Last year, Laith Al-Saadi, a rock and blues artist from Ann Arbor, made his mark on national television when he reached the final four in NBC singing competition The Voice. Now, Michael Benghiat — founder, executive producer, and organizer of The Front Porch, a one-day neighborhood music festival coming to Ferndale this month — says the inaugural, family-friendly event will help local music listeners find “the Laith Al-Saadis of Michigan before they become the Laith Al-Saadis of The Voice.”
Inspired by Porchfest in Ithaca, New York, the festival — which will serve as a launch pad for a new music TV show of the same name — will take place on 25 porches within walking distance of downtown Ferndale and feature more than two dozen folk, blues, jazz, and country acts. Porch space is donated by homeowners, and artists in the festival’s lineup are volunteering their time and talents with the goal of reaching a new audience.
“It’s our hope that maybe you’ll see the next rising star to come out of either southeastern Michigan or the state of Michigan,” Benghiat says.
The Whiskey Charmers, a Walled Lake-based gothic country band; Anthony Retka, a singer-songwriter from Mount Clemens; and Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club, a Ferndale-based traditional New Orleans jazz band, are expected to perform. Each act will have a half-hour to play.
Throughout the day, Benghiat and his business partner, music journalist Gary Graff, will be working with a film crew to create a pilot episode spotlighting the performances and artists. The duo’s TV show, which they hope to debut on a local station, will feature interviews with up-and-coming Michigan bands and musicians as they perform on porches in their hometowns.
“We want to show there is strong interest in this concept,” Benghiat says. “It can certainly make for a viable TV program.”