Niles group to rock out on Second Street Friday

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, June 21, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – It doesn't matter what kind of music you enjoy, Hm7, a Niles-based band made up of seasoned performers, will have something for your taste.
Comprised of five group members, Hm7's playlist is easy listening, and includes a diverse collection of covers from classic rock, jazz and country genres. The group performs songs made famous by Sheryl Crow, Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt, as well as Van Morrison, Counting Crows and Hootie and the Blowfish.
Your chance to see Hm7 will happen on Friday, when the group performs on the streets of downtown Niles for the block party, which will kick off the Arts in Motion weekend. The group will play from 6 to 9 p.m. on Second Street in front of the Performing Arts Center.
"We're pumped up," Tom Rattenbury, guitarist for the group said. "Most of us have been long time Niles residents, so we're happy to participate in anything that involves Niles and downtown."
Rattenbury said the group was formed a year and a half ago, and they have been busy playing at several Niles locations, including Riverfront Cafe. The group also performed during last year's Arts in Motion event at the Queen Anne Room in the Renaissance Hotel.
"We will also be playing on July 16 at the Thursday Night Concert Series and at Riverfest on Saturday, Aug. 4," so residents will have plenty of chances to see the band.
Hm7's members Marilyn Haslett, John "Stix" Stauffer, Judge John Donahue, Tighe Pierce and Rattenbury.
Haslett, vocalist, got her start singing solos at the tender age of 10 in church and school choirs with Walter Ginter and Becky Stauffer.
Haslett minored in voice in college, but chose a non-musical career in school counseling, currently working at Brandywine Middle School. She was drawn into the pop music scene several years ago when she sang back-up vocals for a local performer, who also introduced her to the song "Crazy." Since then, she has performed in many local community theaters, including Beckwith Theater, the Tin Shop, Four Flags Players and SMC, doing both musicals and straight drama.
Haslett's role of a lifetime was last summer when she took the part of Patsy Cline in the bio show "Always…". She is thrilled to be jazzing things up with the talented musicians of Hm7.
Stauffer is a Niles native, University of Michigan music school grad, wine connoisseur and currently director of the United Way of Greater Niles.
A veteran musician, Stauffer performed with the University of Michigan bands and choir, and the South Bend Symphony. While in Ann Arbor, he played with "Jabberrwocky," and in Grand Rapids a band called "Oasis." Stauffer comes from a talented musical family.
His mother, Becky, has taught piano and voice lessons to hundreds of Niles area children.
His brother, Tom, is an accomplished recording artist in his own rite.
Stauffer is an original member of the infamous "Mijofirki Blues Band" that rocked Niles in the late 1960s, as well as "The Stingrays," "The Livin' End" and "Chicago Busload."
Donahue was born and raised in Niles. He graduated, with Marilyn, in the Niles High School class of 1972. Donahue is now a Berrien County Circuit Court Judge. He was a founding member of the "Great Lakes Breakwater Band" back in the early 80's. Donahue grew up on folk-rock and thanks his late Grandmother, Olive Williams, for passing on her love of music.
Rattenbury has lived in Niles since 1989. His interest in music started at the age of five when his father taught him to play the ukelele. He soon moved on to guitar, and has performed with a number of groups over the years.
Tom is the owner of Hearthstone Builders, a Niles-based custom homebuilding firm. He is also a Michigan licensed realtor and land developer.
Pierce is the music director for Brandywine Community Schools. Being the youngster of the group, he has been exposed to the literature of Hm7 – most of which was written before he was born. Pierce received his Bachelors of Music Education from Grand Valley State University in December of 2004. During that time, he has been involved in the Laker Marching Band, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Studio Jazz Orchestra of GVSU. He has also been playing with "Take Five," the "Lakeshore Jazz Quartet" and the "MTM Trio," which are all based out of his hometown of Muskegon. He currently resides in Kalamazoo with his wife Tracy.
Don't miss your chance to see Hm7. Great food will also be available as a chicken and rib dinner will be offered. Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at Red Shoe Jewelry or from Lisa Croteau at the Niles Main Street Office. You may also buy tickets the day of the event.