2nd Annual Old Town Saginaw BASH 

Merging Bands, Art, Spirits & Humanity

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, National Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 848   By: Robert E Martin

03rd August, 2017     0

This year the 2nd annual Hamilton Corridor BASH takes place on the weekend of August 11-12-13th and will showcase a broad spectrum of 37 top regional musical bands along with a national headliner performing on three stages, bring nearly two dozen visual artists together for a reprisal of the Westside Art Fair, and also feature local cuisine and spirits from regional restaurants.

An acronym for Bands, Art, Spirits and Humanity, last year’s inaugural festival was beleaguered by inclement weather that included three days of intermittent rain, yet still managed to draw thousands of people to the streets of Old Town Saginaw to enjoy the musical artistry of such notable acts as Larry McCray, Greta Van Fleet, Stewart Francke, and Jedi Mind Trip; proving that no matter what the weather, things always turn out right when you bring your own sunshine.

This year the musical artists will be performing on three stages that consist of the Michigan Lottery Stage located in the parking lot across from Jakes; the Counter Culture Stage on the road next to The Stable, and the KCQ stage that will be located in front of The Junction.

“Our goal this year was to bring things more together, so the perimeter of the event will start at Court & Hamilton streets and end at Mackinaw,” explains BASH founder and organizer Tom Schwannecke. “We are also expanding the Visual Arts portion of the BASH significantly this year and intend to revive the Westside Art Fair, which until it dissolved several years ago was the longest running art festival in the State of Michigan.”

“We’ll be featuring approximately 20 art vendors and the Castle Museum will be bringing their mobile semi-trailer and this will happen in the space where the parking pit is located between the 100 and 200 blocks of South Hamilton,” he adds.

Headlining this year’s 2017 BASH is Nashville-based country artist John King who scored his first #1 Billboard hit with a song he wrote for Randy Houser entitled We Went. Over the past year King has opened shows for acts such as Jason Aldean, Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell and Florida Georgia Line. John’s first single, Tonight, Tonight, was also one of the most successful songs of 2015 for a new artist and was played nationwide on FM and XM radio and used for Thursday Night Football broadcasts the previous year. The song also received over 500 thousand Spotify plays.

Another big change this year is the introduction of the Counter Culture Stage, which will feature contemporary and cutting-edge Alternative and Techno talent that is being pulled together by Ben Champagne of the Counter Culture Arts Collective.

“I met Tom last year but it was on the heels of a festival we were doing for the first time, so there simply wasn't the energy or resources to combine forces,” explains Ben.  “We did Pop the Polls about a week later. With this year not being a major election year, we decided to combine forces. BASH presents a really family friendly and recognizable line up. I've enjoyed being a part of something a little more accessible than my standard fare.”

“The Counter Culture Stage is providing some diversity to BASH this year. Friday night features an entire line up of Techno, Djs, Downtempo, Dubstep and a lot of the stuff that makes Electric Forest a destination stop for people across the country. We thought we would add that flavor with Kyle Neville and Aaron Weid.   Saturday night is a little more mix genre and indie. We have some Hip Hop, some Reggae, Folk, Punk and Standard Rock.”

“Saturday night's headliner is a split bill of sorts with Big Brother Smokes filling the role of local treasure,” he continues. “They have a really high energy rock sound that people should dig. Immediately following them and closing out the night is The Imaginatron from Detroit. We really hope people stop in for the spectacle that is Stevyn Pivalysky and his group of killer talent. It is the most danceable, raucous and fun band this area has seen in a while.”

“This will be my first time working with reggae group, David Asher Band, I'm personally really excited for that and I think reggae is under represented as a whole. The Rupple Brothers have become good friends of mine and they are always a treat. I'm looking forward to watching their growth in the state and national folk scene.” 

“We’ll also feature an art installation with a smorgasbord of talent. Projectors, lights and whatever else the cat drags in. BASH is a great fest for the city of Saginaw and we just thought we'd supply a little bit of the wild life that is Counter Culture. Hopefully people are receptive to it and have a lot of fun.”

Other performing artists this year consist of the following: Friday, August 11th – The Fabulous Retreads, Brush Street, Road Dawgz, Saginaw Elite Big Band, 25 Cent Beer Band, and headliner John King. Saturday, August 12 -  Under the Influence, 23 North, Riptide, Mick Furlo & Savior Machine, Monique Ella Rose Band, Taylor Tucky, Jasper Creek and Dani Vitany. Sunday, August 13 - Blues Mobile, Tweed & Dixie, Jedi Mind Trip, Cool Lemon Jazz Band, Robert Lee Revue and Detroit Dixie.

“When re-envisioning the BASH after last year’s inaugural showcase, our perspective when going into shaping this year’s event was that things were too spread out last year so we thought it best to pare down the perimeter. Consequently, our theme this year is Strangers to Friends, as our goal is to bring people closer together from throughout the region.”

“Our main visual image this year for promotional material is a photo taken at last year’s festival showing the reflection of two people standing in the Neon Park, which tells a lot about what happened last year with three days of rain,” notes Tom. “We’d like to also encourage people and photographers to take pictures at this year’s event because we’ll give them $500 dollars for whatever thematic image we decide to use next year to promote the BASH.”

Schwannecke is the owner of Rental City, which is based in Saginaw Township; and indeed, perhaps the most amazing component of this grand endeavor is Schwannecke himself, who until last year had never embarked upon the arduous and often grueling tasks involved with organizing and promoting a major music festival of this nature.

The idea for the Hamilton Bash dates back to the year 2000. “I received a phone call from a Detroit promoter named John Witz who was pulling together a first year program called Arts, Eats & Beats,” explains Tom.  “He phoned me asking for six 20x20 tents and by the time the event started he required 50 of them, but we’ve been doing that event for John since its inception.”

“He held it in Pontiac and then in 2010 re-branded it and moved it over to Royal Oak and its turned out to be quite successful,” continues Tom. “On top of that we also provide tents for the Blue Water Festival in Port Huron, and another festival in Mount Clemens, so basically we had all the moving parts that were needed to make this even happen, only I would box everything up and let it sit there.  So after last year’s event in Royal Oak, I decided we should just put everything into semi-trucks and bring it back to Saginaw.”

“A couple years ago I was at a Bachelor Party in Old Town and was amazed at how really nice everything looked. There were neon signs shining in the park and the streets were clean and wide and well-lit and everything was perfect.  At that point I decided to make this BASH happen.”

Bringing Back the Art Fair

Lauren Collison is the woman charged with the sizable task of re-constituting the legacy of the historic old town Westside Art Festival, which until its demise several years ago was the longest running art fair in the State of Michigan, pre-dating even the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Started by a group of local artists that included the late Samuel Carter, who contributed illustrations to the definitive history book about the Saginaw Valley, Indians, Jacks & Pines, Collison says she anticipates having anywhere from 15 to 20 artists participating – more than double the amount from last year’s inaugural event.

“We’re calling this the Saginaw Riverfront Art Festival and the old town setting is a hip and fun vibe with a historic setting, which is appealing to artists,” she reflects. “It’s really exciting that artists are coming from Florida, Chicago, and different parts of Michigan to participate. Not only do we have local artists participating, but we’ve expanded the draw from other areas as well.”

“I’m excited to see it growing,” she continues. “It’s going to take time for people to learn about the show, but I’m confident we’ll see the festival grow even larger next year. We’ll be featuring everything from abstract oil painting to jewelry and wooden art, plus we have a metal artist attending who creates 3-dimensional pieces that consist of layered metal treated in different ways.”

This year’s ART BASH will be a juried show and artists will set up booths and Lauren says the goal is to jury the show once the booths are set, but also jury it again while the show is going on. With a purse of $850 in prize money, qualities considered for the juried competition will include presentation of work, creativity of the work, and who resonates most as a fine artist.

Collison’s endeavors are a definitive asset to BASH organizers given her background and enthusiasm. “I teach art at Carrollton High School and graduated from Michigan State University,” she explains. “While there I worked for the University Activities Board, which hosted two juried shows every year. The MSU show goes on at the same time as the East Lansing Art Festival, so I volunteered on both of those shows, so have worked with the juried process and cut my teeth on the art of organizing festivals. My senior year I served as the Art Chairperson and lived in Lansing for the first five years of my career, where I also entered my work in the East Lansing Art Festival and was voted as an emerging artist when I was student there.”

Collison says the most challenging component about pulling together this year’s Art BASH is the fact the event is so new. “We’re kind of off peoples’ radars or calendars, which makes it exciting as we develop the festival and get the word out,” she reflects. “Artist David Zinn will also be here and we’ll be making art with him on Friday evening; and is also going to be creating an original piece during the BASH festival, with the plan being to make it a collaborate piece. He’ll start an outline and anybody can come and color it, so its very interactive.”

Collison also notes that the hours for the Art BASH will be shorter than the Music BASH. “We’ll be conducting the art portion of the festival from 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday, August 12th and Sunday we’ll be running from 11 am to 5 pm. Plus we’ll also be set up before everything starts on Friday, so it should be an exciting time.”

BASH 2017 will run from 5 pm – 11 pm on Friday, August 11th; 11 am – 11 pm on Saturday, August 12thand 11 am – 9:30 pm on Sunday, August 13thYou can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by searching ‘SaginawBash’ or @saginawbash.





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