‘Porchfest’ Returns to Jamaica Plain

The event on July 11 will be bigger than last year, with more than 100 performances on 67 stages scattered throughout the neighborhood.

jamaica plain porchfest

Sterling Rhyne performing at ‘Porchfest’ 2014; Photograph by Samuel J. Sacks

On July 11, Jamaica Plain will transform into a stage—or 67 stages to be exact. The second annual Jamaica Plain Porchfest returns with a bigger set of performances, more locations, and more time to enjoy the shows.

This year’s lineup includes more than 100 acts in various musical genres such as Afro-pop, indie, rock, jazz, folk, and classical. The six-hour event has also expanded to feature spoken word, circus art, storytelling, theater, dance, and a “politician’s porch.” Boston City Councilors Ayanna Pressley, Matt O’Malley, and Tito Jackson, as well as Jamaica Plain State Representatives Elizabeth Malia and Jeffrey Sanchez, were invited to perform at the event.

The surface area of Porchfest has also expanded with more venues, the number of which has almost doubled from last year’s inaugural event. Locations of the event are scattered throughout the neighborhood and aren’t limited to porches—driveways, backyards, front yards, and churches will host performances as well.

Porchfest continues to develop around the country, with 22 successful events in areas like Ohio, California, Colorado, and Florida. The first Porchfest was held in Ithaca, New York in 2007 as a way to connect the neighborhood through music.

The inspiration for the JP Porchfest stemmed from the country’s other organized Porchfests, including one in nearby Somerville. Co-coordinators Mindy Fried and Marie Ghitman “thought it was time for Boston to have one as well.” The organizers hope to make this year’s Porchfest as successful as last year’s by including an eclectic group of performers.

“It’s a way to weave the community together and celebrate the diversity of the community,” Fried says. “The most important thing is people from all parts of the community are involved.”

Fried and Ghitman have worked extensively with area resource groups to ensure that the neighborhood can support the size of this year’s event. By working with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, they secured more affordable housing venues, as well as pedicab rides for those with mobility issues. Pedicabs will also be available for all residents and visitors to travel from venue to venue.

If you’d rather bring your own bike, local organization Bikes Not Bombs is going to host a ride-along “highlighting some of the premier porches and stages around JP” starting at 11:30 a.m.

“There are a lot of people coming together to make this happen,” Fried says. “Even though Marie and I are taking the lead on producing the event, there are hundreds of people helping out. It’s a grassroots festival, so every porch is a stage, and people can feel really proud that they are making JP come alive.”

In addition to the event itself being bigger, Fried estimates that crowds at this year’s Porchfest could reach anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 visitors. Local businesses will offer food for purchase, and Fried advises visitors to bring water, dress casually, and “be ready to have a really great time.”

Free, Saturday, July 11, 12 p.m.-6 p.m., rain date is Sunday, July 12, Jamaica Plain, map of locations and more info available at jpporchfest.org.