A total of 108 musical acts ranging from folk to hip-hop to rock are scheduled on Sunday to grace the porches of neighborhoods as diverse and vibrant as the artists themselves.
This year’s Historic Athens Porchfest expanded to include the Cobbham and Normaltown neighborhoods to create a massive music event spanning much of the historic neighborhoods.
Spectators will stroll the sidewalks and enjoy live music from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the free event, during which masks and vaccination are encouraged.
âEvery hour, there will be around twenty concerts. It’s an event that will create a fear of missing out, âsaid Tommy Valentine, Executive Director of Historic Athens.
No matter how much planning is done, there is too much programming to capture or even come close to every act. Participants will need to manage their time wisely and set their priorities if they wish to maximize their enjoyment of Porchfest.
The festival kicked off in 2019 with 67 porches and 69 performers and was held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, the musicians will be donating their live performances to hosts eager to turn their porch into a stage for the day.
âI see (the performance) as an opportunity to connect with the community musically,â said Mary Margaret Cozart, who will be performing with her backing band this Sunday.
Annie Leeth, an Atlanta-based freelance electronic pop artist, said she looked forward to performing in person after attending the 2020 virtual porchfest. She said she was excited to return and perform in Athens, where she made her debut while attending the University of Georgia, and this event highlights the uniqueness of the community.
âEven if the houses that host are not necessarily musicians, it shows that no matter where a person is from living in Athens, they will support the arts,â she said.
The festival draws attention to the importance of conserving the historic buildings that house many of Athens’ businesses and residences by using the buildings as performance platforms.
âIt’s really just a mix of the music community and the historic house community, and it represents how diverse Athens is,â said Owen Lange, bassist for indie alt rock trio AD Blanco.
Performances are a way of giving back to a city that has historically shown great support for the independent arts.
Athens was a stopover on the historic “Chitlin ‘Circuit”, a series of concert halls in the southeast that hosted black musicians during the post-war and Jim Crow periods. Musicians like Little Richard and BB King have come to Athens on several occasions, and as the city grew, so did its crop of budding artists. Athens now has legendary groups such as REM and the B-52’s.
âAthens is such a culturally and historically musically rich place, so the work that historic Athens has done to preserve this history and these monuments makes this event special,â Cozart said.
Kyle Tibbs Jones is one of the many residents to offer their porch as a stage. Tibbs Jones attended the first Porchfest, and when she bought a house in historic Cobbham, she reached out to Valentine to be included in this year’s festival.
“In 2019, what I noticed the most was that it was in these nice neighborhoods, people playing on nice old porches, you know, all kinds of music,” she said. . âAll kinds of people love it, families of all ages, and they hear things they’ve never heard before. And once people hear these musicians and bands, they can tell their friends about it. It just helps the community and helps the musician.
Tibbs Jones is co-founder of The Bitter Southerner, a publication that focuses on Southern culture. She said she was excited to promote local music, with Athens-based Lo Talker scheduled on her porch, and to introduce new artists to her friends.
âAthens has a long heritage of being a city of music, and I am so excited and proud to be a part of this generation and the next generation of musicians coming out of Athens,â she said.
The cancellation of AthFest in 2021 has saddened many, with some musicians losing what may have been their only concert of the whole year.
âI think it’s great for the unity we all need right now, especially missing Athfest,â said Bennett Evans, singer and guitarist for AD Blanco.
Smaller festivals like September Days Fest, ATH Live and After Fest popped up shortly after the cancellation was announced, once again showing how Athens’ music community unites and innovates through sound.
Pictures:September Days Music Festival at Southern Brewing Co.
Pictures:Hip-hop artists from Athens perform at ATH Live on canceled AthFest weekend
âIt’s a city that needs music to survive,â said Valentine. Those who want to plan their day can check out the map on the historic Athens website (historicathens.com/porchfest).