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Tosa Tonight concert series kicks off

Bidding to begin for on-stage seating

June 13, 2012

The Rotary Performance Pavilion already has received rave reviews from attendees of the annual Tosa Tonight concert series. But what if spectators could move from the grass seats onto the stage?

Well, now they can, by sitting in Carmol Corner, an on-stage concert experience offered by Wauwatosa residents and owners of Carmol Transformed Interiors Caroline Wojtas and Molly Michelz. The stylists have experience in setting up posh outdoor living spaces.

The public can bid - opening bids usually start at $75 or $100 - to sit in swanky seating provided by Laacke & Joys and be served food and drink by the women. Bids will be taken at the stage prior to the start of the headlining act. All the money raised will go support the free concert series and the pavilion, which is managed by Tosa Tonight and owned by the city.

"If you're a fan of the music, it's the velvet rope VIP seating area," Michelz said. "It's unique to Wauwatosa, and the bands back that up. They say they've never seen anything like this at other venues."

The bands look right at the winners and sing to them. There's also space to dance up there, Wojtas added.

Many genres featured

Fans will get their first opportunity June 20, when Tosa Tonight kicks off its season. This year performances will range from doo- wop to alternative rock.

Tosa Tonight looks for diversity as well as what's popular and on trend, said Michelz, who serves on the organization's board. A variety of musical genres means meeting the interests of more people, but it also provides the opportunity to expose the public to a wider array of musical styles, she added.

Rick Bauer, Tosa Tonight executive director agrees.

"While I can see some people picking and choosing nights based on a genre they like, we always do our best to bring in the raw talent that can easily broaden the musical horizon of every listener," he said.

That means picking Milwaukee-area favorites like party band the Five Card Studs, which includes Wauwatosa native Matt Liban on drums; as well as talent from other corners of the country, such as Rebecca Loebe.

Bauer saw her play when he checked out South by Southwest, or SXSW, at an Austin, Texas, music festival featuring emerging artists.

"She is a fantastic writer with a voice to match," he said. "She was also on the reality show 'The Voice' and received some high praise, but that is a small piece of what makes Rebecca a delight to hear."

Guests urged to come early

Loebe is an opening act, demonstrating the caliber of talent this season, he said.

"I can't stress enough how much the community should shoot for being at the Rotary Performance Pavilion for the 6 p.m. opener," Bauer said.

As in past years, Tosa Tonight representatives encourage residents to leave their coolers at home and buy their food and drinks from Wauwatosa businesses. Donated food items will be served by volunteers from local nonprofit groups, and proceeds will be split between the groups and the concert series.

Between the concerts and infrastructure needs, the goal is to raise between $30,000 to $50,000 annually, he said. Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin has once again signed on to be the top sponsor, but Tosa Tonight will be reaching out to the community more this year for on-site donations, Bauer said.

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