For years, there have been concerts throughout Long Beach — at the beach, in restaurants and at Kennedy Plaza, to name a few venues. Later this month, music will have a new home in the city: porches.
The first-ever Porch Fest, on May 20, will be an afternoon of live music performed on porches, in driveways and on front lawns. It was created as a way for residents to enjoy live music outdoors while supporting the arts and interacting with neighbors.
The event is being produced by the Long Beach Arts Council, with support from the city government, the Kiwanis Club, and Artists in Partnership.
Katie Mitchell, who joined the arts council last year, noticed that the group organized a lot of visual art projects and public art displays, but she was interested in adding a musical component.
“Porch fests are actually something that has been gaining a lot of popularity around the country,” Mitchell said. “In our community especially, we have a really lovely, thriving live music community with a ton of musicians. It’s a really tight-knit community with many musician groups in town, and just a lot of talent.”
Mitchell said that porch fests became even more popular during the pandemic, giving people a chance to enjoy live music outside, instead of being crammed into bars and restaurants. And outdoor shows, she added, attract a larger spectrum of music lovers.
“The city does put on the summer beach concerts,” Mitchell said. “But sometimes local talent ends up playing in the bars and restaurants, which isn’t always a family-friendly option. So this is a really nice way to let people come and enjoy live music for free, and bring their families and be outside.”
The arts council distributed homeowner applications, to get an idea of how many would be interested and available. Mitchell said that it sparked a great deal of interest, and more than two dozen homeowners submitted applications. Since this is the council’s first try at producing the event, however, members decided to keep it small, and to choose homes that were centralized in one area.
The bands will all be playing in a radius of a few blocks, from West Fulton Street to West Penn Street by Washington Boulevard, in the Westholme area. Performances will rotate from 2 to 5 p.m. The shows will take place at 565 Washington Blvd., 465 W. Fulton St., 160 W. Olive St., 128 and 226 W. Penn St. and 133 W. Beech St.
At the Washington Boulevard site, Matt Stewart will be playing from 2 to 3 p.m. and The Mutineers will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. At the West Fulton location, Sam Goorland will play from 2 to 3 p.m. and Neutral Corners will play from 3:30 to 5 pm. The Welldiggers will take over the West Olive porch at 2 p.m. and Breakaway will play from 3:45 to 5 p.m.
There will be five bands playing on West Penn Street. At 128 W. Penn St., Inevitable will play from 2 to 3:15 p.m. and Category 3 will be jamming from 3:45 to 5 p.m. At 226 W. Penn St., Elemental Quartet will have a quick set from 2 to 2:30 p.m. and Fred Gerantabee will take over from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. Brubella will play from 4 to 5 p.m.
At 133 W. Beech St., the first show will be from Maxine Vandate, who will play from 2 to 3:15 p.m.
Abbie Golding, another member of the arts council, will not only host, but also perform. Her house, the lone Beech Street site, will also feature her band, Last Licks. They’ll play starting at 3:45 p.m., finishing off the fest at that location.
“Our band is mostly Long Beach natives,” Golding explained. “Some of the guys even go back to high school here. So when we say natives, we really mean natives. I’ve been playing with them for the last four years.”
The band primarily plays rock music, starting from the 1960s. Golding is one of the vocalists.
The Long Beach Historical Society, at 226 W. Penn, also plans to be involved, hosting concerts of its own. Three groups are scheduled to play there during the three-hour period. The groups will play on porch outside the front door, overlooking the lawn.
“We’re really excited,” Sue Friedman, of the historical society, said. “We have a nice-size porch, and we’ll bring out some folding chairs. We’re looking forward to it.”
Friedman said she also hoped the fest would enhance the museum’s visibility, and attract more visitors. She said the society is still in desperate need of restoration, and added that she hoped the performances would bring people into the museum as well. “We have a lot of events going on,” she said, “and we’re hoping this will bring more people to our events as well.”