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PorchFestKC set to transform 2 Kansas City neighborhoods into a one-day, walk-up music festival

Performers share a laugh in 2019 with a crowd gathered outside a Roanoke neighborhood home during PorchFestKC.
Tommy Felts
Startland News
Performers share a laugh in 2019 with a crowd gathered outside a Roanoke neighborhood home during PorchFestKC.

PorchfestKC took the last three years off, but now it's back. On Oct. 14, around 135 bands are set to perform on 49 porches and stages in Midtown's Roanoke and Valentine neighborhoods.

After a three-year hiatus, the original PorchFestKC — a music festival Kathryn Golden likens to stumbling on a neighborhood block party and being allowed to stay — is returning. And it’ll play out with a digital upgrade this year, said Golden.

Launched in 2015, PorchFestKC — the city’s trend-setting, porch-packed community music celebration — will once again take over two Midtown neighborhoods: Roanoke and Valentine, starting at noon Saturday, Oct. 14.

“It’s just a fun event and I like being part of it,” Golden said of her decision to revive the event after the pandemic. “I think it creates some great community goodwill.”

“My joke is that I have an even number of posters on the wall because this will be No. 6,” she added. “So there was a gap that I needed to fill.”

About 135 bands, mostly from the Kansas City area and the Midwest, are set to perform on 49 porches/stages from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 14.

“The goal of the event is to showcase music in Kansas City,” Golden noted. “The arts are a huge part of the community. And PorchFestKC builds community in a non-traditional way.”

“There’s people of all ages — it’s a family friendly event — and it’s accessible to everybody because it’s free,” she continued.

PorchFestKC organizer Kathryn Golden sits amid handmade signs that directed festival-goers to each porch in 2015.
Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
PorchFestKC organizer Kathryn Golden sits amid handmade signs that directed festival-goers to each porch in 2015.

With 15 to 25 bands playing every hour, the organizers of PorchFestKC have created an app this year to help people plan out their day, Golden said. The app includes the schedule, maps, links for performers, locations of food trucks and parking tips.

“I’ve always said there’s two ways to tackle this,” she explained. “One is to do a deep dive on all the bands and figure out — ‘I’m gonna go here for 30 minutes and here for 30 minutes’ — and just plan it out. And the other approach is just take your camp chair and show up and just wander and see who you can discover.

“Different people are wired in different ways,” she added. “One might appeal to one and drive the other nuts. So for those people that are planners, I think this app will help.”

Bands and solo artists perform at PorchFestKC (sponsored in large part by the Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund) play for tips, Golden noted, so the app will also help with simplifying the tip process. Although she is still encouraging attendees to bring a pocket full of small bills to tip each band they encounter, the app will also have Venmo links for many of the bands, Golden said.

“If you’re there for six hours and you saw only six bands and you gave each five bucks, that’s basically $30 to enjoy the festival, which is really cheap,” she continued. “I would love everyone to feel ownership. Their part of making PorchFestKC great is helping the bands be rewarded for their efforts.”

Although most of the bands are from Kansas City and the Midwest, Golden said some performers are coming from New Mexico, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida. Artists include Joshua James, a singer-songwriter from Conway, Arkansas; Lisa Loves Carie, a disco-post-punk duo from Kansas City; and Carlton Rashad, a soul singer also from KC.

“There will be a lot of music that will be new to local music fans,” she added.

This is the third year the Roanoke neighborhood has hosted the event and the second time for Valentine, said Golden.

“The neighborhoods that are hosting it seem to have a lot of pride about being the chosen ones,” she said. “It’s fun to showcase the homes. These homes are historic in most cases.”

Parking can be tricky in the neighborhoods, Golden noted, so the organizers are suggesting attendees take advantage of a free parking garage immediately north of Char Bar in Westport, which is just three blocks from the southeast corner of the event. Street parking on Southwest Trafficway also will be available within the event boundaries. Golden has been working to make sure that those parking lanes are marked safely on the busy street, she said.

 This story was originally published on Startland News, a fellow member of the KC Media Collective.

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