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Rockville Centre hosts first Playing on the Porch day, a free outdoor jam session

Brett Crompton of Floral Park rehearses with The

Brett Crompton of Floral Park rehearses with The Intercessor Praise Band for Rockville Centre's Playing on the Porch event on Sept. 7. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

For one night only, Rockville Centre residents will be the stars of the show — rocking on their own front porches.

On Sept. 7,  musicians, from singers to ukulele aficionados, will show off their talents in the village's first Playing on the Porch day, a free outdoor jam session. 

“Turning front porches, lawns and driveways into intimate performance stages just seems like a great way to showcase our town and bring people together,” says Iyna  Caruso, a Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce member who started the event for homeowners and businesses after hearing of similar events in upstate Ithaca and Pennsylvania. The event, from 3 to 6 p.m., is sponsored by the chamber.

Caruso, a village native, says because the town has lots of porches, it “architecturally lends itself to this type of event.” Participants can look forward to an online map of home and venues involved and donating to Mr. B’s Playground, a playground set to be built next to the town's John A. Anderson Recreation Center.

Caruso says fundraising has been a yearslong effort and the Lions Club, with other community groups and private donors, have raised about $400,000 so far.

Playing on the Porch may “be a first for Long Island,” but Caruso says “events like this have been happening in communities all over the country with great success.”

Last year’s Aug. 31 National Play Music on the Porch Day included 60 countries and nearly 700 cities, and it all started as an experiment, says Brian Mallman, founder of the outdoor nationwide concert.

Mallman, a collaborative artist from California, had the first one in 2012 after he was inspired by the birth of his first son, Calvin. Since then, he has made friends with musicians from Iran, Kenya, Russia and Zimbabwe, who also participated in the event.

“You have to work to get people outside of their social circles and get past boundaries we put up,” says Mallman, who makes a habit of learning about new string instruments and reaching out to international musicians via Instagram hashtags. Simply put, Mallman says “music breaks us down.”

Caruso expects to be one of dozens of homeowners participating and says those with all levels of musical skills are welcomed. The “aspiring ukulele player” is performing alongside her husband, who is “much more accomplished” than her, she says. Together — the Cool Hand Ukes — have graced stages at open mic nights and nursing homes.

Brian Croutier, president of the chamber and a self-taught guitarist, says “he may just play a song or two,” and then invite a friend to play on his lawn. He believes the porch music will be “a good way for the community and businesses to get together.”

Lisa Lowe, owner of Vines and Branches, a specialty food store, is thrilled to showcase her customers in a live, in-store performance — and her cranberry pear preserves. “I’m sorry we have to wait until September,” says Lowe, who plans to offer a 10 percent discount on all items and an appetizer-tasting on the special day.

What she’s looking forward to most is “seeing new faces,” as opposed to her usual Lynbrook, Valley Stream and Oceanside customers. “The more people we can get to come to Rockville Centre, the better for everyone in town, says Lowe, who hopes Playing on the Porch becomes an annual event.

For more information, visit the chamber’s website: www.rvcchamber.com.

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