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Home > Magazine > Music > Water Hill Music Fest: a Neighborhood Party

Water Hill Music Fest: a Neighborhood Party
May 07, 2012

It's only the 2nd year but it's already blown up. I guess that's what blowing up means.

A chunk of the Old West Side neighborhood of Ann Arbor thought it would be fun to all go out on their porches and play music some Spring Sunday and so that's what they did. People play music already, and hang out on porches. But this was to be a day for everyone to stroll around and say Hi.

It worked great. --Wham!

People are thirsty, itchin', for neighborhoods, for family music.

I suppose there have been some PR geniuses involved, though, because this kind of good thing just doesn't happen by itself. There's always a lot of sweat somewhere behind something that looks so easy, like it was always there.

Our family went and checked it out. I think it inspired our kids. I think they saw some things they hadn't seen before. Cool! I've been itchin' to show Henry, especially, some live music. In this paternalistic-yet-devasting society of ours, where backfiring law replaces dysfunctional family, he can't see live music at a bar at night even with his parents. (OK, if Lansing was a real town there might be an All-Ages club -- there has been -- but ain't of late.) So I don't think Henry had seen a live band until now -- and he's a drummer in a band himself!

Our pal Mike Woodruff lives in that neighborhood and often has front porch hangouts and backyard parties. It's supercool that so many went along with the plan to have a whole day for that kind of thing.

It shouldn't be too hard to keep it good. I'm sure some folks are already concerned about it getting outta hand but all seems well. The cars idle calmly through the peds in the streets. I didn't see any stress.

Sure, many communities and even neighborhoods have parties. This seemed a bit more laid back than usual. It's just a local thing, not a real big deal.

The Dally in the Alley is the huge block party in the Cass Corridor of Detroit -- that's a special thing, too -- but tons bigger, with real event permits, etc. And, of course, downtown music fests are a dime-a-dozen. But they're neat, too: like parades and parking lot amusement rides. It's always great to get out, wander and see your neighbors.

Bring the Farmer's Market to the 'hood, why not.

Of course, Ann Arbor is great for this kind of thing. Always trying to "get it together."

Plain old block parties are cool, too -- and they're everywhere. After a day of garage sales, maybe, just rope it off, bring out the band and the chairs and food tables -- can't beat it! Here's to the block parties, porches, yards and neighborhoods!

There were, what, 50 houses in on the action in a 10 block area. How many bands? 100? More than half seemed to be all-acoustic. There was strummin' and drummin' and heavy metal: all kinds.

We saw a lot of people we knew even though we don't live around there anymore. It's a small world when you just walk around.

Here's their site: waterhill.org


The poster. T-shirts were available, too.


One of the porches.


Henry liked them.


All kinds of neat people, outfits, vehicles, bikes, motos, cars. And kids sitting in the streets petting puppies. It all worked out.


I missed getting a pic of this guy in his big Indian headdress, but this band had a quirky 80's rhythm style with no trace of hiphop. 2 girls and a guy. One of the gals played a screechy sax, the other a beatup old synth that had rows of colored lights she pressed. Shades of the Talking Heads! ...Dancing in the streets, sweat and confetti -- daytime clubbin'! (Our kids approved.)

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