Dayton Porchfest showcases region’s rich musical diversity

Over 50 local acts to perform Saturday across St. Anne’s Hill Historic District.



Dayton is known for the funk of the Ohio Players, Zapp and Slave and the modern rock of the Breeders, Guided By Voices and Hawthorne Heights but the musical diversity runs much deeper. If you need proof, look no further than The Collaboratory’s Dayton Porchfest, returning to the porches of participating homes in St. Anne’s Hill Historic District on Saturday, Aug. 19.

More than 50 homegrown acts will present Celtic music, folk, Klezmer, salsa, hip-hop, rock, Americana, jazz, country, R&B, blues and more. There will be a sampling of World Music styles from the Flying Klezmerians, Dayton Salsa Project, Good Time Accordion Guys, Solistic and Fin Tan. An eclectic array of singer-songwriters like Sharon Lane, Jimmy D. Rogers, Amber Hargett, Wild Forrest Blakkberri and Harold Hensley will perform alongside rappers K. Carter, Dave Zup, Blanch Robinson and R3G. There are duos like the Nautical Theme, They and I, the Touchy Feelys and Holly & Brady and full groups like the Primetime Blues Band, the Five Rivers Drum Ensemble, the Patricia Berg Trio and the SilverGrass Band.

“It’s never perfect but we’re always trying to be cognizant of diversity,” Porchfest co-founder Libby Ballengee said. “We’re trying our best to be as diverse as possible in all spectrums, whether that’s genres, age of the performers, male and female and racially. There are people we’d love to have but we have to skip a year so we can give new bands a chance.

“That’s always tricky because we have our bands that always perform like Dayton Salsa Project,” she continued. “There are a few others that are such huge fan favorites but I’m very strongly the new band advocate. I feel kind of cutthroat sometimes. ‘I’m so sorry. I love you guys and I really want you to be at Porchfest, but we need you to take a year off.’ We have to give other people an opportunity too.”



Unlike previous years, the TRSS Drum Corps won’t be kicking off the day’s festivities. Instead that honor goes to the New Orleans-flavored local act, Phil’s Big Azz Brass Band, performing at 12:15 p.m.

“The drum corps had a scheduling conflict so we have a second line band this year,” Ballengee said. “This is the group that performed at the Mardi Gras night we did at The Brightside earlier this year. It’s still local musicians so it will be cool. While I love TRSS Drum Corps and they’re such a fun kickoff, it will be cool to unexpectedly change it up that way this year.”

An expanding concept

As area music fans know, Porchfest is not unique to Dayton. There are local versions in Troy and Yellow Springs. The very first Porchfest was held in Ithaca, NY. in 2007. Two years later, two other festivals appeared, one in suburban Cleveland and one in Ontario. The Dayton Porchfest was the 93rd iteration when it began in 2017. According to, there are now 170 such events in North America.

The Dayton version started after Ballengee saw a Facebook post in late July 2017 proclaiming August 25 to be Worldwide Play Music on the Porch Day. She suggested to Peter Benkendorf at The Collaboratory that the Miami Valley should have something similar. He was familiar with the concept and agreed. A month later, the very first Porchfest took place with 15 acts performing. The concept was embraced by residents of St. Anne’s Hills, as well as local musicians and music fans. Forty-six bands performed in 2018 and 50 in 2019. The event didn’t happen locally in 2020 but returned in a smaller form in 2021. There were 51 acts for Porchfest Dayton last August and there are 54 this year.

“This is our biggest year as far as performers,” Ballengee said. “It seems like about 50 is kind of our number. We typically have around 100 applicants and we cut it down to like 50 percent. We don’t have national acts. The goal of this was definitely to shine a light on local talent and I try to do as much of a mix as I can. People appreciate the diversity. They really love the accordion guys, but they also love the rappers. We have a drum ensemble and the second line band this year.”



Feel-good afternoon

The free, family friendly outdoor event is a great introduction to the rich diversity of Dayton’s music community and gives participating acts an opportunity to perform for audiences outside of a bar environment.

“Porchfest is really such a great opportunity for bands to get in front of new fans,” Ballengee said. “You kind of have the same people that go to bars. When you go to shows all the time, you see the same faces. You get some of them here but one of the things I really like about Porchfest is you see so many new faces. This is such a different environment all together. It’s in the daytime and outside. It’s family friendly so it’s such a different audience.

“I always want to remind people that Porchfest is a free festival, but people are encouraged to tip the performers,” Ballengee added. “A lot of them have Venmo, QR codes and stuff like that too. If you have cash, great, bring cash, but if you don’t a lot of them take other forms of payment. Tips are really how they’re getting paid. It’s such a feel good day so it’s really not about that but I like to remind people coming out that the performers are donating their time so we highly encourage you to pay the artists directly.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or


What: The Collaboratory presents Dayton Porchfest with Dayton Salsa Project, the Flying Klezmerians, the SilverGrass Band, Amber Hargett, K. Carter, Five Rivers Drum Ensemble and others

Where: St. Anne’s Hill Historic District, Dayton

When: 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19

Cost: Free

More info: 937-802-0937 or

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