Wouldn’t it be incredible if your neighborhood produced its own live music festival? The Kutzky Park neighborhood is doing just that by hosting Rochester’s first “Porchfest.”
Popping up from Boston, Mass., to Napa, Calif., porchfests have become something of an American music tradition of late. But what the heck is a porchfest? According to Jesse Welsh, the president of the Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association (KPNA), a porchfest is “a free community music event designed to promote the arts and foster strong neighborhoods.”
On Saturday, September 24, Kutzky Park’s front porches and driveways will be transformed into music venues for an afternoon. One Kutzky resident who’s lived in the neighborhood since 2008, James Rechs, has volunteered to host his own band, Jailhouse Payback. He says Porchfest “encourages residents to walk around the neighborhood and interact with one another in a festive environment. It celebrates the gifts and talents of our local neighbors, many of whom are extremely creative and talented people.”
Welsh first got excited about the porchfest concept when she stumbled across a map and information for the Somerville, Mass. Porchfest on her Facebook feed. She contacted the Somerville Arts Council to learn more. Welsh is quick to point out the importance of fellow organizers like Tim Hawkins and Annie Henderson, members of the KPNA board who are hosting music during the event. Henderson says Porchfest “creates a vibrant community that supports our local talented musicians.”
The large volunteer response has energized Welsh: “I have been continually impressed by how many people have stepped up and asked to be involved. I actually had to do very little asking, most of the volunteers contacted me and asked how they could participate.”
Some neighbors, like Rechs, learned about the Kutzky Porchfest at their neighborhood block party and quickly got on board to support it. Rechs is adamant about the importance of events like Porchfest: “Before there was such a thing as recorded music, people would get together and musicians would give musical performances to entertain family and friends. There used to be more of a participatory attitude toward music…an event like Porchfest promotes community, brings us closer to our neighbors and increases interest in our local music scene.”
Porchfest will have fourteen different neighbors hosting music, says Welsh. The offerings will range from Irish music to Americana played by local groups like The Hopstars, The Rochester Flute Choir, The Rochester Pops Orchestra, Jason McKenzie, RavensFire, and License to Live. More details about performers and a schedule for the event will be forthcoming at facebook.com/ktuzkyparkporchfest. In addition to live music, Welsh hopes Porchfest will also include food trucks vending in Kutzky.
Though Porchfest is centered in one neighborhood, the whole city can enjoy it. Welsh has a vision: “I hope to have people from all over Rochester come down to Kutzky Park on the 24th and enjoy walking around the neighborhood. Rochester has a great arts community and events like Porchfest allow us to show off local musicians.”