Every year more Michigan bands form. And every year, it seems, there’s another farflung festival to attend. And then, it’s Mittenfest time. Life pauses for a week. All the bands come together. This festival, above all festivals, is the family reunion for the Washtenaw County music scene.
For nine years, as December ends, dozens of local bands have gathered around amps and drum kits, like families gather around fireplaces, toasting and sipping local microbrews. Ugly holiday sweaters dot the crowd gathered for great tunes and a cause: 826michigan.
Listen and Learn
Mittenfest is a 4-day music festival featuring more than 40 local bands, benefiting 826michigan, a non-profit tutorship organization providing educational assistance (primarily with writing) to students in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit. Mittenfest was originally started by local music proponent Brandon Zwagerman as a backyard concert/homecoming party that could raise a few bucks for the then-fledgling, volunteer-dependent 826michigan. Now, raising more than $100,000 for 826michigan’s vital programming, the festival has grown into a highly anticipated and beloved staple of the Washtenaw music scene.
Mittenfest, in a nutshell
Four days of live music just before the dead of winter, where the overarching cause creates an energy that stokes nostalgia and camaraderie, with eight (or more) bands performing per night—one of which, we’ll bet, will become your new favorite.
Jeremy Peters (of Quite Scientific Records) has volunteered for several years and he assures that Mittenfest’s goal remains the same: “Have an awesome festival, with awesome bands that have a tie to this awesome Mitten state we all love. Have a great time doing it, and raise a bunch of money for an organization that’s making huge strides in making creative writing and reading fun for kids.”
And, what matters most, says Amanda Uhle, 826michigan’s Executive Director, is providing an event that is “as vital and fun and reflective of our community” as it was when it started in Zwagerman’s back yard, nine years ago.
The future of Mittenfest
“It’s hard to guess at it,” said Peters. “But I know we’ll keep these same ideas. No matter where it is, or what the venue, the feel has to be the same. Whatever happens, we don’t want it to feel stagnant, and we hope we’re putting on a show that you’d want to spend $10 to go to, even if you had no clue it was going toward an awesome cause.
Mittenfest IX – 4 nights of live music (Jan 1 – Jan 4, 2015) at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St. Doors at 7 PM each night ($10 – proceeds benefit 826michigan). For more information and lineup: mittenfest.org Tickets: blindpigmusic.com