Entertainment, Local News

Porch Fest returns; distributed music event moves to Southgate neighborhood

The first Porch Fest in August 2020 was a bright spot in the first summer marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. A reprise in 2021 was even more popular. Residents offered their porches as stages for local musicians, who performed for a community already weary of the social limitations the state imposed to combat the spread of the virus.

Organizer and co-founder Annie Lawrence said she wanted to do the event last year, but circumstances didn’t cooperate. Her partner in the first two events, Anne Bailey, wasn’t available to help, and Lawrence was in the middle of a career transition.

This year, she was ready to bring Porch Fest back.

“I had so many people asking me about it, I felt like there was interest,” she said. And so the free, informal neighborhood music festival will be back from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5.

A band performs during the 2021 Porch Fest. (Chronicle file photo)

As in the past, the event will take place in one neighborhood. This year, the music will find a home in Homewood’s Southgate area.

“We try to make it walkable,” Lawrence said. Containing the event to one neighborhood at a time means guests won’t have to cross busy streets, which improves safety and makes it easier to manage the informal event.

She hopes to continue the event in years to come, visiting a new neighborhood each year, and she would like to host it in Flossmoor at some point.

Lawrence said part of her motivation in producing Porch Fest is to reclaim some of the vibe Homewood once had.

“Growing up here, I felt like this town really did a lot around music,” she said. “We had Off the Alley. All the bars had open mic nights. Bands used to play in the auditorium on Friday nights.”

Off the Alley was a music club that hosted concerts in an alley behind the Record Swap shop on Dixie Highway in the 1990s. Lawrence said various venues would sponsor battles of bands.

“It was always really local people. It was great, especially having all the teenagers involved,” she said.

As of July 22, four homes and 10 bands or solo artists had volunteered, and Lawrence provided an early schedule.

  • 1 p.m. — Matthias, an old-time folk singer-songwriter, at 1915 Evergreen Road. Cowboy and Company, classic country and Americana, at 18637 Cowing Court.
  • 2 p.m.  The Jamey Vitale Band, Tom Petty tribute and similar covers, at 18637 Cowing Court.
  • 2:30 p.m. — Bel Canto Community Choir, at 18510 Page Ave. 
  • 3 p.m. — Main Streets, covers of Led Zeppelin, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others, at 1915 Evergreen Road. Doug Raffety, singer-songwriter, at 18510 Page Ave.
  • 4 p.m. — The Mojaeos, classic rock and originals, at 18637 Cowing Court.
  • 5 p.m. — Dynamic Sound Band, R&B to Motown to rock, at 1915 Evergreen Road. Richie Brandt, Friends & Family, rockabilly, blues and R&B, at 1937 Terrace. Oriane Toguem, opera and French pop, at 18510 Page Ave.

The places and lineup could change, so check the event Facebook page for the latest information.

Maddie Schmidt performs during the first Porch Fest in 2020. (Chronicle file photo)

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