Tower PorchFest: Local musical talent in Tower attracts big crowds


The Vince Warner band is locked in during its set at Porchfest. (Blake Wolf/The Collegian)

By Cesar Maya, Reporter

Joseph Saelee attends school full-time, but is always ready for the gigs and performances that come to him and his bandmates for their jazz-centric group JPEG.

“Right now, it’s just something where we get together like once a month or every other week and play,” Saelee said. “But if more gigs are available and people are calling then we might take it more seriously and actually put time aside to work on the band.”

Saelee and fellow band members Ethan Souza and Paris Evans began their first performances in June of last year and have performed as JPEG ever since. The letters are an acronym for each of their names and the G standing for group.

The most recent event they’ve performed and participated in was PorchFest, a local event in which community members come together to enjoy local bands perform on neighborhood porches throughout the Fresno Tower District.

Glen Delpit, of the Glen Delpit and The Subterraneans, sings to an audience. (Blake Wolf/The Collegian)

This year, more than 50 porches and yards were used to host the event. JPEG was one of five different bands that performed at Cassandra Barajas’ porch, which was called “Organized Chaos.”

Barajas, a second year PorchFest participant, hosted these bands as well as three vendors all day throughout the event. From her past participation, she’s found that she can’t get enough of the experience and hopes to continue to host bands every year.

“My general experience working with Tower Porchfest has been great! The people running the event are super sweet and very helpful,” Barajas said.

Barajas enjoys the individuality that comes with the event, explaining that once equipment, acts and vendors are found, the event becomes self-sufficient, with the organization that runs PorchFest creating the map and lists of performers.

These performers have built a community throughout Fresno and are how Barajas initially found her way to working as a host for the annual event.

“My friends are all musicians,” Barajas said. “This year every person that performed is a pretty good friend of mine so I was fortunate to have an easy organized set list, but I know other residents who posted on Tower Facebook pages or in the Tower PorchFest Facebook group just explaining the vibe they want or bands/performers would post and explain what music they play and that’s how a decent amount of porches connected.”

Giovann Najeh Mena, a member of the local band PUPPET, said he was stoked to be part of the artists and community members that participated in PorchFest, especially as his band’s first performances was only three years prior.

“I just wanted to play some music and get out of the house,” Mena said. “I think a lot of us were trying to shake off all the weight from the shut down during the pandemic that we just needed to hear some live music, comedy, and just chat and catch up.”

Since then, Mena has found that events like PorchFest are everything he didn’t know he needed.

Saelee noted that as a relatively new band that may not practice and perform full-time like others, it’s great to see such a welcoming community that supports the music JPEG has put out and performs.

“I didn’t get to see any of the other PorchFest performances or any of the other vendors because I had to leave early,” Saelee said. “ But while I was performing, it was reassuring to see fellow musicians in the crowd both before and after we performed.”

Members of the bands JPEG and PUPPET have expressed gratitude for the community found in PorchFest and all the hard work that is put into making the event possible.

“From the work behind the scenes, the musicians, all the vendors and people that came out to support,” Mena said. “This year really stood out. It was something special.”