A band performs during Somerville's PorchFest. Jamaica Plain will hold its first Porchfest on Saturday, July 19, 2014. It was inspired in part by Somerville's event. Credit: Somerville Arts Council
With its plethora of residential homes and triple-deckers and its lively arts scene, Jamaica Plain seems like a natural fit for a "porchfest."
And that's exactly what will take place this weekend when musicians take to the small, open-air stages and perform free for crowds and passersby.
Jamaica Plain's first annual Porchfest kicks off at noon Saturday. (A list of performers and a map of porch venues is available on the event's website.)
"We want this to be a real JP event to really speak to what all of JP is in terms of the kinds of people who live here and one thing we believe very strongly is that music touches people in a very strong way," said Mindy Fried, who along with Marie Ghitman, is organizing the neighborhood's Porchfest.
If the event sounds familiar, that's because it probably is. Somerville, another community known for its abundance of triple-deckers and musicians, has held its own porchfest since 2011.
Fried said the inspiration for the Jamaica Plain edition came in part from Somerville and the nearly two dozen other communities across the country that hold the event. They're all different, Fried said, and the Jamaica Plain one will feature a diverse group of performers playing all across the neighborhood in an effort to get people out to places they don't normally visit.
As Fried and Ghitman started working on plans for the event they sought to keep it modest for the first year - anticipating three bands playing on three porches. However, once the event hit Facebook the popularity skyrocketed.
There are now 60 performers and bands scheduled to play on 35 porches throughout the neighborhood.
One of the performers, Albino Mbie, will play Mozambican music with influences from jazz and R&B.
"It's going to be an amazing event in terms of culture, getting together and people will get to know what's out there," said Mbie. "Culturally and emotionally it's going to be very uplifting for JP and in general for the people who will be there to visit."
Phil Wilcox, the record and bookstore manager at Tres Gatos, which will also host performers on its patio, will perform original songs and covers with Nick Hathaway. Asked to tantalize potential attendees, Wilcox said his set will include a cover of "Tainted Love" in an acoustic, gothic and blues format.
Wilcox said Jamaica Plain is such a communal neighborhood that it doesn't make sense that the event hasn't yet occurred there.
"It seem like a really, really good fit. There are only a few real forums to play live music at so it makes sense to take it to the streets," he said. "Hopefully in the short term on Saturday it will get people ... to explore different parts of neighborhood they haven't been to."