Porchfest has quickly become one of my favorite events in Buffalo. Yesterday, streets all over the West Side were alive with musicians playing on porches. Normally my friends and I bike around the lesser known streets in search of unfamiliar pockets of music, but yesterday we spent the day on Elmwood Avenue checking out some of the larger house venues.
When we came to the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette, my jaw dropped. The entire corner had become a festival of sorts, with dueling porches on the northwest side and the southeast side.
The NW corner was rocking out to more traditional tunes, the likes of Steve Miller. By far, this was the most attended porch that I have witnessed since the event began. There were people everywhere – the lawn, the sidewalks, and the crowd had spilled out to neighbors’ lawns as well. There were even people across the street hanging out and enjoying the scene.
The SE corner was dedicated to hip-hop. While not nearly as busy, there was a good crowd of people supporting the crews on ‘stage’.
I found it interesting that the two corners were not competing for sound, and both were pretty darn loud. I also loved seeing people sitting out on their porches, grilling, enjoying cocktails with friends and listening to the tunes. In all of my years living in Buffalo, this was the moment that defined what I have been hoping to achieve. I felt so proud to live here. It was great watching all of the people walking around with little red wagons – some filled with kids, while others were filled with food and beer. More than anything else, I loved experiencing the all around openness and inclusiveness that filled the streets.
If I was a visitor in Buffalo yesterday, I would have not believed my eyes. Even living here, I couldn’t get over what I was seeing and experiencing.
The last music act that we caught was an 11 year old who was playing at Inn Buffalo, Lafayette Avenue’s new B&B. The youngster was a whiz at the guitar, belting out tunes by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. Once again, the lawn was filled with people. On top of that, there was also a crowd of people on the porch, trying to get a glimpse of the half pint virtuoso. Aside from the music, there were also a good number of people gearing up for Derby Day.
For years I’ve been watching people fix up porches all over the West Side. Two brand new porches were added to houses in my neighborhood over the winter. For many moons, when the city was down and out, the front porch was always the first architectural feature to take a hit. Fixing a roof was always more important than fixing a porch.
Now the porches are making a comeback, and partially thanks to Porchfest, the front porch is achieving rock star status. It’s funny… while this bi-annual Porchfest series has not been around for very long (see formations), I can’t imagine this city without it. More than any other event, and there are countless, this particular festival represents Buffalo in the best light possible. I’m already looking forward to Fall Porchfest 2016.
^The Farewells playing across the street from The Peddler Flea Market on Elmwood. We spotted them on the way to Lafayette/Elmwood corner (among numerous others).