Watertown Porchfest: Hundreds of Bands Playing at More Than 80 Locations

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Watertown will be rocking this Saturday when bands take to porches, lawns, and other temporary venues around town during the first Watertown Porchfest sweeps across the city.

The festival will include more than 180 bands playing at 80 locations, including homes, the Watertown Free Public Library, Gore Place, restaurants, and a fitness studio. There will even be a block party with food trucks to accompany the entertainment.

Matt Hanna, a member of the Watertown Porchfest organizing committee, said that Watertown “crushed it” in the first year in terms of the number of performers, and the spread of porches around town.

“When we first started talking about it we said hopefully we get 50 bands. So we 3x’d it,” Hanna said. “There are pros and cons. This is the first time and we are figuring it out with a big event rather than a small event.”

The first known porchfest occurred in Ithaca, New York, in 2007. Some of the more established porchfests in the area, such as Somerville’s which started in 2011, have more than double the number of bands than Watertown’s first go round. The porchfest season kicked off last weekend in Somerville, and there will be more than 30 across Massachusetts from mid-May through early October, according to porchfest.info.

Most of the Watertown Porchfest venues will host one to three acts on Saturday (rain date Sunday), but some will have five, six or even seven bands. The musicians will play for between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and all will take place between noon and 5 p.m.

The lineup includes a wide range of acts.

“There is a good mix of regional performers and also plenty of people just themselves playing on their own porch,” Hanna said.

A map of the performances during the 2024 Watertown Porchfest.

The Tuba Guy, Zachariah Hickman, will host musicians all day on Shattuck Road and will play a set himself. Musically talented librarians will perform at the Watertown Free Public Library, and City Councilor Lisa Feltner will be performing, Hanna said.

Brass bands will perform at the Mosesian Center for the Arts and nearby at the Commander’s Mansion. Two restaurants will host music — Chulo’s and Gigi’s Pizza. Gore Place will have music at the same time as its annual plant sale. Recording studio Notable Productions will have performances all afternoon, as will Fly Together Fitness, and First Parish Church.

See the performers, locations, the schedule and a map by clicking here.

While some of the music might be rock ‘n’ roll, performers have been told to play acoustic sets, or ones that are not excessively amplified. The bands and spectators are supposed to stay out of the roadways, Hanna said.

“Performers are not supposed to set up on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is supposed to stay passable,” Hanna said. “People should stay on the sidewalks, and some homeowners might invite them to sit on their lawn.” 

A section of a roadway near Watertown Square will host a block party to celebrate Watertown Porchfest. Four musical acts will play at 90 Spring St. from noon to 4:45 p.m. The block party also features a food truck, an ice cream truck, a lemonade stand and free popcorn. There will also be a 50/50 raffle benefiting the Watertown Food Pantry. See more info here.

After the official end of the music, Hatch Makerspace will have creators who made their own instruments from 7-9 p.m. Click here for more details.

Watertown Porchfest runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 (rain date Sunday, May 19). Find out more about Watertown Porchfest at watertownporchfest.org

5 thoughts on “Watertown Porchfest: Hundreds of Bands Playing at More Than 80 Locations

  1. Wow, the Watertown Porchfest organizing committee should give pointers to other organizers. This is a massive feat!

  2. In my lifetime Watertown has always been a town filled with talented musicians. We know Boston recorded their blockbuster 1st album in our town. Come out and see and hear and socialize with those who have walked these streets.

  3. Can we get a surprise appearance from Watertown resident and grammy nominee Noah Kahan ? Me and my kids would be ecstatic if he could do a session like Guster did in Sommerville

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