More than 50 diverse acts will play at Acousticpalooza

Patrick Dunn
Special to The Detroit News

Moving 52 acts across a single stage over the course of one weekend would be a tall order for many music festivals, but succinct sets and simple setups are par for the course for many of the acts at the Phoenix Café’s Acousticpalooza event.

Acousticpalooza, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Phoenix, will mark its third anniversary this year. Phoenix co-owner Been Frank says the all-acoustic event arose from the open mic scene at the Phoenix and other metro-area venues.

“We had a lot of very talented acoustic acts that came through for our open mic nights, so we definitely wanted to create a format for them to showcase their talent and make it as big as possible,” Frank says.

Acousticpalooza kicked off in 2014 as a two-day event, then expanded to three days last year due to strong audience and artist interest. Although the talent onstage this weekend is scheduled to change every half-hour, Phoenix co-owner Steve Gamburd says that’s a natural arrangement for the many open mic regulars in the lineup.

“They’re used to playing anywhere from 10- to 20-minute sets,” he says. “This was a way for people to get together and show the world their songs, their own material, without having the pressure of providing a complete set.”

Although performers are limited to an acoustic presentation, the Acousticpalooza lineup offers considerable diversity within that specification. Guitars will dominate onstage, but acoustic instruments ranging from piano to chromaharp will also be in the mix. The genres represented are diverse as well, including country, Christian, folk and classical.

Among the more surprising items on Acousticpalooza’s genre menu are acoustic punk and acoustic metal. While those combinations might seem oxymoronic, they make perfect sense to Pontiac resident and Acousticpalooza performer Tino Ybarra. Ybarra and his brother, Rolando, form the acoustic “mariachi punk” duo Pancho Villa’s Skull.

The two-man band Pancho Villa’s Skull plays acoustic “mariachi punk” music.

Ybarra says he developed an interest in mariachi music thanks, in part, to his grandfather, a trumpeter. He says he was inspired to blend the traditionally acoustic mariachi style with the energy of punk music by listening to Irish groups like the Pogues and other punk bands that “blend their own histories with the music.”

Ybarra suggests that some musicians are “disenfranchised” with the traditional concept of a band, and are coming up with innovative and simply executed new concepts like his own.

“I think people used to think the acoustic guitar was kind of boring,” he says. “I think people are challenging that stereotype a little more.”

Detroiter Deekah Wyatt, who usually performs with her electric band Roxolydian behind her, will perform stripped-down versions of her band’s “progressive funk-rock-soul” in a solo appearance at Acousticpalooza. Wyatt performed at the inaugural Acousticpalooza and says the event’s stylistic diversity is typical for its home venue.

“I’ve been (to the Phoenix) Friday nights and it’s been a folk show,” she says. “Then you come back Sunday night and it’s a hip-hop beat battle.”

The daylong event is laid-back and geared toward the audience dropping in and out as it pleases; Gamburd notes that organizers don’t have “a big, 150-people-in-the-room-at-one-time type of deal for any one given artist.” Wyatt says that relaxed and welcoming vibe is just what she likes about the event.

“It’s a really homey atmosphere,” she says. “You kind of leave your ego at the door.”

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

Acousticpalooza 2016

Phoenix Café

24918 John R, Hazel Park

Tickets: $10 per night

(248) 439-0334


6 p.m. Chere Pepper

6:30 p.m. Alayna Ill

7 p.m. Stephen Schlaak

7:30 p.m. Kris McLonis

8:00 p.m. Bobby McManus

8:30 p.m. Samantha Schank

9 p.m. TeleVision Faerie Tale

9:30 p.m. The Rebel A’s

10 p.m. RJ Silver

10:30 p.m. Mr. Purps and The Absinthe Minded

11:00 p.m. Valiant Revenge

11:30 p.m. We Are The Wild


3 p.m. Jake Layne

3:30 p.m. Idle Hour

4 p.m. Hearing Damage

4:30 p.m. Lisa Mary

5 p.m. Hans Barbe

5:30 p.m. Alvorada America

6 p.m. Native Ghost

6:30 p.m. ATMIG

7 p.m. Elum

7:30 p.m. One Dangerous Mind

8 p.m. Courtney Hurley

8:30 p.m. Allie Louise

9 p.m. Mother of Stone

9:30 p.m. Stephan Chopek

10 p.m. Mike Galbraith

10:30 p.m. Emily Rose

11 p.m. Nina and the Buffalo Riders

11:30 p.m. Deekah Wyatt

Midnight Broken Robot


2:30 p.m Polar Opposite

3 p.m. Human the Bear

3:30 p.m. Cari Ray

4 p.m. Monster Marguerite

4:30 p.m. Inconnu

5 p.m. Greg Wilson

5:30 p.m. Soren Soto

6 p.m. Fricktion

6:30 p.m. Metro Radio

7 p.m. Tony Reifel

7:30 p.m. Harley Arson

8 p.m. Loren + Mark

8:30 p.m. Emily Infinity

9 p.m. The Picassos

9:30 p.m. Screams Of Christ

10 p.m. Poor Player

10:30 p.m. Pancho Villa’s Skull

11 p.m. The Arsonist Choir

11:30 p.m. Trevor Troy

Midnight Complainer

12:30 a.m. Radke