Milwaukie Porchfest returns for three Fridays of live music July 12-26

The heat wave will end and when it does, the cutest little music festival will be waiting on the porch on the other side.

Milwaukie Porchfest began as a small festival in the first pandemic fall of 2020 to give people a chance to safely experience live music outdoors (and give bored musicians a performance). But Porchfest was such a success that this is now the fifth annual edition of the suburban event, which returns with more than 80 free concerts in neighborhoods across Milwaukie from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 19 and 26.

Porchfest is a volunteer-run and free event, but attendees are asked to tip the artists if they can. Samantha Swindler, chair of the Milwaukie Arts Committee, paused her drives around Milwaukie handing out Porchfest signs at hosts' homes and businesses to talk about the event, which she said is “just so sweet.”

“It's a community and neighborhood-building event,” Swindler says. “You see families on bikes and people walking around introducing themselves to neighbors they've never met because they've never had a reason to.”

The 27 (and counting) performances at the July 12 event cover a wide range of genres, including Americana band Cahoots, “minimalist post-proto-punk indie” trio Merwulf, blues, funk, folk, honky-tonk and even a karaoke “cul-de-sac singalong.”

There will also be a food truck and drinks at the Chapel Theater on July 12, where two bands – Vierra's Gold and Grand Head – will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. Although the event is called Porchfest, organizers have extensive infrastructure and some concerts will take place in driveways, parking lots and garages.

Other notable acts on the program this summer include the war of starsDoom metal band SandKrawler and John the Red Nose, a duo that plays medieval music on ancient instruments, both on July 26. What the two sound like is anyone's guess.

“Sometimes it's just a guy on his porch strumming his guitar, and sometimes it's really great bands from Portland,” Swindler says. “But it's very unobtrusive – you're right there with the artist.”