HARWICHPORT – On Wednesday nights from the beginning of July until the end of August, music was literally music to the ears of business owners in Harwich.
“Music is one thing that everybody likes,” said Jeremy Gingras, Executive Director of the Harwich Chamber of Commerce.
And so once a week during the two peak months of summer, an average of five bands played at various locations along Route 28 in Harwichport. The Wednesday night music stroll was called, “Port Summer Nights.” It went for eight weeks.
Cape Cod Wave visited Port Summer Nights twice this summer. Both times, the town was packed. Gingras said it was busy every Wednesday. We believe it.
We’ve also seen how successful an acoustic music stroll can be, when we visited Wellfleet Porchfest last year. Coincidentally, Porchfest, a once-a-year event is happening today, August 27, from 2 PM to 4 PM.
“Porchfest was very successful,” said Yvonne Barocas, owner, (along with her husband, Moe) of Abiyoyo, a gift shop that has been open for 37 years in Wellfleet.
“It’s good for the whole quality of town,” said Barocas. “There’s excitement, and the energy is up. It all perks up when there is an event.”
Port Summer Nights in Harwich and Wellfleet Porchfest offer free outdoor music at several locations. Hyannis Main Street also had a jazz stroll called Jazzy Live Music Stroll on Thursdays from July to mid August. Many people walk by the music. Businesses along the path seem to benefit.
The difference is that Port Summer Nights is a Chamber of Commerce event, and Jazzy Live Music Stroll is a Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District event, while Porchfest is, as Dinah Mellin, a musician who organized and is playing in Porchfest, said, is “just for the joy of acoustic music. And it’s to celebrate the beautiful porches in Wellfleet, one of the most beautiful towns on the Cape.”
Porchfest is not aligned with a Chamber of Commerce or business group, said Mellin. It’s simply a celebration of a variety of acoustic music, playing on mostly private porches throughout the town. There will be 18 bands on 18 porches, said Mellin.
“I get to be a part of the celebration of music. i get to say, look we played on the beautiful porches of Wellfleet,” said Mellin.
Bands are allowed to put a tip jar out, said Mellin. But otherwise, they do not get paid at Porchfest, she said.
But, as Barocas said, “Music is a wonderful draw.” And having a lot of people in town is good “whether they are physically shopping at that moment or just noticing you and willing to go back to explore later.”
As Gingras said, “Music draws lots of people together.”
Port Summer Nights started 15 years ago, said Gingras, as local businesses tried to figure out how to get more people to visit Harwich. It had run every other week in the summer until two years ago, when it began running every week, he said.
“It certainly has built up over the years,” said Gingras of the growing popularity of Port Summer Nights. “Over the past two years, since it has gone to every week, it has been an incredible success.”
Gingras said he’s “not going to get into” how much bands are paid, “but we do pay them.” There is something of a sliding scale, he said, as some bands are already successful get paid more than bands that are new and trying to get exposure and build a following.
Music is a big draw, and businesses in Harwich understand, said Gingras. “Some businesses reported that their Wednesdays were equal to all the other days of the week combined,” he said. “It’s was not unheard of for restaurants to have an hour and half wait on Wednesdays.”
“We’re into marketing,” said Gingras. “People just tend to go to music. Think about it. Everybody has a radio in their car.”
And on Wednesdays in the summer in Harwichport, you could turn the volume of that radio down, roll the windows down, and hear better music coming from real live musicians. Sort of like what is happening today in Wellfleet.
We wonder if any other towns will notice.
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See also –
– If you like Cape Cod music, here is a story that Cape Cod Wave did on the Cape Cod original music scene. We interviewed 20 musicians, four club owners, and two radio deejays – Cape Cod Music And The Joy Of Being Originally Alive
And here is a link to our growing collection of local music stories and videos – MUSIC