A Good Festival Makes A Good Neighborhood
By Lee Wicks
April 2, 2015
MONTAGUE CENTER—When Nicole Nemec and Matthew Duncan first moved to a house in the woods of Montague, they would stand on their porch and literally hear music wafting through the trees. A fiddle here, a banjo there; soon Matthew Duncan got out his accordion and began playing along. The other musicians responded. For two people who grew up in suburban, Nemec from Texas and Duncan from St. Louis, this seemed miraculous.
It sparked an idea that will manifest itself on Sunday, May 17, when all of Franklin County is invited to a community music festival in the living rooms, barns and porches of Montague Center. The event will be free, but there will be donation cans for the musicians.
Funded in part by a grant from the Montague Cultural Council, the event, said Nemec, will celebrate the breadth and depth of the music community in Montague.
Duncan added, “We already have bidders, rock and roll musicians, jazz musicians, the Contra Dance folk and a penny whistle. I’m still looking for some chamber music, and hoping a string quartet steps forward.”
Community music parties of this sort are not new. In August of last year, the Christian Science Monitor reported on porch partisan Jamaica Plain, Boston. Some think the movement began in Ithaca, New York in 2007. The Monitor reported that 19 “Porchfests” have been organized since 2009 across the US and Canada. For a complete list, visit www.porchfest.org/porchfests-elsewhere/.
The Montague festival has a Facebook paged called “Good Music Makes Good Neighbors” and the posters around town carry that headline, too. The page provides updates, because this is truly a community event. It will not succeed without help.
Nemec said, “We are hoping for four or five venues with two or three performances at each.”
There is no scheduled rain date, so those venues need to be indoors. If you have a spacious living room, a barn, or ideas for a good space, this is the time to come forward.
Nicole and Matthew also want to have maps and programs available, and volunteers to help people find their way. Any graphic designers, mapmakers or helpful greeters should contact them.
And music makers: if you want to play for your neighbors, meet other musicians, and have a good time, sign up now. You do not have to live in Montague Center to participate in this event as a musician or audience member.
Like the Maypole festivities on May Day, trick-or-treat entertainment on Halloween and the Fourth of July bonfire, this could become another tradition in Montague.