For its fourth year, the town-wide day of song and spirit celebrates the diversity of music and community with 70 acts on nearly 50 stages.
By Danielle Ciampaglia | September 16, 2021
In the past year-and-a-half, meeting with friends on the porch has transformed from a fun hangout into a mental-health necessity.
The fourth annual Collingswood Porchfest, a town-wide talent show that invites audiences to stroll the borough streets in search of song, returns this Saturday, September 18, after a yearlong hiatus.
From noon to 8 p.m., rain or shine, more than 70 acts will perform on nearly 50 porches, showcasing musical styles from bluegrass to glam rock and everything in between. (Click here for the full lineup and schedule.)
Porchfest co-organizer Stacey Brown-Downham, whose Canadian folk-rock band The Classic Brown is on the bill (825 Linwood Ave. at 6 p.m.), said that Porchfest serves Collingswood by bonding the community and giving back to it.
“There’s a little bit for everybody, really,” she said. “This is the first year we’re going to have a comedy event on one porch.” (916 Park Ave., from 4 to 7 p.m.)
The give-back comes not only in the form of the performances themselves—the event is free and open to the public—but in local charity as well.
Proceeds from Porchfest tee shirt sales (available at Revolution Coffee Roasters, and screen-printed at The Factory in Collingswood by Falco Print and Design) will benefit the Collingswood Community Theatre and Collingswood Cares, a fund created to support families affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In addition to those broad charitable efforts, the community spirit of the event has created lasting personal memories.
Porchfest co-organizer Sara Breyer, who’s hosted bands at her home every year since the inception of the festival in 2017, said it’s been rewarding both to help coordinate the event and to enjoy the performances.
“In 2018, one of my favorite people, Heyward Howkins, was playing on my porch,” Breyer said.
“I remember sitting at a little cafe table in the yard, listening with my mom, and just feeling really happy,” she said.
“My mom has since passed, but Stacey Downham happened to grab a video, and I’m so glad she did.”
For hosts, Porchfest is a chance to entertain their neighbors for a day of fun; for performers, it’s a chance to entertain a crowd after a year of uncertainty in the live music world.
Jackie Neale of Big Day Film Collective, who’s bringing New York-based artist DEJHA to perform at her art gallery (3 West Homestead Avenue, 3:30 p.m.), said opportunities for artists are more important now than ever.
“It’s just been devastating in all the cities, and for professional musicians that rely on touring,” Neale said “They have had no venues to play at.”
Neale, who comes from a family of musicians and has a strong appreciation for music, often uses her porch as a meeting place for friends to play guitar.
“Dejha’s really excited to play here; she knows it’s an appreciative crowd,” Neale said. “The town is full of musicians, but it’s also full of people who appreciate music on a very esoteric level.”
Collingswood native Birdie Busch will return to her hometown this Saturday for a second Porchfest appearance (829 Stokes Ave., 5 p.m.).
Busch, who now lives in Philadelphia, said she’s drawn to Porchfest as a convenient opportunity to see friends and family.
“I think that Porchfest is just a reminder of… the power of focusing on your immediate friends and your immediate neighbors,” Busch said.
“[It’s] the way the quality of life expands for everyone when you share things creatively,” she said.
The only Porchfest tradition missing from this year’s event will be the end-of-day community party. As last year’s event was canceled amid the pandemic, organizers are prioritizing safety and neighborly consideration. Attendees are encouraged to get vaccinated, maintain distance from those outside their immediate circles, and mask up in close quarters.
Collingswood Porchfest is sponsored by Allie Nagle’s RE/MAX Realty team, The Gradwell House Recording Studio, Bespoke Home + Life, Haddon Culinary, Collingswood Music, Wild Roots, Independent Alarm, We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym, Occasionette, and Revolution Coffee.
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