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Posted on Sun, May 1, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

Inaugural Water Hill Music Fest draws a crowd as a neighborhood unites in song

By Melanie Maxwell


Brennan Andes and Friends play at the inaugural Water Hill Music Festival on Sunday.

Melanie Maxwell |

The Water Hill Music Fest — a new event geared to get an entire neighborhood making music — became reality Sunday afternoon in the area just northwest of downtown Ann Arbor.

Around 60 different sites hosted performances, on porches and front lawns, over the four hours of the festival. Many different musical styles could be heard — from professionals, amateurs and in between — some amplified and others purely acoustic. Bigger names tended to draw bigger crowds, but it seemed like every performer had a some sort of audience. A note on the festival website guesses total attendance might have been in the 3,000-5,000 range.

Photographer/videographer Melanie Maxwell produced this report:

The festival was dreamed up and organized by Paul Tinkerhess — who lives in the neighborhood, bounded by Miller Avenue, Sunset Road, Brooks Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks. He's also the source of the name Water Hill for the neighborhood. - text by Bob Needham


The Tinkerhess Family Band plays at the Water Hill Music Fest.

Melanie Maxwell |


Ann English

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

Now I remember. Decades ago one summer evening, I walked up and down Gott Street (and that street is in that neighborhood) and heard beautiful keyboard music coming from one house, from an instrument with metallic, resounding keys; because it was such a hot day, front doors were open, letting the evening coolness in through the screen doors. There was good piano music coming from another house not too many doors to the south of the first house.

Ann English

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 10:07 p.m.

It's been long enough since had a video of an event, not a mere slideshow. But a musical event CALLS for a video, even if there were a few still photos in this one. I'm glad it took place in an area that I know the street layout of pretty much; I think Spring Street is the closest to the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks, forming the eastern border of the neighborhood.

Ben Connor Barrie

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

What a great day and a great idea. It was wonderful to see so many people out and about. What a great way to rename a neighborhood too.

The Inspector

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

Wow what a fun enjoyable afternoon How cool to see the musicians performing on the front porch of their homes Nice down home feel Great Music...great time Thanks to the Tinkerhess family and all of the others who helped make this event a success Thanks to the musicians who performed for free. Yes !! Music for the people

Linda Diane Feldt

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

Thank you to the whole TInkerhess family for the inspiration and the guts to make it happen. Perfect day, great crowds, wonderful variety of music, and just enough organization to make it flow naturally. It was a fabulous afternoon, and it turned out far better than I imagined. Thank you to all the musicians, who seemed to be having a great time as well. This was special.

rusty shackelford

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

Ann Arbor needs more of this. My only objection is the relative lack of publicity. I would have loved to attend this event but didn't hear anything about it until now.


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

The festival was outstanding! We had such a great time. The organization was amazing, thanks so much to Paul and all those that helped make this happen.


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

The festival was great! It was really fun to hear everyone from well-known professional musicians, to local semi-pros, to young up-and-comers. The weather steadily improved as the afternoon went on, and the crowds were laid back, respectful, and enthusiastic. I especially loved the little kids and the dogs. It was also really nice that no one -- the City included -- got bent out of shape that the crowds took over a few streets to see and hear better. A small suggestion: next time (and I really hope there will be one ), it would help to put the performance times by the ID number of each act on the map, in addition to having the matrix schedule on the flip side. Seems like donation jars would help offset the cost of putting on the festival, too, or at least round up sponsors to help.