There were several planned street closures in Ithaca on Sunday for Porchfest, but crowds gathering to watch people singing and playing instruments on Fall Creek and Northside porches blocked off many more.
As 180 bands played throughout the afternoon, people were watching, dancing and singing in the streets.
Porchfest made Ithaca feel like any small town in America, despite also having a uniquely Ithacan feel. Considering Porchfest has grown to include more than 60 cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada, in a way, it really could have been anywhere in America.
The quantity of artists at Porchfest was staggering; it would have been physically impossible to see and enjoy every act. It could turn any music fan into a kid at a candy store. The number has grown from 20 in 2007 to 180. There were rock bands, jam bands, bluegrass bands, 80’s cover bands, acapella singers, classical music groups and on and on — the only explanation for the diversity of music is the diversity of Ithaca itself.
Andrew Alling, a one-man band, sang original songs while playing a guitar, harmonica and synthesizer (with his feet). When asked about the Ithaca music scene, he said “I moved to Ithaca for the scene. Musicians here really help each other out, by giving emotional support, helping each other land gigs, however they can. There’s no competition between us.”
Over 100 people gathered to see the Third Story Band play cover songs from the ‘50s to ‘80s. Shelly Pargh of Etna, NY, played keyboard and sang for the band, for their third Porchfest. “It’s just so down to Earth, it’s so fun to be here … it’s a beautiful day to be walking around, it’s a great neighborhood to be doing it in.”
As she stood on the sidewalk, beginning to break down the equipment on the porch of 210 and 210 ½ Utica Street, she was interrupted by person after person coming up and complimenting her and her band, one person saying “your voice was amazing, you brought us in from blocks away.” It was Third Story Band’s third time playing Porchfest, after watching Porchfest 2014, saying “I just thought it was such a great idea.”
From up on West Hill, the Cornell University Middle Eastern Music Ensemble enthusiastically played Middle Eastern songs with traditional instruments at the corner of Marshall and Utica Streets.
Cornell Ukulele Club, a group of passionate ukulele players with a variety of different levels of experience. Their songs were quirky, beautiful and relaxing. Allison Sutton ’18, president of the club, has a very positive view of the festival. She sees it as “this very fun community event that I feel like ukulele club fits really well with.”
Taryn Mattice, pastor at the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell, commented that she liked the “community feel [of Porchfest] … the fact that the heavy metal band is around the corner from the classical quartet. We make room for each other.”
Noah Harrelson is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com. Katie Sims is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org