Arts Preview: Jamaica Plain Porchfest Rolls into its Sixth Year

By Jason M. Rubin

“Porches are loosely defined. Our stages include stoops, yards, and driveways, as well as churches, community centers, affordable housing, and elderly housing.”

Minouchka will perform at this year’s Jamaica Plain Porchfest.

When the first Jamaica Plain Porchfest hit the city’s front steps in 2014, the event showcased 65 acts on 35 porches. Original co-organizer Mindy Fried told me at the time, “We are certain this will be the first of many Porchfests in JP.” Six years on, her prediction has proven true and this year’s edition—which is being held on Saturday, July 13 from 12-6 p.m. (rain date on the 14th)—will feature 180 performances on 97 impromptu “stages” through Jamaica Plain, considered by many to be Boston’s hippest and funkiest neighborhood.

After running the previous five Porchfests, founders Fried and Marie Ghitman have passed the torch to musician-educator Devin Ferreira and dancer Eli Pabón, who are long-time collaborators of the event. Says Ferreira, “JP Porchfest celebrates the creative talent and diversity of our amazing community, using the arts as a vehicle to weave people together across the divides of race, class, culture, and immigrant status.”

As always, “Porchfest” is a bit of a misnomer. “Porches are loosely defined,” says Pabón. “Our stages include stoops, yards, and driveways, as well as churches, community centers, affordable housing, and elderly housing. We’re going to fill the entire neighborhood with exciting live performances.”

Musician-educator Devin Ferreira, one of the planners for this year’s Jamaica Plain Porchfest.

Here is a smattering of what attendees will find in JP on the 13th.

· Teatro Brasileiro de Dança, directed by Isaura Oliveira, master dancer from Bahia, Brasil, will deliver a live percussion, Brazilian dance, and music performance, as well as demo classes.

· The circus porch at the Eliot School will offer lessons in juggling, stilt walking, hula hoop, partner acrobatics, aerials, and more.

· Dunamis, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting emerging artists of color, will be curating six hours of music at the Loring Greenough House.

· Cinematic, mysterious, and captivating music from Minouchka, evoking influences of the Balkans and the Middle East, avant garde jazz, and classically influenced art rock.

· Orkestra Marhaba, featuring re-interpretations of Mediterranean music primarily from Anatolia, Ottoman court music, and original compositions.

· Eleanor Elektra, whose music combines elements of folk, jazz, and classical music within the songwriter idiom.

· Anais Azul, a queer Peruvian-born musician who is now based in Boston.

· Keytar Bear, the well-known musician who pops up all over the city, will be popping up at JP Porchfest this year.

· Khalifa and Koliba is a multinational afro pop band that’s been performing at Porchfest for many years.

· Members of the Never Too Late to Be a Poet workshop will recite their poetry, and poets and writers from Grub Street’s Write Down the Street class will also be reading their work.

· Youth artists from all over Boston, including musicians and spoken word artists, will be presenting shows.

A map of all performers and locations can be found here.

Jason M. Rubin has been a professional writer for more than 33 years, the last 18 of which as senior creative associate at Libretto Inc., a Boston-based strategic communications agency where he has won awards for his copywriting. He has written for The Arts Fuse since 2012. Jason’s first novel, The Grave & The Gay, based on a 17th-century English folk ballad, was published in September 2012. His current book, Ancient Tales Newly Told, released in March 2019, combines in a single volume an updated version of his first novel with a new work of historical fiction, King of Kings, depicting the meeting of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Jason holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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