Home Musician Ypsi musician to host free summer jazz concert series at Frog Island Park

Ypsi musician to host free summer jazz concert series at Frog Island Park


Residents of the Ypsilanti region will be treated to a series of free weekly jazz concerts this summer thanks to the Ypsilanti-based musician John E. Lawrence.

the Ypsilanti Frog Island Jazz Series will feature a different smooth jazz performer from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday from July 2 to September 2. 3 at Frog Island Park, 699 Rice St. in Ypsilanti. Lawrence will open each show and present the main act. Main artists will be Rayse Biggs, Straight Ahead, Kimmie Horne, Charles and Gwen Scales, Dave McMurray, Yancyy, Gerard Gibbs, LaShawn Gary and Randy Scott. Lawrence and his group will headlining the July 23 show.

Lawrence says he wanted to sponsor the series as a way to give back to the community and provide an opportunity to come together and celebrate after social isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawrence has gathered a few sponsors but is looking for others to defray the cost of the series, which could reach up to $ 30,000. He says, however, that he will pay for the concerts out of his own pocket if necessary.

Lawrence plans to deliver top notch sound and will pay to feature notable smooth jazz musicians, including national recording artists like Randy Scott, who topped the Billboard charts in the smooth jazz category last fall. Many artists, including Lawrence, are also preparing to release new albums this summer.

“We will have musicians of this caliber every week,” says Lawrence.

Lawrence says he was able to integrate all of these acts and kick off the series just weeks after he conceived it, as the musicians had known each other for many years from attending a jazz festival in Canton.

Frog Island Park was chosen because it has a good layout for performances and a room for a large audience, but also because the park has been the site of WEMU radio’s Frog Island Jazz and Blues Festival for many years. .

“People who remember this festival associate Frog Island with this tradition,” says Lawrence. “Mine is going to be different, though. It’ll be smooth jazz for the most part, and I think it’s going to be really good.”

Lawrence hopes to make the jazz series a permanent event.

“I want this to happen every year, and every year to be bigger and better, filling this whole football field,” Lawrence said.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own blankets or chairs and arrive early for performances, as Lawrence predicts the series could attract 2,000 or more people each week depending on the popularity of past local jazz events.

More information on the series and the profiles of the performers are available here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti township and project manager for On the Ypsilanti field. She joined Focus as a journalist in early 2017 and occasionally contributes to other Press group publications. You can reach her at [email protected].