Community Connects During PorchFest 2020

October 9, 2020

Micah Mabey
Staff Writer

   It’s hard to know how to fill our time in the celestial void that is COVID-19. Do we sit and stare at the television, watching Back to the Future for the first time since your freshman year of high school? Or maybe watch Schitt’s Creek, after its record-breaking Emmys sweep?
   But, fortunately, it isn’t all reruns and Netflix. Somewhere out there you can find a live event, or two. Or, if you’re wandering the Central Neighborhood District of Traverse City on a specific day in September (this year it was the 20th) you can catch a whole flock of them.
   It was a beautiful day. Really, it felt like the first day of autumn. Families and groups of friends walked around, masked up, enjoying the community that only a place like Traverse City,  specifically one of the neighborhoods downtown, can muster up.
   Musicians and bands lined up on porches donated for the day to the project. From Union and Ninth Street to the very ends of Sixth Street, you could see groups socially distanced on lawns and in alleyways to hear friends and strangers play on porches that they hadn’t seen until that day.
   Some of the setups were incredibly technically impressive. One group managed to fit a five-piece band, including a drum set and a keyboard, on a porch that was certainly too small for them, but the sound stayed just as powerful.

   It’s easy to toss something like PorchFest aside. It’s just some music on porches, right?

   Wrong.
   The sense of community that PorchFest 2020 brought, with the help of every volunteer musician, and everyone who helped put it together behind the scenes, was immaculate.

   “PorchFest was a lovely, safe reminder of community

Photo by HarpeStar

Jack M. Senff performs on the steps of the Heritage Center for PorchFest 2020.

and normality in a time where such concepts are at odds with our current timeline,” said one musician, Jack M. Senff, who was stationed out front of the Heritage Center on Sixth Street, which is now a part of Crooked Tree.
   As someone who’s becoming a sort of beacon of young music in Traverse City, Senff’s presence, and promotion of his new album, made the event more fun. It was interesting to hear a local talk about local things, at a local thing. Localception. Does that work here? Probably not, but the intent remains.
   All in all, PorchFest 2020 was exactly what we needed in this year where everything is wild. It’s hard to know when the next time we’ll get to see live music is, so getting to be alive on this specific September afternoon, where it felt like the weather was perfect. Everyone held their heads high -- a treat more pure than sugar.

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