Appleton Celebrates Summer with Two Free Music Series

IMG_4237BY George Halas

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Appleton Downtown Inc. (ADI) is inviting everyone to enjoy the summer with the return of two free summer music series. The 11th annual Heid Music Summer Concert series, and the 5th annual Lunchtime Live! series.

“Every year, we try to make each series the best we can,” said ADI Marketing Director Anne Wiegman. “The lineups are a mix of returning favorites with some of the best up-and-coming bands. ADI is very proud to offer as many free events as possible every year and we are committed to doing that in the future. We want to make arts and music accessible to everyone.”

The Heid Music Summer Concerts Series features many of Wisconsin’s best bands every Thursday evening through September 1st. Houdini Plaza will be the place for music three Thursdays each month; the series moves to Jones Park along the riverfront for Vic Ferrari Symphony on The Rocks on June 23rd, 2016 WAMI Cover Artist of The Year Boogie and The Yo-Yo’s on July 28th and perennial favorite Boxkar on August 25th.

“Last year was the first time we were able to offer Vic Ferrari Symphony on The Rocks for free and it was very popular, so we are very happy to do it again this year,” Wiegman said. “Without selling tickets, it’s hard to say how many people were there, but it was wall-to-wall concertgoers.”

Like last year, the band will include The HD Horns – Ken Skitch on trombone, Jack Naus on trumpet and Chris Felts playing all kinds of sax and flutes, but “the set list will be 30% different than last year,” said Mike Bailey, Vic Ferrari vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. “We now have 50 to 60 different arrangements. It’s a luxury for us that we can play that many new songs.”
Based on last year’s record crowd – “we heard many numbers,” Bailey said – the sound system will be beefed up to ensure that everyone is treated to the full Symphony on The Rocks experience.

“We’ve got to play for the people who are 10 feet in front of us and the people who are 500 feet away,” he emphasized. “We want to connect with everybody. The cool thing about last year was that everyone congregated in one place for one night. Not all the people were there to see the band; some were there to see their friends and be part of a great crowd. I like that – it’s kinda cool.”

RPM opens the series at Houdini Plaza on June 2nd, The Jimmys will be there June 9th and, in response to requests for some country, Grand Union plays on June 16th, and Unity the Band on the 30th.

In July, Houdini will host Ask Your Mother on July 7th, The Love Monkeys on July 14th, and The Cool Waters Band on July 21st.
Mistrial hits Houdini on August 11th, Road Trip will be featured on August 18th and WAMI People’s Choice Award winner Spicy Tie Band wraps the series up on September 1st.

On August 4th, the Heid Music series will partner with Mile of Music to showcase at Houdini Plaza some of the artists and bands coming to Appleton from four countries and 26 states.

Lunchtime Live offers more than just great music.

“The lunch time series has grown in popularity but is still an underutilized resource,” Wiegman noted. “It’s a great opportunity to get away from the office to do some brainstorming or just take a nice break by yourself.”

Wiegman also pointed out that vendors will be on site selling food for both the lunch and evening series, “or you can grab some take-out from one of the many nearby restaurants.”

The Lunchtime Live concerts take place in Houdini Plaza on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ADI has assembled a star-studded lineup featuring a number of fast-rising artists with newly released CD’s of original music.

Tom Winch gets the party started on June 2nd, followed by a Street Music Week Feature Artist, Red Verses on June 9th, Vic Ferrari guitarist and vocalist Russ Reiser on the 16th, John Lambert on the 23rd and Dr. Dobbe on June 30th.

Street Music Week is June 6-10, and during this annual fundraiser, musicians play outside storefronts from noon until 1pm and donate all tips to Feeding America.  Every $1 donation provides three meals for those in need.

July gets hot with Tim Dorsey on July 7th and Patchouli on the 14th. The Erin and Jeff Duo (Krebs and Johnston) will perform songs off their new CD on July 21st and Blake Welhouse plays on the 28th.

Peridot brings its original music and new EP to Houdini on August 4th, Miss Molly will bring “Snow” on the 11th, Eddie Biebel plays on the 18th, multiple WAMI-nominee Kyle Megna performs his original music on the 25th and TimberMoon Bluegrass closes the season out on September 1st.

In addition to Heid Music, both series receive support from BMO Harris Bank, Mill Creek, General Beer, WI Distributors, Habash, Habash and Rottier S.C., IPS Testing, Fox Cities Signs & Lighting, Tundraland, AZCO Inc., Atrium Health & Senior Living, West Corporation, and Festival Foods.

ADI is a non-profit advocacy source for businesses and merchants in Downtown Appleton and Wiegman points out that “Downtown Appleton has eighteen live music venues to enjoy year-round, but many of the venues move their music to the outdoors during summer for even greater enjoyment!”

For more information on ADI summer events, go to

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