Oct 31, 2023

Eberly Avenue will be alive with the sound of music during the third Porchfest

Posted By: David DupontJune 1, 2023


BG Independent News

Porchfest, which celebrates its third year on Saturday, has its roots in Blayzay's glory – Blayzey Rose, that is, performing her flag routine on roller blades.

It was April 2020 when COVID 19 sent everyone to their rooms.

Rose – the first baby born in Wood County in the millennium – had been showing her friend Mary Cassidy, who lived on Eberly Avenue, what she did as a flag girl in high school.

Cassidy suggested she perform the routine for the neighbors. Rose suggested she do it on roller blades, a first for her.

Bob Midden recalls "we were concerned about being together indoors and so we were hanging out on our porches."

"We were all bored," said Mary Dennis, who lives on Eberly.

So out came Rose with a boombox, strutting to "Dancing Queen."

"It was wonderful," Dennis said.

Midden saw all these people watching, and thought: "Why not have a concert?"

So, Dennis and Midden, who perform together in the Irish band Toraigh, performed on her porch.

Next came Tree No Leaves, and guitarist Kam Frankart, and Moths in the Attic.

Every three weeks or so a band would perform.

Brian Young, who’d moved to town just a year or so before, brought with him experience organizing Porchfest in Dayton.

Let's do Porchfest here, they decided.

In August 2020, Eberly Avenue became home to a home spun music festival. Seven acts performed on porches and garages.

The weather was scorching hot, but otherwise the organizers felt it was a success.

In 2022, in hopes of better weather, they moved the festival to the Saturday after Memorial Day.

Temperatures were more moderate, but the organizers had to weather a storm of criticism from a few neighbors. The event prevailed. The event's most vocal critic has moved and sold his house to a Porchfest supporter.

This Saturday, June 4, the porch at 208 Eberly will feature performances by Tree No Leaves (4 p.m.) and festival closers Freight Street (6:20 p.m.). Freight Street is using Porchfest to celebrate the release of the band's new album, "Fables."

This is the first year, the festival hasn't had to deal with complaints, Young said. In February the organizers sent out a letter asking folks to reach out if they had concerns, or if they wanted to help.

"We work very hard to protect people's lawns and property," Midden said.

"We want this to be inclusive," Dennis said. "We want this to be something for everybody."

Porchfest this year features twice as many bands as in its maiden voyage – 14 performances spread over nine venues, each playing a 40-minute set.

Arranging the order of the bands so their sounds don't clash is a challenge. It took Young and Midden about 10 drafts to get it down. Complicating scheduling was two musicians who are each performing three times. Percussionist JP Stebal plays with Freight Street, Greg Rich's John Prine tribute band Illegal Smiles (2 p.m. at 200 Eberly), and Tree No Leaves (4 p.m. at 208 Eberly) Saxophonist Mike Williams starts the afternoon with Illegal Smiles, then moves down a door to 204 to playing with Moths in the Attic at 2:40, and then presents a solo set in Arlyn's Good Beer, 520 Hankey, at 4:20 p.m.

While many of the bands are returning, there are a few new acts. It's important to keep the lineup fresh, Young said.

In 2021, the organizers reached out to bands asking them to participate.

"We were surprised how popular it was among bands, how much they want to be part of it," Midden said.

Now they have a waiting list of groups wanting to participate.

The aim is to have a variety.

Corduroy Road brings its Americana sound to the festival with a 5:40 p.m. set at 139 Eberly. Dennis hosts Toraigh at 3:20 pm. on her porch at 161 Eberly and the GRÜBS, BG's leading ukulele ensemble, at 4:40 p.m.

Also on the program are the Extras (2:30 p.m. at 220 Eberly); Tim Tegge (3 p.m., in the garage on the alley of 223 Eberly); Ryan Scott and the Creekhounds (3:40 p.m. 220 Eberly); the Joe Baker Band at 5 p.m. in Baker's garage on the alley at 221 Eberly, and Jack Schilb at 5:20 p.m. at Arlyn's.

All shows are free, though there is a tip box at every stage for attendees to show their appreciation for the performers.

There will be a Now Serving food tent at Arlyn's. Porchfest merchandise will also be for sale.

There's be a Porchfest encore when the Spangler-Paxton Band from Michigan perform a jazz set starting at 7 p.m. at Arlyn's.

The show is rain or shine with bands moving into Arlyn's and neighborhood garages if needed, though the weather report indicates it won't be, though the heat but not the humidity of the 2020 event.

The size of Porchfest is pretty much set. Young said. Maybe in the future they could add a few more bands if they reworked the schedule a little and had an additional couple porches. The 2-7 p.m. time frame would stay the same.

Dennis said with an eye toward inclusive posited the idea of maybe having a theater troupe perform skits, or have visual artists display their work.

"We want this for the community," Dennis said. "It's for us and also for the community."

"I really liked the spirit last year," Midden said. "People just hanging out, meeting new people, renewing old acquaintances. People relaxed and mellow enjoying being together."

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Freight Street, shown performing at Porchfest in 2022, will celebrate the release of "Fables" at the 2023 event. Bob Midden plays penny whistle with the 2022 Porchfest. The Irish band will be part of the 202 lineup as well. Moths in the Attic, from left, Kevin Jorrey, Zach Fletcher, and Michael Williams play in Arlyn's during the 2022 Porchfest.