Today was a perfect day for strolling tree lined streets listening to live music and the Grand Porch Party was the place to do it! How it works:Residents of the neighbourhood just west of Waterloo Square are recruited to volunteer their porches as temporary musical venues. Then performers are matched with porches and – voilá! – an afternoon of music for all to enjoy.
I don’t know what the estimated attendance was but there were significantly more people congregating in the streets than there were at the inaugural event in 2011. Another change for the better was that there was an attempt to stagger performances that were close to each other. This helped avoid the unfortunate occurrence of one act competing with the sound of another.
The concept of making a residential neighbourhood into a public music space is an appealing one. In fact, another KW community launched a similar event in May (Hohner Avenue Porch Party & Picnic). Wouldn’t it be great to see these initiatives springing up everywhere? Until that happens, I hope to be back for the 2014 rendition of the Grand Porch Party.
I love the Eaglewood Open Stage – unplugged, outside surrounded by rocks and trees, and very inclusive (read more about eaglewood this summer and last) . The host of the open stage is a big part of setting the tone for the event and Shaman Ayerhart is one example of a wonderful host. He keeps the momentum going so everyone gets a chance to play and everyone feels welcome.Here is a clip from this summer’s open stage where our host shares one of his own songs – a little splash of summer as the weather gets colder:
In the songwriting tent, I gleaned some good advice from Steve Poltz and Keith & Renee about the songwriting process. Knowing you are writing for, knowing yourself, discipline and banishing the spectre of writer’s block were just a few of the themes that performers and festival-goers explored.
The Saturday acoustic open stage was hosted by the oh-so-welcoming Shaman Ayerhart. It was such a popular event that there was only time for one song each and it still went half an hour over time. There were familiar faces from other years (including Shaman’s parents) as well as some lovely surprises. I wish I knew who the spoken word performer was – he only went by the handle “IF” – he blew our socks off with his poetry and presence. A second opportunity to play the little stage in the woods was offered on Sunday afternoon.
The icing on the cake for an already full and fulfilling Saturday was the late night campfire. Hours slipped by like minutes as we went around and around, sharing old favourites, originals, accompanied by the occasional train passing through (often at very fitting moments). It was hard to pull ourselves away from such great company and music, but the promise of one more day of music at Eaglewood was the incentive to get a few hours of sleep. As we wove our way back through the dark paths we heard strains of music playing, saw glimpses of other fires through the trees.
Thanks, Eaglewood, for weaving some musical magic.
For me, Canadian summers will always be linked to campfires: in the backyard, by the lake, at Centre Island. Our township has announced a fire ban due to the lack of rain and resulting crispy dryness of the grasses and trees around us. But I’d like us to keep the summer campfire idea alive by sharing our favourite campfire songs. Post a comment below with a silly song, a soulful one, or maybe that one that always gets everybody singing along.
Once again, Eaglewood Folk Festival in Pefferlaw, Ontario scheduled a one hour slot each day for festival listeners to become festival performers. This year’s open stage was hosted by Shaman Ayerhart and included mostly original tunes with a little Neil Young thrown in for good measure.
In addition to the open stage, Eaglewood boasts a fine tradition of musical campfires that get going as the last performance winds down and carry on through the night, some stalwart singers still going as the sun comes up. There are several to choose from so some musicians make their plans to meet up with friends later on while others just follow the sound through the trees until they arrive at the source. I think I hit the jackpot this year: mandolin, trumpet, guitars, harmonies, exquisite songs – as well as a roaring fire and good company. Thanks to all of you!