Hamtramck Music Festival schedule fractures amid controversy


  • Courtesy photo
  • White Shag
If you follow local music at all, it’s been impossible to miss first the rumblings and then explosions about Hamtramck Music Festival reverberating across the Detroit Internet.

Now in its fourth year, the Hamtramck Music Festival (which was a cover feature for Metro Times last year) brings together over 180 bands scattered across 20 Hamtramck bars, venues, and restaurants — and the proceeds benefit a cool local charity. One $10 wristband gets you into any of the shows, many of which are 18 and up, as well as family-friendly daytime performances.

Due to recent events, however, portions of this year’s schedule will be changing as several bands have removed themselves from the roster. We are told that updated band lists will be made public on the festival’s website, Facebook, and in print media once the new acts are confirmed.

Sorting through the digital wreckage of said recent events building up over the past two weeks was a daunting task, but after speaking to several of the major names involved, two separate and unrelated incidents emerged. One band — Jesus Chainsaw Massacre — faced accusations of sexist, racist comments targeted at other bands on the bill, while a member of another band (Jorge Cortez/George Krautner of White Shag) was revealed to be a registered sex offender who pled no contest to three counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2008 — not rape, as has been widely claimed on social media.

The festival committee held several meetings to address both issues, and ultimately decided to remove both acts, but it was too little, too late for Seraphine Collective, a local feminist organization dedicated to fostering creative expression and camaraderie among underrepresented musicians and artists in Detroit.

Seraphine decided to remove themselves from the festival altogether and dissolved both shows they were hosting at the P.L.A.V. Post #10, with the majority of bands they booked deciding to remove themselves, as well as other acts not specifically affiliated with Seraphine. They are now in the process of booking alternate shows, which so far include one at UFO Factory on Friday, March 3 featuring Child Sleep, Meshes, Young Punk, and W.O.M.B.

We are told that the UFO show will be a fundraiser for organizations that support abuse victims. Electric Wiccans has also reportedly dropped out of the festival, confirmed on this event page for the free show they are now playing instead at Outer Limits Lounge on Saturday, March 4, where they will be joined by Loose Koozies, Dirty Copper, and the Drinkard Sisters.

Lo & Behold! Records & Books have also publicly removed themselves as a venue in a post made on their Facebook on Feb. 15, so changes to the shows scheduled there will be made as well.

Below you can read official statements from the Hamtramck Music Festival, Seraphine Collective, and Laura Mendoza (bassist and vocalist for White Shag).

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