Next weekend, the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival comes back to Riverside Park and Depot Town for its 35th year of festivities celebrating the city’s unique cultural contributions (both present-day and past) as well as its inspiring local history. Essentially, all things great about Ypsi!
The weekend-long festival runs August 15 – 17, with events, programs and performances starting around 12:15 or 12:30 each day. The festival is free and open to the public, with an emphasis on family-friendly fare (puppet shows, toddler/kid talent shows, balloon stations) as well as insightful programs detailing local history (Rosie The Riveter: Life in Willow Run Village plus Historic Tours of North Huron Street and spotlights on the Automotive Museum).
There’s also live music! Now, I know I was just writing about another festival two weeks ago (for a street concert featuring Frontier Ruckus celebrating a soccer exhibition, curated by Matthew Altruda). But, honestly, the more festivals the better! Any scene with a surplus of festivals is an encouraging indicator of inspiration and artistic breadth of its creative community.
That said, this is an opportune time/place for families, children, parents and others who might not normally be hitting up Crossroads or the Blind Pig at 11 pm on a Thursday or a Friday, to catch some of these bands out in the daylight. Full schedule here.
Depot Town Takeover (presented by Community Rebirth) will feature a full line up of talent including local trio Wicker Chairs, which could either be anti-folk, space-grunge, neo-psychedelia or all three at once. Wicker Chairs performs on Friday along with Loose Teeth (another group to watch for, despite their begrudged lack of online songs to sample or stream). More picks from the Depot Town Takeover includes one of this column’s recent favorites, The Landmarks (on Saturday) and the inimitable/visionary Patrick Elkins (on Sunday).
Pictured above, in fact, is Jim Cherewick, singer/songwriter (Wicker Chairs) and inspiriting artist/illustrator, painting out on the streets at a recent Heritage Festival for Community Rebirth. (For more information on the nonprofit artist proponents, click here).
On the Main Stage, the outstanding funk/soul outfit Third Coast Kings will headline Friday night, with garage rock legends like the iconic Scott Morgan and the more contemporary Sights performing Saturday night. Local music maven Ayinde Zuri will be spinning records to close out each evening, a fine way to spend a late summer’s eve.
My personal pick, musically speaking, is Sunday’s afternoon lineup (on the LaFontaine Main Stage). Three bands that could essentially be creative cousins when it comes to reworking the possibilities of the bluegrass/folk genre, Ghost City Searchlight, Dragon Wagon and Black Jake & The Carnies, a storm of strumming and raspy warbles augmented with the energy of punk, lovely melodies flutter at some faster tempos, sustaining the charm of traditional folk, but outfitted for a bit more ebullience in delivery, making for a sound that sounds antiquarian and avant garde all at once.
Ghost City Searchlight – “The Wall”
Dragon Wagon – “Country Line”
Black Jake & The Carnies – with a new single, recently released for “Jimmy Hoffa Day”
“Dig A Hole”