A crowd gathered at a porch on West Saratoga Street listens to a  performance by the Reefermen during last year’s Front Porch.

A crowd gathered at a porch on West Saratoga Street listens to a performance by the Reefermen during last year’s Front Porch.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Front Porch music festival to expand in third year

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 3, 2019

 Jill Jack performs a song during the first Front Porch event in 2017. The third annual Front Porch music festival will take place Saturday, June 22, on porches across Ferndale, and Jack will be performing.

Jill Jack performs a song during the first Front Porch event in 2017. The third annual Front Porch music festival will take place Saturday, June 22, on porches across Ferndale, and Jack will be performing.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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FERNDALE — Ferndale’s one-day music festival located on the porches of homes in the city will return later this month.

The Front Porch will take place over the course of Saturday, June 22, at dozens of homes across Ferndale. In total, 56 artists and bands will perform on 32 porches, according to organizers.

Three years into the Front Porch, event producer Michael Benghiat said the hardest part of the whole event now is scheduling the bands on the porches.

“Nearly 60-somewhat artists on 30-somewhat porches with about six and a half hours to play, it’s a big piece of the puzzle to put together,” he said. “It just takes a lot of coordination to ensure that attendees can see as much music as possible, that there’s not too much going on at once, that there’s not bands too close to each other that are playing so that the sound doesn’t bleed over to other performances.”

Since its first appearance in 2017, the number of porches has grown in size each year. The Front Porch’s first year had 42 performances on 25 porches, and last year’s concert had 57 performances on 27 porches.

“We have a handful of more porches (this year),” Benghiat said. “We could’ve had up to 35 porches this year, but it really just depends on who comes to the table and raises their hand and says, ‘Hey, I wanna give you my porch.’ Plus, we have to make sure it’s a porch that’s conducive to having a performance on it. We sometimes get porches that just won’t work.”

This was due in part to the event expanding to both sides of Woodward Avenue in its second year. The first festival only was on porches of homes on the west side of Woodward.

Benghiat said that having the festival on both sides of Woodward will continue for the 2019 edition.

“We’re going to start off the day on the east side of Woodward and then make our way to the west side,” he said. “We do that primarily to work with the police and also to limit foot traffic that’s going back and forth over Woodward. We don’t want people to keep crossing Woodward.”

Singer-songwriter Jill Jack will be performing at the festival with her acoustic trio for the second time. She performed at the first Front Porch, but had to miss last year due to scheduling issues.

Jack made it a point to block out time in her schedule so she could perform at the June 22 event.

“I just feel that more and more music is in festivals; they struggle with budgets and things like that,” she said. “I think if we just stayed committed to really good things, then we’ll be able to do what we do and the people who run it will be able to do what they do, and the audience will be able to enjoy it. So I think it’s very communal all the way around.”

Jack said she saw in 2017 that the event would go on to be a big success.

“I knew it would take off because that’s just Ferndale people,” she said. “We just open our arms to everybody, and everybody’s creative and they love music, and I could just see it being successful. I couldn’t believe the difference from the first year to the second year. The first year, everybody’s kind of getting their feet wet. The second year, I’m seeing all these food trucks. I was like, ‘Whoa, this thing took off!’”

Since the event starts and ends at noon and 7 p.m., the Front Porch began to look at ways to keep the party going into the evening.

So Benghiat announced that there will be an after-party on Vester Avenue from 7 to 10 p.m. with additional bands playing through the night. He said they wanted to involve local merchants and establishments in the event as well, so the Front Porch is partnering with M-Brew, Valentine Distilling and CrossFit HCS — all Vester Avenue businesses.

“We did that because you got all these people that are downtown, people that are coming from all over, and the objective was having to keep people in Ferndale even after the event in the neighborhoods completed,” Benghiat said. “We’re hoping that this is one way to do it.”

For more information on the Front Porch and to find performance schedules,  visit www.the frontporchmi.com.

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