World of Sound: Indian, zydeco & global-folk from Michigan danced off Summer Fest's final Friday


K. Jones & the Benzie Playboys by Anthony Norkus

Caution, May Induce Dancing: K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys by Anthony Norkus Photography.

Even though Top of the Park was entering its final weekend on Friday, the stage was still filled with infectious summer energy thanks to the music of Sumkali, The Ragbirds, and K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys.

All of these bands are based in Michigan, but their sounds are drawn from around the world.

Sumkali played in the shade of the Rackham building, its meditative sounds coming across like waves in the ocean. Known for its melodic combinations of Indian classical music and modern mix-ups, Sumkali's songs flowed from one to the next, with the set's pace intensifying from a steady heartbeat-sounding thump to a rhythmic thundering of hooves. Some Top of the Park goers braved the blazing sun while others hid in the shade; kids hopped to the funky, eerie, and jazzy fusion. 

Ann Arbor band The Ragbirds hit the stage at 8:30 pm with “Brave New Beat,” a tango-esque tune personifying fear, hate, love, and mercy, turning all those feelings into dancing partners. Singer Erin Zindle breathily introduced each song as the sun set and more and more concertgoers arrived. The band's fast fiddling, electric guitar wails, and buoyant rhythms were invigorating. Zindle introduced “Lemon Grove,” a song she said came to her “when everything felt like living under a lemon tree” because life was full of sourness. This whimsical piece was her way of bringing sweetness back into her life and it sweetened the crowd, too, causing people to sway and bounce. Guitarist T.J. Zindle played a lengthy rock 'n' roll solo during “Alleyway Saints,” a song that he co-wrote with sister and frontwoman Erin. Next up was crowd favorite “Book of Matches,” a gypsy/folksie groove that incited howls and whistles from dancers, illuminated by the rainbow lights, in front of the stage

Continuing the enthusiasm whipped up by The Ragbirds, K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys got the crowd bobbing with their southwestern Louisianian jams. Frontman Kirk Jones led his bandmates through their energetic take on zydeco. Their Creole- and Cajun-inspired tunes energized the wiggling crowd with easy-going and funky beats until after midnight. 

Sarah M. Parlette spends her time freelancing, working at the AADL, and planning her next adventure.

Sumkali will be at the Concert of Colors July 14 in Detroit and then back to their usual Indian Music Night at Crazy Wisdom in Ann Arbor. The Ragbirds will be at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Mich., on July 2, followed by a trip to Doylestown, Pa., on August 8. K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys will be at Bayou in the Barn at St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah, Mich., and at Music at the Park in Onekama, Mich., on August 6.