For the second year running, people will be able to enjoy the magic that comes about by mixing porches and music together.
PorchFest will return this Saturday, with performances held between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., in the 800 and 900 blocks of Charlotte Street in Fredericksburg.
Catherine Walker, the vice president of the Arts and Cultural Council of the Rappahannock, which is sponsoring PorchFest, said everyone is ready to go for the event that brings bands to city neighborhoods.
There are 14 bands ready to perform on 12 porches and people around town are talking, Walker said.
“It’s a big buzz this year,” Walker said. “The bands have been talking it up as well.”
Tony Fauntleroy played PorchFest last year in a familiar place and is looking forward to this year’s PorchFest in another, new neighborhood.
“My sister had a porch on the street last year, so I was playing in an environment where I was really comfortable. I had a great time. I enjoyed the heck out of it,” said Fauntleroy, a retired Richmond city firefighter. “I was really impressed with the number of people that participated and folks just made you feel welcome on Marye Street that day, too.”
Fauntleroy—who plays “a little bit of this, that and everything, a kind of ’70s, mixed, rehashed stuff, everything from the Eagles to Sam Cooke ” on his acoustic guitar—said he liked the feeling at last year’s PorchFest.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It felt like a neighborhood ought to.”
Walker said that all she had to do was ask people to volunteer their porches and they said yes. It’s a community thing, she said.
Susan Caple and her husband, Charles, went to last year’s PorchFest and had such a good time that they were willing to give up their wraparound porch for a day this year.
“We went last year when it was on Marye Street,” Caple said. “We just thought it was a wonderful opportunity for a lot of people to hear a lot of different types of music and just come to a fun event.”
Caple said she and her husband will wander about to see as many bands as they can, and consider it a privilege to be able to participate by letting the bands use their porch.
“I think part of what’s really special for us is that we live in a family home. The house that we live in is 100 years old and was built by my husband’s grandfather. It’s a special place for us, and anything that involves the community and our area is always a special event for us,” Caple said.
Walker said there will be dancing in the streets at the free family event, which will include bubbles and street chalk for children along with licensed food trucks. Alcoholic beverages and coolers will be prohibited.
There will also be PorchFest T-shirts for sale. Last year, the T-shirts sold out, so the arts council made more this year. “Bring your $20 for T-shirts,” she said.
Becky Stewart and Elle Jay of the Spanglish Latin American Band played PorchFest last year with Slam Stewart, Becky’s husband, and Jorge Rosario the band’s guitarist and bassist. They said they liked it so much that they said can’t wait for Saturday.
“I thought it was great to see people dancing in the street. The neighbors were curious. People walking their dogs stopped and listened in and it was wonderful. It was cozy and intimate,” Elle Jay said.
Stewart said she enjoyed the family atmosphere.
“It’s just a good way to bring the community together in a good positive manner for family fun,” Stewart said.
Elle Jay promised people would get up and move again this year.
“It’s very hard not to dance to our kind of music. Our kind of music is very percussive and fun, and I’ve been told we are a very entertaining band. I definitely will be dancing,” Elle Jay said. “We really do try to drive up the energy of an audience and try to engage them. It’s their show really. That’s how we feel about it. We show up for them.”
Stewart said she loves the unique venue that only a porch can offer.
“I love that we play on porches. I have a big porch on my house and it’s my favorite part of the house. I migrate to the front porch,” Stewart said.
“I think the porch is a natural stage,” Elle Jay said.
Walker said that last year people wandered around to find something that suited them.
“It was a very casual come and listen to a lot of different kinds of music. I think people liked the variety of music that was available and that they could move from one placed to another. They could hear a folk singer and then they could hear a Latin American band. They could hear something new to them,” she said.
Musicians got a treat last year, too, Walker said.
“The musicians also liked it and said that it was great for them because they could hear people they’d never heard before, because often, they’re all working at the same time and they haven’t been able to actually go to another concert,” Walker said. “This gave them the opportunity to get a taste of some of the other musicians in the local area,” Walker said.
Parking for the event will be at the Shepherd Street parking lot of the Fairview Baptist Church, Walker said.
“The church has been incredibly supportive of this event, offering the use of their Shepherd Street parking lots, their porch and sidewalk for performances, and their basement as a cooling station. They are great community members,” she said.
Karen Jonas, with guitarist Tim Bray, will make her PorchFest debut this year.
Jonas, who sings original songs and some retro country, including Hank Williams to Patsy Cline, recently released the album, “Lucky, Revisited,” and said she’s heard a lot about PorchFest.
Jonas, whom people will know from several venues around town, said she hopes people enjoy the day.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of great music in a small area,” Jonas said. “We hope they have an enjoyable afternoon at PorchFest celebrating all the different music Fredericksburg has to offer. Front porches and music have always gone together. It’s the best place to get out your guitar at night and play some songs.”
Bands that will play at PorchFest include: Soulegacy, Big Daddy Shag, Laurie Rose Griffith and Peter Mealy, Hazel Run, Karen Jonas, McTell Brothers, Harry Wilson Quartet, Tony Fauntleroy, Belles and Beaux Handbell Group, Kings of the Wild Things, John and Mary Vreeland, Spanglish Latin American Band, Fairview Baptist Church Praise Group and The Acoustic Onion.
The bands that will be onstage represent much of the Fredericksburg music scene, Walker said.
“The variety that we have is impressive,” she said. “It’s a little bit of everything that people can come together and enjoy the diversity. There’s different ages and styles and everything. It’s a wonderful Saturday afternoon and it’s free.”