Lake Orion, “Where Living is a Vacation” and for those of us that grew up here on or around one of our many lakes, we indeed have lived the vacation lifestyle. Lake Orion where the countless hours on the water could only be capped off with some acoustic guitar and sing-a-longs by the lakeside fire. For those of us on Beach Drive / Tommy’s Lake, that was what we did on most weekends and then we would always close out summer on Labor Day Weekend at the Austermann House with the biggest party of the summer that we would jokingly call Tommystock.
In the Fall of 2010, we lost a beloved member of our small town, Sal Agro, who had been a coach and mentor for so many. His funeral service was on the same day as Tommystock that year, and the luncheon just so happened to be at my parent’s house on Beach Drive, at some point these two events merged into one, and there were musicians in both groups that came together that one night to create magic. People were on blankets and chairs up the hill to the road, it looked like a mini Pine Knob, err. DTE Music Theater.
2011 marked the first time that we set out to try and plan our little party rather than just let it happen. We invited musicians, Riley McCury was there, the Two Talls, and everything was great although not quite like the magic of the year before, but it was the first time trying to plan something that always just happened naturally.
In 2012 we just went back to hanging by the fire with our guitars and who ever showed up showed up and it was like it had been growing up, and that’s what we continued to do the next couple of years. Fast forward to 2015, Orion Township had just purchased the previously private property and off-limit property of Camp Agawam. The Camp was now a Township Park, the Beach is now public and we’ve found a new place to park the pontoons and play cornhole. We spent our entire summer at the Camp Agawam beach and as July was ending I proposed that we have Tommystock at Camp Agawam and make it a real music festival instead of a yard party. While everyone loved the idea, most everyone agreed we didn’t have the time, and we would be crazy to even try with such little time to prepare. My brother-in-law Nick Agro and I must be crazy as we decided to go for it.
Earlier in 2015, Lake Orion lost an Alum, a friend, team mate, Nick Agro’s former business partner and brother Dragon class of 1990, Marc DesRosiers passed suddenly, leaving behind a wife and 3 children. We decided that not only would we do Tommystock, but we would give all the money raised to the DesRosiers family. Also that year, my mother, Marilynn Carson was given a bad diagnosis by doctors, but she was really excited for Tommystock. I invited musician friends Merrill Allen from Goodland, Florida, and Jilian Linklater to come up from Nashville, both of whom my mother loved, and I was excited to be able get her out to go see them, but unfortunately her health went downhill quickly and she passed away the week before Tommystock, the impossible task of making this event happen just became even more impossible as I spent the whole week before the event at my Mom’s side. As I was dealing with that, everyone else stepped up, and by the time the third weekend in August rolled around, there were Big Banners promoting the event, parking and no-parking signs, Rich Vellucci had built us a power panel for the stage, friends and family members that had been singing around the fire for years were now personnel, Tim Fletcher and Hans Austermann at the ticket booth, Mark Davis and Jeff Storts were parking attendants and my cousin Wendy, her husband and Martha Williams, helped as t-shirt vendors. Mr. Austermann was running the movie theater and pop-corn machine for the kids, many of which had already been to get their face painted by our friend Cayla. Tommystock felt like a real festival!
The music, was great, the location is great, and we had some momentum to build upon for 2016 and we were going to start early, but those plans got derailed a bit by some personal and professional issues early in the year consumed a good part of the year. Before you knew it there once again was not much time to plan Tommystock. It was very much in doubt whether there would be a Tommystock, but we decided that we were going to make it happen no matter what, and once again we put our heads down and hustled to make it happen with short planning, and the results of those efforts were once again remarkable, especially from the music side, which is what this is really all about… the music.
Our mission is simply to create a 3 day festival with an “Up-North” right here in northern Oakland County that entertains, enriches, engages and inspires both performers and audiences with an eclectic mix of music from all over the state and across the country. To create a festival that promotes and preserves the timeless traditions of coming together around a fire, under the moon and stars and to share in the sound of music.
~ John Carson