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Dorchfest brings live music and art to Ashmont Adams

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Dorchfest brings live music and art to Ashmont Adams
Spectators enjoy performances during last year’s Dorchfest. PHOTO: COURTESY OF DORCHFEST

On Saturday, June 3, more than 55 local musicians will flood the streets of the Ashmont Adams area of Dorchester, strumming guitars and belting out vocals from porches around the neighborhood. Dorchfest, in its second year, is a celebration of musical talent in Dorchester. From 12 to 5 p.m., community members and visitors can hear dozens of free concerts in hip-hop, jazz, reggae, rock and other genres.

This one’s quite a bit different than the other ones around the city, because it is very concentrated,” says Erin Caldwell, chair of the Dorchfest committee, comparing the festival to other porchfest-style events. “It’s much more of an easy walking route.”


In addition to lending itself to a casual stroll, Dorchfest differs from similar festivals around Boston in that the musicians are compensated for their performances.

Hip-hop artist and Roxbury native Daniel Laurent will perform in the festival for the second year. Last year, Laurent’s set was minimalistic, just himself with an amplifier and a microphone. This year, he’ll be performing with a live DJ and a more substantial speaker setup. Laurent has released seven albums, and says he uses his music to paint a picture of a better world.

“For me, the payment is a bonus,” says Laurent. “Being there, the energy is just unbelievable. And it’s just nice to be in community with artists and creatives and musicians and people that want to hear and experience music.”

The Dorchfest committee selected all of the musicians participating. Though anyone can apply to perform, not everyone is accepted. The screening process ensures that a diverse set of musical styles is presented, and that the caliber of the concerts is consistently high.

Concert on a porch at last year’s Dorchfest. PHOTO: COURTESY OF DORCHFEST

This year, the festival is partnering with The People’s Academy, a nonprofit trade school in Dorchester that trains disenfranchised individuals in the fabrication and installation of metal. The school is raising money to move into a new facility. During Dorchfest, works of art, like handcrafted wine racks, flower boxes, copper art pieces and other items will be on display and for sale at All Saints Church. All proceeds go to the nonprofit.

Dorchfest is completely free and open to the public. Visitors can look up the schedule and map of performances in advance on the Dorchfest website, or be surprised as they stroll through the neighborhood.

“A lot of the performers are either based in Dorchester or have roots back to Dorchester,” says Caldwell. “Our goal is to make sure that people who may or may not be exposed to different types of world music … come away with an appreciation for the diversity of our neighborhood that’s reflected in those styles.”

arts, Dorchester, Dorchfest, music