The crown jewel of downtown Brighton has a new look and a new name — The AMP — and everyone is invited to celebrate the grand opening featuring the band Sponge in concert on Saturday, May 4.
The event will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:45 p.m. followed by music sets from the Brighton High School Jazz Band and the Sanctuary Blues Band.
To cap off the festivities, Motor City rockers Sponge will hit the new stage at 7:30 p.m., performing classic hits like “Molly (16 Candles Down the Drain)” and “Plowed” from their platinum LP “Rotting Pinata,” released 25 years ago.
The new look is a dramatic change from the 20-foot by 20-foot wood gazebo and tiered grassy seating that served the community well for so many years. The venue always had a variety of unofficial names — the gazebo, the bandshell, Mill Pond, Millpond. But that dilemma will be put to rest with a new name, The AMP, short for Amphitheater on Mill Pond.
While the renovation was taking place last summer, some events were put on hold while others, like the Kiwanis Sunday Concert Series, which has been going strong for 42 years, were temporarily relocated. This summer, however, has a full slate of activities at The AMP, including portions of the Brighton Art Festival and Jazz @ The Amp.
The concept went through many changes with public input over several years before being finalized by Lindhout Associates Architects. The new band shell design was a unique challenge, to say the least, according to architect Piet Lindhout.
“We had a very tight and constricted site, natural and invisible barriers, and difficult soil conditions next to the pond,” he said. “The various community groups that use the band shell regularly had special needs and requirements that were not always consistent.”
The new bandshell has a larger stage, larger dance area, and provides safer, more accessible space for all.
“The final solution should be a long-standing asset for the community,” said Lindhout. “We enjoyed this opportunity to update a very tired performance area and hope the community embraces the new bandshell with more exciting events and programs.”
The Brighton Downtown Development Authority spent approximately $760,000 on the renovation, which began last spring and was completed in the fall. It’s been kept fenced in all winter in part, to allow the concrete surfaces to fully cure and limit the negative effects of snow removal and salt.
A lot of thought and effort went into the decision for the DDA to invest in The AMP, according to Tim Corrigan, chairman of Brighton’s DDA.
“All board members recognize what a crown jewel the Mill Pond is to our city and wanted to bring the bandshell area up to date to better serve all the great events it attracts,” said Corrigan. “It was a privilege to be able to participate in that decision, and I am very confident The AMP will be well received by Brighton and the surrounding communities.”
Immediately following the ribbon-cutting, the Brighton High School Jazz Band will perform “Carl’s Concert” in honor of their former classmate, Carl Nagy III.
The Nagy family suffered an unimaginable tragedy the evening of May 25, 2018, when Carl committed suicide four days after turning 17.
“For those that don’t know Carl personally, he was a wonderful kid,” his family conveys on the Facebook page for the Carl Nagy Foundation. “He was very smart and had a great sense of humor. He could make anyone laugh with his corny jokes.”
Carl was a very talented junior at Brighton High School and a member of the BHS Marching Band.
“For those that are close family and friends, we knew Carl was an incredible and caring son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend,” the family adds on Facebook. “It was impossible to know that he was suffering to the extent of wanting to take his own life. As you can only imagine, this tragedy was unexpected, shocking, and unimaginable. He loved his family and we loved him so very much.”
At The AMP opening will be information about the newly-established Carl Nagy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Donations will be accepted and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly toward education for emotional health, anxiety and suicide awareness for our local schools. In addition, proceeds from T-shirt and bracelet sales will be donated at the concert to support local BHS scholarships in Carl’s memory.
“Our goal with this foundation is to save another family from having to go through this unimaginable tragedy. It’s unbelievable,” said Carl’s mother, Connie. “It will help our hearts in healing if we knew our efforts helped save someone. That’s our mission.”
The Mill Pond has always played a central role in bringing people together and fostering community engagement, said Jim Muzzin, Brighton mayor.
“It is in this spirit that we leverage the grand opening to engage the community around such important topics as emotional health, anxiety, and suicide awareness,” he said. “The AMP is about more than entertainment — it is about community.”
Turn up The AMP!
EVENT: Grand opening of Brighton’s Amphitheater on Mill Pond
LOCATION: Mill Pond, downtown Brighton
DATE: Saturday, May 4
TIME: 3:45 p.m., ribbon cutting; 4 p.m., Brighton High School Jazz Band; 4:45 p.m., Sanctuary Blues Band; 7:30 p.m., Sponge
CHARITY: Carl Nagy Foundation; 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly toward education for emotional health, anxiety and suicide awareness for our local schools.