Porchfest LNK connects music to community: Q&A with founder Maya Khasin
To Lincoln resident and musician Maya Khasin, an artist and their work are often inextricable from their location. It’s that belief that drove her to spend the better part of this year organizing a family-friendly, community-centric event in Lincoln’s Near South neighborhood.
“The work of artists is very much a reflection of their actual space,” Khasin says. “The communities in which artists and performers lead their lives help drive their work. I want[ed] to help organize an event where the community can celebrate themselves in the context of the artists they inspire.”
Khasin’s efforts will culminate this Sunday in Porchfest LNK, which she hopes will facilitate that artist-space connection. The free, first-year event features an eclectic mix of more than 20 local musicians — many of whom live in the same neighborhood — hosted on seven Near South residents’ porches, and includes an open mic and poetry spotlight.
Khasin’s inspiration came from other porch fests across the country, most notably the first one which took place in Ithaca, N.Y. in 2007. With the conversation in recent months surrounding neighborhood revitalization in the Near South area (the “South of Downtown” project) and whether the project serves its current residents, staging a locally rooted festival promotes an already rich, thriving culture.
“The neighborhood surrounding Goodhue is a vibrant and vital part of Lincoln, where many people engage with their communities and participate in lively cultural events,” Khasin says.
Read on for our Q&A with Khasin, and find the schedule and details below. RSVP here.
Hear Nebraska: What inspired you to develop/organize Porchfest?
Maya Khasin: I found out about Porchfest through musician friends who live in cities that have organized them. The first Porchfest took place in Ithaca, NY about ten years ago, and I was thrilled at the idea of a free, accessible, and intimate music festival that would celebrate not only performers, but also their communities and residents. The work of artists is very much a reflection of their actual space: The communities in which artists and performers lead their lives help drive their work, and I want to help organize an event where the community can celebrate themselves in the context of the artists they inspire.
HN: We talked awhile back about the “South of Downtown” project and who it affects. Why do you think this kind of event is important, especially to the residents of the neighborhood in which it will take place?
MK: The neighborhood surrounding Goodhue is a vibrant and vital part of Lincoln, where many people engage with their communities and participate in lively cultural events. We have drawn indispensable inspiration from the We Are Vital organization out of the Commons, as well as their curators’ inclusive, accessible, and loving approach to community organizing and event production.
HN: The inclusion of the McPhee Elementary violin students seems to speak to the prior question. How did they become involved?
MK: Through door-to-door canvassing looking for hosts, I met their music teacher, who was excited about a nonprofit, family friendly music festival. Though she was unable to host, she told me a little about her students, and we were enthusiastic to have them join. I think Porchfest should be inclusive of any genres, age groups, or performers that may want to participate, and I look forward to expanding on all of these in the future.
HN: Porchfest has held a number of fundraising events up to this point. What kind of support have you noticed?
MK: I am deeply grateful for the support that Porchfest has received, from the people who supported and nurtured a festival whose format was unfamiliar in Lincoln, to the artists, musicians, poets, and other performers who donated their time and creative labor because they believe in community. Porchfest spurred interest across genres and art styles, a heartening strength upon which to build in future festivals. Porchfest, a nonprofit, volunteer-run festival, was funded by tax-deductible donations from many individuals, Ivanna Cone, and N Street Drive In.
HN: What makes Porchfest’s partnership with Common Root a good match? What ideals does the festival share with the organization?
MK: Common Root is a community organization whose events are inclusive, free, and open to the public. From Free Saturday item swap events to the annual Fall for Pride, their events connect the community by providing a safe and accessible environment for cultural events. These are values I hope to incorporate into the bones of Porchfest and to strengthen in its lineup and organization in coming years.
HN: What expectations do you have for Porchfest?
MK: I hope that performers and audience members can come away from Porchfest feeling like they are active and essential participants in the music and performing arts communities of Lincoln. In future Porchfests, I would like to build on the strength of this commectedness by increasing community representation.
HN: Do you have anything to add?
MK: A community festival should be representative of its residents. Especially in light of the reprehensible, racist incident at Lavender Mansion, a festival whose performers skew heavily white is tone deaf at best. As a new event producer, I did not realize the specific demands of each task that comprises a successful event, including logistics, research, and communication. Addressing this shortcoming will be a priority in future Porchfests.
View the map here.
4:00-4:30 PM Hana Zara
5:00-5:30 PM Jack Hotel
1448 B St.
4:30-5:00 Emma Nelson
5:30-6:00 Meanderin’ Oranges
6:30-7:00 Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band
4:00-4:30 The Grand Poobah
5:00-5:30 Frek and the Elixir
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Concert Round-Up: Weekend Edition
There’s plenty else going on this weekend. We’ll hit some highlights below; see the fuller listing at our statewide calendar here. If you do not see your show or one you plan to attend, add it in the comments or add it to the calendar via the contribute feature here.
Warzone at The Waiting Room/Reverb Lounge – Midwest Elite Concerts and One Percent Productions present the annual Omaha metal blowout. For the first time, it happens in both The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge over two nights. Omaha band When Towers Fall headlines tonight’s event, while Des Moines act Green Death tops Saturday’s billing. Find all the acts below. Entry is $8 per night, both of which are all-ages. RSVP here and here.
The Waiting Room Lounge
Headliner: When Towers Fall
Support Acts: Dogs of Neptune(featuring Spencer Fenimore, lead Vocalist of Saturn Ascends Tool Tribute) Die To Exist, Projekt Luna, In The After
The Reverb Lounge: The Dead Deads, Conflicts, Black Velvet
The Waiting Room Lounge
Headliner: Green Death
Support Acts: The Impulsive, MurderHouse, Blessed Are The Merciless, Tetelestai
The Reverb Lounge: Your Last Chance, DeadEchoes, Right To Fail
Paper Bird with Andrea von Kampen at Vega – The Colorado indie folk band released its sixth full-length album Paper Bird on Thirty Tigers Records. It is the sextet’s first on any label since 2009, and introduces new vocalist Carleigh Atkins to the lineup, an addition which stretches the band’s sonic capabilities as it returns to the laid-back folk of its past. Lincoln singer/songwriter Andrea von Kampen opens the show. Tickets are $20, RSVP here.
Funk Trek, The Midland Band at Hedgestock IV – The fourth-annual funk/roots festival features the likes of Funk Trek, The Midland Band, Slow Stoics, The Regulation, Big Burn, Dr. Webb and The Flyin Apes. It’s all out on a Nebraska City campground, which opens at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Campers are welcome to bring their own beverages and lunch, dinner and breakfast will be for sale. There will be a massive bonfire tomorrow at dusk. Entry is $20 and the event is 18-plus. RSVP here.
Danielle Ate The Sandwich at 1867 Bar – Fort Collins, Colo., singer/songwriter Danielle Ate The Sandwich — a Nebraska ex-pat — returns to her home state in support of her sixth record, The Terrible Dinner Guest, out today. If you’re looking for a Nebraska comp, the album’s soulfulness and pop sensibility wedge Anderson somewhere between All Young Girls Are Machine Guns (also on tomorrow night’s bill) and Kait Berreckman. Von Kampen plays this show as well. Tickets are $8 tonight, $10 tomorrow. Show starts at 9 p.m. RSVP here.