Forget about 7/11 slushies. The best freebie on July 11th this year is the return of JP Porchfest, the Jamaica Plain music and arts festival eager to shed light on its talented neighbors.
Inspired by the Somerville’s Porchfest, Marie Ghitman and Mindy Fried organized an all-volunteer event to celebrate the area’s creative talent and diversity that’s intentionally kept noncommercial. It’s not a competition. It’s a second serving of arts, culture, and community bonding all for free. “I had been thinking for years that JP should have its own Porchfest,” says Ghitman. “People were running around last year, on foot or bike, looking at their map, deciding where to go next. There was so much joy and excitement in the air.”
From 12 to 6 PM, a slew of local acts like bubblegum pop family band Zanois, ’90s New Orleans brass group Boycott, and immaculate 18-year-old Eastie MC Nikochet will give it their all. Remember to look beyond the rustic wooden porches. Stoops, driveways, and lawns all count, too.
In fact, you don’t need any of the aforementioned to sign up. “We wanted to include anyone who wants to be a part of it, even if they don’t own a house or their landlord won’t let them use the porch,” explains Ghitman. “Mixing up different types of people on different porches will encourage people to go to different parts of the neighborhood they may not have been to. People naturally stay closer to home. Now places like Hyde Square and Egleston Square will get that involvement.”
Bikes Not Bombs are leading bike tours, low income housing group JPNDC offered all their sites up as stages, Hyde Square Task Force let youth leaders create banners and designs. The top priority is increasing involvement from the community’s various outlets. “That was our big goal this year,” she says, “and it’s really coming together.”
Perhaps the most innovative inclusion are pedicabs to help those unable to walk. The JPNDC is paying for rides for some of the low-income elders in housing they manage. The rest of the pedicabs, as always, are working for tips. “If you want to get from one side of JP to the other, then that’s really quite hard,” says Ghitman. “We tried to rent a shuttle bus, but it was too much money, so we thought about pedicabs. JPNDC offered to pay to have elders transported last year. Elders told us they were so thrilled. Now this year, they’re doubling that offer.”
JP Porchfest may only be in its second year, but Ghitman and Fried are already expanding it to include dance theater, poetry, storytelling, and circus arts stages. The most special stage, however, has yet to be announced: the politicians stage.
“Last year a couple politicians came and spoke, but this year we’re asking them to perform,” Ghitman laughs. City counselors Ayanna Pressley, Matt O’Malley, and Tito Jackson are committed to singing, an unnamed politician will play the triangle, and state representative Jeffrey Sánchez has yet to confirm whether or not he’s singing. Show up and cheer him on. Together, we can get a Modern Lovers song out of him.
JP PORCH FEST. SAT 7.11. JAMAICA PLAIN. 12PM-6PM/ALL AGES/FREE. JPPORCHFEST.ORG.