By Evy Warshawski
Photo Credit: Aileen Savage
n Sunday, July 26, from 12noon-6pm, hundreds of local musicians from throughout Napa County will play their hearts out in and around downtown Napa.
Sponsored by Napa County Landmarks, Porchfest has grown into a “not to be missed” afternoon showcase, featuring grassroots musical styles as diverse as the architecturally-eclectic, front porches transformed to serve as “stages.”
Last summer’s attendance topped 10,000 (not including accompanying pets!) with families and friends opting to leisurely stroll, jog or bike from one historic block to the next, inspired by the mellifluous sounds of guitars, drums, and voices in the air.
Acoustic solo, singer-songwriter, Shelby Lanterman, has played Porchfest each year and appreciates both the discovery of, and networking, with fellow musicians. “Not only do I get to play on the coolest stages,” she said, “but I get to see all of Napa’s best musicians do their thing. You couldn’t ask for a better format to show off your stuff. Plus, I love how the community comes together to enjoy music all day long.”
Porchfest was born in 2011 from a Facebook post, followed by a meeting of the minds of three dynamic women: award-winning writer and broadcaster, Louisa Hufstader, then based in Napa; Thea Witsil, entrepreneur and owner of Wildcat Vintage Clothing; and Juliana Inman, architect and member of the Napa City Council.
Earlier that year, Hufstader had shared her discovery of a similar festival taking place in Somerville, Massachusetts. With friends and fellow volunteers, Witsil and Inman and sponsorship support from Napa County Landmarks, the booking of bands and porches, plus a cadre of helpers, Napa’s Porchfest was created and enthusiastically embraced!
Music coordinator, Witsil, and her team set the ground rules for band participation. In order to qualify, at least one member must be living or working in Napa. The breadth of local musical talent and popularity of Porchfest during the past four years speaks volumes today: 100 bands will be strumming on 50 porches at this year’s annual event.
(Note: Sign-ups for 2016 begin January 1 and run through May 31. All registered bands will now have to provide its own porch, and every porch host must provide its own band. For information, visit napaporchfest.org).
Brother/sister acoustic-pop duo, Journey Day & Jade Luvdae has played every Porchfest to date. “We’ve had so much fun,” commented Luvdae, “and it’s a great way to hear what our local talent has to offer. There is nothing more enjoyable than walking around beautiful downtown Napa and listening to several different genres being played. From reggae to pop, there’s a little something for everyone.”
Napa County Library’s parking lot, located at 580 Coombs Street, will serve as “action central” for Porchfest maps, schedules, t-shirt sales and food trucks. (Bathrooms will also be available at this location and on Action Avenue as well).
One Porchfest band, Napa-based, Serf & James, recently won a KITS/Live 105 contest in which they had to write a jungle for the San Francisco-based radio’s morning show. As winners, the band played live for the station’s “BFD Concert” at Shoreline Amphitheater the following week.
“My son, Serf, is the lead singer, “said Paula Barto. “Great voice, lyricist and, most importantly a clean-cut, nice, human being. Their music is wonderful … similar to perhaps, Coldplay.”
So, on July 26, as you’re enjoying the variety of sights and sounds that comprise Porchfest, be aware that you just might be witness to the next big “stars” headlining Bottlerock in the very near future!
(Volunteers and donations are still
needed. Sign up at the Tuesday Farmer’s Market or online at
napaporchfest.org. Updates can also be found on Facebook at Napa Porchfest).