The Porch of July is a folk music singalong held annually at Machine Project, your friendly Echo Park art-collective//storefront//FryBQ-headquarters. Laura Steenberge, Ezra Buchla, Adrian Tenney, and Heather Lockie put together a song book, and performed for/with about 50 people who showed up to sing, stomp feet, bang on frying pans, and have a great time. The event was like the best parts of church — and how often do folks get together in a room to sing old spirituals, tunes by Woody Gutherie, and learn the historical origins of the Star Spangled Banner.
Now, about that Star Spangled Banner. It has a history I was not aware of: it was a song used by a mens drinking club called the Anacreontic Society. The club used it as a sobriety test. If you could remember another stanza and sing this notoriously difficult melody, then you were sober enough for another round.
To ANACREON in Heav’n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That He their Inspirer and Patron wou’d be;
When this Answer arriv’d from the jolly old Grecian
“Voice, Fiddle, and Flute, No longer be mute,
“I’ll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
“And, besides, I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine
“The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”