‘Porchfest’ Is Spreading to Jamaica Plain

More than 60 bands will perform on 35 porches on July 19.

Boston’s rules have been the bane of many bands’ existence, with city officials going door-to-door and shutting down small-time shows held in basements and apartment buildings.

But a new concept inspired by Somerville’s annual Porchfest, and others like it around the country, is being welcomed by Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration, bringing the bands out of their fringe building venues and onto people’s front steps.

On July 19, Jamaica Plain will host the city’s first-ever Porchfest, with more than 60 bands with varying sounds playing on 35 outdoor stages.

“It’s a first for the city, and putting it together has been fantastic so far. It’s been incredibly fun and a lot of hard work,” said Marie Ghitman, one of two main organizers of Jamaica Plain Porchfest. “Every time we mention the idea to someone, they get excited and offer us some help. We have been very lucky that way.”

Ghitman, who teamed up with Jamaica Plain resident Mindy Fried to bring the musical plan to fruition, said they have been operating on a “zero-dollar budget,” and all of the supplies, coordination, and organizing efforts have come from donations within the community.

Ghitman said after they initially posted a Facebook page back in March, gauging the public’s interest in an event like this, people came forward in swarms to offer some sort of assistance. “No one is getting paid anything, and it’s amazing what people are willing to do for free,” she said of the free event, which is open to the public.

Those freebies included people making fliers for the daylong jam sessions, and a group of developers creating an interactive map showing where each band is performing, complete with descriptions about their musical stylings. Boston Pedicabs will even be riding through the neighborhood to give attendees a lift from porch to porch, including those with mobility issues.

Ghitman said they also teamed up with a film crew who will go around on the day of the event and document all of the mini-concerts, to create a short video about the inaugural experience. “There are lots of people involved now. We started actively pursuing this in March—all we did was make a Facebook page. But very quickly lots of people came to us and wanted to get involved,” she said.

That involvement included some help and support from the city, too. A spokesperson from Walsh’s office confirmed that the mayor plans to attend Jamaica Plain Porchfest on July 19, to take in the talent that Boston has to offer.

Ghitman said organizers also met with several city art departments to talk about logistics, and formulated a plan to make a “how-to” video so that other neighborhoods around the city that want to put together their own version of the musical event can do so with relative ease.

Organizers worked with non-profit groups in various neighborhoods including the Hyde Square Task Force, Egleston Main Streets, Centre/South Main Streets, and the JP Neighborhood Development Corporation to make sure the event is all-inclusive.

“The city has been supportive and excited about this,” said Ghitman. “They gave us more than their blessing.”

With all of the success organizers have seen while putting together this year’s festival, Ghitman said she is hoping the event will become an annual celebration in Boston. “We had to turn away a lot of bands, because we wanted to make sure it went really well this year. But it will be way bigger if it happens next year. And I’m pretty certain it will,” she said.