Porchfest is a way to celebrate communities and deepen connections. While it’s uncertain when the first Porchfest happened, there are many across the country, including Ithica, NY, and West Philly. This Sunday, Mt. Airy will host their very own.
Porchfest is a day when neighbors lend their porches to musicians and bands to play on for the community’s enjoyment. Planning for Mt. Airy Porchfest began as early as June, organizer of the Porchfest, Tim Osborne, shared. “Like most stories, I was playing music in my garage, and I heard someone else playing music around the corner,” he says. “And I was like… it’d be so cool if we had a Porchfest here.”
Osborne had become familiar with the Porchfest concept a few years ago when he performed for West Philly Porchfest, which he calls the “premier” Porchfest of the Philly region. Shortly after having the thought, Osborne took to an Mt.Airy/Cedarbrook Facebook group to gauge interest from the community, and the reception was overwhelmingly positive.
“There was no opposition anywhere from anyone,” says museum educator Lynda O’Leary, another organizer for the Mt. Airy Porchfest. “And we were thrilled!”
O’Leary has been connecting bands who want to play with people offering porches as a stage. She says it’s a lot of work and also joyous. She attributes this to the leftover feeling of isolation that many neighborhoods may not have broken out of since COVID-19, and it is the neighborhood’s first time hosting the event.
The organizers estimate that there are approximately 40 porches signed up with about 60 musical acts planned. Some acts found their way to the Google form circulated by the organizers, while the neighbors recruited others. But the numbers aren’t final. There are still acts and porches actively emailing the organizers in hopes of performing.
“I think people are back from summer and vacations,” O’Leary says, speculating about the continuous waves of interest from performers. “We put fliers everywhere, and they’re gone from all the posts. Then all of a sudden, this past two weeks, BOOM, it’s really exploded again.”
The organizers were also very strategic in planning this Porchfest. Some people have asked why they didn’t expand into the Germantown area, and the simple answer was “respect.” O’Leary and Osborne say they noticed that there was already some interest in Germantown around hosting their own Porchfest, so they wanted to respect those boundaries. The festival will span from Allens Lane to Johnson Street, which most people say is the final block of Germantown boundaries.
The duo wanted to ensure families and children could attend the event, making September the perfect time. There are also kids’ acts scheduled to perform. The Eagles won’t be playing on that day, so there is no need to compete for the attention of Philly’s loyal football fans.
O’Leary says this is also a great way to show new inhabitants of Mt. Airy and the surrounding areas what a great community they are. She says, “I think it’s really important because there’s so many people who moved up here and don’t really understand Mt. Airy, so I think this is a great event to showcase how wonderful the neighbors are and what a great community we are.”
The organizers say there will be something for everyone at the event, including traditional genres like jazz, salsa, blues, and drumming. But there will also be genres that even the organizers weren’t aware existed, like old-time music and Game Boy rock. Osborne, whose stage name is Tim From Oz, will be amongst the lineup of diverse musicians bringing Mt. Airy Porchfest to life.
“I’m just hoping to get everyone out,” Osborne said. “Get people excited. It’ll be nice to share human moments with people.” O’Leary says she is excited to give a platform to help musicians get their music noticed by a wider audience.
All are welcome to attend Mt. Airy Porchfest this Sunday, September 18, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information on the neighborhood-wide festival, visit mtairyporchfest.com, where you can also find an interactive map of the performances happening in the neighborhood. Guests can also see the map below.