!