IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.
That’s how Nancy Goodman brought PorchFest to Somerville in 2011. “I saw an event in Ithaca on a friend’s Facebook page. It sounded fun, and I thought it could work here. We have so many musicians, and so many porches in Somerville, so let’s do it.”
Nancy e-mailed Greg Jenkins at the Somerville Arts Council to pitch the idea. Greg was into it and, as the executive director of the SAC, was in a position to actually make it happen. He says the idea fit well within the work of the SAC. “We take on stuff to get the creative community out into the larger world.”
For the first couple of years of Porchfest, Nancy remembers a lot of community planning meetings. But now, the process is more or less automated and hands-off for programmers. This is why it works for the SAC. They sort out the permitting stuff with the city and set up the sign-up website, but the rest is up to the bands. Anybody can play and have their show be part of Porchfest. This year, nearly 200 musicians and groups will participate. “It’s kind of amazing, how many bands there are,” said Greg.
Nancy appreciates the individuality of the performances, and the do-it-yourself nature of PorchFest. “Some people are on the porch, some people are in their backyard or in the driveway. It’s just whatever works for the particular performer and the particular house. “It’s a great thing” Greg said. “Usually, it’s on their own porch, or on the porch of a friend.”
Somerville’s PorchFest has been happening since 2011. It’s had enough success that Jamaica Plain has replicated the model for its own PorchFest. All because Nancy told her idea to someone who could make it happen. “It was pure serendipity,” she said. She doesn’t even remember why she thought of the Somerville Arts Council back in 2010. Lucky for us, she did and now we’ve got more music this weekend than we know what to do with.
Nancy is proud of what she helped start. “I love the diversity of the music, there’s just everything you could think of. I love riding my bike around and hearing music. If you hear something, you can ride over and check it out.”
The music moves from east to west across Somerville through the afternoon. Musicians in East Somerville start at noon, central Somerville acts play at 2:00 PM, and bands to the west of Willow St. go on at 4:00 PM. Check out the PorchFest map
Greg says he’s just gonna tool around on his bike too, but here are three acts he says to listen out for:
SheBoom, 43 Munroe St.
Your mom’s book club, with 100% more Brazilian-style drumming (but presumably the same volume of white zin). SheBoom are alumnae of Grooversity, Somerville’s Brazilian drumming school, so they know what they’re doing. Greg says “They’re characters!”
Jon Bernhardt, 9 Charnwood Road
Jon plays the theremin. What is a theremin? “It’s an old-time electronic instrument that picks up resonations in your hands,” says Greg. Theremins were one of the first electronic instruments, with the first one built in the late 1920s. And as if watching someone wave their hands around an old-timey machine isn’t cool enough, Jon plays punk and new wave covers.
Forró Zabumbeca, 18 Central St.
Forró is the traditional music of northeast Brazil. These guys will play some forro classics and their original forró-inspired compositions. It’s slow, lazy music, perfec for porch-sitting. Also, there’s a triangle in the band.
Some other things that might be fun and exciting
Avon St. Trad Irish Band, 84 Avon S.
Haven’t you always yearned to clumsily dance a jig to Irish music in pleasant spring weather? At 84 Avon St. you can briefly pretend you live in a region of the country where there’s non-garbage weather in the month of March.
Bong Wish, 45 Beacon St.
Late 60s-inspired pop. Like you needed me to tell you that. But they do it up right with droney vocals and bright guitars.
Souldelica 62 Fellsway West
Three words: Funky “Yellow Submarine”.
All addresses are in Somerville.