Salty Summer Sounds Off Kicks Off

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Music, conversation, community and the smells coming from hundreds of plates that people were devouring food off of filled the atmosphere as Salty Summer Sounds made its triumphant return to Saline. 

“I think it just creates a lively atmosphere and a great destination for our downtown to attract visitors to support our businesses,” Mods Squads Salon owner Renee Fonseca said. “I think it’s great. Any live music is great music.”

Hundreds of mostly mask-less people filled a block of Ann Arbor Street for a welcome step back towards summer normality as Salty Summer Sounds kicked off, Thursday. The restaurant servers all seemed to be wearing masks.

The sun was setting down golden and slowly over the block of Ann Arbor Street, between Michigan Avenue and Henry Street, as country music star Kari Holmes brought her band to Saline, singing to a mellow but bustling crowd. Holmes hadn’t played in Saline for several years before returning, June 10. Her band’s country music was a big hit, playing a variety of new music, old classics and covering other band’s songs.

“It’s so great to see so many people here with their masks off and just having a good time dancing, all the kids out dancing. It feels like we’ve been missing this, so it’s been much needed for the summer,” Holmes said.

Saving downtown’s businesses has been an obsession for Saline Main Street Director Holli Andrews. The concert series was brought back to the community by Saline Main Street and Jill Durnen, the Salty Summer Sounds Chair, to help downtown Saline’s restaurants emerge from the coronavirus pandemic as more and more people have gotten vaccinated.

Kari Holmes & her band performing

“As a downtown organizer, for me to have a street closed and street concert every week is like a dream come true. It’s not something that always happens. Not every municipality is willing to go and do something like that,” Andrews said. “We love these businesses. They’re our friends, our neighbors; we care about them and we want them to make it.”

The concert series will be held every Thursday at 7 p.m. Local restaurants will also be hosting smaller venues on the street every Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We were encouraging them to do it,” Macs’ owner Cindy MacNeil said. “It’s very positive. The summer music definitely brings people downtown. I think it helps the whole community, having all these people here.”

Waiters spent the evening busily going from their kitchens to the street, as only a third of the attendees were in the folding chairs up front. The folding chairs that were provided were allowed to be socially distanced for people nervous about gathering in public again.

Jill Durnen

“I think the crowd is big because you’re outside, you feel safer. There’s a nice breeze blowing everyone’s breath away. It’s just nice to be around other people. I think people have been hungry for that for a while,” Durnen said.

The other two thirds or so of the public filled up on their dinners further up Ann Arbor Street, towards Michigan Avenue. The public filled the air with just as much community building and conversations as Holmes’ band filled the air with music.

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