Politicians make music at Porchfest in Jamaica Plain

Politicians make music at Porchfest in Jamaica Plain

Politicians make music at Porchfest in Jamaica Plain

State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez serenaded City Councilor Ayanna Pressley with "Esclavo Y Amo" during the festival.

By Sara DiNatale Globe Correspondent July 11, 2015

When City Councilor Matt O’Malley left the first Jamaica Plain Porchfest last year, he joked that next year he should sing instead of make a speech – and organizers remembered that remark when they asked him to kick off this year’s festivities.

Just a speech from O’Malley would not cut it this year, said Porchfest co-producer Mindy Fried. And she meant it, gathering a handful of local politicians to sing, dance, and read poetry at Jamaican Plain’s second porchfest for a “political porch” outside the First Baptist Church on Centre Street Saturday.

The city councilor, accompanied by O’Malley and the Green Street Band, opened the series of outdoor concerts by belting out an explosive rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.” He sported black Ray Ban sunglasses, remaining cool under the scorching sun.

O’Malley’s rock-star vibes got Tom Westfall, 42, of Lexington, so pumped up he dove into the grass and did a somersault, launching into an air guitar accompaniment when he landed.

“It was just so exciting,” he said. “It had a really fun vibe to it.”

O’Malley’s performance started the day of music and entertainment at around noon, but the true political porchfest takeover launched at 2:30 p.m. when Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Tito Jackson and State Representatives Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sanchez took to the lawn-turned-performance-space on Centre Street.

Pressley, with bare feet in the grass, said she was singing for “the dreamers” before launching into a soulful a cappella version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

“I’m singing this in celebration of all the dreamers who had a dream and made marriage equality possible,” she said.
City Councilor Ayanna Pressley sang to the crowd.

Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

City Councilor Ayanna Pressley sang to the crowd.

“Ya’ll ready to move?” she asked the audience, who responded in cheers. She then started “Dancing in the Streets,” prompting the crowd of about 50 people to clap and dance along.

Jackson aimed to keep the crowd moving, deciding to dance with those gathered rather than sing.

“When I sing, I lose votes,” he joked.

He taught the group the “Cupid Shuffle,” a song and dance that has people move from right to left and kick their feet in sync with the lyrics.

“I’m so surprised everyone was willing to dance in this heat,” he said following the performance. “Porchfest epitomizes community. It epitomizes what we need to see in the community: Getting out of the house and walking to the other side of the fence.”

O’Malley said he is used to doing a “fair amount” of public speaking, but that did not compare to his first time singing in public as an elected official.

“This whole thing was a new level of nerves you expose yourself to,” O’Malley said.

Sanchez serenaded Pressley with a Spanish love song and Malia read Lewis Caroll’s poem “Jabberwocky.”

About 70 “porches” – including lawns and driveways – were transformed into stages hosting more than 130 performances Saturday, Fried said.

Fried said she hopes to work with the councilors to expand porchfest into other Boston neighborhoods such as Dorchester and Roxbury and that “political porch” offered the perfect platform to get those ideas moving.

“Porchfest is an amazing way to celebrate community,” Fried said.

Jackson said his dream is to have a massive porchfest at the end of the Boston Marathon. He wants to dance with even more Bostonians.

City Councilor Tito Jackson taught a crowd the “Cupid Shuffle.”

SOURCE: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/07/11/politicians-make-music-jamaica-plain-fest/Dgc8T6u3usnPouDR31sjhJ/story.html

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