The Corktown Music Festival is two days of rock, punk, and folk from over 70 acts spread over four venues benefiting 4 Paws 1 Heart.
Corktown Music Festival 2022
While browsing Facebook, I ran across a cool flyer created by local musician and artist Michelle Thibodeau (Cult of Spaceskull and Dear Darkness as well as beer can artwork for Brewery Vivant). The flyer promoted the Corktown Music Festival where over 70 bands would be jamming at four venues (PJ’s Lager House, Gaelic League Irish American Club of Detroit, Nancy’s Whiskey, and Two James Spirits) in Detroit’s historic Corktown area.
For the ultra low-dough charge of $20, you get a wristband that is good for two days of music at any of the festival venues. You’d be hard-pressed to find any other shows in town that offered so much variety in some of the coolest spots that Detroit has to offer. The cost of your wristband benefits 4 Paws 1 Heart which helps homeless cats and dogs.
Friday Night at Corktown Music Festival
I kicked off the Corktown Music Fest over at the Gaelic League with Holy Profane, which features Anthony Zito singing and playing acoustic guitar. Hearing the words and music, I felt the call of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, The Violent Femmes with a brush of Lou Reed. Holy Profane is spare and cutting with the fiery touch of holy water.
Next up on the main stage at the Gaelic League is Macho. This is punk rock at its finest with punchy beats and gangly guitars. Macho had heads bopping to their addictive tunes. This is music that gets you fired up and ready to get those big stomper boots moving. Favorite tunes include “Girl, You’re Fire” and “It’s Not OK!”
Having talked with Mike Ward and his fans on Fans With Bands (the soon-to-be award-winning podcast), I very much looked forward to seeing him live at the Gaelic League. Mike played favorites such as “No Way To Live” and “Our Turn to Shine.” I think he stole the entire festival with his ode to a couple of pups called “Lady and The Hank.” I couldn’t help but laugh and smile as Mike sang the tale (no pun intended) of two dogs and their lives together. Mike scored bonus points with his extremely realistic dog barking and growls.
The Whiskey Charmers
I cut Mike’s set a tad short as I needed to race over to PJ’s to try to catch the end of The Whiskey Charmer’s set. I barely made it, catching only their last two songs. Carrie and Lawerence were in fine form, having put the crowd under their spell of dusty desert melodies simmering under a spaghetti western sun. I think one of the two tunes I caught may be new. I’m looking forward to their next album coming later this year.
Phil Profitt and his Fast Fortunes
Over on the main stage at PJ’s is Phil Profitt and his Fast Fortunes. Phil and his Fast Fortunes play country music as it should be with stories set to good ole honky tonk. Everyone in the room enjoyed the guitar twang with some fine picking, the rollicking standup bass, reliable drums, and sweet singing pedal steel. With a Miller High Life in hand, you can’t help but have a great time with Phil Profitt and his Fast Fortunes.
I was going to bust a move over to Two James, but given that finding parking at PJ’s was a hassle, I stayed put; I’m damn glad I did. More Tomorrows are a three-piece synth-rock band creating mesmerizing music. The beautiful vocals ride a wave of heavy synth-driven guitars and powerful drums. Their sound immediately reminded me of the incredible My Dear Disco with elements of The Doves. More Tomorrows have the heaviness of Pink Floyd without as much darkness. I loved their sound as I easily got lost in the psychedelic trance.
Back on the big stage is Sros Lords, not to be confused with George Soros. However, I think they are George’s favorite band when he is in need of low-fi Super Mario punk rock. Seriously, Sros Lords are wildly weird and delightful punk. They banged out one tune after another and had the entire room jumping and jiving.
Summer Like The Season
Yet another win at PJ’s was witnessing Summer Like The Season. I’m not a huge electronica fan, but I completely enjoyed the mind-bending compositions featuring superb melodies and intriguing instrument layers. I lack the depth to truly give a proper accounting as the extent of my electronic foray has been an Aphex Twin tune here and an Atlas Plug tune there. What I can say is that I loved the expansive sound vistas that Summer Like The Season creates.
I had to call it a night a bit early, but thankfully I could stay to experience Warhorses live. My lord, I love the music of Warhorses. It has been six LONG months since I’ve been able to swim in the ocean of sound that this band makes. Warhorses opened with the insistent “Desintegracion” and never looked back.
Kristin is a mystical drum shaman propelling the band forward. The beautiful throaty punch of Nathan’s bass breaks in waves as the music moves him. In the faces of Mike and EZ, we can see the music writing stories of power and ecstasy.
Warhorses unveiled a new tune called “DNF.” The pulsing rhythms bursting with primal energy and searing guitars had me thinking of Pink Floyd meets Mick Ronson. Warhorses was the perfect way to wrap up my first day of the Corktown Music Fest. While the party went on well into the small hours, this old man made his way home.
Saturday Night at Corktown Music Festival
I headed over to PJ’s to begin day two of the Corktown Music Festival with the magnificent Jackamo. Featuring wonderful harmonized vocals and backing acoustic guitar, their music is equivalent to watching a golden sunrise. Within their soulful folk music, the emotions run the gamut from joy to sorrow. Their cover of “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was breathtaking.
Hillbilly Knife Fight
I popped into the Gaelic League just in time to catch Hillbilly Knife Fight. When I saw they were playing the Corktown Music Fest, I knew this was my chance to see what these guys are all about. I love the name “Hillbilly Knife Fight” as it conjures up images of booze-fueled chaos in overalls. I’m not sure if they are booze-fueled, but they definitely deliver high-energy metal with a hard lean into punk rock. On top of a serious ass-kicking rhythm section, meaty guitars, and dynamic vocals, Hillbilly Knife Fight throws in horns to rattle your cage.
I headed back to PJ’s and caught the haunting darkness of Vazum. This two-piece (bass and guitar) play music that is dark, ambient, and compelling. The song “Haunted House” stands out as the music gives you the sensation of slowly building terror. Their performance glowed with a deathly pallor and echoes of the crypt.
The Dirty News
Bringing a bit of blues, a bit of soul, and a whole lot of jams is The Dirty News who were another nice find at the Corktown Music Festival. The rhythms had a muscular swing allowing the guitars to dance and sing. The Dirty News were a crowd pleaser with their infectious grooves compelled you to move. I could see these guys jamming with Umphrey’s McGee or Widespread Panic with the sun burning and my mind blazing.
Two words come to mind when thinking about the performance by Edison Hollow at the Corktown Music Festival: Holy Shit! I wanted to see this band for the longest time after seeing them play a quarantine show online with Grove Studio and talking with them on Fans With Bands. Their guitar forward hard-edged music is pure rock fury.
Edison Hollow not only jam hard, but they also put on one hell of a rock show. Between blazing guitar solos, Jordan is headbanging, jumping, and engaging with everyone upfront. He even takes his guitar into the crowd to ensure everyone gets into the show. With the vocal power of Robert Plant and the stage presence of Roger Daltrey in his prime, Tyler commands the stage and has us all in the palm of his hand. Meanwhile, with no less energy or power, David (bass) and Aaryn (drums) put the hammer down with muscle car rhythms that burn up the stage. If you want to experience the full monty of rock music, get to a show by Edison Hollow.
I capped off the Corktown Music Fest over at Nancy’s Whiskey with my friends in Ladyship Warship. My first visit to Nancy’s Whiskey was perfect, thanks to the raw roots rock crafted by EZ and Kristin. Their faces relayed the mutual joy we all felt experiencing their performance.
Ladyship Warship enthralled us with music that felt essential to the core. The bluesy swing of the drums combined with the delta heat of the guitar rolls us inside and out. I love the evocative supernova embodied within “Abyss Stares Back.” Hearing it live tonight is spiritual bliss.
When Ladyship Warship crank up the foot-stomping “High Water,” one gentleman is taken by the spirit. He stomps and dances while pointing to the band. Seeing this man’s joy made this evening of awesome music complete.
Pictures and thoughts
We’ve got a couple of galleries from the outstanding Corktown Music Festival from Friday and Saturday. Take a peek and be sure to let us know what you think by leaving a comment. Better yet, share this post with everyone you know.
If you missed the Corktown Music Festival, have no fear. They are putting together another event for June. Be sure to plan ahead. The bands start concurrently at several venues and are spread out. You could walk between them, but it would be a hike and take some time. Seeing every band is impossible unless you have a teleporter (Scotty!!).
One other pro-tip, while it is fun to check out the various venues, parking is a pain in the ass. You may want to find a venue or two and camp out. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Dig into all the great music and have a blast.
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