The music won't stop this summer in Bay City

By Mike Bacigalupo’s count, there are 178 events scheduled in Bay City between the first of May and the end of August. 

He would know. Bacigalupo is responsible for the scheduling, promoting, and artist recruitment for a sizable number of those events, including popular music series such as Wednesdays in the Park and Thursdays at Uptown.

“When people say there’s nothing to do in Bay City in the summer I tell them they must be sleeping,” said Bacigalupo, the CEO of Bay City’s State Theatre. 

Music fans have a multitude of events from which to choose this summer, whether it’s concerts by iconic rockers Kansas and Foreigner, local bands of various musical genres, or tribute artists who play the hits – and even mimic the look - of famous bands and musicians.

“It’s going to be a great time,” said Bacigalupo. “Even if you’re not into a certain type of music, it’s still an opportunity to get out, hang out with friends, and have a fun evening.”

The Wednesdays in the Park Summer Concert Series, which is free to the public and takes place at Wenonah Park, kicks off June 12 with a performance by the Bay Concert Band. Wednesdays in the Park includes 10 concerts in all and eight of the 10 shows feature bands who will play the series for the first time.

This year’s Wednesdays in the Park schedule includes tribute bands such as Aero Force, who play the hits of Aerosmith, Hotel California (an Eagles tribute band), and a John Denver tribute show by musician Ted Vigel.

A new addition to this year’s Wednesday lineup is the Midland Symphony Orchestra, which will perform Aug. 21 in Wenonah Park and, says Bacigalupo, represents one of biggest highlights on this summer’s concert schedule.

“They’ve never played outside of the Midland Center for the Arts,” he said. “That’s going to be a great show.”

The Wednesday summer concert series has a rich history and is the brainchild of community volunteer Peg Rowley. The first free shows were held in 1984 and, said Bacigalupo, has continued to grow throughout the years. The series is supported by a long list of local sponsors, and attendees are asked to make voluntary donations.

“It started with four or five shows and then grew to six to eight, but now we make sure to have 10 concerts or more each summer,” he said.

Bacigalupo said it costs approximately $75,000 for the 10-week Wednesday concert run. The money is used to cover all expenses – from paying the musicians to covering the costs of each show’s technical aspects.

The Rockin’ the River powerboat races return to Bay City July 11-14, after a year’s hiatus. The race event schedule includes musical performances by Kansas, whose career includes chart-topping hits such as “Carry on Wayward Son,” and Uncle Kracker, a longtime band member and musical collaborator with Kid Rock. 

Foreigner, which, like Kansas, had several popular hits in the 1970s, will bring their tour to Bay City’s Veteran’s Memorial Park on Friday, August 9. Click here to learn more.

The summer entertainment lineup also includes the popular Young People’s Summer Series at Wenonah Park. The admission-free series begins June 19 at the Nickless Family Community Pavilion and includes an eclectic mix of family-friendly entertainment.

“This is the first year that we’re holding all of the Young People’s shows under the (Nickless Family Community) Pavilion,” Bacigalupo said. “In the past, we’d have to move the shows to the State Theatre when it rained, but now we can still hold it in the park rain or shine.”

The Thursdays at Uptown concert series begins its fourth season on June 20 with a performance by The String Thing Band. All of the Uptown concerts begin at 6 p.m. and are free to the public.

Bay City’s Third Street Waterfall Park will once again host the free Friday at The Falls concert series. The series begins on July 5 with a performance by The Scott Baker Band and continues through August 30. All shows begin at 6 p.m. The Waterfall Park is located at 101 3rd St. in downtown Bay City.

Meanwhile, the State Theatre will host the Queen tribute band Almost Queen on Saturday, June 8. The show begins at 7 p.m.

While Bacigalupo has his hands full organizing the jam-packed summer concert docket (and he also serves as president of the Rockin’ the River event), it’s a labor of love. He’s planning next summer’s music schedule, while the State Theatre is already booked for 2020.

“When I first started at the State Theatre in 2006 there wasn’t a whole lot planned,” he said. “but now I plan as far ahead as I can. 

“But, if you look at our schedule, the Bay City Players, Studio 23, the Delta Planetarium, Tall Ships … there’s always something going on in the summer in Bay City. The whole summer is going to be fun.”

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