The Porch – A Get Away from the Books at the Miami Book Fair

Written By Sean Erwin
March 4, 2018 at 8:12 PM

Everyone remembers a lost weekend, binge reading a novel whose ending had to wait because the body just gave out. No matter how compelling the story somewhere around the 30th hour the brain shuts down and nothing more goes in.

The organizers of the Miami Book Fair (MBF) know this, and so they’ve organized The Porch as an urban hang-out space of mostly free events located at the corner of NE 3rd Street and NE 2nd Avenue. Think of it as a break from the MBF mash of book stalls, author readings, signings and workshops.

From Monday through Sunday, Nov. 19, The Porch offers live music, craft beer, karaoke, burlesque, comedy, games and food trucks where MBF attendees can plug in their brain’s USB and just re-charge.

The mastermind behind the week is Melissa Messulam, program manager for The Porch. Messulam has engineered a break for both the binging bibliophiles and their children by programming adistinctly Miami, multi-disciplinary experience; and then crossing over many of The Porchacts with The Children’s Alleyprogram — another set of MBF concurrent events Messulam aims at the young.

“We programmed The Porch to have a space during the MBF that was all about community building, and this year we have a very cohesive program,” says Messulam. “Because it occurs under the umbrella of the Miami Book Fair, we want it to be multi-disciplinary.”

The program is also inter-generational. “We’ve set things up so that young, emerging Miami artists can have a dialogue with older, more established artists,” she explains. “Every evening an emerging artist shares space with an established artist.” And then many of these artists also spend time teaching music and dance workshops with children as part of The Children’s Alley.

One of Messulam’s favorite acts, Inez Barlatier, is a good example of this.Barlatier is a young, Haitian-American performer whose music exudes Afro-Haitian influences from her choice of African instrumentation to the percussion-based rhythms that make her music so infectious with audiences. Barlatier plays at The Porchon Tuesday at 8:00 p.m., and then at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday she gives a percussion workshop for the kids as part of The Children’s Alley.

Another example Messulam offers of a cross-over act is PATH – an acronym for Preserving, Archiving & Teaching Hip Hop – a Miami-based hip-hop group that challenges the negative stereotypes and behaviors often associated with hip hop culture.

This will be the first time PATH performs and teaches at the festival. For Messulam, “They have been the quintessential Miami b-boy crew since the mid-90s. They use the hip-hop genre to teach our youth about the positive effects these artistic forms can have on a person.”

Fresh off their successful collaboration with London-based hip-hop theater artist Jonzi D at the Breakin’ Conventionfestival at the Arsht Center in October, Rudy Goblin and The Flipside Kings return to wow audiences with their DJ-ing, MC-ing, and b-boying/girling at The Porchon Friday, Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m.Then they workshop the dance forms with children as part of The Children’s Alley Friday through Sunday (Nov. 17 to 19).

One artist Messulam singles out as a must-see is classical violinist and Miami music teacher Daniela Padron, whose latest album, Bach to Venezuela, melds the German composer with Venezuelan folk sounds.

In her recording of Bach’s “Minuet Medley,” Padron makes the classical line lilt at the end of phrases, magically catching the merengue rhythm kept up by bass, maracas, and the cuatro (think four-stringed Venezuelan ukulele).“Padron somehow makes it work,” adds Messulam. “You get that traditional Venezuelan Jorobo sound while at the same time you are definitely listening to Johann Sebastian Bach.”

If the MBF crowds and your literary binge leave you feeling manic, retreat to The Porchfor music and dance and maybe a little crayon therapy — the latest edition of The Wynwood Coloring Book is also available at The Porch.

For a complete Porch schedule, visit

For a complete Children’s Alleyline-up, visit


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