Live music makes a community more vibrant and positively impacts its residents, businesses and visitors. That’s the mantra of 2 Stones Events, and it led to a monthly series in downtown Brighton – Jazz @ The Pond – which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer.
The husband-and-wife duo of Cal and Whitney Stone has been promoting live music in the region since 2002.
“Brighton’s Mill Pond is such an awesome space for live music that we decided in 2013 to try and make a go of a jazz series, and the response has been spectacular,” said Whitney Stone. “Not only is our audience continuously growing for these free concerts, we’ve also received great support from many others.”
Those others include Caretel Inns of Brighton – the series presenting sponsor since 2014 – as well as the City of Brighton, its Principal Shopping District, the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, The Marketeer and BrightonDining.com.
“Caretel Inns continues to support the community and the Arts in Livingston County,” said Cynthia Garrett, of Caretel. “These concert have been great for our guests at Caretel and continues to grow every year.”
Caretel Inns financial backing has helped 2 Stones Events present some of the best jazz musicians from Lansing to Ann Arbor to the east side of Detroit.
“We’re blessed to be promoters in a state that is just loaded with premiere talent,” said Cal Stone. “The pool of musicians that we tap into is, in my highly-biased opinion, matched only by a few large metropolitan areas like New York and New Orleans. Most people who live in this area have no idea. So, one of the best things about our job is turning people on to these local players and seeing that ‘I had no idea’ look in people’s faces.”
This year’s lineup is no exception. The 2017 series kicks off in June with Sean Dobbins & The Modern Jazz Messengers, followed by The Nighthawks Jazz Orchestra (July); the Dave Bennett Quartet (August); and The Brothers Groove (September).
“These acts represent four totally different genres of jazz,” said Cal Stone. “I can almost guarantee that if you come to all the concerts, you will not hear anything even remotely similar – other than the fact that it’s all great music.”
The events are held on the second Wednesdays of the month and each begins with a swing lesson from The Dance Project at 6:30 p.m., and the concerts run from 7-8:30 p.m.
“We used to do two sets until 9 p.m. but we found we lost folks during the intermission,” said Whitney Stone. “With one 90-minute set, we don’t lose any momentum and everybody sticks around for the whole show. The musicians can hit their stride and hold it for the entire show.”
Once again, the sound will be high quality, provided by 2 Stones Events’ partner, Heslip Audio, which also handles the sound for Brighton’s Smokin’ Jazz & Barbecue Blues festival and numerous other local events.
“The first year of Jazz @ The Pond, we we’re getting our feet wet and seeing if this would work, so we couldn’t afford to bring in a professional sound company,” said Cal Stone. “But when Caretel came on board, it made the decision a no-brainer. These concerts sound absolutely gorgeous – whether you’re sitting near the gazebo or sipping a glass of wine on Ciao Amici’s patio.”
Restaurants, in fact, have been a key factor in the success of Jazz @ The Pond, with support provided by a number of Brighton eateries. The concept, explained Whitney Stone, is to bring people downtown for the live music but to also have them grab a bite to eat before or after the concert and visit the shops on Main Street.
“It’s all connected,” said Whitney Stone. “Matt Modrack, who was the city’s Downtown Development director until he passed away last summer, was one of our biggest champions from the get-go. He understood the link between live music and entertainment and a thriving downtown. They go hand-in-hand, and the communities that have one usually have the other. Brighton has both in spades.”
Jazz @ The Pond
PRESENTED BY: Caretel Inns of Brighton
PRODUCED BY: 2 Stones Events
LOCATION: Mill Pond gazebo in downtown Brighton (Inclement weather moves shows into the CoBACH Center, 200 W. Main)
TIME/DAY: 7 p.m.; second Wednesdays
SCHEDULE: June 14 — Sean Dobbins & The Modern Jazz Messengers; July 12 — The Nighthawks Jazz Orchestra; Aug. 9 — Dave Bennett Quartet; Sept. 13 — The Brothers Groove
PAST PERFORMERS: 2016 — Kris Kurzawa; Paul Keller Mini Big Band; Jill Jack & The American Songbook Band; Don Swindell Quintet; 2015 — Los Gatos; Heather Black Project; Modern CAP Band; Organissimo; 2014 – The Detroit Tenors; Beth Stalker Quintet, LL7; Paul King Six; 2013 — Planet D Nonet; Scott Gwinnell Quartet; Tumbao Bravo; The Marskmen