Everyone on Water Hill who either is a musician or wants to pretend is encouraged to step out onto their front porch on the afternoon of the first Sunday in May and play music. That’s it. Or half of it. The other half is that all other neighbors, and the rest of the world, are invited to wander through the neighborhood enjoying a music festival like no other.
Neighborhood residents sign up to play at the festival's website, which also lists a roster of performers, descriptions of many of the acts, and guidelines for performers and attenders.
Since its start the festival has required that each performing band include at least one member who lives in the Water Hill neighborhood. "It's not so much about a neighborhood with a lot of porches. It's about a neighborhood with a lot of musicians," says founder Paul Tinkerhess.
The first Water Hill Music Fest was held on May Day, May 1st, 2011. It featured over 200 musicians and attracted thousands of visitors. Ann Arbor resident and author Patti Smith described it as "Ann Arbor covered in awesome sauce". The festival's second iteration happened on Sunday, May 6th, 2012, the third on Sunday, May 5th, 2013, and the fourth on Sunday, May 4th, 2014.
Organizers estimate that over 6,000 visitors attend the event each year.
The 2015 Water Hill Music Festival will be Sunday, May 3th, from 2 to 6 p.m.
Water Hill Music Fest is the brainchild of Ann Arbor resident Paul Tinkerhess and is produced by himself, his wife Claire Tinkerhess, and a host of volunteers including the hundreds of featured musicians.