Monday, August 1, 2011

Napa Porchfest 2011 - part 1

While it is still the day after, making this yesterday's news, I wanted to reflect on Napa's first Porchfest.  Porchfest is a music festival bringing home-grown music out of parlors and garages and onto the porch.  The idea was originally spawned in Ithaca, NY. in 2007.  Louisa Hufstader brought the idea of porchfest to Napa through the wonders of Social Media.  Those are capital letters because Social Media has become such an important internet gorilla that it carries extra special weight.  Google especially would like to be a Social Media gorilla.  But that is another story.

Social Media in this case was a Facebook link to an article in the Somerville Patch about Somerville considering having a porchfest.  Thea Witsil, friend, book lover, and even bigger music lover - chimed in immediately with the comment "Let's do it here in Napa!"  The discussion blossomed - online - then we expanded it to a real face-to-face meeting with all who expressed interest invited.  Our ad hoc committee was born under the auspices of Napa County Landmarks, whose board had the unanimous good sense to see a great community event in our historic neighborhoods as a good way to carry out our mission. 

Between January 10 and July 31, 2011, Napa Porchfest was born.  (My daughter Anna Pfeifer is on the left). 

It was not an easy birth, because none of us had done anything like this.  Thea wrangled music; I wrangled venues, permits, and logistics; Louisa wrangled media, press and Social Media outreach.  When we found ourselves stranded with a web address but no web master, John L. Poole, aka "JLPorchfest" stepped in and built a database and Napa Porchfest website that could serve up information on not just the musicians, but photos of all the houses and a map combining everything.  Then he proceeded to make promotional videos, one of which serves up the houses like Anette's chocolates.

We could not foresee all the logistical problems and possibilities - which was probably a good thing during the process.  Sunday morning it felt like Yazgur's farm before the rain.  Fortunately, we did not have hundreds of thousands of concert goers, and the genial Napa crowds ranged up to the hundreds.  They took seriously our request that everyone "pack it in and pack it out", ride bicycles, and bring chairs and sunscreen. 

"Blonde on a bike"

We pulled off a free music festival on 28 private porches in residential areas featuring over 40 musical groups and over 120 musicians.  I attribute the success of the event to strong personal ties and relationships, and also to Social Media (Facebook), which brought this idea to a little "marketplace of ideas" where it could bloom.

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Unknown said...

Thank you so much for doing this..."you hit it out of the park!"~James Byrum

Anonymous said...

Thank you! As a third generation Napian (I'll spare the napkin), this was by far the best festival I've ever been to in Napa Valley! I always knew there was more to Napa than just wine and dine. It's great to see our creative musicians out on the porches of our georgous town and supported by the people.

Martin said...

Proud of you for doing this - such a great idea.

juliana inman said...

Thank you James, Napian, and Martin. We had a blast. Next year, Martin - perhaps yo and Patti can do some photography? I'll post John's you tube piano which is now "licensed".