Heritage Newpapers - News Herald article from 6-7-14, about ERFS 25th anniversary show:


Wednesday, January 14, 1998

Musical jams have flowery start

Amateur musicians share their talent. 'It's a cheap night out with lots of good music'

By Craig Garrett / The Detroit News

    It started as a flower celebration.
    Nearly nine years later, the East River Folk Society's monthly gatherings in Wyandotte have blossomed into the place for downriver's musical crowd to fiddle, strum, warble, whistle and harmonize.
    "It's a cheap night out with lots of good music," said Leigh Rowland, the nonprofit society's president and a group member since 1990. "We have a riot."
    The East River Folk Society took root in 1989 during the Grosse Ile Azalea Festival. The idea was for island friends to share their musical and singing talents at semiregular stage sessions, Rowland said.
    The rule was that only acoustic instruments could be played. People were hauling out mandolins, autoharps, dulcimers, guitars, wind instruments and fiddles.
    It also was the first time many amateur musicians played before a group.
    "It takes a lot of guts (to get on stage)," said Julie Fountain, a group member who alternately serves as a monthly society host and a folk singer. "But the thrill is watching people grow."
    Word spread quickly, and monthly coffeehouse performances were moved in 1995 to Wyandotte's First Presbyterian Church.
    Open microphone sessions on Saturday typically involve about a dozen solo and group acts that include players, singers, poets and storytellers. Performances are limited to 15 minutes, or three songs, to keep things moving.
    Performers must show up by 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m. session, and they stay busy setting up chairs and tables. Because the group's informal reputation is alluring to many amateurs, musicians and singers from as far away as Toledo and Ann Arbor are showing up at the door.
    "We never know who's coming or what they're going to play," Rowland said. "We just know that it's going to be fun."
    Rowland said some interesting people have performed. One man last year propped his 8-year-old son on a stool with the boy's guitar. The youngster played "amazing" classical guitar, she said.
    Other regulars are popular performers who meet up at a Trenton nightclub after the coffeehouse closes. "We just jam," Fountain said.
    Of course, the occasional knucklehead shows up at the coffeehouse: One man who had too much to drink tried passing himself off as a nightclub singer or a karaoke star.
    "He used curse words, and we asked him not to come back," Rowland said. "This is a family thing."
    Time to jam
    The East River Folk Society meets the second Saturday of every month from September through June.
    The church is at 2250 Oak St., Wyandotte. There is a $4 donation at the door.

Reprinted with permission of The Detroit News

And this is perhaps the earliest, from the Detroit News, circa 1991...