By Ryan R. Ennis

WHETHER YOU’RE AN aspiring actor or director, or just seeking entertainment, the non-profit organization Michigan Stage has something for you. With its goal “to produce theatre in enriching, refreshing new ways directly within the community of Ferndale and greater Oakland County,” opportunities abound for escaping from the monotony of the daily grind by indulging the imagination.

At Michigan Stage studio locations this summer, instructor/ artists with strong creative drives conducted summer youth playlabs for students ages 7 to 13. During the sessions, the instructors helped students develop themes and dramatic moods for designing skits and short sketches centered around D.I.A. (Detroit Institute of Art) works on display in the community. Under the artists’ tutelage, the students learned how to breathe life into their ideas through performances at small local venues. The classes have served as meaningful ways for children and adults to express their creativity.

The playlabs fall under the wings of the organization’s Performing Arts Academy, whose vision is a commitment to “upholding the professionalism of the performing arts community.” To execute that vision, the academy provides resources such as intensive tenweek theater workshops scheduled in the evenings for students ages 13 to 22. Also available are individual voice and dance lessons along with workshops on contemporary pop-rock Broadway composers. A youth ensemble assists with the academy’s artistic and administrative direction.

Another opportunity offered through Michigan Stage is its play-reading group – Michigan Page – in which group members analyze and critique theatrical works via Zoom. Selections include both contemporary and classical drama. Guest speakers help to facilitate the meetings by providing discussion points and background on the texts. Most recently, in April, participants read and interpreted Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, based on Virginia Wolf’s popular genderfluid character who lives for centuries and re-examines history through encounters with key figures of English literature. Michigan Page’s bimonthly meetings plan to resume in January 2022, at a local library. Says a Michigan Page participant about the club, “(It’s) an environment where the love of theatre is nurtured . . . and impactful discussions are fostered in a relevant way.”

Leading the cast at Michigan Stage is founding Artistic Director Tim Paré, a Michigan State University graduate with an impressive résumé. Previously, he held the titles of Educational Director for two stage companies where he developed theater arts programs for youths and young adults. By directing and choreographing his students in musicals and other performances, he annually reached 7,500 community members. College students have also enrolled in his workshops and courses on how to audition performers, dance professionally, and manage stage productions.

In forming his company, Paré has striven “to expose audiences both new and old to the performing arts in new ways – to nurture a curiosity to explore the world around us through…community theater productions.”

As part of fulfilling his mission, Paré directed three free concerts entitled Broadway in the ‘Burbs, all performed on August 7 at The dot (Development on Troy) in downtown Ferndale. The shows featured Broadway cast members singing tunes from Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, and other hits. Before and after each performance, gatherers were able to meet the singers, as well as chat with the fire and police department workers who were on hand with activities and information on city services.

Up next for Paré and Michigan Stage is Looking Back Through Stained Glass, a family-friendly musical that explores the styles of punk rock and heartbeat pop music in addition to the themes of rebellion and selfacceptance. Starring in the production will be Drag superstar Nancy Nogood and recording artist Ugochi Nriaka. Performed at the Ant Hall in Hamtramck, the musical will run from September 30th through October 9th.

For more information on Looking Back Through Stained Glass, autumn playlabs, and other Michigan Stage events and programs, visit You can also keep up to date by joining the mailing list. To contact Tim Paré directly, email him at

FOUNDED IN MAY 2015, THE HIGHLY RESPECTED FERNDALE COMMUNITY CONCERT BAND (FCCB) completed its fifth season this year, and has become one of Ferndale’s most successful non-profit non-profits and largest volunteer organization in the community, boasting more than 70 volunteer musicians.

The FCCB does not hold auditions, but does consider the experience and accomplishments of a musician when accepting a new member. All concerts are free, with donations gratefully accepted at the door. There are a broad range of volunteer musicians involved, ages 16 to 84, with various levels of skill and experience. FCCB members are music educators, amateurs, professionals and students. A few members have played in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on an as needed basis. Over 200 musicians have been a part of FCCB over the years, with each concert involving 70 or more musicians. The FCCB performs five concerts per season. When invited, the FCCB has added special performances, such as the NAACP 2019 National Convention performance, and other public events to their concert schedule.

In order to establish and manage this pivotal cultural band, two residents were selected to become members of the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission in 2014. Both were chosen for their outstanding skills and experience: Tim Brennan (a Hamtramck High School music teacher and veteran of the U.S. Army Band) and Sharon Chess (a well-known community organizer).

Information received from the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission’s public survey led Chess and Brennan, to organize the Ferndale Community Concert Band. They created a promotional Facebook page, as a call to action, listing a time and date for the first band rehearsal. They also consulted with retired Cass Tech Orchestra Director, Marc Haas, on how best to form a community band. In all, 105 people responded to the request for volunteer musicians.

ON MAY 5, 2015, THE FIRST REHEARSAL WAS HELD at Ferndale High School (FHS). Both FHS Principal Roger Smith and FHS Band Director Elon Jamison were very helpful, and allowed the band to use their expansive facility for rehearsals and concerts. Additionally, Ed Quick stepped up as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the FCCB. Chess recalls the evening of the first rehearsal very clearly: “Quick wasn’t confident there would be a good turn-out. We were expecting maybe 15-20 people to show up. But people kept coming through the door, and coming and coming!” It was an incredible ensemble of every instrument and player we needed.” Hope ensued.

Even though the concerts are free, the attendees are very generous with their donations. The cost to produce each concert is over $1,800 (which includes printing, recording, sound/lighting technician and conductor fees). To help further with fundraising, a bake sale is held at each concert. “We have some really good bakers in the band!” Chess added with a smile. Members of the local Senior Group, and the Memorial Foundation, Dick and JoAnn Wilcock, and David Chess, help with the bake sale and door donations.

Another source of donation comes from the FCCB Board members, who have purchased equipment, music, recording and sound equipment, and other needs for the band. A friend of a Board member donated an expensive Yamaha concert drum kit, then, after few years, decided to donate the set to the FCCB. Another example of generosity was by a philanthropic donor, Jeffrey Chess, who purchased over $12,000 worth of equipment for the band. Chess added that sometimes Ed Quick donates the cost of music, if the total is over the $550 music budget, allowed per concert or it is a special piece he does not want the expense to fall on the Band.

The Band has played and is invited to return to the Music on Belle Isle Group (MoBIG) River Blast! Concert series. MoBIG is a non- profit dedicated to returning summer band concerts to Belle Isle. MoBIG features community bands and orchestras from Southeast Michigan throughout their season. Part of MoBIG’s overall mission includes providing free concerts on Belle Isle (Sunset Point) during the summer months, at 6:30P.M. MoBIG is also involved with fundraising efforts to restore Belle Isle’s historic Remick Bandshell. Please visit their web site at for updated information.

Another project which has recently developed from the original FCCB is the M-1 Jazz Collective, led by Brennan. There are 18 members and a vocalist rehearsing regularly, with the goal of playing for smaller public or private events such as festivals, fairs, and weddings. Currently, they perform in the commons area of FHS, directly preceding the full concert.

CHESS REMARKED, “WHEN I WAS FIRST HELPING TO FORM THE BAND, I figured in five years’ time either we will be broken down or a great success. Every year we become more and more memorable. We continually improve our sound, and the cohesiveness of our ensemble. Other community bands want to play with us, or they want us to play events with
them, and we never miss an opportunity.” Many musicians, in fact, have come from other bands, and the FCCB’s warm and welcoming attitude helps.

I asked if they had encountered any major hurdles or disappointments over the years? Chess mentioned they asked the City to support the FCCB: “Not financially but to post our concert schedule on their website and in their city
newsletters. We continue to hope they will recognize the FCCB as an asset to the city. Ferndale should be proud of us!”

The FCCB is setting a strong, positive example to our community as a whole and providing us with excellent musical entertainment. We wish them many more years of great success!

Euchre fundraising tournaments are held on the fourth Friday of every month at The Ferndale Elks Lodge #1588: 22856 Woodward Ave, Ferndale.
Tournaments and band events are currently on hold due to health crisis.*

By Peter Werbe

THOSE PEOPLE BURNED OUT ON 1960S NOSTALGIA can take comfort in the fact that this year marks the end of the 50-year anniversary of the tumultuous events of that fabled decade. Being awash in history of a half-century previous is mostly a function of media focus on those long-ago events.

People in 1969 weren’t harkening back to recognize what happened in 1919 even though that year was filled with labor militancy including a general strike in Seattle, lynchings and murderous white assaults on black communities, the deportation of radicals, and even the Boston Molasses Disaster that killed 21 people and injured 150.

But with media now truly mass and ubiquitous, a recognition of each day’s event in history is content for our habituation to news sites.

So, permit me one last comment on the year, but with what I hope speaks to today.

IN AUGUST OF 1969, THE STOOGES, FRONTED BY IGGY STOOGE, now Iggy Pop, released their eponymously-titled first LP containing their hit song named for the year at hand. It sang a simple rhyming doggerel projecting a sense of profound boredom and youthful angst.

Here are the relevant lyrics:

“Well, it’s 1969 okay all across the USA. It’s another year for me and you; Another year with nothing to do. Last year I was 21. I didn’t have a lot of fun.”

“No Fun” was another song on the album. The lyrics don’t exactly rise to the level of those being written at the time by Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, but the studied ennui combined with a hard rhythmic beat actually provided a lot of fun and something to do for those young people who bought The Stooges record and heard them play live “all across the USA.”

In reality, Iggy was having a ball, as well, headlining concerts at Detroit’s fabled Grande Ballroom or opening there for some of the biggest rock acts of the era. Plus, when Iggy, now described as the Godfather of Punk, went outside of the rock venues, the streets were filled, like 50 years before that, with strikes, anti-war and black power demonstrations, feminist and gay demands, cultural experimentations in film, music, poetry, and theater, riots and rebellions — a world in the midst of extensive change in attitudes and politics. And that was just in Detroit!

Just one issue of the paper from that era that I work with today, the Fifth Estate, gives a picture that something was happening here, and contrary to what Buffalo Springfield sang, what it is, was very clear. See site for the stories in the May 1969 edition.

BUT THAT ALL SAID, THERE OFTEN IS THE SENSE IN ANY CONTEMPORARY ERA that things were much more exciting and interesting in a previous period. That’s the theme of Woody Allen’s 2011 fantasy comedy film, Midnight in Paris. The central character, played by Owen Wilson, is visiting the French capital in advance of a marriage of which he is growing increasingly unsure.

Out walking alone one midnight, he is mysteriously transported back to 1920s Paris where he is swept into the wild cultural scene of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Josephine Baker, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Cole Porter, Paul Gauguin, and many more. For the film’s time traveler, this is amazing and exciting beyond anything he can imagine (and is he, or is it real?). This is the era in which he wishes he had lived; not the dull 21st Century.

Spoiler alert: The twist at the end of the film comes when he and a woman with whom he is infatuated are transported from 1920s back to the Belle Époque (Beautiful Age) at the end of the 19th Century where his companion wishes she lived rather than the 1920s, stunning the Wilson character.

The message? Almost a corny one. Appreciate where you are at the moment and make that come alive with adventure and purpose.

SURE, SOME ERAS SEEM MORE IMPORTANT OR INTERESTING THAN OTHERS, and probably were. But, what decade seems the dullest and most repressive in the last 150 years? The 1950s with its demand for political and cultural conformity typified by TV shows like “Father Knows Best,” singers like Perry Como and Pat Boone, and a Red Scare enforcing repressive politics.

What that was all about was the mainstream control apparatus in the media and government trying to keep the lid on things because right below the surface, things were boiling.

Rather than “nothing to do,” in the 1950s, there were intense battles for civil rights. School integration strife, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announcing the end of Jim Crow laws. Rock and roll was pouring forth from the black musicians who originally created it and white kids had their radios tuned, often in stealth, to stations playing the so-called “race music.” Rock and roll riots broke out at concerts all across the country. Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and other jazz musicians were doing some of their most creative work. And, Beat movement writers like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs were not only knocking down literary traditions and inventing new forms, their work contained strident critiques of what Henry Miller had called a few years before, “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare” — American society.

The 1950s official clampdown only momentarily held back the tidal wave of change that racked the nation in the next decade.

So, my message? Same as the Woody Allen film. Make it happen right where you are right now. Guaranteed that you will have something to do.

Peter Werbe is an editor of the Fifth Estate magazine, now in its 54th year of publishing from Detroit.


By Sara Teller

EACH YEAR, THE FRONT PORCH FESTIVAL BRINGS FERNDALE RESIDENTS TOGETHER for a day of music on neighborhood porches with a variety of bands playing an eclectic mix of tunes. Planning for this year’s event is well underway. “We are looking to have a porch this year dedicated to children’s music,” said Michael Benghiat, its founder and executive producer. “Additionally, we are always looking at components outside of music such as comedy or spoken word on porches in between performances.”

He added, “From day one we’ve always explored how we can extend the Front Porch brand and the event past the 6:00 P.M. cutoff into the downtown area.” The idea would be for merchants and venues to host music well into the night. Benghiat called the concept “kind of like a Front Porch at Nite.”

This summer, the line-up is also set to expand. “The first two years we focused on just getting the event under our legs. This year, however, we just may accomplish something like this,” Benghiat explained. “Last year we had twenty-seven porches and fifty-seven performances. This year, if we choose, we can have as many as thirty-five porches” which would equate to seventy performances. However, he said there is a need to “try to keep the footprint as tight as possible so that attendees can easily get from porch-to-porch and see as much music as possible.”

There will be some return acts from the first two years as well as new entertainment with submissions being received from bands all over Michigan. Benghiat said, “While the concept of music on porches fits so well with the folk, singer songwriter and Americana genres, we have submissions from performers labeling themselves as powerpop, blues, jazz, classical, gospel, house/dance/EDM, worldbeat improv, hip-hop, funk instrumental, modern country and more.”

In addition to planning the festival, The Front Porch television show is still in the works. “We’re still working on the production of a potential show, which may not necessarily be on a TV platform per se,” Benghiat said. “The most important component needed, of course, is funding. We’re still seeking the needed funding to produce a ten-to-thirteen-episode series.” 

Benghiat is pleased with the success of the first two events and is thankful for the support received. “Enough cannot be said for the tremendous support we receive from Ferndale residents to lend us their porches that are turned into stages for the day and all the artists and performers for their willingness to participate,” he said. “And, we so appreciate our partnership and collaboration with the City of Ferndale and police.”

For more information, check out



Palmer Park Art Fair

DETROIT’S PALMER PARK hosts one of the area’s most beautiful boutique art fairs on June 1-2. The artist tents are in a serpentine pattern winding near the lake and up to the log cabin. This creates a relaxed environment inviting shoppers to take their time and explore. The jurors for this show tend to select artists that enhance that calm atmosphere, though there certainly are some of the edgier Detroit artists participating. The show features over 60 professional artists from across the region and also includes more emerging artists than just about any other juried art fair. Mint Artists Guild, the teen art program that has a small presence at the Funky Ferndale Art Fair features as many as fourteen teens in a group tent. The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club adds another ten adult emerging artists. Breakfast Club tent participants are new to art fairs and include artists in their twenties and others close to seventy. This year the fair adds an authors’ tent, featuring area writers. Food trucks and a beer tent round out the offerings. The art fair is June 1st and 2nd. Saturday hours are 10 AM-7 PM, Sunday 11 AM-5 PM. Free parking is available in area lots and along Merrill Plaisance. To get to the art fair head south on Woodward and take the first right, about 3/4 mile south of Seven Mile. Information and artists lists are at 



Fine Art Fine Wine Fair

THE FINE ART FINE WINE FAIR WILL BE HAPPENING AGAIN at St Mary’s June 22-23, featuring dozens of juried fine artists with one-of-a-kind exquisitely crafted works. Artists from many states participate and display works of painting, mixed-media, fiber art, drawing, jewelry, sculpture, and many more categories. We will also have wine tasting tickets available so that you can enjoy your art shopping experience while tasting an amazing variety of wines. For details visit The Grosse Pointe Art Fair will also be returning for its second year to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club May 18-19 in partnership with the Great Lakes Boating Festival, which has free admission and free parking at the high school with a complimentary shuttle. For more information visit 


Ferndale Community Concert Band

THE FERNDALE COMMUNITY CONCERT BAND wants to thank our patrons, advertisers, donors and friends for their continued support. The FCCB will end their Fourth Concert Season on Sunday, June 16, 2019, 3:00 PM, with its “Salute to our Fathers” Concert, held on Father’s Day, at Ferndale High School, 881 Pinecrest. Historically, a patriotic and father-themed concert will be enjoyed by all! Immediately following the concert, the FCCB will host their Annual Ice Cream Social, to say “Thank You” to all our concert goers who have attended our concerts, this season.

The 2019-2020 Concert Season runs from September through June. The FCCB performs (5) five concerts per season, usually in October, December, February, April and June. The Ferndale Community Concert Band is a diverse, multigenerational musical ensemble of experienced volunteer musicians from all over Metro Detroit. Its Mission is twofold: to provide quality, challenging musical and mentoring experiences for the members and student musicians, as well as educating and entertaining the citizens of Ferndale and surrounding communities. Please check out our website at or email us at for more information about the Band. The FCCB was established in May 2015 as a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization.


7/18 – 8/15 – 9/19 | VESTER & WOODWARD

Get Reel Movies On Vester

OUTDOOR MOVIES IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN FERNDALE return for the 8th year this Summer on July 18, August 15 and September 19! Enjoy a summer evening under the stars, watching a blockbuster movie while lounging in your camp chair or blanket, right in the middle of the street. FREE outdoor movies include pre-show activities and entertainment, food and snack vendors and, most importantly, a guaranteed good time. Movies start at dusk, but get there early, pick your spot and enjoy treats from our vendors or nearby restaurants! The big – 26-foot wide! – screen will be set up right on Vester Street, between Woodward & Bermuda. Get all the details at or or



Detroit Soup

DETROIT SOUP, A PROGRAM OF BUILD INSTITUTE, is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a $5 donation, attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.

In addition to funding projects, SOUP aims to:

• Empower residents • Help create jobs

• Allow people to establish new relationships and networks

• Promote action and change

• Foster critical dialogue • Instill neighborhood pride

• Provide a deeper understanding of democracy

The SOUP model is now being replicated in over 170 cities around the world, while in Detroit is has lead over $140,000 in local giving $5 at a time with over 20,000 attendees participating in one of the 176 community dinners throughout the city. Build Institute is hosting an upcoming Youth SOUP, a special Detroit SOUP focused on celebrating and supporting projects by changemakers age 14-24. Anyone is welcome to attend, but proposals must involve and should be presented by Detroit young people. Youth SOUP takes place on Saturday, March 30th at Durfee Innovation Society from 1-4. To find out more about these and other upcoming events, check out or ■

ALL YEAR LONG, KIDS ANTICIPATE A SUMMER OF FREEDOM from school assignments, but studies have proven that a three-month period without proper stimulation of literacy skills can undo some academic achievements from the previous semesters. Ferndale Library’s Summer Reading assures young minds are raring to go when September comes around by keeping the reading wheels turning for all grades with educational, fun, and free enrichment activities to go along with programs that are inspired by the theme: “A Universe of Stories.” With this July marking the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing, our Youth Services Librarians will be designing programs and events inspired by all things space-related (including cosmology, space exploration, discovery, etc.). Along with Summer Reading for kids, we’ll have three outdoor Summer Concerts in our courtyard. The Ferndale Library’s Summer Concert Series has always strived to expose library visitors to music that is new and exciting in a setting that is both lively and thoughtful. FADL’s biggest music event features three free, family-friendly concerts spread across the season. You can see Lansing-based singer/songwriter Joe Hertler (a blend of indie-folk and classic pop) on July 18. Ferndale’s own ‘30s-’40s-era swing jazz and string-band strummers The Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club will perform on  July 16. And Detroit-based singer/songwriter Ronny Tibbs leads a versatile ensemble on August 20. Each of these performances are free and begin at 6:30pm, each date is a Tuesday evening; if the weather turns, performances will be hosted indoors, instead.


Huntington Woods Home Tour

THE 27TH ANNUAL HUNTINGTON WOODS HOME TOUR is an open house tour of five beautiful homes, featuring a variety of architectural styles which reflect the diversity and character of our city. All proceeds raised from this event are redistributed to local charities supporting education, women and children’s causes, such as Berkley High School scholarships, the Huntington Woods 4th of July Parade, Berkley Youth Assistance program, Norup Food Pantry and other great organizations. Sunday, June 2, 2019, 1:00 – 5:00 PM. Ticket prices: $20 advanced $25 at the door (16 years and older). Huntington Woods Library 26415 Scotia Rd, Huntington Woods MI ■



Forgotten Harvest’s 27th Annual Comedy Night

ACTOR/COMEDIAN JIM GAFFIGAN WILL HEADLINE the 27th Annual Comedy Night hosted by Metro Detroit’s only food rescue organization, Forgotten Harvest. Comedy Night will take place on Friday, June

7th at the Fox Theatre. Tickets range from $35 – $175, and will be available through the Fox Theatre box office or at Corporate sponsorships start at $1000 and can be purchased by contacting Rebecca Gade-Sawicki at (248) 864-7527. Jim Gaffigan is a four-time Grammy nominated comedian, actor, two-time New York Times best-selling author, top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling father of five. Gaffigan is known around the world for his unique brand of humor which largely revolves around fatherhood and his observations on life and food. The event offers a chance for Forgotten Harvest and its supporters to celebrate their achievements in the community. Tickets are going fast. Act now to get into the action. ■



Art Of The Cocktail

THE FERNDALE DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY’S signature fundraising event, The Art of the Cocktail, returns a fun-filled sixth year on June 20th. The Ferndale DDA continues its efforts to raise funds for public art in the district by bringing back the event of the year! Exhibiting the creative blending talents of the district’s best bartenders, attendees will be the judge of each cocktail creation, crafted from identical

ingredients supplied to each bartender. Guests can watch the creative genius at work, taste the results and vote for their favorite to designate Downtown Ferndale’s Cocktail of the Year. The evening also includes a silent

auction, music, appetizers and much more! A limited quantity of tickets will be available, via the Ferndale DDA or PayPal, so make sure you get yours! All proceeds help the DDA continue its efforts to raise funds for public art in Downtown Ferndale. ■



Berkley Art Bash

ART, MUSIC AND FOOD LOVERS looking to add a little color to their weekend will find a diverse assortment of photographs, garden art, jewelry, pottery, paintings, gourmet offerings, live music and more at the Berkley Art Bash in beautiful downtown Berkley. The show, which is presented by the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce, has more than 150 vendors with many of them showcasing Michigan artists. Kids activities

include inflatable moon bouncer, creative craft projects and air brush tattoos. Attendees will enjoy free parking and many shops along Twelve Mile and Coolidge will be hosting sidewalk sales and offering


up additional entertainment & activities throughout the day. 12 Mile Road between Kipling and Buckingham in downtown Berkley. ■



Michigan Rib Fest

KICK OFF THE SUMMER IN GRAND FASHION! Rib Fest will once again welcome thousands of guests for a weekend of BBQ, bands, and family fun in downtown Royal Oak. Rib Fest will showcase an unparalleled selection

of unique cuisine, food trucks, and BBQ – along with a selection of adult beverages. More than a dozen food vendors will be offering up mouthwatering fare that’s sure to please even the most discerning palate. With a list of bands as long as the food vendors, Michigan Rib Fest presents a carefully crafted entertainment lineup that’s fit for all ages. The event will feature some of the state and region’s most impressive local talent with a range of musical genres and styles performing all day that will please any crowd! Admission is free all weekend, with festivities running Thursday, July 4 – Sunday, July 7. ■


By Jeff Milo

MARK MCDANIEL BURTON HAS HEARD SIMILAR COMMENTS OVER THE YEARS FROM LOCAL ARTISTS: “…I need a space!” Burton is a former chair of the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission, as well as the current curator for the Level One Bank gallery at Woodward and Saratoga and manager of local framing business Frame.ography, so he knows the logistical dilemma faced by many local artists.

That’s why he’s partnered with a trio of fellow creatives who each bring a breadth of experience in different mediums (as well as comparable empathy for the necessity of “space”); their collaboration is “The Stratford,” a former church at 8 Mile and Stratford that’s been revitalized into a multi-purpose artist’s collective.

“It can be an event space, a gallery, a band hotel, a photography studio, a creative space…” said Stratford co-founder Chris Ahern. Burton brought the idea for the Stratford during an exhibition last summer at Level One that featured some of Ahern’s photography. But Ahern is also a musician, and he and bandmate/collaborator Ian Davidson had actually been talking about wanting something like this for years. “I mean, we’ve had times where we’re jamming outside in the garage…and if it’s not a garage, then it’s a basement, or an attic, or a spare room…” The Stratford, which also includes Davidson as well as Paul Giannetti, is here to make space for Ferndale’s creatives!

Burton said that the owner of the nearly 3,500 sq. ft. property happens to do his banking at Level One, which is how the conversation with Burton started, last August, about whether this could be utilized as a studio or gallery of some kind.

“We always need space,” said Burton, humbly speaking for all local artists. “(The Stratford) is something I’ve been pushing for for several years.” He admits that there were a bit of wracked nerves building up to the opening since this was a new kind of adventure for everyone involved, but enthusiasm was restored by the knowledge that Ferndale needed a cooperative arts space as well as the unique ingenuities of everyone on board. Davidson has experience in carpentry and construction (as well as music), Ahern has experience in marketing and copywriting (as well as photography), and Giannetti is a local restaurant owner. So, whenever there’s a reception, etc., there’s the potential for some exceptional catering.

Ahern said that the obvious inspiration to start something like the Stratford draws from how involved each of the four of them have been in the arts. “But we also wanted to create a place that the community can be a part of,” said Ahern. That means more than just art exhibitions in the upper level, but also live music performances and biannual art festivals.

WHILE THEIR UPPER LEVEL WILL BE FOR EVENTS, the former church’s lower level is remodeled into multiple mini-studios that can function as rehearsal spaces for bands. Think of it as a “band hotel…,” where a local band would pay a monthly rent to gain 24/7 secure access to their “room,” where they could have their drum kit, guitar, synthesizer, laptop, you name it, set up and ready for practice (or songwriting). Burton credits Davidson with the work of putting up the walls and making spaces are soundproofed. “This would have been nice to have, ten years ago, back when we started doing band type work,” Ahern said.

“Ferndale is a very arty city,” said Burton. “(With) really diverse talent across the board. But we don’t have larger spaces like this in town. We have several smaller galleries, but nothing quite like this. Everyone I’ve talked to, the (Downtown Development Authority), the Chamber of Commerce, they’re all really excited. The more we’ve talked about it, the more it just seems like a win-win situation for the community.”

The six creative spaces downstairs will be outfitted for bands, but they can also accommodate visual artists who need space for canvases, paints, etc, or maybe podcasters. There is also one space reserved for photography. Those spaces will be private and accessible only to Stratford members, but any event hosted upstairs (or, in the warmer months, outside in their backyard/lot), will be open to the public.

“We’re looking forward, in the summer, to have an Arts & Crafts Fair,” said Burton. This could manifest pretty easily, considering Burton worked with the city, through his role with the Arts & Cultural Commission, to initiate the Art Fair at City Hall in the past.

Part of their recent Kickstarter campaign involved the goodwill of local visual artists who donated their works to be offered as rewards for funders. Not surprisingly, they got a very enthusiastic response—indicating that many artists in the area appreciate the need for something like The Stratford.

By: Jill Lorie Hurst

THEIR MISSION: “The Ferndale Community Concert Band is a diverse, multi-generational musical ensemble of experienced volunteer musicians from all over Metro Detroit.”

Their purpose is twofold: “To provide quality, challenging musical and mentoring experiences for the members and student musicians, as well as educating and entertaining the citizens of Ferndale and surrounding communities.”

By the way, the concerts are free. And you can buy baked goods before each performance.

Beautiful music and delicious cookies made for a perfect Sunday afternoon this past November 4th, as the  FCCB opened their fourth season. Their “American Inspiration” performance included pieces by Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin, and Michigan composer H. Owen Reed as well as a medley of music from Woodstock called “Summer of 69.”

As this was my first time seeing our band I was happy to meet up with Patti Aberlich, trumpeter and FCCB Board Member. Benched from the stage as she recovers from shoulder surgery, she was a generous and joyful guide to all things FCCB.

FIRST, BACK STORY. In 2015, co-founders Tim Brennan and Sharon Chess sent out a questionnaire to the community: Band or orchestra? Band! So, Chess and Brennan proceeded accordingly. Today, 70-plus musicians make up the Ferndale Community Concert Band. There are eleven Ferndale High School alumni among the group. Two high school students are the youngest, and Joe Sales, who plays tuba, is the senior member. The band is a family affair as well, with husbands and wives, siblings, and a mother and daughter in the membership. The musicians travel from all over Southeastern Michigan to rehearse on Tuesday evenings and perform five Sunday afternoon concerts a year.

Next up is their annual “Hometown Holiday” concert on December 16th. In February, they host a community band festival with bands from Clarkston and Rochester, then wrap up their 4th season with concerts in April and June. June is always a “Salute to Our Fathers” which is both patriotic and a nod to Father’s Day.

While the band would love a performance space of their own someday, the collaboration with Ferndale Schools has been a happy one. Retired Ferndale High School principal Roger Smith is “so supportive and enthusiastic.” Renting the auditorium has provided the band with a good home.

THE MUSICIANS REHEARSE AND PERFORM as a labor of love, but the FCCB has expenses! There are a number of simple ways to help them pay their rent, buy their music stands and music, pay their talented artistic director and conductor Ed Quick, and print programs. Along with the pre-show bake sales, you can donate or become a patron of the band. There are also easy ways to help through Kroger and Amazon to give back while you shop!

When I joined Patti Aberlich during intermission, she pointed out family and friends who travel to Ferndale for each concert. “We go out to dinner afterward.” She says. “It’s a Sunday event.”

The Ferndale Community Concert Band performances are my new Sunday event. Meet me (and Santa!) there for the holiday concert on Sunday, December 16th at 3:00 P.M. Get there a little early so you can buy some cookies before you settle in to listen to the wonderful Ferndale community Concert Band.

Find out more about the FCCB by contacting them at or at 313-549-9244. You can watch their promotional video at You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram at

Story by Sara E. Teller

STACEY JAMISON TOOK AN INTEREST IN MUSIC AT A YOUNG AGE. “I BEGAN PLAYING MUSIC WHEN I WAS EIGHT. My mom had bought recorders and a book for us to learn to play together. I took to it immediately, and apparently took off learning without her,” Jamison said.

She joined the band at her elementary school in Williamsport, PA playing the flute. “I had the privilege of growing up in a church community where I was able to play my flute all the time and really be
comfortable with performing,” she said.

“As I got older I started to learn other instruments, including the saxophone and bassoon, which ultimately became my primary instrument.”

By the time Jamison was in high school, she was regularly playing professional theater gigs and subbing in the local symphony. She remembered, “It became quite clear that music was my path. I was especially inspired by one of my bassoon teachers, who eventually became my husband.” Her husband happens to be he local legend, Elon Jamison, Director of Bands at Ferndale High School.

In college, Jamison studied music education and bassoon performance, eventually acquiring a Master of Music degree in bassoon performance. “How’s that for different?” she joked, adding, “I would come home in the summers and teach music to children at my home church. After college I moved to Ferndale to start my life as a professional and be with my future husband. I started teaching music in the public schools right away.”

After a few years in Ferndale, the Jamisons began looking for a Lutheran church family that was both progressive and welcoming. “Zion Lutheran was an obvious choice,” she said. “I had been teaching elementary music for a while, so when a position opened at Zion I jumped at the chance. I knew I had a gift to connect with children, and I wanted to show children that they could love being in church and love God through the greatest gift I have, music.”

TODAY, JAMISON LEADS A WEEKLY REHEARSAL WITH THE KIDS’ CHOIR and every year they put on a Christmas musical where the kids try out various speaking and singing roles. “It’s a safe and loving environment for these kids, and that’s why I’m so passionate about it,” Jamison said.

She is also a freelance musician, playing the bassoon in a symphony as well as pit orchestras on woodwind instruments, and has been working with Ferndale’s marching band for seventeen years.

“My official job is to work with kids musically and on the field to get them to be the best performers that they can be,” she explained. “One of the reasons I really love this job is the kids themselves. There are also those crossover kids that I’ve had since they were really little at Zion, and I love watching them grow up into young adults. I feel a special responsibility to keep an eye out for them.”

Jamison added, “Being with the marching band is so much more than a side job. For me and our family, it’s a big part of our lives and really defines who we are. The adults and students are together for hundreds of hours throughout the season, and we all get very close.”

Winning one of Ferndale’s 2018 Good Neighbor awards was a surprise. “I look at all of the people around me who do so much for others, and I never considered myself to be among their ranks. When I thought about it more, I realized that what people have seen is my passion and devotion, to the children interested, in my spiritual, musical, and emotional care,” Jamison said. “I am honored that people think I have been successful in this mission, and it makes me be even more passionate. I have been considering delving into youth ministry, and this to me is confirmation that I’m going in the right direction.”

The Jamisons have two boys, one in second grade at Ferndale Lower Elementary, and one preschooler at Drayton Co-op Preschool. “I served on the board for the preschool for the four years my older son was there. We are very passionate about school districts being local and growing together as a community. We are very passionate about raising our children in a community that is welcoming, progressive, loving, accepting, and feels like family,” she said.