Music to Your Ears: 2nd Annual Hamtramck Music Festival

By: Amber Ogden | March 2, 2015

Who says music festivals only take place during the summer? The 2nd Annual Hamtramck Music Festival begins this Thursday, March 5, and runs through Sunday, March 8, and is a can’t-miss for anyone who loves the Detroit music scene.

Throughout the course of the long weekend, there will be 150 bands at 17 different Hamtramck venues, including favorites like Small’s, Rock City Eatery, Painted Lady, Paycheck’s Lounge and more. One $10 wristband will get you into all of the shows throughout the entire festival, and proceeds will benefit Ben’s Encore, a local nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing music programs to inspired young musicians in Metro Detroit. Not to mention, all of the musicians and organizers who participate in the Hamtramck Music Festival are all volunteers.

A kickoff party will take place at the Fowling Warehouse, 3901 Christopher St., Detroit, on Thursday and will feature the music of local acts including Rogue Satellites, Six and the Sevens, Ryan Dillaha and The Miracle Men and more. The kickoff party is open to those 21 and up, and the first band takes the stage at 8 p.m.

Last year’s inaugural event was put together very last minute, according to project manager Eugene Strobe, which led the team to plan the entire festival in just 32 days.

“This year, fortunately, we had a few extra months to plan, so we had the luxury of time,” Strobe said, noting that Hamtramck Music Festival organizers took about four months to plan this year’s event.

You can find the lineup online, but some local bands you’ll find at various venues throughout the festival include The Hentchmen, Casual Sweetheart, Mexican Knives, DUENDE!, The Ill Itches, Ponyshow and more.

Casual Sweetheart

(Photo of Casual Sweetheart provided by Eugene Strobe of the Hamtramck Music Festival)

Bands were selected through an application process, which started at the beginning of December, and the performers you’ll see represent a diverse sampling of local music in Detroit.

“The talent pool is really great (this year),” Strobe said.

This is the second year Ben’s Encore has been involved with the Hamtramck Music Festival, and it’s a partnership that started from the very beginning stages at last year’s first meeting.

“When we heard that there was a call to bring a winter music festival back to this great Detroit alcove, we were first in line for the meeting. We were lucky enough to be a part of the planning from day one last year, and have had the good fortune to make some incredible connections with Hamtramck’s most passionate citizens,” Aaron Cumming, Assistant Director of Programming for Ben’s Encore, said.

Ben’s Encore is the festival’s main sponsor this year.

“We thought that it was a great fit,” Strobe said. “One hundred percent of our proceeds from the festival go to the organization.”

The festival is a great way for Metro Detroiters to see live music in the city of Detroit and get a glimpse of new bands as well as old favorites. In addition to the music, P.L.A.V. Post #10 will host a pop-up record shop, as well as a $6 all-you-can-eat brunch, on Sunday!

“It’s a great opportunity to see a number of bands and barhop. It’s a great way to get the most bang for the buck when you want to see live music and live music culture in the city of Detroit,” Strobe said.

Wristbands are available for purchase online as well as at several retail locations. And if you party too hardy, shuttle services will be available on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. All festival attendants are also encouraged to use Uber for a safe ride home, along with a $20 credit with the promo code BENSENCORE.

“It is with a great sense of pride that we are able to work with and promote over 150 artists from Metro Detroit. This festival has also given us numerous connections in the Hamtramck school system, allowing us to actively contribute to the school music program and surrounding area, affecting a wide scope of youth throughout the community,” Cumming said.

For more information on the Hamtramck Music Festival, as well as the full lineup of bands, visit the official website.