A Small Town in Short Acts: Collingswood Porchfest Set for Year Three


Neighbors in the borough open their homes to musicians and visitors. Concert-goers travel by bike. There’s a minstrel on every doorstep in Collingswood for nine hours on Saturday.

By Matt Skoufalos | September 19, 2019

Counter-clockwise, from left: David Cimetta, Steve Kerr, John Falco. Credit: Kevin Monko.

This weekend, Collingswood plays host to what might be the biggest distributed music festival in South Jersey.

Over the course of nine hours, more than 70 musical acts will perform on more than 60 stages, as borough organizers put on Porchfest for a third year.

From 1 p.m. until the town noise ordinance kicks in at 10, visitors, residents, and passersby can catch a different live act on the quarter-hour.

Performers from preteens to seniors will deliver every genre of music from bluegrass to Bruno Mars, all on their neighbors’ lawns, decks, porches, walkways, and driveways.

“The people that do it right have a party,” said organizer Kevin Monko. “It’s like a barbecue, but we’re not just having hamburgers; we’re having live bands.”

Local talent on this bill draws from throughout the region. Organizer Stacy Brown-Downham said she’s pleased to see a diversity of styles represented in the 2019 lineup, and encouraged concertgoers to “spend the day moving around.

Collingswood Porchfest organizers Stacey Brown Downham (left) and Kevin Monko. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“The more you can get out and see other bands, the more fun you have,” Brown-Downham said.

Given the number of moving parts, she also recommends that guests download a map and a lineup and plan ahead.

Monko’s “number-one tip” is to travel by bicycle.

“Even though it’s a small town, they’re short acts,” he said.

“It can be a long hike between one place and another.”

(Collingswood Bikeshare is offering $10 rentals for the day; borough residents can keep their bikes for a year for $25.)

The porchfest town-wide concert concept originated in Ithaca, New York, in 2007; Collingswood first embraced it more than a decade later.

Collingswood Porchfest 2018. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

More than anything, the event evokes a broad hospitality: stroll the streets, meet your neighbors, check out the garage-funk doo-wop trio on their stoop.

It’s art for art’s sake, offered up by professionals “just because it’s a good time,” Monko said.

“Not only are they not making money, it’s not a benefit for anything,” he said.

“The benefit is live music all over town.”

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