Porchfest takes a homestyle approach to music festivals

NDG stoops, lawns, balconies, rooftops and alleyways will become stages at the fifth annual Porchfest this month.

Porches are the loitering bridges between sidewalks and front doors, semi-intimate gathering places that can still be patted to welcome a stranger. Since 2015, Aurora Robinson and Sarah Ring have organized Porchfest NDG, a free outdoor festival where anyone — be it your “son’s karate instructor or [your] bag boy from the grocery store” — can cluster on porches, stoops and driveways to play music for passersby.

It’s an idea with some pretty propulsive legs. The first-ever Porchfest was held in Ithaca, New York in 2007, a yearly celebration that has since spread to over 130 cities in the U.S. and Canada — including, for the past five years, the streets of Montreal.

The goal is “to create the community that we want to live in,” says Aurora, one full of neighbourly “propinquity,” or kinship, between “folks who might have been standing next to each other anonymously the day before at the bus stop” — the kind of kinship that teaches you a new word, or sings you a welcome smile from their porch swing.

Porchfest NDG is run entirely by volunteers, without corporate funding. Although it is free to attend, each year funds are raised for a music-related cause in NDG. This year, the money will be going towards founding a music program at the St. Raymond Community Centre.

The festival will run from May 18 to May 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In case of rain, it will be pushed to the 20th. A map and schedule can be found on the website, but Robinson and Ring recommend tackling the day by bike, and seeing what — or whom — you find on the way. ■

See our article about the band Osmosis Unlimited and Porchfest venue the Alley Cat Gallery here.