Milwaukie Porchfest Returns for Three Fridays of Live Music, July 12–26

Go for the “Star Wars” doom metal, stay for the cul-de-sac singalong.

Cahoots plays the 2023 Milwaukie Porchfest. (Milwaukie Arts Committee)

The heat wave will end, and when it does, there will be the sweetest li’l porch music festival waiting on the other side.

Milwaukie Porchfest started as a small festival during the first pandemic fall of 2020 as a way for people to safely see live music outdoors (and to give bored musicians a gig). But Porchfest was such a smash that this is now the fifth annual iteration of the suburban event, which returns with more than 80 free concerts in neighborhoods across Milwaukie from 6:30 to 8:30 pm Fridays, July 12, 19 and 26.

Porchfest is a volunteer-run, free event, though attendees are encouraged to tip the performers if they can. Samantha Swindler, Milwaukie Arts Committee chair, took a break from driving around Milwaukie handing out Porchfest signs at the host homes and businesses to talk about the event, which she says is “just so cute.”

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

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” indie trio Merwulf, blues, funk, folk, honky-tonk, and even a karaoke “cul-de-sac singalong.”

Also on July 12, there will be a food truck and drinks available at the Chapel Theatre, where two bands—Vierra’s Gold and Grand Head—will perform from 6 to 8 pm. While the event is called Porchfest, the organizers are all-inclusive about infrastructure, and some concerts are in driveways, parking lots and garages.

Other notable acts on the bill this summer include the Star Wars-themed doom metal band SandKrawler and John the Red Nose, a duo performing medieval music on early instruments, both on July 26. What either of those sound like is anyone’s guess.

“Sometimes it’s just a dude on his porch strumming his guitar, and sometimes it’s really great bands in Portland,” Swindler says. “But it’s very low key—you’re right there with the performer.”

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