Residents of the Longfellow neighborhood will take their musical talents to their porches, yards and sidewalks from 2 to 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, June 20, as part of the neighborhood's first-ever Front Porch Music Festival. Musicians and residents from the neighborhood and beyond are invited to join in as performers or spectators.

The event has been organized by three families who live in the Longfellow area, all with University of Iowa School of Music connections. The group has put together a schedule of performers who will appear on various front porch stages throughout the neighborhood. Other Longfellow residents are encouraged to play on their own porches or in their yards, or invite other musicians to do so. Those without a porch of their own are encouraged to email to sign up for a timeslot, or join in the open jam that will run for the duration of the festival in the yard of co-organizers Sara and Trevor Harvey, at 430 Oakland Street.

"All are welcome to play, whether you consider yourself a 'real musician' or not," said Jennifer Iverson, another one of the organizers and an assistant professor at the University of Iowa School of Music. "We expect to see everyone from two-year-olds with homemade percussion instruments to professional cellists."

Organizers were inspired by Make Music Day, a worldwide event scheduled June 21 to celebrate music-making in all forms, and the famed Water Hill Music Fest in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where residents and visitors gather to play together or to listen to local acts and amateurs. Water Hill celebrated its fifth annual festival last month and remains a true grassroots affair even as it continues to grow in popularity.

"There's dancing in the streets and music on every porch," said Diane Platte, a cellist, strings teacher, and Front Porch Festival co-organizer who previously lived in Ann Arbor. "Longfellow reminds me of Water Hill. It's the perfect place to capture that same joy in Iowa City."

The group hopes that the Front Porch Festival will become an annual event. Several favorite performers and Longfellow neighbors have already signed up to play, including the Family Folk Machine, jazz-blues guitarist Jason Clothier, early music group Trio Incongruo, and rock band Matt Wagner and the Von Wagners.

For more information, including a schedule and festival map, visit

Date of publication

Thursday, June 18, 2015