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10 Bands To Catch At Somerville's PorchFest 2015

Dirty Water Brass Band at PorchFest 2014. (Kevin Davila/YouTube)
Dirty Water Brass Band at PorchFest 2014. (Kevin Davila/YouTube)
This article is more than 8 years old.

This Saturday (May 16), Somerville’s dive bar crooners, bedroom strummers and rec center cover bands will spill out into the sunshine and fill the city with music. They are banjo pickers and Afro-pop DJs and community brass bands. They have names like PowerSlut and What She Said and Bong Wish and boast all manner of Somerville-inspired puns. They will transform stoops into stages, front yards into concert halls and porches into festival tents.

It’s an extravaganza known, appropriately, as PorchFest.

The Somerville Arts Council-hosted event, now in its fifth year, is a sort of open studios for music — free and open to the public, and hosted by the willing and extraordinarily creative denizens of Somerville. This year’s PorchFest is scheduled from noon until 6 p.m., with the city divided into three segments: East Somerville to Central from noon until 2 p.m., Central to Willow from 2 to 4 p.m., and west of Willow from 4 until 6 p.m. Anyone can register to perform, and at the time of writing, there are nearly 200 bands scheduled, which you can see for yourself on this handy map and read about on the accompanying list.

With so many porches to choose from, the event benefits from some parsing. One strategy is to start east and meander your way west, which is how the festival was designed to be experienced. If you wish for a little more guidance, you can read a more traditional set of recommendations below.

Dan Blakeslee | Bloc 11 Cafe, 11 Bow St. | 12-2 p.m.

The acoustic guitar-wielding, fedora-wearing Dan Blakeslee makes eerie, yearning music that lodges firmly the brain’s dream center. He shares a slot with happy folk-rockers The Grownup Noise and electro-pop duo Miss Geo.

Somerville Symphony Orkestar | 74 Walnut St. | 12-2 p.m. 

Eastern European melodies merge with funk-inflected grooves in what is probably Somerville’s best party band.

The Blue Ribbons | 10 Browning Rd. | 2-4 p.m.

The Blue Ribbons are a perennial Camberville favorite, with a weekly Tuesday residency ripping up their original, rootsy rock ‘n’ roll at Toad in Cambridge. Find out what they look like outside their natural habitat in the light of day.

Jon Bernhardt, thereminist | 9 Charnwood Rd. | 2-4 p.m.

Jon Bernhardt makes you realize how much you wanted to hear pop and rock classics rendered in the theremin’s distinctive space-agey whine.

Somerville Ukulele Club | 163 Summer St. | 2-4 p.m.

Maybe you thought there was no reason to play the pop hits of yesteryear and today on five ukuleles, but you were wrong, because it is the best.

The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library | 48 Elm St. | 2-4 p.m.

In Somerville, where concept bands abound, The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library might be the most conceptual of all. According to their bio, “The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library is the world’s only librarian-attired, indie ensemble-pop act featuring intricately-constructed, tongue-in-cheek torturous songs with an emphasis on narrative.”

Forró Zabumbeca | 18 Central St. | 2-4 p.m.

Traditional Brazilian forró is perfect porch music: relaxed, danceable and acoustic.

Anjimile | 83 Josephine Ave. | 2-4 p.m.

Over the past year the sweet, internally musing indie-pop outfit, fronted by singer-songwriter Anjimile Yvonne, has emerged as one of the most promising young bands in Boston. They are sharing a PorchFest slot with Whistle Jacket and Buzz & Howl.

Boston Lok Susheli Samuha | 501 Medford St. | 2-4 p.m.

At PorchFest, where roots-rock bands proliferate, Nepali folk band Lok Susheli Samuha offers a welcome change of pace, with sounds ranging from the spare and lyrical to the propulsive and ebullient.

Cover Letter | 78 Pearson Ave. #2 | 4-6 p.m.

Two-thirds of Berklee-born jazz trio Matador continue on as Cover Letter, bringing the cool vibes of the jazz club out into the Somerville sunshine.


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