PorchFest NDG: When balconies become concert halls

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Montreal is a town replete with festivals. Some are big and corporate, some are smaller and more grassroots. Some are focused on indoor venues, others occupy entire streets. And then there’s PorchFest.

“It’s a music festival that takes place on people’s front porches,” explained PorchFest organizer and NDG resident Aurora Robinson, elaborating that “it’s a community oriented music happening that’s brought to fruition by and for the members of that community.”

Robinson got first-hand experience of the PorchFest concept when she lived in Somerville, Massachusetts, across the river from Boston, one of the growing number of communities with a ProchFest. In Somerville, residents looked forward to this event every year.

“When I came back to NDG,” she noted, “I missed it, and then realized that NDG would be a great place to have one.”

How Does it Work?

The concept of PorchFest is simple. In a nutshell, people sign up to play, either on their own porches or on a friend’s porch and are included as part of the PorchFest lineup. Organizers expect musicians to find their own porches, but, in some cases, if they really can’t find their own, they can help.

“One of the things that separates it from other music festivals is that it’s uncomplicated and inexpensive and not reliant on any kind of corporate sponsorship. It gives experienced musicians a chance to give something back to their neighbourhood, and it gives emerging musicians a chance to play in a low-stress, friendly environment, or maybe even try out performing in public for the first time,” Robinson said, noting that “it’s also a great opportunity to meet your neighbours.”

Why NDG?

Just what makes NDG an ideal location to host the first PorchFest in the Greater Montreal Area? For Robinson, it’s simple: “Nice porches. Great musicians. People who like music. Streets that are nice to walk down. These are the essential ingredients to a successful Porchfest, and NDG’s got ’em all.”

So far, they’ve already got quite a few musicians interested. Some of these are pros, others new to playing music in public.

“The seasoned musicians are perhaps attracted to the idea of a very low-maintenance performance that gives back to their own community,” Robinson speculated, “and amateurs are looking for chances like this to be heard. We don’t have any bands that you’d hear on pop radio, of course. But that’s not at all the aim of Porchfest anyways. We don’t want everyone crowded around one or two porches, blocking traffic. We want people moving around, discovering local talent!”

The deadline to sign up for PorchFest NDG is Monday, April 6th and the event happens Saturday, May 2nd. For more information: porchfestndg.com

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