Porchfest will Bring Music, Dance, and Community to the Streets of Jamaica Plain

Sterling Rhyne plays on the porch of resident Betsaida Gutierrez at JP Porchfest 2014. Photo credit Samuel J. Sacks.

Sterling Rhyne plays on the porch of resident Betsaida Gutierrez at JP Porchfest 2014. Photo credit Samuel J. Sacks.

On Saturday, the streets of Jamaica Plain will be filled with the sights and sounds of music and dance, as thousands of attendees comb the sidewalks for the JP’s second annual celebration of art and community, Porchfest.

Porchfest co-producer Mindy Fried–who, along with coproducer Marie Ghitman and a handful of additional volunteers, organized the festival–described it as “six hours of art”, a free event during which multi-genre performances will emanate from over 72 porches, driveways, community centers and green spaces.

Ghitman said JP is one of the 23 cities and neighborhoods to have organized their own Porchfests. The ideas was first conceived in Ithaca, New York in 2007 as a music festival held directly on community members’ front doorsteps.

Jamaica Plain, said Fried, was “ripe for this kind of event,” which has expanded from last year to include not only music, but dance, storytelling, spoken word, theater and more.

Over 7,000 people attended JP Porchfest 2014, and organizers expect this year’s number will grow to around 10,000.

Ghitman said some elected officials will have their own porch to show off their artistic abilities, with Boston City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Matt O’Malley, as well as Jamaica Plain State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez having confirmed their attendance.

In an effort to foster community engagement and inclusion, Fried and Ghitman wanted to feature performers from a variety of different arts backgrounds–from Latin dance to circus arts–and also worked actively to ensure artists without a porch (or stoop or yard) to perform on were paired with a local homeowner or community center.

JP Porchfest, with around 120 bands scheduled, can be, by virtue of its sheer scale, difficult to navigate, and so organizers suggest attendees check the schedule online.

New to this year’s Porchfest, the TheaterPorch will kick off on 12 p.m. at St. Johns Church on 1 Roanoke Ave., and will feature performances from many local theater groups, as well as a performance from the JP-based chamber orchestra, Emmy-nominated A Far Cry.

In partnership with community Latin dance collective MetaMovements, The Dance Porch will be at 12 South St. where audience members can dance alongside performers between noon to 6 p.m.

These are just two of nearly 70 outdoor venues each a part of the Porchfest network.

“You can’t possibly experience all of it,” said Fried, who recommends attendees use the hashtag #JPPorchfest to keep up with the event in real time. “It’s very cool to be able to see what other people are seeing.”

In addition to live performances, there is the Hyde & Jackson Square sidewalk sale on Centre St., and a guided bike tour run by Bikes Not Bombs.

Organizers said they have been working closely with community groups such as the Egleston Square Orchard, the Hyde Square Task Force, and the Egleston Square Peace Garden to expand the celebration and connect with surrounding neighborhoods.

“Lots of people said last time that they felt a sense of community,” said Fried. “They were really excited and proud of JP, and really happy that they lived in a place that had such a joyful arts event.”

For more information on Jamaica Plain Porchfest, including a map and schedule of the day’s events, visit http://www.jpporchfest.org/.