SWAMPSCOTT — Residents spent the day dancing in the streets of the historic Olmsted neighborhood Saturday.
Dozens of people attended the town’s inaugural PorchFest, despite the heavy rain that started it off. Homeowners lended their porches to musicians, neighbors gathered around to sing along and event organizers are excited to do it all over again next year. It was a community-driven event that had Swampscott residents enjoying their neighbors’ company.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said co-organizer Jackie Kinney. “Welcoming people onto your front lawns to enjoy music and the chit-chat of your neighbors. People really came out for this event, and I’m really gratified and happy. It was a nice turnout.”
Bands set up their own porch-adaptable sound systems and homeowners laid out snacks for attendees to enjoy. Twelve porches were host to 19 different live acts throughout the day, with a wide variety of music played throughout the neighborhood, from spoken word poetry to jazz, pop rock, eclectic folk, country, blues and even Welsh-fueled rock.
Rachel Coffee drove all the way from her home in Connecticut to attend the PorchFest, where her brother and his family live. As a former Somerville resident, she said she is well-versed in the intimate setting of a PorchFest.
“My family and I love live music,” she said. “It’s nice knowing you can listen to it in with the intimacy of being in a nice neighborhood. It’s such a nice community event.”
Longtime Swampscott resident Lori Kraft said the event was a great idea, but she wished the event started off with better weather so everyone could have come out and enjoyed it. She said she has never seen anything in the area that brings neighbors together like PorchFest did.
“It gets the community together, it gets people talking and it’s just a lot of fun,” said Kraft. “Good music makes people happy.”
Whisky Wolinksi, another longtime resident, got to play a porch set with his band The Navigators. He’s lived in town for 60 years and said it is delightful to see the arts finally taking hold there.
Jennifer Madden gave her Elmwood Road porch over to two bands Saturday, and said it was her responsibility as a community member and a “steward of Swampscott” to do so.
“I’m a strong supporter of the arts,” said Madden. “Another reason I chose to host was because one of my three kids is a budding musician, at 9 years old. She got to do the soundcheck with the bands the night before. That’s when I knew I made the right choice in hosting.”
The inaugural fest on Saturday was all about working out the kinks and learning how to make the next one even better, said Kinney. Next year, she and co-organizer Philip Alexander plan to expand the fest’s footprint to other neighborhoods in Swampscott.
“This was our first time and we learned a lot,” said Kinney. “We are definitely doing this again next year.”