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Porch performances in midtown KC draw appreciative crowds

Kid rockers from Hammerhedd play Metallica songs at PorchFest KC

Playing from a porch, Hammerhedd band members played some Metallica for a crowd that gathered during PorchFest KC. The event featured more than 100 bands on more than 40 porches Saturday in the Valentine Neighborhood, in Kansas City.
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Playing from a porch, Hammerhedd band members played some Metallica for a crowd that gathered during PorchFest KC. The event featured more than 100 bands on more than 40 porches Saturday in the Valentine Neighborhood, in Kansas City.

Bryan Messick went online ahead of time, listened to music samples and then carefully charted blue grass, zydeco and alternative folk performances that he wanted to catch at PorchFest KC.

Saturday was his 50th birthday, and with family and lawnchairs in tow, he was enjoying a sunny afternoon among about three dozen people who paused for awhile at 3734 Pennsylvania — one of 41 porches in this year’s neighborhood music event.

“I just wanted to listen to the music,” Messick said.

This was the third year for PorchFest KC and the first year it was held in the Valentine neighborhood, generally between 35th and 39th streets, Broadway and the Southwest Trafficway. The event was moved from the West Plaza area, where it was held the first two years, because of traffic and parking problems.

The four-piece Max Fred Band played to an appreciative audience at 3734 Pennsylvania, some of them occupying chairs placed in the front yard. Up on the porch, to the side of the band, homeowner Michael Williamson said he was happy to share space with the public.

“We’ve been looking forward to it to help showcase Midtown,” said Williamson, who’s lived at the address with his family for 12 years.

PorchFest KC’s chief organizer Kathryn Golden, who powered up and down Pennsylvania, Jefferson and cross streets in a golf cart, said the new location was working well.

“The porches are bigger, the blocks are longer, and there are more (public parking) lots nearby,” Golden said.

This year’s event featured 140 musical groups or individuals. The fest emphasized acoustic music, but performers were allowed to amplify “to be heard to the street but not overwhelm the next nearest” performer, Golden said.

Performers got one-hour time slots, more than enough time to delineate the polished from the not-so-shiny. Still, a good crowd of pedestrians, many with children in strollers or wagons, and bicyclists provided audiences for everyone.

Some neighbors who didn’t offer up their porches capitalized on the passing traffic by staging garage sales or posting for-sale signs. Others just soaked in the parade of passersby.

Golden said alt folk performers constituted the largest group of participants this year. Also featured were traditional folk, country, blues, pop, jazz, Latin, rock, reggae, soul and zydeco performances.

Hammerhedd, a trio of young brothers from Prairie Village, earned special dispensation to appear at the end of this year’s PorchFest KC. As the only loud, heavy metal band scheduled, the band got a 4:30 p.m. time slot to play after nearby porches were cleared.

The Ismert brothers — Henry, 14, Eli, 12 and Abe, 9 — earned an internet following when their performance of Metallica covers in front of a Country Club Plaza store was posted Sept. 11 on Facebook.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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