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May 9, 2024

April 2024 at the Freighthouse: A Hub for Local Talent and Creative Expression


It’s hard to believe that UMS concluded a pilot week of programming at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse just one year ago. That pilot residency introduced a Pay-What-You-Wish ticket model and an eclectic variety of events for multi-generational audiences.

UMS’s April 2024 residency built on the momentum of our pilot week and a fantastic, four-week return to the Freighthouse last fall. We welcomed nearly 2,000 guests from across Southeast Michigan — a third of whom self-identified as Ypsilanti residents.

We are delighted that the Freighthouse has become a creative hub and gathering place for culturally curious audiences of all ages. Take a look back at our favorite moments — from the local talents of our Open Mic Night participants to the immersive fun of our free Family Days:


Getting Into the Swing of Things

Participants swing dance at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse
We kicked off our April 2024 residency with a night of swing dance led by Riverside Swings and Swing Ann Arbor. They taught folks the basics, and then everyone danced the night away to the hot horn riffs and bouncing bass lines of Ferndale’s Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club.


A Birthday Celebration of New Music

Hub New Music
Our first chamber music experience at the Freighthouse was a huge success. We celebrated Hub New Music’s 10th anniversary with an evening of exciting new works written specifically for the Michigan-based ensemble by celebrated living composers, including Tyshawn Sorey and Nico Muhly.

In the weeks leading up to their Freighthouse debut, Hub New Music worked with students from Estabrook Elementary School in Ypsilanti to develop an original composition (about pirates!), which they premiered in a special K-12 performance.

A student conducts Hub New Music in performance


Throwing It Back with Y2Gay

Zooey Gaychanel and local drag artists perform
By popular demand, Drag Night returned to the Freighthouse in millennium-glitching fashion! Hostess with the mostess Zooey Gaychanel led the crowd through dance hits of the 1990s and 2000s, featuring a cast of local drag artists and on-brand DJ sets by DJ Medusa.


A Not-So-Silent Movie Night

The Lodger
UMS teamed up with the Independent Film Festival Ypsilanti (iFFY) to present The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, a 1927 silent thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Michigan’s Little Bang Theory accompanied the film with an original score, played on toy and non-traditional instruments — adding a fresh thrill to this thriller.


Dancing Through Mexico

Dancing Through Mexico
Flint’s El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil led interactive performances for nearly 100 families and taught kids the basic movements of Mexican folkloric dance, accompanied by live music.


An Earth Day Celebration

Joe Reilly and friends lead the audience in dance
Local singer-songwriter Joe Reilly performed fun community and nature-inspired songs in a special Earth Day concert for families. His “Turkey Vulture” rap was an especially big hit with the crowd!

After Joe Reilly’s performance, Ypsilanti-based Growing Hope Urban Farm helped families craft seed balls to spread native wildflowers throughout our community.

Kids craft seed balls made of clay


Ypsi’s Got Talent

Local artists take the stage at Open Mic Night
Singer, songwriter, and UMS staff member Rochelle Clark hosted a free Open Mic Night, inviting local musicians, poets, and artists from Ypsi and beyond to share their talents with the community. The evening featured special appearances by the State of Michigan’s poet laureate Nandi Comer, as well as bass player Gwenyth Hayes.


Shigeto Live Ensemble

Shigeto Live Ensemble
Beloved Detroit electronic artist and percussionist Shigeto joined forces with saxophone virtuoso Marcus Elliot and Ian Fink on keyboard, in an electrifying, packed, and sold-out late-night set for our final Friday at the Freighthouse.

It was wonderful to welcome back Marcus Elliot, who gave the memorable world premiere of Sonic Contributions at the Freighthouse last Fall:


A Beautiful Ecosystem of Sounds

Members of Regenerate Orchestra play music and toss tissue paper in the air
The Regenerate! Orchestra returned to the Freighthouse for two events to close our residency. A community of musicians created immersive soundscapes inspired by nature and a blend of traditional instruments, vocals, and sounds from everyday objects, and the audience was invited to walk around and participate in sonic creation throughout the performances.

Enjoy this footage of the Regenerate! Orchestra’s first Freighthouse appearance from UMS’s pilot week in April 2023:


Thank you to all who participated in our April residency at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse! UMS will be back in Ypsi in September 2024. Sign up for our Freighthouse interest list for a reminder when full details are announced later this summer.


Thank You to Our Residency Supporters

The Ypsilanti Freighthouse residency is supported by Menakka and Essel Bailey and Matt and Nicole Lester.

Additional residency support from WEMU 89.1 FM.

Funded in Part by

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan