Buffalo Porchfest 2014
Last weekend my group Timbre Land Whiskey Band, as well as more than 40 others played a free event in the city of Buffalo called Porchfest. We were lucky enough to share a porch for the afternoon with the local legendary country and western swing band The Skiffle Minstrels.
It was the second such event like this in Buffalo. It is patterned after similar events they have in other cities–Ithaca, N.Y. being one of the more prominent locations. The idea is that people in the community donate their porches, decks, front yards, driveways, etc., to host live music for the duration of an afternoon. It creates a free music festival of sorts that is walkable and bikeable for the whole community, and it’s all done by volunteers (including the acts donating their time).
In Buffalo, the host community is the Elmwood Village. The Elmwood area of Buffalo is a perfect location for an event like this–a neighborhood with a little bit of everything: art galleries, state college, nightlife, parks, boutique shopping, dining. It’s a main street and surrounding community that, for the most part, is sustained by local private businesses, and hasn’t been victim to the rust belt blues like so many communities in western New York have.
So, on a Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, N.Y., one could hop on their bike or get a good walk on and take in five hours of free music. For the most part, the acts were acoustic, folk, Americana, and old time, and played at reasonable volumes. In between acoustic folk acts like David Stanton, Acousticopia, and the Heenan Brothers, you’d even find some more unique offerings like the Dixie-land jazz outfit The Fredtown Stompers. If you didn’t like what you were hearing, you could walk a block and find something new. A map of the whole event was printed and donated by a local realtor to let folks know where all of the music was taking place. Because it was outside during the day and free, it was very family friendly. Many people were out with their kids riding around to take it in.
Hopefully the event will continue to build each year and begin to rival some of the bigger ones that take place around the country, where over a hundred acts perform in a single day in some communities. Free music brings people together.