Music on the Porches: Sampling Somerville Porchfest 2018

The organizers of the Somerville Porchfest made a wise decision moving the festival to Sunday (5/13) due to the rainy weather that has characterized the beginning of the spring in the metropolitan Boston area this year. Rainfall can water down the melodies and lively atmosphere of music on the streets. As the cloudy sky cleared up in the afternoon the sounds of multiple genres of music inundated the streets, porches, and public open spaces. Sun light for a sunny music day full of people, dances, and blooming trees.

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Porchfests are an emerging trend in cities across North America. They embrace the spirit of music festivals but with a DIY and home made approach. They are community organized music events in which local musicians get the opportunity to perform in public and semi-public spaces. Sometimes on the porch, other times at the sidewalk or the backyard, and even at gardens and public parks, musicians and audiences get together for mini concerts that last from 20 to 45 minutes. Starting in Ithaca, NY, in 2007, the concept of the porchfest quickly spread across the U.S., and has even reached some cities in Canada.

The first Somerville Porchfest  was organized in 2011. Since then it has been regularly hold in this city located in the northwest of Boston, in the one of the few hilly neighborhoods that remains in this geographical area (most of the hills were used as landfills for expanding  the area of Boston in the 18th and 19th century). Besides having sloppy streets, Somerville is also pretty greenish. Specially in the spring, a variety of blooms wildly with a range of colors that goes from purples to whites and reds, and mix with lively green foliage. Furthermore, this city and neighborhood it is also home to many young artists and musicians, and families who live in apartments built inside large Victorian, Gothic revival, and Queen Anns houses with ample porches facing the city.  While according to the 2010 Census 75,754 people live in Somerville, according to the Porchfest website, 260 bands were scheduled to play yesterday. An interactive map shows how the density of concerts expanded through the whole area of Somerville, from 12pm until 6pm.

Brass band music, punk, alternative rock, country,  funk, hiphop and more than other 40 music genres, provided a rich and diverse  program that brought to live a vibrant music scene. Given the constraints of time, I was able to only stay for a two hours, and catch up the groups of people moving towards East Somerville around 3pm. The mini concerts were scheduled in a way that the early concerts happened in West Somerville, and as the afternoon advanced the performances were moving towards the East. I was able to listen to five different bands and enjoyed their music and the environment created by an inter-generational audience that was friendly and did not have any problem in getting together, drinking beers in covered containers, and dancing to the tunes. Below are some pictures I was able to take during my short music tour.

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