Greenfield Recorder – Sounds Local: ‘More musicians than porches’: Shelburne Falls’ Porch Festival returns this Sunday with a bigger lineup than ever before
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Greenfield Recorder – Sounds Local: ‘More musicians than porches’: Shelburne Falls’ Porch Festival returns this Sunday with a bigger lineup than ever before

Shelburne Falls is always a great place to visit in the summer, but even more so this weekend as the town hosts its fifth annual Porch Music Festival on Sunday, July 14. This free event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature over 40 musical performances on the beautiful porches of local residents and at other venues throughout the village, such as the Mill, Floodwater Brewing Company, and Trinity Church.

Attendees will be able to not only listen to music, but also listen to comedy and poetry.

Porch Festival has also partnered with the local Arts Walk, so there will be open studios and galleries throughout the day showcasing the work of local artists. The partnership with Arts Walk will allow festival goers to enjoy a full day of art accompanied by all the music.

“This is our biggest year yet and our second year working with Arts Walk,” said Paul Bennett, organizer of the Porch Festival. “I have more musicians than porches this year,” he laughed.

The Shelburne Falls Porch Festival just keeps getting bigger and better every year.

The first Porch Festival took place during the pandemic and was the brainchild of Bennett’s daughter, Dorothy Strano-Bennett, who was 14 at the time. She thought it was the perfect way for everyone to cope with the isolation they were experiencing due to the COVID lockdown.

After the first year, she decided she didn’t want to do it anymore, so Bennett stepped in and took over. “This festival is kind of like our family dog; you know, the kid doesn’t want to deal with the dog anymore, and the parent takes over,” he said. “And I love that family dog.”

Get ready for a diverse musical experience at the festival. There is something for everyone, from folk singer-songwriters to jazz and experimental music. Most of the acts are local, but a few are from Boston. Most of the musicians will perform just one set, while a few, like singer-songwriter Dave Dersham, will play multiple shows.

You’ll hear everything from the reggae of Abdul Baki to the Celtic music of Wild Thyme, New Orleans-style jazz from Overeasy Jazz and art pop from Sunny D & the Tangy Originals.

Banjo/guitarist Michael Nix, musicians Americana Orlen, Gabriel and Avery, and alt-rockers Frost Heaves and Hales will also be in attendance. Also in attendance will be Brookside Project, 133 Skeel, The Farley String Band, Chris Goudreau and Tandem Jump.

The Hilltown Renaissance vocal quartet will sing a cappella, Survey Says will present experimental sounds, and The Popsicles will serve up cheerful melodies for children.

And yes, there will be a ton of singer-songwriters, including Dave Dersham, Lily Soleil, Harry Remer and many more. This is just a short list of everyone you’ll hear.

Several artists performed at all five festivals, including Sarah Pirtle from Shelburne Falls.

“The first year I started playing the dulcimer here in my garden on Main Street, then I performed twice under a large tree in a neighbor’s yard. It was geared specifically toward kids and families,” Pirtle said in an email.

Last year she performed with Sisters of the Circle at Water Street Barn, where the band will return this year.

“We are a new trio consisting of Hana Zara, who will play her own set at 5 p.m., and Christy Grecsek. We are all songwriters from different generations,” Pirtle explained of the project. “I am the oldest, I am 74, and I have been performing folk music since I was 14. I have nine recordings, 10 national awards and I have 75 of my songs available for free on (sarahpirtle.com).”

National Book Award winner and Shelburne Falls resident Martín Espada will be among the participating poets who will give readings of their works.

There will also be all kinds of art on display, including paintings, sculptures, handmade toys, and more. The Amherst Plein Air Society will spend the morning creating beautiful landscape paintings inspired by the picturesque village. These paintings will be critiqued at the end of Bridge of Flowers from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

In addition to hosting the event, Bennett will perform two sets of stand-up comedy: one aimed at kids and another later in the afternoon for adults.

Remember, this is all free, although some teams may put out tip boxes.

Many performances are within walking distance, but buses run from Trinity Church, Mill, and Buckland Shelburne Elementary School.

The full schedule for the Music Festival and Arts Walk is available at shelburnefallsporchfestival.com

Do it now at Peskeomput Park

Do it Now, the trio of drummer Tony Vacca, guitarist John Sheldon and poet Paul Richmond, returns to Peskeomput Park in Turners Falls for a free concert on Sunday, July 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. The trio combines beat poetry with improvised music and political commentary to create a sonic experience unlike any you’ve ever heard before. Their exciting, innovative world-fusion music delivers a message of hope for the planet. The veteran trio has been working together since 2017, and this is their third year performing at Peskeomput Park.

Before the screening there will be a book fair from regional publishers and authors.

Donations are welcome. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. The rain date for this event is Sunday, July 21.

The event is sponsored by RiverCulture, with financial support provided by Greenfield Coop Bank and the Mass Cultural Council.

Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez at Meetinghouse 1794

Beehive Queen Christine Ohlman and her band Rebel Montez return to Meetinghouse 1794 in New Salem on Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m. A longtime Meetinghouse favorite, Ohlman promises to “ignite souls” with her soulful roots-rock style. Her shows are always a highlight of the Meetinghouse season, so they book her back every year. The Saturday Night Live singer’s latest project is a performance on Dion’s new album, where she sang two duets with the legendary rocker.

The collaboration with Dion made perfect sense, as Ohlman’s look and sound harken back to the 1960s.

Come and hear them raise the roof back on the Meetinghouse building at 1794 St.!

Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for ages 13-17, and free for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at 1794meetinghouse.org or at the door.

Sheryl Hunter is a freelance writer based in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national publications. She can be reached at [email protected].