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Somerville opens the Porchfest season in eastern Massachusetts on May 11th

SOMERVILLE Walking through local neighborhoods and stopping to listen to live music along the way is a springtime ritual in several Eastern Massachusetts communities. These free events, known as “Porchfests,” begin Saturday, May 11, in Somerville.

A porch festival occurs when bands play from porches/patios/decks/stairs/yards simultaneously throughout the day in a particular community. The concept originated in Ithaca, New York, where the first Verandafest took place in 2007. Since then, it has become an annual and expected tradition in many communities.

Somerville has been hosting its own Porch Festival since 2011.

“We were one of the first cities to bring it here to Massachusetts,” said Gregory Jenkins, executive director of the Somerville Arts Council. “(Somerville resident) Nancy Goodman was in Ithaca and had the idea that it would be a great situation for Somerville.”

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The Somerville Porchfest attracted between 40 and 60 bands its first year. This year there are more than 300.

“The intention was always to spread it throughout the city, so we created three zones,” Jenkins said.

Music will be played in each zone for approximately two hours. In the West Zone, the event starts at 12:00 p.m., with bands playing there until 2:00 p.m. The Central Zone has music from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the East Zone has music from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m

For more information, including a map and street names, visit https://beta.somervilleartscouncil.org/porchfest/porchfest-2024/

Music at Somerville Porchfest will cover all genres Rock, kids, classical, karaoke, jazz, bluegrass, punk, folk, indie, soul, pop, metal, Americana, country, funk, etc., Jenkins said.

“It’s everywhere,” he said, adding that most of the bands are local. “It’s a good thing because it shows the musical talent that exists in the community. It’s still a great thing for people to get out and walk around and enjoy music.”

The goal of Somerville Porchfest is to make the experience positive. Consuming alcohol in public is prohibited. Participants are asked to be respectful of neighbors and other visitors. Portable toilets will be available throughout the city. Participants are asked to use public transport. Dogs are OK but should be kept calm and kept on a leash.

“Use common sense,” Jenkins said, “and have fun.”

Somerville is just the beginning. Additional porch festivals are planned in the following communities:

  • May 18 – Malden (maldenporchfest.org) and Watertown (watertownporchfest.org)
  • June 1 – Franklin (franklin.porchfest.info), Medford (medford.porchfest.info), Newton (newton.porchfest.info) and Dorchester (dorchfest.com)
  • June 8 – West Concord (Winchester (porchfest.win)
  • June 15 – Arlington (arlingtonporchfest.org) and Fenway (fenwayporchfest.org)
  • June 22 – Dedham (dedhamporchfest.org) and Reading (readingporchfest.com)
  • June 29 – Quincy (porchfestquincy.org)
  • July 14 – Shelburne Falls (shelburnefallsporchfestival.com) and Walpole (facebook.com/walpoleporchfest/)
  • August 24 – Jamaica Plain and Wellfleet (wellfleetporchfest.org)
  • September 7th – Belmont (belmontporchfest.org)
  • September 8th – Sharon (facebook.com/groups/sharonporchfest)
  • September 14 – Plum Island (plumfest.org) and Sandwich
  • September 21 – Melrose (melroseporchfest.org), Milton (miltonporchfest.com), Natick (natickporchfest.org) and Hull (hullporchfest.org)
  • September 28th – Medway, Lexington (lexingtonporchfest.org), Roslindale (roslindaleporchfest.org), North Falmouth (northfalmouthvillageassociation.org/porchfest), Brookline (brooklineporchfest.org/bands/), Ashland & Hopkinton (ashhopporchfest.org/map/ ) and Swampscott
  • October 6th – Maynard (facebook.com/MaynardPorchfest/), Woburn (woburnporchfest.com) and Wakefield (wakefieldporchfest.com)

Anna Harden

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