- Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine
Porchfest Showcases Local Bands & Napa Neighborhoods
6th Annual Event Set For Sunday, July 31
Porches around Napa are about to be transformed into vibrant, mini, live-music stages later this month during Napa’s Sixth Annual Porchfest, a free event, set for Sunday, July 31, beginning at 12 noon. This year’s theme, “Out of the garage and onto the porch!” which pretty much sums up the “let’s get out and do it,” vibe of the day.
According to Juliana Inman, Porchfest Event Chair (and a co-founder who has been involved since inception), Napa Porchfest was founded in 2011. The original founders included Inman, Louisa Hufstader and Thea Witsil. What began as a Facebook conversation in January of 2011, when Hufstader posted a link to a Porchfest event in Somerville, Massachusetts, quickly took root.
“The whole phenomena of Porchfest started in Ithaca, New York in 2007. It’s pretty new. In Paris they have the Fête de la Musique, where people perform in front of stores. It’s a day of music and performances throughout the area. In Ithaca, people were pulling their instruments out and playing on porches. Napa’s Porchfest was the first west of the Mississippi; the very first outpost out on the West Coast. It is doubling and redoubling, and taking off in a lot of other cities now.”
The purpose of Porchfest is to increase appreciation and awareness of local performing arts and of Napa’s historical neighborhoods. While the sponsoring “beneficiary” of Porchfest is Napa County Landmarks, the benefit is not monetary, Inman explained, “The event benefits Napa County Landmarks by raising awareness of, and appreciation for, our historic neighborhoods. All the Landmarks’ board members volunteer for the event because it is so much fun. The event also helps build membership for the organization, and appreciation of its mission to preserve historic sites and neighborhoods throughout Napa County.”
“A first-time attendee can expect to see almost every style of musical performance on porches throughout historic Napa. The experience can be tailored to staying in one location and setting up low chairs and blankets, or bicycling or walking to take in performances on many different blocks,” Inman said.
Dozens of local bands will perform on porches and, sometimes, in the yards of many of the most charming, picturesque and grand old homes throughout historic, Downtown Napa neighborhoods. Because so many of the neighborhoods are relatively close, or within a short distance, Porchfest naturally encourages attendees to get out and enjoy the day by either walking or bicycling through town to experience the music, as well as a fresh perspective of the beautiful neighborhoods.
The Porchfest “basecamp” for the day is at the downtown branch of the Napa Library. In the vicinity will be a round-up of food trucks, as well as restrooms for attendees. Maps, t-shirts and other important information will be available.
The participating bands and musicians have been planning for several months. “A lot of bands like to use the same porch as prior years and the homeowners like to have the same band there too. So, we have a lot of the bands that sign up for specific porches,” Inman explained. “It’s just fun for a lot of people. There are so many musicians who play in organized groups. It’s fun for them, the community and for their friends and family to come see them play. A lot of the musicians have other jobs; winemakers, teachers, dentists, contractors.”
A vast array of music will be performed, including genres such as Bluegrass, Jazz, Rock, Classical, Alternative, R&B, Funk, Reggae, Latin, Americana, Pop, Country, Blues, Hawaiian, Irish, Celtic, African Folk, Gospel, Reggae, Indie Folk and Classic Rock.
It is important to note that the Napa’s Porchfest is completely a volunteer event. Inman said that, “People really enjoy it and like the whole vibe; there are bands and groups that take off. Everyone contributes their time; no one gets paid. They have their tips jars out, but they don’t get paid for performing. Some bands and groups have become popular because of the exposure they have had over the years.”
Inman also reported that the Porchfest idea is spreading very organically. “Mayor Jill Techel has even spoken to a mayor in Indiana and, as a result, a Porchfest is taking off in that region too. It’s very much a grass-roots movement. Music is such a basic thing; a human activity. One of our fundamental ways of communicating and being social. It just feels good to people to listen to music,” Inman added.
Plus, it’s an easy, family-friendly, community-boosting event. Because it’s not monetized, there is no need for tickets. “You don’t have to buy a ticket. You just have to show up!” said Inman. For more information, or to volunteer, visit NapaPorchfest.org