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Arts & Culture
Your local backstage pass to Northeast Ohio’s music scene. Get to know the talented musicians and community influencers in our backyard.

Plan for PorchRokr 2021 with Shuffle’s Picks

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Amanda Rabinowitz
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Highland Square’s annual PorchRokr Music and Art Festival returns Saturday, Aug. 21. Local bands will perform on porches and outdoor stages in the Akron neighborhood throughout the day. Pictured: The Dreemers, PorchRokr 2017.

PorchRokr, the Highland Square Neighborhood Association’s annual music and arts festival, returns Saturday, Aug. 21. More than 100 musicians will perform on porches and outdoor stages throughout the Akron neighborhood from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The event will kick off with a free, hour-long yoga session from Yoga Squared at 9:30 a.m., accompanied by music from ZOD1AC. DrumSing will perform on the Main Stage at the festival’s opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m.

Bringing the festival back to Akron
Kenny Averiett, PorchRokr’s event and performance coordinator, said there was some hesitancy and caution with planning this year’s event.

Nonprofits like the Highland Square Neighborhood Association have faced challenges with funding during the pandemic.

“At first when we started getting into it, we weren’t sure what the response from the neighborhood would be because people have lost family members and loved ones to COVID, and there’s still a lot of apprehension around gathering in public spaces like this. It’s palpable in the air,” Averiett said.

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Brittany Nader
Live music will return to porches across Highland Square after PorchRokr took a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured: Paul Gilbert and Sarah Behal as The G Majors at the PorchRokr festival in 2018.

The neighborhood festival was canceled last year as live music was put on a months-long hiatus.

Keeping the momentum going
Organizers reimagined the event as CouchRokr, where performances were recorded in locations throughout Highland Square and virtually broadcast Aug. 15, 2020.

Averiett lives at the DIY music venue the Oakdale House with Adam Bonomo, who operates the Alternative Attic video series. The two worked together to bring CouchRokr to life.

Now that live, in-person concerts have returned, Averiett said the demand to perform at this year’s festival has been higher than ever, and the response from the community has been positive.

“I think it’s going to be like the busiest PorchRokr we’ve ever had because of COVID and people being super thirsty to get out of the house,” he said. “To my surprise, Akron’s ready to party.”

Your guide to PorchRokr 2021 performers
Performances will take place north of West Market Street in Highland Square. Akron reggae band Umojah Nation will headline the event on the Main Stage at 8 p.m.

Shuffle’s Amanda Rabinowitz and Brittany Nader share their top PorchRokr picks to help you plan your day.

Check out the “Shuffle’s 2021 PorchRokr Playlist” on Spotify to get a sampling of the music you’ll hear Saturday.

Brittany’s picks:

Mo Turk
A rapper with a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Akron, Mo Turk is a natural performer and standout in the local hip-hop scene. The video for his song “Notorious” brings viewer along on his bike ride through Akron, cementing the importance of location and environment to the inspiration, meaning and overall vibe behind so many artists’ songs. Mo Turk released his new album, “The Storm,” with Mimar Sinan on Aug. 13 and dropped six singles between 2020 and this year.

I Hate it Too
If you want to get a glimpse into the “new” Akron Sound—that is, the emo/pop-punk emerging out of so many local house-show venues—I Hate It Too is an excellent example. The five-piece band from Akron is active in the community’s DIY scene, and it will be a real treat seeing them play on the Main Stage at music festival. They released a new album last December called “Sun Machine,” which shows growth in their sound without lacking any of the raw energy the band is known for. Lead vocalist Eddie Gancos will also perform with Glass Bones at PorchRokr in the 7 p.m. time slot. Don’t miss his solo project, Alomar, which he discussed on Shuffle back in 2019.

11 a.m.
Madison Cummins - Porch 33 - 75 Edgerton

12 p.m.
Empty Coats - Porch 22 - 140 N. Highland Ave.

1 p.m.
Team Nepali - Porch 19 - 125 N. Highland Ave.

2 p.m.
I Hate It Too - Porch 2 - Main Stage - Corner of Conger and Edgerton

3 p.m.
Actual Form - Porch 17 - 62 N. Highland Ave.

4 p.m.
Mo Turk - Porch 20 - 58 N. Highland Ave.

5 p.m.
Red Rose Panic - Porch 3 - Ray’s Pub Stage

6 p.m.
Stems - Porch 28 - 943 Wye Dr.

7 p.m.
Sunflurry - Porch 5 - 30 Casterton

Amanda’s picks:

Terrycloth Mother
They're a Cleveland indie rock band that assembled during the 2019 Lottery League, in which more than 150 Cleveland musicians are broken into about 40 bands that make music together for two months. They’ve been playing a lot of shows this summer ahead of their debut LP, set to be released Oct. 15. This is a group of excellent musicians who put on a great show through their rich soundscapes.

RailShakers
This Americana/alt-country five-piece of Akron/Cleveland veteran musicians has been together since 2013 and released their excellent album, "Shaker Blues," this past April. Their blend of harmonies, accordion, harmonica and mandolin are sure to get a crowd dancing and stomping on a hot, summer day.

11 a.m.
Wake Magnolia - Porch 5 - 30 Casterton Ave.

12 p.m.
Applesauce - Porch 12 - 83 Casterton Ave.

1 p.m.
RailShakers - Porch 21 - 144 N. Highland

2 p.m.
Terrycloth Mother - Porch 30 - 170 Portage Dr.

3 p.m.
Cory Grinder & The Playboy Scouts - Porch 23 - 941 Doppler St.

4 p.m.
Indré - Porch 24 - 923 Hereford Dr.

5 p.m.
Detention - Porch 19 - 125 N. Highland Ave.

6 p.m.
The Woovs - Porch 8 - 783 W. Market St.

7 p.m.
The Beyonderers - Porch 3 - 801 W. Market St.

See the Highland Square Neighborhood Association's full PorchRokr 2021 schedule here. The event is free and open to the public.

Optional masks will be available at information booths throughout the festival and in the Platform Beer Co. Beer Garden.