Bask in the classics or discover something new at downtown Farmington's summer concerts in the park

When Downtown Farmington released their schedule of concerts for this summer at Riley Park, we reached out to some of the musicians lucky enough to be asked back after performing in years past. And while no doubt excited for the opportunity to perform once more, there’s a word that kept popping up when asked what it means to perform live music in the public square.


Live music is essential to the community and to community, an opportunity to gather in the park and run into old neighbors, meet new ones, and foster that sense of fellowship that sometimes seems tenuous in the days of social media and otherwise. As the Detroit songwriter Lilly MacPhee puts it, who she herself recently performed at the world-renowned South by Southwest music festival and conference in Austin, Texas: “Live music is an essential part of any community and the Farmington concert series is a wonderful one to attend and be part of. It’s always a hope of mine that lyrics I write resonate with the audience; and after a great experience performing last year, I’m looking forward to performing again this summer and connecting with music fans.”

MacPhee will be performing as part of the Lunch Beats in Riley Park concert series, which occurs each Wednesday at noon at the Farmington Pavilion there. A second concert series, Rhythms in Riley Park, occurs each Friday night from 7 to 9 p.m. The series differ from one another, with Lunch Beats featuring local singer-songwriters and musicians, and largely performing their own original music in stripped down, intimate sets. Rhythms in Riley Park, on the other hand, features full bands performing covers of and tributes to world-famous acts like the Beatles, Bonnie Raitt, Steely Dan, and more.

It’s Lake Orion-based singer-songwriter Steve Taylor who opens the season with a performance on Wednesday, June 7, at noon.

“From the Farmington Farmers Market, to the Lunch Beats shows, to the concerts in Riley Park, live music is essential for building community and bringing people together,” Taylor says. “I love playing in Farmington every summer, and getting to see familiar faces again!”

Here’s a look at who’s playing in downtown Farmington this summer. The concerts are free and open to the public.

Lunch Beats in Riley Park
Wednesdays at noon

June 7: Steve Taylor
A graduate of Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, Steve Taylor performs both solo acoustic sets and with his band the Steve Taylor Three. Fun fact: Steve’s song “Without” was featured in the hit TV show Dawson’s Creek.

June 14: Rich Delcamp
A set from Rich Delcamp, who also plays banjo in the Ann Arbor roots/bluegrass folk-rock outfit Dragon Wagon

June 21: Misty Lyn
A set from the Ypsilanti-based Misty Lyn, front lady of the Michigan folk heroes Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful. She performed at the legendary folk music club The Ark in Ann Arbor this past February.

June 28: Mark Reitenga
Well known ‘round these parts, Mark Reitenga has been performing on the streets of downtown Farmington for years now. He’ll be bringing his own brand of singer-songwriter folk-rock back to town.

July 5: Lilly MacPhee
The singer-songwriter has been performing all over the country as of late, with high-profile gigs in Nashville, Los Angeles, and the aforementioned SXSW – but she always comes home. Catch her in Farmington before she’s on her way to the airport.

July 12: Kyle Chase & Shepherd Smith
Singing songs and telling stories is Kyle Chase, who will be joined by his friend Shepherd Smith on mandolin.

July 26: Bob & Coltrane Monteleone
The father-and-son duo of Bob and Coltrane Monteleone are regulars at the Farmington Farmers Market, something they’ve been doing for more than 10 years now. Bob was part of the Detroit reggae group Black Market and the 90s reformation of The Look.

August 2: Chris DuPont
Indie-folk songwriter Chris DuPont melds 1970’s Americana with dream pop. A winner of Eddie’s Attic songwriter night and a finalist of the 2013 Rocky Mountain Folks Fest songwriter competition.

August 9: Bob Skon
A mix of originals and classic covers of the 1960s and 70s – and maybe even a Britney Spears song or two.

August 16: Alex Belhaj & Erik McIntyre
Guitarist Erik McIntyre joins songwriter Alex Belhaj for a special performance.

August 23: Heart Cruise
As Lunch Beats organizer Alexander Steward told us in anticipation of last year’s series, Heart Cruise is “one that I think a lot of folks are going to really enjoy. They have a little bit more of a rock and roll type of feel to them, they’re a lot of fun.” He must’ve been right because they return this year and close out the summer series.

Rhythms in Riley Park
Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m.

June 9: The Shawn Riley Band
Classic rock covers mixed with Irish and Celtic songs, blues, and country.

June 16: The Paisley Fogg
Jangly guitars, the Mersey beat, the British invasion, and American psychedelic from the golden era of 1960s rock ‘n’ roll.

June 23: Downriver Dan
Blues-rock guitarist Downriver Dan can make the guitar cry while the crowd dances.

June 30: Powderfinger Detroit
A Neil Young tribute band, balancing the acoustic troubadour tunes with the guitar hero epics.

July 7: Major Dudes
A Steely Dan tribute band – not easy to do! But they can and they do.

July 14: Soul Xpress
The Saginaw-based Soul Xpress brings a party vibe with horns, rhythm, and the best that Motown and soul music at large have to offer.

July 28: Billy Mack & the Juke Joint Johnnies ft. the Whatabouts
Boppin’ and rockin’ since 2003, a rockabilly feast for the eyes, ears, and otherwise.

August 4: Surf Zup
Fun-time instrumental surf music from the genre’s heyday of the 1960s, led by Jack DeFranco who’s played with the legendary group The Ventures.

August 11: Dig A Phony
Dig that name! A Beatles tribute act that focuses on the tunes rather than the costumes.

August 18: Joyriders
Purveyors of yacht rock, Joyriders promise the best of AOR rock and radio.

August 25: First Raitt Detroit
Detroit singer-songwriter Maggie McCabe brings her Bonnie Raitt tribute group to Farmington to close out the season.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.