Review: Porchland Festival 2017

Words by Gabriella McVeigh
Photos by Jack Fenby

Sharni Honor—what a babe—bringing the Porchland festival back to us “dreamcakes” for its second year. Once again, it was being rained on, but I am not sure anything could have brought Porchland down. From the outset, people were stomping their way across the field at Newenham up to the festival, dragging blankets and picnic rugs along with them. Looking up towards Porchland it was difficult not to be impressed at how far The Porch Sessions have come from a guitar and a few neighbours dragging their chairs across the road to listen four years ago.

Now, it is a huge tipi, constructed to provide some shelter from intermittent rain and reams of bunting and lights draped between trees. At the top of the hill were foods vans and inside a large shed were stalls of clothes and—very thankfully—coffee vendors. Walking into the market shed was my first stop to warm my frozen fingers, but all I could smell was rich warm chocolate brownies from Four Seeds.

Once I could feel my fingers again, I ventured back outside to see kids running in the mud and sticks being thrown for dogs. It was idyllic. Looking down the hill my Mum walked up beside me to comment that everyone there had to be pretty die hard to brave the cold, but it is more than that, it is a show of support and friendship for the work that has gone into Porchland.

The audience cuddled up in warm blankets and wrapped their arms around each other to listen to the first acts. If there was a theme to run between all the acts it was some seriously strong vocals and harmonies. Tom West teamed up with O’Little Sister to sing in the session and Porchlandians were lucky to hear her harmonising again later with Jack Carty. In between the two, local songstress, MANE filled the little constructed porch, now draped with tarps to protect it from the brief showers.

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As the sun began to set and the audience pulled their blankets yet tighter, Al Parkinson and The Babes climbed up the stairs to sing under a full moon—Al warming her hands with her breath so she could begin to play. I had finally found a cosy spot with friends to talk to, but when they began to sing it took more than one try to draw my attention away. Al Parkinson and The Babes had the audience dancing, which The Teskey Brothers followed up on, finally getting everyone moving and warm.

After many red wines, burgers, brownies, and huddling around the heaters near the bar, Sons of the East closed the festivities—the fairy lights were shut off, the rugs rolled back up, and everyone drove home back through the hills to sit in front of their heaters. Hopefully, next year the sun will shine for this festival, but it will not matter either way because everyone involved shine just as brightly already.

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