Porchfest Comes to Black Rock

Porchfests, launched in the college town of Ithaca, New York in 2007, are catching on. The concept has quietly spread—without my ever hearing about it—until one finally appeared next door, in the Bridgeport, Connecticut neighborhood of Black Rock. Porchfest came off without a hitch, I’m happy to say, and everyone involved says it’s going to become annual.

That Virginia

That Virginia livens up a summer day at Porchfest 2016 (Jim Motavalli photo)

The music was local, including strumming folksingers, singer-songwriters, and slumming alter-ego groups playing covers. The sound was universally decent, food trucks lined up next to homeowner-provided lemonade stands, and dogs were welcome. There were lots of dogs.


Porchfest is a neighborhood thing, and it’s about the people. Reaganomics (the band) got about 200 people out and talking. (Jim Motavalli photo)

I heard three different sets, including one my friend Lys Guillorn, and another by a band featuring a friend’s son. It was all very relaxed, and relaxing. Neighbors who probably rarely see each other caught up. Bridgeport’s mayor (back from prison, and improbably re-elected) was there, but you’d expect that.


The smart ones brought lawn chairs. (Jim Motavalli photo)

People ask me what Woodstock was like—did you see all the heavy groups? I say yeah, yeah, but it was more about the people—the sense of community. Ditto Porchfest.

Lys Guillorn

Lys Guillorn on the porch. (Jim Motavalli)

C’mon, how often do you actually talk to your neighbors, other than to wave hello? At Porchfest, one ear is on the band and the other is catching up with the people next door.


You could walk to the next Porchfest gig, but a scooter came in handy. Performer Lys Guillorn is at right. (Jim Motavalli photo)

We need more low-pressure, local music—neighbors entertaining neighbors. We need fewer big-deal stadium shows with distant views from the nosebleed seats and scalper-inflicted ticket prices.

If there’s no Porchfest near you, well it’s time to organize one. Won’t your porch look better with a band on it? By the way, you can still make it up to the original Porchfest, in Ithaca. It’s on September 18.

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