Buffalo PorchFest?

A BRO reader sent me link to the Somerville PorchFest event, hoping that someone would see it as a good fit for Buffalo, and roll it out in the future. After taking a look at the logistics, I believe that our reader might be onto something. Basically, PorchFest sounds like a great way to get live music out onto the streets of Buffalo… with musicians playing from their porches. Not only does Buffalo have some incredible musicians, there are also a ton of sweet porches (right Steel?). The following is a description of the event, as seen on the PorchFest website:

In 2011, we created a decentralized music festival–PorchFest.  Perhaps you’ve sat on your porch and overheard a neighbor strumming guitar on another porch?  Porchfest takes this idea and multiplies it.  This is not a festival per se but rather a community event where Somervillians share their love of playing and listening to music.  Think of Somerville Open Studios, which is for visual artists, but for music. 

On Saturday, May 18th musicians and bands throughout Somerville will celebrate and utilize an underused public venue: The Porch.   Acts–ranging from bollywood funk, cosmic americana, killer blues, Moroccan, Balkan, gospel, American space rock and clawhammer banjo–will serenade passersby from porches throughout Somerville. 
What would it take to play off this great idea? An orchestrator of course! There are so many people always asking, “I want to do something for Buffalo, but I’m not sure how I can help.” Well, if you have a bent for music (and porches), this could be a great way to get involved with a grassroots city-wide initiative. Sommerville has written the playbook. C’mon, we just got an artisan market going at Canalside. Now who is up for kicking off a Buffalo version of PorchFest? If you think that this is something that you would like to see happen, but aren’t sure about what steps to take, give me a shout and I will try to help. If more than one person responds, I’ll connect you… the start of every good planning committee. I already have a couple of people in mind to join in on the fun… and after poking around, it looks as if there are a couple of different PorchFests out there, so let’s see if we can make this happen. After all, this is not rocket science… it’s musicians playing on their porches in tandem with an online map. 

About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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16 comments
Biggurl
Biggurl

Grad94 is correct. Art on Porches was way ahead of the game on this one. Art on Porches ran successfully for 3-4 years over on Bird and Abbottsford (near Baynes). Art on Porches was designed after the Art on Porches event in Syracuse (which is an EXCELLENT, pretty huge neighborhood event and is happening June 15, 2013). The Syracuse event is worth the 2 hour ride to the Salt City. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-on-the-Porches/36767469205

MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

Quite so: a PorchFest was tried here already. I considered participating by exhibiting Edison memorabilia & demonstrating some antique phonographs, but feared showing my 'neighbors' what could be stolen from me. The worst of them are still here, so my stuff still remains my secret.

whatever
whatever

hmm, you do seem to be one of the major magnets for those.

But maybe that's just their way of suggesting Buffalo should invent a Downvote Fest?

It could be on porches, and … no, wait, that would still be copying Somerville who copied Ithaca.

Okay - we could close off a street to traffic, that's always popular - and people could stand in the street holding orange signs of down-pointing thumbs at you… but then what?

And what if you didn't show up?

Maybe this could be tested out as a Canalside free activity before making a full Fest of it.

Wow, inventing isn't easy. No wonder cities copy each other!

Dan
Dan

Jesus. Downvoted for pointing out that Porchfest started in Ithaca, not Somerville. Didn't know the hive mind looked down on pointing out errors in an OP.

brownteeth
brownteeth

Should we never have outdoor concerts, festivals, parades, etc., because someone else did it first? It seems like a defeatist attitude to have to reject a fun idea just because we didn't think of it. Why be such a stick in the mud?

Besides, we could easily make this way better given our music scene and abundance of incredible porches. Ironically like some of the best music, many great artists rip off other artists and make it better, same can be applied here.

BfloGal
BfloGal

My point is that sometimes to get the artistic juices flowing you need a place to start...who knows if piggy-backing off these Porch Parties (or other successful events happening elsewhere) would end up creating an original Buffalo event!?

Jonathan
Jonathan

I'd go.

It doesn't have to be decentralized. If you get enough houses on one street to go for it, it could create quite a fun atmosphere.

Dan
Dan

Typos. Sorry. I'm having problems with my eyes lately.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

I never said that Buffalo should "ignore" outside influences, but, rather, Buffalo can harness its own authenticity and, frankly, export it to the world (of which it is a part). I am simply suggesting that we have our own creative juice, and do not need to try to appropriate every hipster trend happening in other cities. We once were a center of innovation sending ideas, products and services to international locales--I'd like to see us do that again.

And, BfloGal, no-one is suggesting that we "sit around and wait"...for anything. Frankly, at the pace things are evolving currently, I wouldn't even suggest that to be a possibility.

Dan
Dan

TL/DR: instead of obsessing over the authenticity of an idea, shouldn't we be considering it on its own merits instead? Is it more important for an idea to be "authentic", or to be good?

Dan
Dan

Buffalo is connected to a larger society, with its collective culture, trends, memes, and so on. Should it ignore and reject those outside influences, just for the sale of being "authentic?" The region already has a reputation for being insular and time-warpish, and not always in a good way.

For those city dwellers, how many "authentic" events that are "authentic" to Buffalo do you really participate in? Fireman's picnics, lawn fetes, Chiavettas, meat raffles, Chinese auctions, Catholic bingo, and so on? How often do you find yourself at some picnic grove downing Genny with the likes of Stan and Joanne, while a group of musicians "voted among the top 10 bar bands in Depew" performs Boston and Styx covers in the background?

Should those in Cleveland reject Dyngus Day, which they've recently take to with a passion, because it's not "authentic?"

Don't worry. A Buffalo Porchfest won't water down the "authentic" Buffalo some value so much; no more than Taste of Buffalo or the Allentown Art Festival, other events that took their inspiration from similar events in other cities. Just like Ithaca's Porchfest is all about folk music, reflecting the city's hippie values and culture, Buffalo's version would have its own flavor. Hopefully, no bands playing Journey or Foreigner covers.

BfloGal
BfloGal

@Travelrr - Buffalo is original and has many original festivals and events, but if we sit around and wait for more original ideas we could be missing out on the opportunity to have some fun with successful events other cities are throwing. This seems like a quick and easy way to get neighbors talking and bring people out of their houses and reconnect with their community!

Perry
Perry

I love this idea. When I lived in Allentown, my porch was a social hub - with friends, musicians, and artists stopping by. I like it.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

(Not a swipe at Queeneyes, but more about the topic in general....)

I'm tiring, a bit, of looking outside--to other cities--for what we could/should be doing; I find that the MOST interesting and sustainable initiatives in Buffalo are those that are born in, and authentic to, Buffalo. Garden Walk is the perfect example. Dyngus Day is another.

It's like yarn-bombing--it's everywhere, and not particularly special now. Don't mean to be grumpy about this, but I think Buffalo can be its own city, with its own events and flavors.

Dan
Dan

The Porchfest concept was born in Ithaca, not Somerville.

http://www.porchfest.org/

Ithaca's Porchfest takes place in the Fall Creek neighborhood, where there's an extremely high concentration of well-off crunchy/granola/hippie residents. Basically, _everybody_ in Fall Creek can play some stringed instrument.

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