It was something good coming from something bad: the pandemic created a free weekly front porch concert for a neighborhood in Tampa’s Hyde Park.
Rob Bovarnick, saxophonist with the group that calls itself Front Porch Jazz, explains that he and his band mates, all over 50, used to play together for fun once a week inside a studio apartment behind a band member’s house.
“But once COVID hit in March 2020, we decided to continue playing but to try and do it outside,’’ he says.
The move drew a crowd.
"Well, people started to hear it and they started coming out of the woodwork,’’ says Bovarnick, a commercial photographer. “Everybody at that time wanted to be outside and this was a nice refreshing reprieve for people. People started coming up on the lawn and sitting down, being out of their apartments, just hanging out. That’s when we decided, hey, let’s bring this out to the front porch.’’
Neighbors bring lawn chairs and a glass of wine and listen to the weekly late afternoon performances of the ensemble: Bovarnick on tenor and soprano saxophones; Ed Jacobson, drums; John Tschirhart, bass; and Seaton Kenworthy, guitar. Trumpet player Greg Cannella is an alternate band member.
“Everybody’s very dedicated to learning and to keeping it going. We all share a common interest in traditional jazz." Bovarnick says. "We play primarily classic standards that most people recognize. We’re always trying to pull out new tunes and keep it fresh, but it’s traditional jazz.’’
He points to (Why Not Take) All of Me’’ and “All the Things You Are’’ as examples of standards they'll play together.
The guitarist and bassist both play in Tampa Bay’s 10 O’clock Band, a big band.
“They’re busy doing that stuff and the bass player plays gigs with another group, but he loves to come to the front porch. Obviously, there’s no pay involved. We’re coming because we enjoy the love of jazz. But it’s an opportunity for him to solo, explore, be creative in an environment where it’s very conducive to that,’’ Bovarnick says.
The group typically plays on a Saturday or Sunday in the late afternoon.
“When it’s football season we try not to do it during game time," Bovarnick says.
To limit the crowd size in a residential neighborhood, details on the location of Front Porch Jazz are shared in a private Facebook group. Ten to 20 people might come, Bovarnick says, though the crowd sometimes grows to 40, from kids to older folks.
“It’s nice," he says. "It’s very intimate.’’
For a related story, please go to For these Tampa Bay performers, the music never stops.
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