PorchFest Through The Eyes Of A Performer

Mama Blue used to play on the porches and now she’s kicking off the festival in Klutho.

When she’s not performing, you can find Mama Blue rehearsing, songwriting, making beats, volunteering in the community or diligently developing her label & brand to support up-and-coming artists. Every year, she still makes time for PorchFest, a unique outdoor music event in her own backyard. Saturday, November 9, from 12 to 9 p.m. in Klutho Park, Mama Blue and many other artists from around the Southeastern U.S. will bring the porches and parks of Springfield to life with their talents.

Mama Blue was the first performer to take the stage, for PorchFest's inaugural year, in 2014. She's only missed one year since. What keeps her coming back? For starters, she is a native of Springfield, and her history is embedded in the fabric of this historic neighborhood.

“The best place to perform is at home,” she says. “I grew up here; my soul thrives here. It’s hard enough to get the world to see Jacksonville, but for Jacksonville and the state to know about PorchFest and our 'hood, I’m overwhelmed. I used to play in Klutho Park, as a kid, I never thought I’d be singing on a festival stage there. It’s surreal.”

*photo credit: Debra Heuskin

At previous PorchFests, Mama Blue has performed all over the neighborhood on various porches. She says every host she met felt "like family." The freedom to interact with people in the audience, has allowed her to connect with them on an even deeper level.

“Every porch is like a cousin’s house. "Grab a plate!’ or ‘Do you need anything?’ If something comes up, we band together, set it right, and let the good times roll! There’s been times when we'd overload breakers and we’d play acoustic! We’re so excited to be making good music together,” Mama Blue says, "we use what mother nature gave us and keep it' groovin'!"

This year, Mama Blue is headlining the Jacksonville PorchFest, along with two other female performers. She will kick off the festival at noon on the main stage in Klutho Park. "Though technically, I'm not on a porch, per se,” Mama Blue says she’ll feel "right at home. It's not the stage, but the people that make it home"

“It’s equally intimate but in bigger space. It’s like a big ol' family barbecue, being around childhood friends, who miss the big events. I feel like having started on a porch and getting the opportunity to be a mainstage performer, is such a blessing. I’m grateful to SPAR & my girl, Kelly, for having the faith in me to bestow that honor this year.”

*photo credit: Debra Heuskin

As a Springfield native, Mama Blue has seen the area change and grow over the years. For her, PorchFest is when we get to celebrate our growth, spotlight the community, reconnect with veteran attendees & welcome new festival goers into "our lil 'hood, that could."

“The culture here is deep, diverse, rich, and vibrant, even in it's old age! Our Springfield is a beautiful garden with seeds, clippings, and transplants from all over. Seeing how PorchFest has grown and flourished here, there is no question that Springfield is somethin' really special. Her people, constant gardeners, sowing and harvesting seeds of love, kindness, tolerance, kinship, acceptance, and gratitude,” she explains. “She's gone through many seasons and changes. There was a time when it seemed that every other house was dilapidated, but the love and community remained constant and neighbors still looked out for each other. To see that happen today with new residents, I’m like, ‘How is this happening?’ How can it not? It's a beautiful garden; we can't help but grow! Our Elders are living history and are being honored and helped with repairs on their homes, so they can remain home. One of my neighbors is almost 100. She happily shares stories and reflections on her younger years here .”

For those who have never been to PorchFest, Mama Blue says “no words give justice to the experience, but one thing is for sure: you’ll be fed. Food for thought, food for soul, and the vendors will definitely make you whole, with tasty treats and liquid libations! No doubt, you'll leave so happy that you came!"

“It's an experience you’ve never had, if you’ve never been. When I tell you there’s love, community, camaraderie, respect, friendship (and did I say love?) here since this festival began, I feel like I’ve never met a stranger! You just have to come, I promise you’ll LOVE IT!”

For more information about PorchFest, visit www.jacksonvilleporchfest.org. To find Mama Blue’s music and performance schedule, visit her website at www.mamabluesings.com.

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