The first PorchFest occured in Ithaca, NY, in 2007, inspired by some outdoor ukulele playing and a conversation between neighbours Gretchen Hildreth and Lesley Greene.
Now it’s Almonte’s turn to host its own PorchFest on Saturday June 16th starting at 3pm.
Gretchen and Lesley came up with the music on porches concept and gathered musical acts to make it happen in September of that year. Still going strong in Ithaca, their great community-building idea has spread to more than 60 towns and cities across North America.
“PorchFest de Mississippi Mills” came out of another conversation between two music lovers – Community Development Coordinator Jeff Mills, from Pakenham, and Almonte singer-songwriter Nathan Sloniowski (aka Rudyk), a flower child in Almonte’s neo-psychedelic folk-rock band The Ragged Flowers.On a cycling trip with friends including Kirk DesRosier in Montreal last Spring, Nathan happened on a PorchFest in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood and talked to Jeff about how great it was – everything from jazz, roots and classical groups, basement rock bands, to a talented teenage singer accompanied by her grandfather on guitar.
Jeff suggested timing PorchFest de Mississippi Mills with the completion of Tour de Mississippi Mills – a mainstay event of Mississippi Mills Bicycle Month. Nathan ran with it, applied for a seed-money grant from the Municipality of Mississippi Mills, recruited a first wave of headline acts and porch owners, and lined up supporters and sponsors including Crooked Mile Brewery, Equator Coffee Roasters, Menzies House 1850 Bed & Breakfast, market2world communications, and The Barley Mow Almonte. Kirk stepped up to create a logo and is helping Nathan produce the June 16th musical celebration, with Kirk recruiting and coordinating porch owners and Nathan handling performers.
Thanks to fantastic community support, including spontaneous donations as rumour of Almonte’s first ever neighbourhood porch festival spread, residents and visitors alike can enjoy three hours of free musical performances on porches thoughout Almonte. Headline acts include:
- Jen Noxon and The Brindled Cats: an Almonte-based trio with Brendan Gawn on bass and Rob McMurray on guitar that serves up covers and original songs in toe-tapping hip folk, jazz and swing.
- Alex George: Alex is a local 17-year-old fiddler/violinist who has been entertaining crowds since the age of 8. He loves old time fiddle, has a wide repertoire of Ottawa Valley, Maritime, and Celtic tunes and is a recipient of the 2017 Danny O’Connell Memorial Award.
- Lost: Pet Pigeon: This Almonte band plays original music that is quirky, heart-felt, and sometimes irreverent. Members include Steve Martin on bass, Jonas Barter on guitar, and Mike Wattie on guitar.
- New Sounds, with Matthew Roberts on trumpet, Vincent Ribberink on piano, Adison Rossiter on bass, and Mike Furlong on drums are high school students from Ottawa who play various styles of jazz and are also playing a June 16th JazzNhouse evening concert.
- Bradley D. Scott: Brad is an amazing finger-style guitarist and gifted singer-songwriter and Pakenham music producer who wowed audiences earlier this year at the folkus concert series.
- The Somerset Combo: Another local act with Ric Denis on guitar and Tony Stuart on clarinet. They play lively atmospheric, smooth and classic jazz music from the Great American songbook as well as interpretations of artists ranging from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder.
- The Ragged Flowers is Almonte’s five-piece neo-psychedelic folk-rock outfit. They play original music, with Ian Douglas on piano and drums, Rob Riendeau on bass, and Steve Reside, George Birchall and Nathan Sloniowski on guitars and assorted other instruments.
Porch performances run between 3PM and 6PM on Saturday June 16th. Then there is a PorchFest de Mississippi Mills “After-Party” at Equator Coffee Roasters between 6PM and 8PM, and an “After-After-Party” between 8PM and 10PM at The Barley Mow Almonte. Porch locations and times are listed at www.porchfestdemississippimills.com.
Anyone interested in donating their porch for additional musical acts, or musicians who want to perform on a porch, can contact Kirk or Nathan through the same web site. More community volunteers are also welcome: Kid-preneurs to set up lemonade and water stands, adults to help keep audiences safe and streets navigable, people to help artists sell their “merch”. More donations are also welcome to fund t-shirts for volunteers and performers and day-of-fest signage.