What a great way to foster a sense of community and bring music into the streets! The Grand Porch Party recruited more than 20 acts to play on porches over several blocks of uptown Waterloo.
The rain stayed away so listeners could comfortably stroll from one porch performance to another, the strains of one musician often just fading as sounds of another came into range. There were places for children to experiment with making music and homemade instruments. Volunteers staffed information tables for people to learn more about the Grand River watershed and the host organization of the whole event, Alternatives Journal. The Swim Drink Fish music club was also promoting a music approach to environmental awareness and networking.
In addition to the musical guests who were booked to perform there seemed to be some spontaneous participation, as well. I couldn’t get to nearly all the acts that afternoon but I know I walked by some porches with musical offerings that were not on the official Grand Porch Party map. I heard some volunteer harmonies that listeners added to a porch musician’s rendition of a Crosby, Stills & Nash song. This event is a perfect example of how music draws people to it: create a public space for song and spoken word and folks flock to it like they are hungry for it.
A huge thanks to Tenille for having the imagination and initiative to stage such an event, and to the oh-so-hospitable hosts who welcomed the players and turned their private property over to neighbours and strangers alike for a short while. I hope this is only the inaugural event of an annual tradition. Maybe next year the music could be spread over several hours so that it would be possible to enjoy more of it.
Or at least to the front porch! I usually post about an event after I’ve already experienced it. But this idea seemed worth a change in protocol, and since it may only happen once I thought you might want to know about it if you are in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
On June 12th from 3-5 pm, residents of an uptown Waterloo neighbourhood will share their porches with musicians who will in turn share their music with anyone strolling by. What an ingenious way to bring music to the community, bridging private (porch) and public (street) spaces! This event is called the Grand Porch Party and is the creation of Tenille Bonoguore, managing editor of Alternatives Journal. The Grand Porch Party will celebrate the release of the journal’s first music + environment issue and is also being held on Canadian Rivers Day.
For the musical line-up plus a map of where to find the Party Porches go to: http://grandporchparty.wordpress.com/
This month’s house concert had a couple of new features: instead of showcasing one musician, four singer-songwriters (Jude Vadala, SaraMcfadzean, & Julie Corey) and one poet/storyteller (Donna McCaw) shared the stage. Engaging stories, vocal harmonies, audience participation and yummy snacks made for a warm and entertaining evening, once again affirming my belief in the small venue experience. Being both host and performer added a layer of adrenaline to this event – easier to prepare and promote than to perform!
Be sure to check out the House Concert Info tab (top of the page) for upcoming house concerts.
Our second house concert was resounding success. Award winning songwriter, Chris MacLean, delighted us with her stories, lyrics and music. The after-concert jam was positively celestial as several of Chris’s singer-friends joined voices to create divine harmonies – another perk of hosting a house concert. Wonderful music attracts wonderful musicians!
To learn more about Chris and her music visit: http://www.chrismaclean.com/
We just hosted our first house concert – and I am a convert to this way of experiencing music. Although a house concert is not a public music sharing event, allow me to promote this style of musical interaction. The intimate venue allows the audience to see a favourite musician up close, maybe chat with him or her at the break. There is no competition for sound from a noisy bar crowd – everyone is there to hear the music. Because of the low overhead (no need to rent a hall), the proceeds going to the artist are maximized. It seems to be growing as a way for smaller communities to host live music events or for musicians to fill in dates between larger gigs.
Our first concert featured Ian Reid, singer-songwriter from Rockwood. I was introduced to Ian’s music at the Elora Acoustic Café open mic – one of those “you never know who might show up at the open mic” moments. Ian’s captivating stage presence and sense of humour were perfectly suited to the house concert environment.
After the concert we finished off the evening with a small group of us jamming and singing together while Ian gave his attention to audience members.
I really hope this is only the first of many events we host – it was a perfect introduction to the world of house concerts.
If you have room to seat 25-30 people and would enjoy inviting your friends and neighbours to share an intimate concert, there are websites that walk you through many of the details:
If you are invited to such an event, it is an opportunity not to be missed.