June 9, 2014
Free live music and movies are back as the Top of the Park series returns to Ingalls Mall June 13-July 6 as part of the 31st Ann Arbor Summer Festival.
But music and film are only part of the show, attracting more than 75,000 annually.
"It's so beautiful to see people out and about in that community environment. It's really the main gathering point in town for both townies and people who work at the university and a really different way to experience the campus and the arts," says Amy Nesbitt, executive director of the festival co-founded by U-M and the City of Ann Arbor. The university is one of several co-sponsors.
Top of the Park performances start at 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday starting with acoustic performers at the Grove Stage near Burton Tower. Live bands follow at 7 p.m. at the larger Rackham Stage, with roots rock, jazz, dance music and more, followed by popular films projected on an inflatable 20-foot screen after sunset Sundays through Thursdays.
Top of the Park highlights this year include The Sun Messengers, Third Coast Kings, Chris Dupont, The Macpodz, Frontier Ruckus, Australian artists Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes, Grammy winners La Santa Cecilia, The Appleseed Collective, indie performers Boy & Bear, and The Ragbirds.
Ingalls Mall is also the setting for private tent parties (some hosted by U-M units), along with workshops, KidZone hands-on activities, yoga classes on the front lawn of the Power Center, Wednesday Wine Tastings, Tuesday Michigan Beer Tastings and more.
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Mainstage ticketed indoor series features:
• The return of actress-comedienne Lily Tomlin.
• Independent alt-rockers CAKE with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson.
• Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant.
• Latin jazz all-star ensemble the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.
• Dancer illusionists MOMIX.
• National Public Radio's trivia and sketch comedy show "Ask Me Another."
• Blues guitarist Robert Cray and R&B icon Mavis Staples.
• Acoustic Americana music from Andrew Bird and his band with Grammy-winning artist Tift Merritt to open the show.
• And the annual return of political satirists The Capitol Steps.
Tickets for Mainstage shows, presented at Hill Auditorium and the Power Center for the Performing Arts, are available at 734-764-2538 or at www.A2SF.org, also home to festival schedules.
Nesbitt urges U-M faculty and staff who haven't experienced Top of the Park to break routine.
"You walk out your door and it's happening. You can check out some new music or a movie and meet up with your friends. Or just take an hour out of your life to go out and people-watch, there is so much to discover," she says.