What began as a small neighborhood gathering with a couple of ukuleles a decade ago in Ithaca, New York, has turned into a nationwide celebration of community and local music with more than 60 PorchFests in the U.S. and Canada.
Mapleton Hill, Boulder’s oldest neighborhood, which joined the PorchFest party in 2012, is hosting its sixth annual Mapleton PorchFest with a parade at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, followed by 22 musical acts playing on Mapleton front porches.
“We are convinced that our little music walkabout festival promotes neighborliness and conviviality,” said Dom Nozzi, the sheriff of Boulder’s PorchFest community. “And an appreciation for the musical talents of our region.”
The event spans seven blocks of the historic neighborhood, with the parade kicking off at Maxwell and Fifth streets and headed by Pearl Street Mall’s famed teen trumpeter Gabriel Angelo (or Master Blaster G) as the grand marshal. Angelo, who once caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and appeared on her show in 2012, will be joined by tap dancers, clowns, Irish dancers and circus-school performers.
The community is encouraged to participate, and visitors from all neighborhoods are welcome. Nozzi said people can feel free to come in costume and with decorated bikes.
“There’s some really strong civic reasons for having an event like PorchFest, but the main thing is it’s just fun,” said Kathy Spear, a member of the PorchFest organizing committee. “It’s such a community and neighborhood builder.”
Which is what struck Nozzi in 2011, when he learned about the movement through a Listserv group. Since then, it’s grown. Last year, Mapleton Hill PorchFest, held on the third Sunday every September, had 800 visitors lining the tree-canopied streets of the picture-perfect neighborhood.
Nozzi, who said he lived in Mapleton for nearly a decade until about a year ago, said the walkable design of the neighborhood, the low speed limit on the wide streets and the conversational distance between the porches and sidewalks is what makes Mapleton the perfect spot for this event.
“Mapleton has many beautiful houses with big front porches, making it conducive to this activity,” Nozzi said. “And a gratifying aspect is that it’s very serendipitous at PorchFest. It’s great to run into familiar faces, and have a chance to meet new ones.”
Spear said she lives right in the heart of Mapleton, in a house that was built in 1895.
“In a three hour period, there’s this wonderful sense of community.” Spear said. “It’s great music, good conversation, kids in strollers, dogs on leashes, just a great neighborhood event.”
The committee — which Spear said also includes Jamie Cannon, who organized the bands and put together the map (which will be available on participating porches) — has perfected the placement of the bands so there’s no overlap in sound. And unless it’s for a solo keyboard performer or an a capella group, no amplifiers are allowed. In the last couple of years, organizers have also broken the music into two sets to make it easier for visitors to see more performances.
The bands love it too, Spear and Nozzi said, as a fairly significant number of returning groups come back.
“They all perform gratis, and the residents have opened up their porches out of their neighborly love,” said Spear.
There will also be three food carts sitting on Sixth Street between Maxwell and Concord avenues, said Spear. This year the bands are booked and the porches are filled, so interested groups for future PorchFests can inquire at mapletonhillporchfest.wordpress.com.
“As a town planner, I know that our society tends to be more isolated than it once was,” said Nozzi, a member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Board. He noted Robert Putnam’s take on America’s modern civic disengagement in the 1995 book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”
“PorchFest is a way for us to bring more neighborly and social activities to the community,” he said.
The organizers encourage visitors come by bus or bike, and if a car is necessary, Nozzi suggested parking outside of the fest’s limits, since there will be a higher number of people, children and dogs in the neighborhood.
We are oh, so happy to report that the PorchFest Organizing Committee is toiling away to bring you the very best 6th Annual PorchFest on Sunday, September 17, from 1 to 4 p.m. We are making good progress on both entertainment and venues, but we are really looking for a kid-oriented band or performing group. For several years Basho was a big hit, but they have moved on to other things. If anyone knows of a group or individual performer who specializes in music for kids, please contact Jamie Cannon at email@example.com.
We are hoping to have a kids focused area at the 7th Day Adventist Church at 4th and Mapleton with other events and performers for kids and families. And we would love to line up another two or three grown-up bands of any genre for the other blocks in our neighborhood. Put your thinking caps on and contact Jamie!
For folks new to the neighborhood or PorchFest, it is an afternoon of live music in the Mapleton Hill Historic District performed on porches and front yards in our beautiful piece of Boulder. It’s free, it’s neighborly, and it’s FUN! Mark your calendars now!
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The 2016 Mapleton Hill PorchFest Committee is proud to announce the 2016 Mapleton Hill Porchfest Lineup! Check back often for the most current information on this year’s performers and porch locations.*
*Please note that performers, locations, and schedule are subject to change.
24 great bands on 24 beautiful porches in the charming, Victorian, walkable Mapleton Hill neighborhood in Boulder CO…Come join us for a premier annual Boulder event!
We’ve had a recent change in performer for one of our porches at PorchFest this Sunday!
Jacqueline Rock is a highly accomplished and creative flutist who is sought after for her enhancement of special events such as weddings and other momentous events. For example, she is instrumental in the organization of the Freedom Fest taking place late summer in Eldorado Springs.
Her range of musical styles is wide: rock, pop, classical, world—-you name it!
She will be performing at 811 Mapleton Ave. starting at 1 pm.
Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, banjo pioneer Jake Schepps consistently and confidently “has the excitement of true originality” (AllMusic.com). While his nimble touch and deep sensitivity to the five-string banjo’s idiomatic qualities are deeply rooted in traditional and progressive bluegrass styles, it’s his insatiable curiosity and open spirit that have brought him to the exciting frontier of new acoustic music, alongside Punch Brothers, mandolin master David Grisman, and violinist Darol Anger.
A champion of the myriad possibilities of the string band, Schepps has made a name for himself as an ingenious arranger and performer of decidedly non-bluegrass material, a reputation that has evolved and deepened over the course of three critically-acclaimed albums – the jazz-inflected Ten Thousand Leaves (2007), An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartok (2011) and Entwined, a collection of string band music by contemporary classical composers due out in early 2015.
Inspired to play the banjo at the relatively late age of 21 after seeing Béla Fleck & the Flecktones perform, Schepps has spent the past two decades blazing new trails and making music that explores the massive yet untapped potential of the string band, which he describes as “an incredibly sonorous group of instruments that fit so well together, not unlike a classical string quartet or a jazz piano trio. I want to explore the different places this sort of group can travel.”
Far from a lone journeyman, Schepps is part of an eclectic and endlessly innovative group of musicians that make up the vibrant new acoustic scene, characterized by fluent musicianship and true community. Frequent collaborators, which are essential to Schepps’s intrepid style of music-making, include the members of his quintet, mandolinist Matt Flinner, fiddler Ryan Drickey, guitarist Ross Martin and bassist Eric Thorin, in addition to projects with Grant Gordy, Enion Pelta-Tiller, Scott Nygaard, Alisa Rose, Andy Reiner, and more . Schepps and company have played in venues across the country from bluegrass festivals to jazz clubs to concert halls.
Schepps lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and two young daughters, where he also teaches for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness Medicine Institute. “Wilderness medicine is first-aid for mountain guides and trip leaders,” he explains. “The premise is: What do they do in an ambulance and how can we improvise some of that from a backpack? It isn’t making poultices out of lichen or tree bark and packing that into a wound.” Thematically, it ties into music for him, Schepps says: “I need to draw on some of the same resources when I teach as when I play music – the improvisation, the energy, the engagement with people. We work from a specific curriculum, so it’s about finding creativity within a certain set of parameters. The challenge of how to make this my own and present it in a dynamic way is never ending. The challenge with music is similar.”
Schepps is also a frequent contributor to Banjo Newsletter (he was also featured on the July 2008 cover), No Depression, and Bluegrass Today. He is also at work on an instruction manual called The Modern Banjo Toolbox: A Compendium of Advanced Banjo Techniques. It will feature contributions from more than 20 of today’s top progressive banjo players.
Schepps’s style—emanating from his joyous, freewheeling spirit and erudite bent—has developed over the course of three distinctive albums, each a compelling exploration into the uncharted territories of string band music. Ten Thousand Leaves, released in 2007, was named one of the 10 best recordings of that year by JazzReview.com, which wrote “this superb collection straddles a fence between jazz and bluegrass, both musical schools that require uncommon command.” Produced by Matt Flinner, Ten Thousand Leaves featured Schepps’ striking arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s “Todo Buenos Aires” and the banjoist’s original three-movement suite “In the American West,” inspired by Richard Avedon photographs. Bluegrass Unlimitedpraised it as “an album that intrigues, entertains and reveals more of itself with each play.”
Seeing his treatment of “Todo Buenos Aires” as a watershed for both his arranging capabilities and his musical world view, Schepps says: “Piazzolla was one of those rare people who can see a world in a grain of sand. A lot of people would’ve thought that the tango was a closed book by the time he came along, but Piazzolla took this simple dance form and transported it to places other people didn’t envision. That kind of musician is inspiring to me, someone who takes something established and just blows the doors off it.”
On his critically-praised sophomore release, An Evening in the Village, Schepps delved into the sound world of another historic boundary buster, Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Bartók was famously inspired by the folk melodies of Eastern Europe, traveling to remote villages to document the rustic music-making of the peasants which would form the foundation of his own undeniably modernist compositions. Schepps infuses the piquant beauty of the Eastern European folk melodies that fascinated Bartók with the big-sky vibrancy of the new acoustic scene, creating what Pop Matterscalled “a masterful musical exhibit that bridges the New and Old Worlds as well as new and old music.”
The process of getting inside the prismatic layers of Bartók’s modernism exponentially expanded Schepps’s musical vocabulary and Schepps’s inventive arrangements made it sound as if Bartók might have traveled to Appalachia on one of his song-catching expeditions. Schepps says: “I think Bartók’s music sounds like some of the best new acoustic music I’ve ever heard: stunning writing, highly creative harmonic surprises, bold arrangements, and it’s chock full of twists and turns. We tried to keep as much of that intent as we could, and then be ourselves on top of it all.”
Schepps continues his journey on his newest album, Entwined, an ambitious collaboration with some of the most distinctive composers of the contemporary classical music scene including Marc Mellits, Matt McBane and Gyan Riley, plus a groundbreaking new work by Matt Flinner. For Schepps, this project was a natural continuation of the work he had done with Bartók.
“Bartók wrote music based on folk melodies, played on classical instruments, and I think turning this formula around—having classically-trained composers write for a combination of instruments usually associated with folk music—seemed like a fascinating next step in finding new sounds for the string band,” says Schepps. With ambitious new pieces by Mellits (Flatiron), McBane (Drawn) and Riley (Stumbling Smooth) set alongside Matt Flinner’s most complex work to-date, the four-movement work Migrations, a millennium of classical music collides with the American melting pot of string band music, releasing a massive amount of new energy into the musical cosmos. Entwined will be released in early 2015, with a North American tour to follow.
We are so proud to announce that there are a total of 24 incredible musical acts this year performing at Mapleton Hill’s PorchFest. It looks like it is going to be day filled with family, friends, community and great music!
We are hard at work getting our map ready for the event. Meanwhile check out the list of our bands and performance times. Make sure to like us on FaceBook, Mapleton Hill PorchFest, where you can find out the latest updates on the event.
Want to know more about the Bands or check out their music? Find links to their websites under Musical Acts 2015.
Performing from 1:00pm to 2:30pm
|Con Brio Trio|
|The Honey Dewdrops|
Performing from 2:30pm – 4:00pm
|DeWitt Family Band & Friends|
|Sunshine Canyon String Band|
|Aulternate Reality Jazz|
|The Faux Commandos featuring Coyote Kate|
|Basho & Friends|
|Rae Miller & Friends
Special guest: Jake Schepps 3