Binghamton, NY

Binghamton Porchfest 2022 Was A Smash Hit With Huge Crowds Mingling Among the Performances.

Colin Munro Wood

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Smoke and Honey with Ukrainian singers(Photo by Nehemiah A. Wood)

Whether you've been to Binghamton Porchfest (2022), just went for your first time, or have never gone, I can tell you that Sunday, August 28th is a day I will remember for a long time.

My son, who was my photographer, and videographer, and I, arrived at the event a little after 1 PM to Binghamton Porchfest 2022. We found our first house and settled in with an already packed crowd at the venues along Chestnut St., running up from Riverside Dr.

There were a couple of performances we definitely didn't want to miss. Since we were in this area, we stuck around and along Riverside.

We began behind 72 Riverside to see Smoke and Honey, who had some Ukrainian singers with them. It was a pleasant and easy-listening start to a day filled with 165 free performances. They took place on 59 porches, yards, and driveways on Binghamton's West Side, along the Able Bennett Historic Tract.

The day's events included free parking at the Lourdes Hospital lot, volunteer performers (accepting tips), and free shuttle service, which I had to take advantage of. There were plenty of vendors and enough conversations could make them into quite a long book.

Proceeds from all cans and bottles collected at the event were donated "to support fundraising efforts" (Binghamton Porchfest Program) for the Danielle House. There was a list of rules and even a couple announcements for safety and other typical large-crowd issues. But there wasn't one police siren or any trouble at all. No one complained about the few folks who smoked in the footprint, against the rules but kept it out on the street, so they didn't bother attendees.

There was a small police presence, but they stayed in their cars and hopefully enjoyed the music they could hear. Volunteers were driving shuttles around and helping those who needed them.

Reviews of Performances Seen

Smoke and Honey with the Ukrainian Singers was our first stop. The band had a sweet sound and mainly played Ukrainian music and songs on this day. The singers were okay but carried some pitch issues throughout. Singing on a porch where the sound can disappear quickly into the open air, along with the buzz of the crowds, can make it hard to pick up a key. But listeners still gathered behind 72 Riverside Dr., showing plenty of appreciation. Tips for Ukraine flowed into a basket nearby.

We slipped up and then down a couple streets to find our way to some food and drinks at one of the many vendors. Luckily, we came across a friend of mine and a longtime friend of the Southern Tier, Brothers and Friends (Previously known as Brotherhood), who performed near the vendors at 3 Milford Ave. As always, Kassandra Rozek, Jim Apicella on keys/singer, and Jim Hull on guitar/singer were fantastic. The singer/guitar player was new to me. He had smooth vocals, sounding much like Neil Diamond when he sang, "Sweet Caroline." This group garners so much respect they held the largest crowd of the day that my son and I came across.

After some cheap hotdogs and sodas (only $3 and $1, respectively), we headed back up a steep hill to return to 72 Riverside for the Alpha Brass Band. My boy got lucky. A sweet three-row shuttle came by at the right moment, saving Nehemiah from pushing my wheelchair up a drastic incline in 84F weather. It was a nice and smooth ride, and we are very thankful to the Binghamton Porchfest Volunteers.

The band was fantastic, and their sound and style caused me to slip my mind back to the 20s and 30s when these kinds of performers and their music reigned. It was a relaxing time with them, and the crowds grew drastically as the day progressed. People were being forced out into the streets.

We left Alpha Brass Band as they were getting close to the end of their timeslot. Then we cruised down Chestnut St to Riverside Drive and turned up the street to see a little of Floodlands (Acoustic). They played on the front steps of 78 Riverside Dr. It was two gentlemen playing on unplugged acoustic guitar and base. Unfortunately, we could not hear the instruments over the traffic. The lead singer was decent and sang what sounded like their own material. It was a bit dark, and the voices can use a little more fine-tuning, but these guys are undoubtedly good in a different venue with sound.

Next up, across the street, would be Rob Locker behind the luxurious 79 Riverside Dr. We got there early, and my son ran for snacks and more drinks. There was a nice, shaded spot by a large tree that I thought would be perfect for the performance. But by the time it filled up with folks and Rob got started, we were in the sun being broiled.

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Rob Locker(Photo by Nehemiah A. Wood)

But Rob Locker, whom I'd never seen or heard of before, was so darn talented, we forgot about the heat. Eventually, we move up into the shade on the sidewalk on the side of the back patio. The homeowner even came out and offered me water, seeing that I was sweating heavily.

Rob is a great singer who actually uses his mouth and vocals professionally. He covered some of my old favorite pop songs. However, Mr. Locker does what I do when I go out to sing these days, mixing songs with his own vocal rearrangements, making the songs more fun to listen to. His technique and tone are perfect, and I felt he was one of the top acts of the day who should have gained a larger crowd.

His venue was a bit removed from most of the others. That may have affected his numbers. It was still a good crowd. Rob is so good, and I hope to see him somewhere again and meet him.

After Rob Locker, we headed back up to 72 Riverside to see the phenomenal growing sensation of the Southern Tier, Allie Torto, with David Robbins (former professional touring keyboardist). What can I say of Allie that I haven't already written here on Newsbreak? As always, Allie was right on, and her voice got stronger as she wowed the hooting, hollering, and cheering growing crowd. Allie did some famous covers that are challenging numbers. She finished with a couple of the new songs off her new album, found on most streaming sites.

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Allie Torto(Photo by Nehemiah A. Wood)

By the time Allie was done belting out emotional music and touching hearts and souls all over the area who could hear her, the listening audience had grown large. It reached across the street to the other sidewalk. There was no room left to stand. Allie had just about as big a crowd as Brothers and Friends and received the same kind of feedback. Allie is definitely star material. We should count ourselves lucky to be seeing her for free right now, in our wonderful musical town of Binghamton, NY.

Nehemiah and I had planned to stay to see Wreckless Marci, a band I've tried to watch several times over the decades.

But I got tired, and we had to call it a day at 5 PM. Wreckless Marci evades me once again. Drats! I will hear you all soon. I promise! It was a beautiful day. Binghamtonians and visitors enjoyed a lot of camaraderie, friendliness, help, and great conversations.

For me, it was a strange day. People I didn't know, as well as some I did, came up and said hello, or chose to stand beside me and strike up interesting conversations. They made me feel like God was with me that day, sending angels to give me messages. I thank Marty and Brooklyn for their incredibly perfectly timed messages and the help they offered.

Binghamton Porchfest 2022 was my first. I hope it won't be my last. I learned that I am in one of the greatest cities in America. Binghamton is filled with beautiful people and never-ending talent, some of whom filled me with thrills and chills. Thank you to everyone involved! Can't wait for Porchfest 2023. If I'm able, I believe I will be grabbing a porch of my own next year, with a mix of different genres of music. Hope to see you there!

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Colin is a former entertainer. But he became an avid reader in the second grade, thanks to his father constantly reading classics, Agatha Christie, and other novels which included character voicing, to he and his younger brother. Colin began his love for writing at the age of 6 when he wrote his first short story called, "Jake and the Eye of Jack." He continued writing, into his early 20s, but his earliest career took off and he began writing poetry and lyrics. It wouldn't be until he was 44 in 2015, when Colin began to return to his old hobby. In 2016, he decided to self-learn online writing. Colin has now written over 200 articles for several platforms amd magazines, including Newsbreak, Heart of Hollywood Magazine, BizBoost, Inc. Magazine, Yanks Go Yard with Fansided, 9.0, and the Canadian magazine Wing'd. Colin has written in several genres, but lately has honed in on music and film reviews, as well as news stories. Colin is proud of his grown children and hopes to continue growing in the writing community, with your help. Truth can never fail. A Voice In The Wilderness Feel free to create a free NB profile and to follow Colin Wood. https://colinmunrowood.com

Watertown, NY
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