Sunsets, acoustic tunes, and charisma. Porchella brought remnants of Charlottesville’s namesake and the charm of its small town roots. Watch Belmont come alive as the sun sets and local artists breathe life into the night air.
The Tom Tom Founders Festival’s 2nd Annual Porchella began as the sun set on Sunday’s Block Party. Musical notes danced through the warm spring night in the historic Belmont neighborhood of Charlottesville. Residents offered up their front porches for acoustic jam sessions and concerts as crowds filtered through front gates and onto blankets spread on lawns. Porchella featured folk, pop, and Americana artists and bands who brought the community together for the final event and celebration of the 2016 Tom Tom Founders Festival.
The night began at 6 PM as the scorching heat from the day finally settled and we crossed the bridge from downtown Charlottesville into the hidden neighborhood of Belmont. We walked, three girls with cameras in hand, past cozy front porches and lawns sprawled with old picnic blankets and couch cushions. Our initial curiosities lead us down a slender street to a tiny girl in a flower headband who had drawn an early crowd. Lily Garay and her collection of friends set a soulful vibe as the sun set across the Belmont sign to the steady tap of a djembe drum.
Right next door, columns wrapped in twinkle lights framed the porch with a single bar stool and a lone tambourine. Two girls cuddled up in an Eno with beers in hand as J.J. von Briesen walked onto the rug in the center of the porch. No one anticipated the charismatic spunk which radiated from 325 Monticello Road as J.J stomped her boots and swiveled her arms over her head to the Americana-rock pouring from her mouth. It didn’t take long before an audience member took up the tambourine and the whole neighborhood started clapping along.
We followed the sound of guitars and chatty neighbors to a yard filled with dogs and little children running around with juice boxes and squirt guns. Through the gate surrounding the house, Los Hombres Medicados engaged crowds of people gathered in lawn chairs along the surrounding fence. As friends and neighbors emerged onto the growing Belmont scene, Los Hombres tapped their feet along to the steady motion of the porch swing. No one stopped to worry about the little boy being chased around the yard by a chocolate lab or how it was most certainly past their kids’ bedtimes.
The calm summer block party vibe continued until the streets reached capacity at 10 PM and all the Lee Park Party-goers made the same trek across the bridge to see what all the excitement was about. Belmont was so alive. The hidden Charlottesville community erupted with families, friends, neighbors, dogs, bicyclists, beers, and laughter. Porchella drew an end to the week of Tom Tom festivities and made people crave the taste of a carefree summer more than ever.