Taylor Conservatory music, art series returns for 2014

Photo courtesy of the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Clarinetist Dave Bennett (third from left) will be backed by Jerry McKenzie (left) on drums, Ray Tini on bass and Terry Lower on keyboards during the season opening concert at the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 11. McKenzie’s Just Jazz band will perform June 18.

TAYLOR — Music and art will grace the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for the third summer, beginning June 11.

Self-taught clarinetist and musical prodigy Dave Bennett will get the series started with a concert from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the gardens terrace, 22314 Northline Road. Admission is $5; lawn chairs are encouraged. The venue opens at 5:30 p.m. so guests can walk the grounds. Cash bar opens at 5:30 p.m.

The rainout location is the Activity Building at Heritage Park, 12111 Pardee Road.

“Dave brings to life the classic sound and music of Benny Goodman with incredible technique, style, beauty of tone and naturalness,” said series co-founder Mary Boonenberg. “He tours all over the United States and recently performed at Carnegie Hall.

“Dave is also an accomplished piano player, guitarist and drummer who just loves rockabilly music as well, touring with his group, The Memphis Boys. He’s an exciting performer and audiences will be in for a treat, you won’t want to miss this concert.”

The feature artist for the concert is Leo Kuschel, an internationally recognized artist from Taylor. His artwork highlights landmarks that are distinctly Downriver, as well as paintings of Great Lakes lighthouses. His iconic images of lighthouses have been widely shown and noted for their exact details.

The remainder of the series is:

June 18: Jerry McKenzie’s Just Jazz 

June 25: The Back Beats, a Beatles tribute band 

July 2: Jazz drummer Sean Dobbins 

July 9: Girls’ Night Out, duet of pop and Jazz 

July 16: The Paul Keller At Sundown Quintet 

July 23: Craig Strain’s horn driven R & B, Dr. Pocket 

July 30: Keyboard player Chris Codish 

Aug. 6: Charles and Gwen Scales, jazz and R & B 

Aug. 13: Trumpet player Dave Tatrow 

Aug. 20: Grand Finale, 3-hour concert featuring BMR4, a Chicago jazz and blues band

All concerts are Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. — except the finale — on the gardens terrace. Admission is $5; lawn chairs are encouraged.

The venue opens at 5:30 p.m. so guests can walk the grounds. Cash bar opens at 5:30 p.m. The rainout location is the Heritage Park Activity Building. Weekly food specials will be offered; no outside food or drink.

For more information, go to www.taylorconservatory.org or www.facebook.com/taylor conservatory, or call 888-383-4108.

What started out as a little brain storming session between two former Taylor Cultural Arts commissioners to bring music to their city has become a highly anticipated summer event in metropolitan Detroit.

Boonenberg and co-founder Erin Dobbins had the musical connections but were at a loss as to the best venue for their idea, until they met up with the people at the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

“It was such a beautiful setting inside their gardens that we just knew we’d found ‘the’ spot,” Dobbins said.

That worked out for Conservatory Executive Director Patty Donahue and Conservatory Board President Larry Wright, who wanted to have live music in the gardens but weren’t sure how to make that happen.

“It was serendipitous that we met and even better that we work so well together,” Boonenberg said.

The concerts are held outdoors, weather permitting, on the terrace next to the one-third scale replica of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Ile. The terrace is surrounded by a half brick wall that produces a natural parabolic sound effect.

“It can be hard for small combos to play at outdoor events because of sound issues, but I just love this setting and the sound in the garden,” said Jerry McKenzie, two-time Grammy Award winner and former drummer for Stan Kenton. “It’s outstanding.  We’re excited to back this summer.”