Pictured: Waiting For Mongo during a previous Porchfest | Photo courtesy Jordan Modell for Porchfest
With so many events put on hold, Porchfest managed to slip under the wire as restrictions were lifted in the past month. People are once again able to gather in small groups and enjoy music on a small scale around Asbury Park. Jordan Modell, the founder and organizer of Porchfest, took some time to tell us all about it.
Did you even know if Porchfest would happen this year?
We had to scramble since we weren’t even sure this was going to happen. We started planning during March and April, but then as you know, everything was put on hold when we went into lock down. There was a lot of uncertainty about whether this would happen, and how many people we could be allowed to have at a gathering. We were hearing 25 at a time, and then 50, how many is too many? And then the governor lifted more restrictions and we went ahead. We just let word get out without any advertising. We felt bad about the thought of even asking for sponsorship this year, with so many businesses struggling due to COVID, we couldn’t justify saying hey, would you like to spend money, place an ad – even if 100% goes to non profits that help people affected by COVID?
That’s amazing, considering this is a community effort, that you all were able to come together so quickly.
Everyone really pulled together, it’s really a volunteer effort and no one gets paid to do this. It’s a great team, Koren does the website for instance, Evie does social media, and of course we have a designer, Ellen Broudy, who made amazing designs for us – she went through a handful of versions and came up with a mask over Tilly, which was brilliant, and so many people. We ended up with less porches this year – about 14 out of originally 23 – because a lot of the responsibility of enforcing social distancing would be on them and understandably, not everyone was comfortable with the situation. For example, one guy I know puts his heart and soul into it and hires a “chef” to cook burgers and give them away to anyone who shows up and this year, his feeling was if he couldn’t do it with everything he has, he’d just rather wait for next year. And we will welcome him back and appreciate all he does.
The Porchfest website talks about how the idea originally came out of Ithaca, New York. How did the migration of that idea make it to you?
The idea migrated from a Porchfest I attended in Jamaica Plains in Boston, where I went to college. The Victorian houses with porches seemed so much like Asbury. It made it easy to transfer the same concept to Asbury Park because there are so many porches like that.
What’s most rewarding about this event?
I keep thinking to myself “Music in a Time of COVID”, to make that reference [Jordan refers to a book called Love in a Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.] Maybe it sounds corny, but so many people put their all into this. Being able to expose local people to amazing local music and musicians. For example, I think Dave Vargo ( our music coordinator) has something over a 100,000 Spotify plays. Everyone does this for free. Every donation over cost is going to those who have been affected by COVID.
If someone does want to support the organization, where can we do this? What’s the best way?
Anyone interested in sponsorship can drop us a line through the website to me. We’ll get in touch about sponsorship levels.
Anything we forgot?
This year we aren’t doing a kick off, so it’s really important people visit the website to access the information and find out where they need to be and get a program at your first porch. The website will be continually updated.
Porchfest is happening on September 26, Saturday, from 1-6pm. Visit the website at https://www.apporchfest.org/ to find out the details and read the FAQ, including the map and schedule. Masks are required for this event and people are asked not to bring food so as not to violate the mask requirement. Social distance and be safe! Asbury Park PorchFest is a 501 (c)(4) non-profit organization.