Hello, neighbors

With the inaugural Sac PorchFest, local bands take it outside to make music, build community

Catch Joe Kye—a.k.a. Joseph in the Well—on a Midtown porch this weekend.

Catch Joe Kye—a.k.a. Joseph in the Well—on a Midtown porch this weekend.

photo by jonathan mendick

Catch Sac PorchFest 2-7 p.m., Saturday, September 26, on various porches in the 21st and I streets area. Learn more at www.sacporchfest.com.

Talent is one thing but when it comes to a good gig, location, location, location is also important.

Especially so when it comes to the upcoming Sac PorchFest, which aims to highlight several local bands and build community by having them perform on, yes, various front porches.

PorchFest co-founder Mike Philips was particularly inspired by Sacramento’s architectural history.

“Sacramento has a lot of really fantastic, beautiful Victorian houses,” Philips says. It’s a relevant observation, considering the festival happens on folks’ front porches in Midtown. It’s a chance to show off the bands and showcase local homes.

Of course, that’s not the main reason the event was founded, but it’s a nice bonus. The first PorchFest started in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2007 as a means to build community and have some fun, and the concept has since spread all over the country.

This marks the first year for Sac PorchFest, and Phillips and co-founder Nina Brilliant are starting out small with just eight bands performing on three porches in a tight single-block area. It’s all happening this Saturday afternoon between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Phillips and Brilliant say they really connected to the idea of PorchFest as a means to getting folks out of their houses and into their neighborhood, and hopefully interacting with people living near them who they don’t normally socialize with.

“I think it’s a really cool thing, just a serendipitous opportunity to engage in and be part of the community,” Phillips says. “This isn’t going out to a venue. It’s in the neighborhood and directly part of the community.”

The event is free, but Phillips is using the opportunity to raise some money for a good cause. There will be donation stations set up at the different porches and proceeds will benefit the Mustard Seed School, a private school for homeless children in need between the ages of 3 and 15.

Participating artists include Joseph in the Well, Salt Wizard, Be Brave Bold Robot, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera and others.

For Be Brave Robot’s Dean Haakenson, the event appeals on many levels.

“It’s important to give what we can to our community,” says Haakenson. “This PorchFest is both a community party and a charity event. Double win.”

With PorchFests all over the country, each city organizer is free to tailor it to the area’s personality. Some cities’ are really small, and some host big events with an art walk and other nonmusic activities. Phillips says there was a lot of interest in Midtown to make it bigger, but they opted to take a conservative approach—at least for this inaugural year.

Phillips and Brilliant got the idea to put on Sac PorchFest after stumbling on some articles about other ones via the Internet. Philips, who lives in the Eye Street Co-Op and is used to putting on events for the community, thought this would be a nice addition to that. The Eye Street Co-op will, naturally, be one of the afternoon’s three porches.

One of the most interesting aspects for Phillips in putting on PorchFest isn’t the people planning on coming out to see their favorite bands, but the people who know nothing about it, and are just out for a pleasant Saturday stroll in their neighborhood.

“The idea is to make their experience on an afternoon that much richer, that much more vibrant,” Phillips says. “There’s going to be music on porches in the neighborhood and people coming by. … I think that’s really cool.”