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Newton’s PorchFest returns in June with an afternoon of free music

The Suzuki Music students play for neighborhood friends and family at PorchFest 2019.Sachiko Isihara

After three years of cancellations, Newton’s PorchFest is ramping up for its revival in June. Volunteers in Auburndale and Lower Falls will open up their porches and yards for an afternoon of free live music.

Modeled after “low-key” music festivals, PorchFest is designed to be a neighborhood building event, said Alla Webster, co-chair of the Newton PorchFest Committee.

“It’s a brilliant start to the spring,” Webster said.

The densely packed trail of porches will feature musical talents of all skill levels, ages and genres, including a dance group, an a capella group and storytellers, Webster said.

PorchFest is scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, June 4. This will be the third PorchFest in the city, and the planning committee aims to establish it annually on the first Saturday in June, Webster said.


“We’ve embraced the idea of having this early June PorchFest, and we were inspired to just do it when we would be able to do it safely,” said Stacey Moriarty, co-chair of the Newton PorchFest Committee.

Homeowners who volunteer their porches often host barbecues and after parties for the attendees and performers, Moriarty said.

“There is a lot of incentive to get a good crowd,” she said.

In 2019, PorchFest brought in about 1,000 people, Moriarty said, and this June it is expected to exceed that number based on the increased number of volunteer sign-ups.

This year the registration for volunteers and performers ended April 1, Webster said, and the event received a quick response with about 101 bands and over 60 porches. Webster said PorchFest is currently funded with donations and a grant from the Newton Cultural Council.

Sachiko Isihara, executive director of the Suzuki School of Newton, performed as piano accompaniment for her students in the most recent PorchFest in 2019 and plans to return with her students this year.


“We have all sorts of student groups that are performing from younger kids to teenagers,” Isihara said. “It’s actually been quite popular. It’s expanded quite a bit.”

Isihara, also on the PorchFest committee, said the event is an opportunity for her students to try music different from their typical classical repertoire. Isihara said her students pointed to how a student performed Star Wars music during PorchFest 2019.

Rock bands tend to be “a big part of the flavor of PorchFest,” Isihara said, as bands cover popular throwback anthems from groups like The Beatles.

Dave Herlihy, who will bring back ‘80s hits from his Boston-based indie band “O Positive,” is expected to bring a large crowd this year, Webster said.

PorchFest aims to become a “neighborhood building event,” Webster said, by bringing the villages of Newton together again after two years of pandemic cancellations.

Kendall Richards can be reached at newtonreport@globe.com.