By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO
The quiet neighborhood got a jolt of funk, hip-hop and rock and roll last Sunday at the 2nd annual Porchfest DC, which brought music, comradery and bar-b-que right to your doorstep.
The afternoon started off with music wafting through the air. At times it had a go-go swing, at other times you could hear a tenor cutting through the air with just their notes and a beat. This was Porchfest DC. The sun bore down hard throughout the day. But a slight breeze cut the neighborhood some slack.
Porchfest DC allowed for residents to head to houses in the Hillcrest neighborhood to listen live to local musicians. (Photo by George Kevin Jordan)
It was easy to report on this event as I am a new-ish Hillcrest resident and didn’t have too far to travel before the sounds of sizzling vegetables outpaced the aroma of grilled meats.
According to the newsletter, “The goal of the Southeast, D.C. Porchfest is not just to spotlight emerging talent, but to shine a light on the beautiful communities in Wards 7 and 8.”
Hillcrest is a prime example of beauty with idyllic homes and immaculate lawns that stretch up and over hills, and valleys. But the neighborhood touted as “Washington, D.C.’s best kept secret,” may not be a secret much longer after this weekend’s festivities.
According the Hillcrest Civic Association, the area is bordered by: “a line beginning at the intersection of 31st Street, SE and Pennsylvania Avenue, extending southeastward along Pennsylvania Avenue SE to the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. and the District of Columbia boundary line (at Southern Avenue, S.E.); extending southwestward along that District Line to the intersection of that line with Naylor Road, S.E.; extending northward along Naylor Road, SE to the intersection of Naylor Road, SE with 27th Street, S.E.; from thence in a straight line running eastward through the park to reach the upper point of 31st Street, S.E. and then following 31st Street, S.E. northward to the original intersection of 31st Street S.E. and Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. said boundary to include both sides of 31st Street, SE including Randle Highlands Elementary School.”
The population of the neighborhood is about 4,700, according to Niche.com, and boasts a population that is 89% Black, and a diverse age demographic that is split between millenials, gen-xers and baby boomers according to data from the site.
A good sized group of those people all sat together in their neighbor’s lawns for Porchfest. People brought their lawn chairs, bikes, food and flowing dresses, and listened to jazz as children tried to learn to skateboard down streets.
Porchfest DC was what it would look like if Erykah Badu and Lena Horne had a block party. It was both laid back and elegant. Both “woke” and “non-pressed.” Both “sophisticated” and super casual.”
Artists from across the District performed intimate sets with nothing but light and mosquitos between them.
There was a market with candles that eased tensions and smelled of herbs and were good for the environment, along with fun snarky tee-shirts and lots of lemonade and fruity drinks.
The object of Porchfest is to stroll from house to house taking in the performances at each residence. But once you set foot in one backyard it was hard to leave. One wanted to just lean back in the chair and take a nap serenaded by a jazz artist.
Slated performers included DJ Goldy Smokes, TY Jones, Deuce Ducartier, Future Band, Cassonovela, Femi, Black Out Band, Original Jesus Gang, Sweet Something and Bliss Ananda to name a few. There was also yoga, a kids party and events for all ages.
The event was scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. but music thumped through the air well past dark.
The festival originated in Ithaca, NY, by Gretchen Hildreth and Lesley Greene, according to the site. But fever for the fest has spread throughout the country. In DC the Porchfest has landed in District neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Rhode Island Avenue.
Want to know where Porchfest DC will go next? Take the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DGCMHD2