The Love Your Neighbor Project is bringing the spirit of music to the Village of Sea Cliff with its first-ever Rock for Love Porchfest. On May 21, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., residents will be treated to live music performed on their neighbors’ porches, while enjoying self-guided walking tours and a concert in the village.
The idea for the Porchfest originated with Sean Llewellyn, who has lived in Sea Cliff for 10 years. When he was on the village’s Youth Activities Board in 2019, he discovered that the upstate city of Ithaca had held a similar event in 2012, and thought it would be perfect for Sea Cliff.
“What, you know, so fascinated myself and the other members of the board was that Sea Cliff has all of these great porches, with these lovely Victorian houses and other interesting houses,” Llewellyn said. “And with all the super-talented musicians we have, it seemed like a great way to bring the community together.”
Porchfest was originally scheduled for May of 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic shut those plans down. Then, in February of this year, Llewellyn bumped into Jaime Teich, “chief neighbor” of the Love Your Neighbor Project, at one of her charity events. When Teich heard about the proposed project, she said, she thought it was exactly the kind of event that she wanted to get involved in.
“When Sean brought the idea to me, I thought, ‘What a great way to celebrate Love Your Neighbor Project’s second year,’” Teich said. “We think the Porchfest is a lovely way to celebrate what Love Your Neighbor Project has become, as a community.”
Residents will be able to purchase a map of the village, detailing the locations and times at which some 25 local bands that have signed on will perform on the porches of some of Sea Cliff’s homes, for $20. Then they can wander the village and enjoy the music.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Love Your Neighbor Project event without a charitable angle, so Teich brought several members of nonprofits and local organizations into the mix. Kim Velentzas, of Glen Cove, runs the Porch Pantry, formed during the pandemic to help families in the area who were struggling to put food on the table. The pantry continues to serve the community, and at Porchfest it will put out bins at two to-be-determined locations, for people to donate nonperishable foods for the roughly 175 families the facility serves.
“When I heard about this ...,” Velentzas said, “I reached out to [Teich] and said, ‘You’re calling this the Porchfest, we’re the Porch Pantry. How about we do some food donations in the process?’ And she loved the idea. It was really a match made in heaven.”
The Sea Cliff Arts Council also plans to contribute to the event. Paying homage to last year’s Art with Heart event, which was a collaboration between Love Your Neighbor and the Arts Council, residents will once again be able to paint on murals scattered around the village. The murals will be collected at the end of the event, and will be auctioned off to raise money for the Arts Council and Love Your Neighbor. Arts Council President Kat DiResta noted how happy members were to be working with Teich on another project.
“We were so happy to get involved with her for this community project,” DiResta said. “She has such a big heart, and now residents will get to enjoy a mural community art element as well as live music.”
The number and range of the bands that have agreed to perform is nothing short of remarkable. Liz Winchester, who works with Music at the Woodshed in Sea Cliff, helped contact many of the musicians, and said that recruiting local talent was a top priority.
“I didn’t even think of contacting any musicians outside of Sea Cliff for this event,” Winchester said. “We have so much talent in the village, it just would’ve been a waste to get musicians from anywhere else.”
The Roger Street Friedman Band is one group that will be performing. Friedman, who is currently working on his fourth album, said he was excited about bringing some music to the community. “I love the whole idea of it, the Rock for Love theme,” he said. “It’s a wonderful community that we live in, with all kinds of great people and a lot of diversity of thought. So it’s nice to be able to come together.”
Another local band, One Square Mile, will be making its public debut. Lead singer Lisa Cashman said she was grateful that it would happen at such a great event. “We’re really excited, and the fact that it’s all in the village makes it really easy for us,” Cashman said. “We can do our thing, then hang out, maybe have a barbecue, listen to music in our village. It’s such a wonderful idea that the whole village will just be lit up in song for the day.”