Music on Mill to bring local musicians to Mill Avenue

Collette Butts hopes to play at this years Music on Mill, which starts Oct. 4. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

Music on Mill will bring acoustic musicians to Mill Avenue this fall, giving passers-by the chance to listen to live music.

The three-year-old program is going “unamped,” after resident complaints led the city to implement new noise reducing policies. Musicians on Mill Avenue will no longer play with amplifiers, said Mill Avenue special programming director Leslie Criger.

“It will create a different vibe than last year,” Criger said.

Music on Mill is free to the public and will be every Thursday night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting Oct. 4, and will continue until the end of June.

The program usually consists of soloists or duos, with six to 12 groups playing at a time.

Criger said the program received negative feedback from the neighboring businesses when musicians turned their music up too loud.

In late August, the Tempe City Council endorsed a pilot program to control noise in the downtown Tempe community.  The program doesn’t allow amplified or excessive noise unless a musician or person gets a Special Events Permit from the Mill Avenue District first.

Tempe’s downtown community and city staff will meet in December to determine the impact the program has had on noise control.

Criger said she noticed the new pilot program has worked out well for performing artists during the weekends.

“A lot of people are stopping and talking to the musicians now,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

There is no fee to play during Music on Mill, and musicians are typically paid $10 to $50 depending on how many musical groups are playing that night.

Criger said the program gives people a reason to spend more time on Mill Avenue.

Last year, Carly Lenniger, 16, started playing at Music on Mill with her twin sister, Shea, and younger sister, Amber, 14.

“When we were playing, people were out on the balconies cheering,” Carly said. “I liked that everyone walking by was enthusiastic and it was just a really fun atmosphere.”

Carol Pacey started playing at Music on Mill in August 2009.  Pacey, 43, didn’t start playing guitar until she was 35 years old.

“I didn’t have what it took to play in a venue yet,” she said.

Pacey said it’s a great program that allows musicians to find their sound.

“I felt like I was getting my chops on the street,” she said.

Pacey usually performs solo during Music on Mill, singing and playing acoustic guitar. Sometimes fellow band mates of Carol Pacey & the Honey Shakers join her.

“(Music on Mill) is a nice balance between newer and seasoned musicians,” she said.


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