BY LIZA MITCHELL
The 3rd annual Lincolnville Porchfest returns to the historic St. Augustine neighborhood Feb. 15 with 38 local and regional performers on nine stages.
Porch pickin’ isn’t inherently native to Florida but it’s a tradition as familiar and comforting as a jar of sun-sweetened tea. Unfortunately, hurricanes are also a well-documented part of our history that can dampen even the liveliest of porch parties.
Such was the case in November, 2016 when Hurricane Matthew roared along the coastline, flooding parts of St. Augustine and sinking plans for the first annual Lincolnville Porchfest. The event was rescheduled and later held in February, 2017. In year two, Porchfest II was again planned for November, 2018 to coincide with the Porchfest event in Springfield.
The 3rd annual Lincolnville Porchfest returns to the historic St. Augustine neighborhood Feb. 15 with 38 local and regional performers on nine stages. The vibe will be cool – just hoping the weather conditions cooperate.
“February actually seems to work better just because it’s not a heavy festival season. There’s not a ton of other stuff going on so I think it’ll be a better turn out because of it,” says event organizer Jae Bass, who was inspired to help bring the fellowship of a group of musicians gathered around a porch to “jam,” though she loathes to use the word.
“I’ve been involved almost seven years ago now and I kind of started playing music outside of my bedroom at the same time. I started hanging out with more music people in town and I have a great porch so we started having a lot of music here and every time we’d have a little jam, we’d play on the porch I’d say we should do more of this,” she says. “A few people got involved and I finally just started putting it out there to local musicians like ‘hey, who wants to get in on this?’ Amy Hendrickson was one of the first to say ‘hell yeah, let’s do it’.”
The concept quickly grew into “a lifeforce” energized by the support of the local artists. This year, 38 bands will perform on nine stages. A main stage performance will feature headliners include Palimony, The Wild Shiners and The Reels. The lineup also features Dunehoppers, Rob Peck, Salt & Pine, Davis Loose & the Lose Cannons, Remedy Tree, Bad Dog Mama, Chelsea Sadler, The Young Step, Amy Hendrickson, Shea Birney, Housecats, Sam Shin, Luke Otto, Bedsweater, Bridge Street Vibe, Wilds Weeds, Changers, MJ Baker, Mental Boy, Alan Mills, Ghost Tropic, Kevin Nowak, Telepathic Lines, No PDA, 86hope, Lonesome Bert & the Skinny Lizards, Half My Home, Kevin PM, Pheenix Brown, Uncle Eddie & Robin, Jazzy Blues, Chemtrails, Terry Gamble, Dewey Via and Emma Mosely
“I just had the idea that let’s play music on a few porches but when Amy got involved, she was just like a force of nature. She helped to grow it into kind of a big thing,” says Bass. “I had never been to another Porchfest before so we just kind of grew it into what we wanted.”
After the success of the inaugural event, Bass says organizers quickly embraced the idea of a second year. Large crowds are a sign of a popular event and the neighborhood is quickly immersed in a sea of walkers and bicyclists making their way from stage to stage. But the number of hopefuls vying for a spot far exceeds the available space, whittling down the number of submissions from 55 to 38.
“I met with the new Director of the Cultural Council Christina Parrish-Stone who coordinated the Jacksonville Porchfest. It’s just been such a wonderful connection for us. She’s got a lot of insight so she’s been very helpful. It’s a very cool partnership to have,” says Bass who took the advice of Parrish-Stone to scale back the number of artists in favor of longer sets and better compensation.
“So many bands want to be a part of it and it’s really difficult to make the decision of who gets in. a porch of curators with underwater collective are curating a porch with five bands they’ve selected. Computer club records curated another porch so we outsourced some of the band picking,” she says of the sponsors that helped choose the acts for their individual locations. “It doesn’t feel like one person is doing all of that.”
New to the event this year is the Open Mic Stage for anyone to be able to sign up and a couple songs like a traditional format. Bass, who will perform with her band Ghost Tropic, has played the Sing Out Loud Festival at the Colonial Quarter since it’s inception and counts the event as one of Porchfest’s biggest supporters.
“It’s just great to have organizations like them that absolutely support local music,” she says of groups like Start Now by Sway DiFeo, founder and managing editor of Narrow Magazine, Dog Rose, the Blue Hen, Houndstooth Radio, Volkswagen of St. Augustine and Print Up of St. Augustine who provided the walking maps.
Bass is excited welcome visitors and fans of the artists who bare their souls on local stages. Lincolnville is the perfect intersection of history and culture with a collection of historical markers that commemorate the visit of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.
“I’m going to be running around a good bit getting everything done as much as possible so I can enjoy it. I am playing on one of the stages and of course there’s like oodles of bands I want to see myself. So, I’m going to ride my bike around and at the same time get stuff done. It’s all coming together,” she says.
“We want people to come in an learn about Lincolnville and the history and enjoy it. There was a lot going on and we want people to learn about that. But that wasn’t the original intention. The original intention was ‘let’s play music, man. Let’s play on porches and have some fun.”