Jamming for a cause: Proceeds from NDG Porchfest to fund youth music program

Porchfest has become a surefire sign of spring in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood, as locals and visitors wander around normally quiet side streets to find pop-up concerts on every block.

The festival, now in its fifth year, takes place over the May long weekend, with concerts planned on Saturday, May 18 and Monday, May 20. All Sunday shows have been moved or cancelled due to rain in the forecast.

Aurora Robinson, one of the event's co-ordinators, said the opening concert will start at 11 a.m. Saturday in Girouard Park, officially known as Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Park, at the corner of Girouard and Sherbrooke streets.

Robinson said the event is well-loved by locals, and her team has tried to keep it grassroots, even as the operation continues to expand.

"We wanted it to be sustainable and to be able to put it on every year without being too dependent on outside money," she said.

Robinson said that the festival has proven to be a draw for people from outside the district.

Submitted by Aurora Robinson

"I think it's an opportunity to wander around a really nice neighbourhood," she said.

"It's just a different vibe than going to see a show at night, and it just brings the community together in the spring which is really nice."

This year, all proceeds from the event will support the Saint Raymond Community Centre, located on Upper Lachine Road close to Vendôme Metro station.

"They don't have the money right now to hire a music instructor, but there are a lot of kids that are interested in music there and learning more about music production," Robinson said.

Donations brought in from the shows will go toward hiring an instructor to get that program off the ground.

Nadine Collins, coordinator at the Saint Raymond Community Centre, said that a lot of youth are interested in music, and that it would be great to bring in "mentorship from the community" for workshops.

She said she hopes the program will include a new emphasis on music production and audio mixing.

"They love learning instruments, they love singing. I wanted to add a component of mixing as well," she said.

Last year, Porchfest raised $6,700 for a multicultural choir at the Walkley Centre, and in 2017, it raised $5,000 for the music program put on by the Westhaven-Elmhurst Community Association.

Collins said that Monday's closing show at Saint Raymond's will start at 5 p.m.and that they will be serving chicken and vegan hot dogs, as well as drinks.

While everyone is crossing their fingers for good weather, she added, "We're not opposed to dancing in the rain."

Organizers will post any updates about events cancelled or changed due to weather on their Facebook page. Find the full concert schedule here.