This Friday, Tom Birchler will take center stage at the Farmington Civic Theater.
The metro Detroit singer-songwriter will headline his first show for “Friday Night Live,” a fall and winter concert series he’s curated, produced and emceed for nearly three years.
“I get to play some of my own stuff and go through my catalog to see what might connect with the audience. I’ll also do some covers, so you might hear The Beatles, Carole King or an Eagles tune,” Birchler said. “The trick is to weave the covers and originals in such a way that the show has a flow and make it entertaining from front to back.”
Birchler will perform an acoustic set with his brother David Birchler and include special guest Bobby G, a Livonia blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist.
“I have some stuff in the set that has to do with family, I’m going to do a song called ‘That’s My Mom,’” he said. “I’ve also got some songs about love, and I’m going to do a tribute to my fallen ‘brother’ Tommy Anderson.”
A Farmington music mainstay, Birchler launched the “Friday Night Live” concert series in January 2017 after discovering the theater’s potential as a live music venue. He approached theater general manager Scott Freeman about hosting the concert series in the upstairs 130-seat theater, which now doubles as one of southeast Michigan’s premier listening rooms.
Together, Birchler and Freeman, who met each other while working at Farmington’s Rhythms in Riley Park summer concert series in 2014, wanted to offer a live music experience on Friday nights and expand the theater’s offering beyond movies in downtown Farmington.
For the “Friday Night Live” series, they opted for three shows in the fall and four in the winter. To prepare for each show, Birchler books performances and handles sound while Freeman oversees promotion and venue needs.
“I knew it was a good room, and the size was right,” said Birchler, who also books and produces several Michigan-based shows through Go2Guy Productions and performs regularly for seniors. “I thought this would be an awesome venue for live music. I’m really lucky to be able to do stuff in that venue. Going forward, I hope that it’s something we can do more often.”
Birchler became a music aficionado after seeing The Beatles’ iconic Feb. 9, 1964 performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” at age 10. He also grew up with several siblings who were big into music, including two older brothers who played guitar.
Birchler later played guitar, sang harmonies with his brothers and counted the British Invasion and singer-songwriters as some of his major musical influences. He also formed a band called The Paisley FOGG, a British-American pop-rock tribute project, with brothers David and Keith.
“I cut my teeth on all of that, and later on into the ‘70s, it was more like the Eagles and bands who wrote their own material and had really good vocals,” he said. “With The Paisley FOGG, we played stuff we liked, including The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds, and it came together pretty quickly.”
A charitable gig solidified The Paisley Fogg’s official formation as a specialty band about 10 years ago. With the band in order, Birchler handled The Paisley FOGG’s business direction and booked up to 12 gigs a year.
Today, the band plays about five to six shows a year since members live in different parts of Michigan and out of state. The Paisley FOGG’s next show will include a November benefit at the historic Masonic Temple in Bay City.
“My brother Keith is on the board, and he’s very instrumental in making the Masonic Temple an art center,” Birchler said. “We also perform at the Sixties Smackdown and support the Jammin’ to End Famine show each year.”
Outside of The Paisley FOGG, Birchler curates the Rhythms in Riley Park and Lunch Beats summer concert series in downtown Farmington. He’s also identified the remaining lineup for the Farmington Civic Theater’s “Friday Night Live” fall concert series:
Oct. 11 – Even Steven Songwriters Round with Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho
Nov. 8 – Judy Banker Band and Mike Gentry
After his headlining show this Friday, Birchler will return to his role as event producer and emcee at the Farmington Civic Theater. It’s something he hopes to take on more in the future.
“I get a good conversation going with bands and artists because I understand it from both sides of the coin as a performer and booker,” Birchler said. “I try to make them feel comfortable on stage because that’s my whole goal because then you can get the best performance out of them and the audience gets the best experience.”
For his “Friday Night Live” set, Bobby G will put an acoustic touch on his Motor City blues rock tunes.
The Livonia singer-songwriter and guitarist will share tracks from his electrifying seven-track EP, “Time and Again,” which dropped in April.
“I’ll introduce a couple of my favorite songs that fired me up and a couple of other songs that didn’t make the EP,” said Bobby G, aka Bobby Guskovict. “I’m looking forward to reading the audience and seeing what I can get away with in terms of storytelling and playing.”
Guskovict started playing guitar at age 11 after admiring the chops of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, who both played with Alice Cooper. He also was heavily influenced by Twisted Sister.
By age 12, Guskovict started doing gigs and developed a fast technique for playing guitar akin to his hard rock heroes. He continued to hone his craft throughout high school.
“I thought that impressed everybody all the time, but then when I started going back and studying the stuff like Alice Cooper, and I listened to it and realized it’s not all that super fast. It’s just super tasty and grabs your ear,” he said.
“That’s when I started reevaluating what it is that I’m going after. I don’t mind the fast stuff, especially if I’m improvising because I like to maintain or excel the energy of the song. For the audience that’s interested in what you’re doing, you can play around with styles.”
Guskovict’s playing captivated the ears of local musicians, including members of metro Detroit bands Dr. Pocket and Emerging Soul. He currently plays guitar in both bands and gigs regularly at festivals, tribute shows, corporate events and private functions.
Outside of his Dr. Pocket and Emerging Soul shows, Guskovict performs daily for seniors at different healthcare facilities around southeast Michigan. He takes his acoustic guitar and shares songs seniors remember and enjoy from their generation.
“I just went full force toward it, and I’m very grateful that way it all turned out,” Guskovict said. “I’ll go and do five or six performances a day, and it’s really structured like a job, which I love, and I like knowing where I’m going every day.”
In the meantime, Guskovict is recording a full-length concept album called “Bloodwork,” a prog heavy metal project that will take the listener on a journey from depravity to salvation.
It’s inspired by his own experiences with Christianity and the Christian prog rock of singer and multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse.
“It’s pushing into next year, it’s a bigger thing than I realized that I was getting into, but I’m happy to do it,” Guskovict said. “It’s got the same drummer, so just getting down those parts to begin with has been more of a challenge than I realized, but it’s totally one that everybody’s up for.”
Friday Night Live – Tom Birchler with special guest Bobby G
Friday | Doors 7:30 p.m. | Show 8 p.m.
Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington