Ferndale may see ‘Front Porch’ outdoor music festival this summer

Spirit Singing Band shown performing at the 2012 Water Hill Music Fest in Ann Arbor. | Photo via Water Hill Music Fest Facebook page

Ferndale could play host to a new outdoor music festival that would involve bands playing acoustic sets on residents’ front porches in June after the City Council approved a special event permit earlier this month.

“The Front Porch” is the brainchild of Michael Benghiat, a marketing professional at Front Porch Productions in Southfield, who said he envisions it as part of a public television series. It would take place Saturday, June 24.

“This event is really serving as a showpiece and the launching pad for a music TV show that we look to produce with Detroit Public Television in the fall of 2017 called The Front Porch,” Benghiat told council members during their Jan. 9 meeting.

“The reason why I put it in context is we are looking to start small here in Ferndale. And I should tell you that the reason we selected Ferndale is that we know Ferndale is all about placemaking and all about creating opportunities, events and assets that really enhance the quality of life and presents some new offerings for the city. The event certainly fits the character and personality of the city as well.”

Ferndale has a lot of homes with front porches.

Benghiat said he envisions the festival featuring between 25 and 30 bands of diverse styles.

“Our intent is to actually solicit 25 host porches,” he said. “So we will actually communicate to your residents who might be interested in participating in this to actually lend their porch for the day.”

Organizers plan to target the neighborhoods near downtown Ferndale, from Troy Street no further south than Marshall, west to Central and no further north than Maplehurst. It would run from noon to 6 p.m.

“The idea is to extend it to your local businesses and merchants, working with the DDA, past 6 o’clock so it can go on through the night,” Benghiat said.

Benghiat’s LinkedIn profile lists him as founder and executive producer of Front Porch Productions, a media and event production management firm, and as chief optimizer for Optimum Marketing. He previously worked for CBS Radio’s WXYT-FM/AM in Southfield and Leader Dogs for the Blind.

The event would draw on other popular, front porch-themed music festivals such as Ann Arbor’s Water Hill Music Fest and Porchfest in Ithaca, N.Y., which grew over 10 years from 20 to 185 bands. Porchfest’s website lists more than 60 similar music festivals around the country.

City documents indicate the festival would have to cover an estimated $450 in permitting fees and $1,200 for police and other city services.

Creative Commons photo via Bill Walsh

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