Doug Swift and Sheila McKinley of Truth About Daisies perform at Porchfest 2018. Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald

The neighborhood around Portland’s Brentwood Street in Deering Center will come alive with music next month as the Deering Center Neighborhood Association relaunches the popular Porchfest, a one-day celebration of local music and community.

The 2021 Porchfest will include 60 musical performances on porches across Deering Center from Alba Street to Evergreen Cemetery. Contributed / Deering Neighborhood Association

The event, set to take place Sunday, Sept. 12, will include 60 musical performances between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on porches throughout the Deering Center neighborhood along Brentwood Street and stretching from Alba Street to Evergreen Cemetery.

“It is a wonderful neighborhood and community event that brings a lot of joy, art and beauty into our neck of the woods,” said John Thibodeau, president of the Deering Center Neighborhood Association Board of Directors and a member of the Porchfest event committee.

To create more of a neighborhood feel, this year committee members went door to door in the festival area to get volunteers and notify residents the event was taking place.

Amy Thompson, chairman of the Porchfest event committee, said the event will showcase more music than ever before and cover a wide range of genres, including Taiko drumming,  Acadian music, Irish, jazz, tango, blues and Americana, ska, rock and Louisiana-style Cajun music. Maine Academy of Modern Music musicians will provide two hours of music and jazz show will be offered every hour and the Fletcher Brothers Band, which has performed in every Porchfest, returns again this year.

Jeff Shaw, executive director/founder of Maine Academy of Modern Music (MAMM), said the Porchfest performances will be the first of the 2021-2022 school year and return his students to performing in person again. The Porchfest performances will include both student bands and solo artists. It will be the first time MAMM performs at the annual Deering Center event.

“We are always looking for performance opportunities and Porchfest seemed like the perfect opportunity for our kids to share their talents with the community,” Shaw said.

Maine band Hilton Park performs on an Alba Street front lawn at Porchfest 2019 in Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood. Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald

Deering Center’s Porchfest was started by Thompson in 2014 shortly after she moved to Portland from Ithaca, New York, where the first Porchfest was held in 2007. Today similar events take place in 200 places across North America.

“When I lived in Ithaca, it was something I loved,” Thompson said. “When I moved, I didn’t want to leave it behind, so I started it here.”

The event has grown organically over the years.

“Everyone who participates in Porchfest does so in their own way,” Thompson said.

One thing has stayed constant and that is the effort to keep it decommercialized. Residents are not paid to host performances, bands are not compensated and no outside vendors, such as food trucks, make money off of the event.

After postponing the event last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson said excitement is strong for this year’s festival, which kicks off with a parade down Brentwood Street at 12:15 p.m.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we have felt more connection to our neighbors than prior to it and this is a great opportunity to celebrate that,” she said.

The Porchfest committee is taking a wait and see approach, Thompson said, as to what sort of protocols will need to be in place due to the rising cases of COVID-19 locally.

“We are watching what other outdoor events are doing and checking the CDC recommendations, Maine state recommendations and Cumberland County recommendations,” she said. “We will make a decision closer to day of.”

“We are cautiously excited and are monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and Delta emergence, but we are still hopeful and excited,” Thibodeau said.

For more information about Porchfest or to see the performance schedule, visit deeringcenter.me or the Deering Center Porchfest page.

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