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Porchfest returns to Swampscott

Barbara Gavin, of Rockport, kicks back on the porch of 85 Monument Ave. as she watches, from left, Philip and Joanna Bereaud and Susan Ruth perform during the 2019 PorchFest in Swampscott. (Spenser R. Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — More than 25 different musical acts will perform on 18 porches, including the porch at Town Hall, throughout the town’s Olmsted neighborhood for the fourth year of ReachArts’ decentralized music festival Porchfest on Saturday, Sept. 23.

ReachArts’ lead organizer, Philip Alexander, said he brought the festival, inspired by the original 2007 Porchfest in his hometown of Ithaca, N.Y., to Swampscott in 2019 after he saw the trend explode across New England cities such as Somerville.

“I thought, ‘You know what? We should do this in Swampscott, because as much as they have good porches in Somerville, we have even better porches in Swampscott,’” Alexander said. “Porchfest is a celebration of music and community… It’s like the Airbnb or Uber of music festivals. The idea of Uber is that if you have a car, you can become a taxi, and with Airbnb, if you have an extra room in your house, you can become a hotel. With Porchfest, if you’ve got a porch, it could be a concert venue.”

From noon until 6 p.m., festivalgoers are encouraged to walk around the Olmsted area, stopping in front of the makeshift porch stages to hear a variety of acts play songs from genres like bluegrass, jazz, Irish folk, classic rock, and even children’s music.

Additionally, Alexander said the festival will include a food truck and poetry porches, along with a professional juggler for the children’s stage at Town Hall.

“That porch is great for a kids’ porch because it has a nice lawn in front of it, almost like a park. It’s very safe for parents to bring young children and let them run around and dance to the music,” Alexander said.

As municipalities across the country hold Porchfests of their own, ReachArts Board member Danuta Sasha said Swampscott’s event aims to bring the national trend to the community level.

“It’s really a unique opportunity for residents in Swampscott and other communities to come, meet their neighbors, enjoy themselves, and just see what the musicians in the area are up to,” Sasha said.

The deadline for musicians to sign up for Porchfest was Aug. 31, but Alexander said late submissions will be considered. With last year’s festival bringing in roughly 1,000 listeners and 30 different acts, Alexander said he hopes this year’s concert series will be just as successful.

In the event of rain, the event will be postponed until Sunday, Sept. 24.

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