Tim Marshall is a banker, but he’s also kind of a rock star. Matthew Altruda’s already a bit of a local rock star as a DJ for 107.1’s Tree Town Sound, but he’s also kind of a banker. The duo, joined with a committee of organizers (like Martin Bandyke and Chris Ammel), are behind the wildly popular, Bank of Ann Arbor Sonic Lunch live music series, which celebrates 10 years of hosting midday concerts in Liberty Plaza this summer.
Marshall is President and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor, the creator/owner of Sonic Lunch, supported by other local organizations (that match Marshall’s enthusiasm for supporting local arts) such as Perich Advertising, Current Magazine, and of course, 107.1 FM.
Bank of Ann Arbor is a locally owned and operated, full-service community bank that was founded in 1995, and over the last decade they’ve seen their assets grow significantly, they’re now the second biggest bank in Ann Arbor. Marshall admits that part of that benefit comes from the endearing enterprise of Sonic Lunch and how it can engage the community, while connecting families and individuals with their local arts scene.
Sonic Lunch is a substantial candidate for Best Party In Town. It’s an opportunity to bag your lunch and get away from your desk for an hour to scope a performance that not only elevates local talent like The Ragbirds or Frontier Ruckus, but invites exceptional, big-name/top-tier touring artists like BØRNS, Luke Winslow King, or Vance Joy.
“My vision all along,” said Marshall, “was for Sonic Lunch to be a continuation of the direction that the founders of Bank of Ann Arbor put in place, because we have significant touch-points throughout this community where we’re helping to build a better place to live, to work, to play and have fun. I felt it incumbent on me to continue to give back to the community in other and diverse ways.”
Crowds of hundreds regularly gather on Thursdays during the summer at Liberty Plaza for performances from bands like Jr Jr, Chris Bathgate, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Wild Belle, Martha Reeves, and many more. Up to 5,000 (or more) gathered for Laith Al-Saadi, a recent finalist on NBC’s The Voice, resulting in a necessary shutdown of the street – as the outdoors became a venue itself.
“Every part of our bank is driven to build community,” said Altruda, who joined the Sonic Lunch team in 2009 and is one of the key components in curating lineups. “Tim blows my mind with his musical knowledge! When I sat down with him, I saw his passion; I felt his passion… And it’s that kind of passion that draws people in.”
Bank of Ann Arbor focuses on community investment, personal and business banking, and philanthropic partnerships (they’ve contributed more than $4.7 million to local charities since the bank opened). But when it comes to Sonic Lunch’s 10-year-run, Marshall is also focusing on supporting local artists, while bringing in major talent from around the country.
And when asked for their favorite memories, the duo couldn’t pare it down. They did emphasize that homegrown national celebrities like Joshua Davis, Mayer Hawthorne (of Tuxedo) and Al-Saadi, can come back to rousing hometown crowds, while others like Vulfpeck and Greensky Bluegrass are now starting to sell-out big venues on their own national tours (while still returning to this cherished institution known as Sonic Lunch).
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