Music sounded through Binghamton’s West Side this past Sunday.
Binghamton’s seventh-annual Porchfest was overflowing with music, dancing and a sense of community — featuring 165 performances on 59 porches. The free event offered live music on residential porches throughout Binghamton’s West Side, on streets ranging from Chestnut Street to Lincoln Avenue.
Porchfest began at noon and continued until 7 p.m., bringing together Binghamton University students and members of the Binghamton community. In addition to porches, points of interest such as the George F. Johnson Recreation Park and the Bundy Museum of History and Art also hosted bands. The event also highlighted historical Binghamton landmarks, such as the George F. Johnson Recreation Park Carousel. Food vendors were also dispersed throughout the streets.
Many bands — including If Madrid, which played at 97 Riverside Drive — promoted inclusivity, thanking volunteers for looking after the children attending while they played. If Madrid played original songs that fit into the categories of both indie music and rock music. Some Porchfesters danced in the grass, while other families sat and watched from the porch itself. Band members Oliver Kammerman, ‘18, Connor Murphey, ‘14 and Jimmy Slattery had great energy as they sang their songs.
If Madrid, like other bands, showed solidarity for Ukraine, displaying the Ukrainian flag behind them as they played. When the band finished playing, they were met with cheers as attendees shouted, “Play one more!”
Another band, John Truth Experience, played on Laurel Avenue. Their members — Joel Huizinga, James “Packrat” Bates, Michael McGuane, Rick Czebiniak and Mark Stacey — played both original songs from their “Barbed Wire” album and covers. Bates played an upright bass designed to be in the shape of a coffin. He surprised onlookers halfway through the performance by spinning his bass around, lowering its top half and revealing a skeleton seemingly sitting within the instrument.
John Truth Experience dedicated one of their songs to their friend, Kevin, who had been admitted into a hospital with COVID-19 but “never made it out.” By the end of the performance, the band invited everyone to sing in a dark rendition of Jimmie Davis’ and Charles Mitchell’s “You Are My Sunshine.” The dark lyrics joined with rock-infused sounds made the performance memorable, adding new meaning to the well-known song.
Classical music groups played at Porchfest as well, including the Chenango Brass Group, who played at 97 Riverside Drive. The group was made up of trumpeters John Sininger and Will Stafford, hornist Drew Allport, trombonist Karla Jensen and bass trombonist Dana Tirrell. The quintet played a wide range of music from both pop and classical genres.
Groups like The Yada Yadas also invoked a sense of community as they played covers like Katrina & The Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’” and others. The band’s members, Joe Lewis, Al Winans, Tim Lewis and David Shoudy, played in the middle of the street, leaving space for a large crowd to dance. Members of the community also participated in the music making, bringing out their own instruments. Those with tambourines were later invited on stage to perform alongside band members for one of their final songs. The band ended the night with a group photo, and fans wearing the band’s t-shirts posed alongside its members.
The event also offered events for children of all ages, with “Merry Maker Stations,” or local organizations hosting crafts and activities, on Johnson and Bennett Avenue.
The afternoon and evening were filled with smiling faces and a sense of community, with BU students dancing alongside Binghamton residents. The day was a true celebration where people dedicated music to those lost during COVID-19, while also celebrating moving forward.