If an event is successful enough, people start to take ownership of it, they start to think of it as their own. While that sort of personal investment is something an event craves from its community, it does mean that any substantial changes will be met with some level of criticism. So when a popular music festival shifts and, say, moves to a different time of year and expands into other cities, there are bound to be some complaints.
That's exactly what happened with the beloved rock and roll institution that is the Metro Times Blowout. For 15 years, the Blowout filled the streets of Hamtramck with local music fans as they bounced from bar to bar every March. Things began to change in 2013 as the festival moved from early March to later in the spring and expanded from one weekend to two, divvied up between Hamtramck and Ferndale. The festival has gone back to one weekend this year and will now take place in Hamtramck, Ferndale, and Detroit at the same time.
While some liked the shift to a bigger festival and warmer weather, others longed for that one weekend in early March when all your friends were in the same neighborhood at the same time. You could gripe about the change, sure, or you could be like the group behind the Hamtramck Music Festival
and start your own tradition. The inaugural music fest occurs March 6 through March 8. Check out the schedule, a crazy-cool video and other info here
Eugene Strobe is just one of two dozen or so musicians, artists, and bar owners who gathered in late January to discuss forming a new music festival. Since that first meeting, the group has organized a weekend festival that features over 100 local bands and 16 venues. Strobe stresses that this isn't an anti-Blowout festival, that there's room for both events. He and his peers just didn't want to keep talking about how great things used to be--they wanted to keep things going.
"It's a personal passion of mine. If there's an idea and enough of a groundswell comes up, let's stop talking about it and let's do it. That's my outlook on it," says Strobe.
The organizing committee is made up entirely of volunteers. The idea is to keep expenses as low as possible, allowing the group to charge only $10 for a weekend wristband. The money they do raise will benefit one of their sponsors, Ben's Encore, a local nonprofit that awards scholarships and grants to underserved music students and school music programs in the area.
Organizers are excited, too, about getting people out and into the bars of Hamtramck. The music festival is an excellent way for people to discover new bands while also introducing them to the city of Hamtramck.
"I think the whole idea is that we're throwing a party that everyone's invited to," says Jeff Fournier, another member of the organizing committee. "There are great bands and artists and it's a bar crawl too."
The 16 venues are within walking distance from each other and the Detroit Bus Company will be shuttling people from location to location. Street teams are being organized to help with safety efforts. Wristbands are available online and at a number of record stores throughout metro Detroit.
The week of the festival promises to be a busy one, something the organizers had in mind when choosing the dates. It will be Paczki Week in Hamtramck, with an event happening nearly every day. There was the second annual Paczki Run held Saturday, March 1. Then Pazcki Day itself on Fat Tuesday, March 4. On Wednesday, March 5, wristbands will be sold at the Nothing Elegant dance party at New Dodge Lounge. Then things kick off with a festival opening party on Thursday, March 6 at Small's Bar, one of the bigger venues in Hamtramck. The festival itself takes place Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8.
"I'm looking forward to it. Hamtramck is a cool town and a lot of younger people are moving in. You can see an uptick in people on the streets," says Melody Malosh, co-owner of Small's. "It's a rock and roll town. We know how to party."