Music has always played a large part in Ken Duff’s life, since before he first picked up a guitar at the age of 14.  Now, as a performer, a music tour organizer, the founder of Porchfest in Vankleek Hill and a promoter of live music in the area, it almost occupies his entire life.

“I see music as a tremendous community-building force,” he says. “It brings people together and I love being a part of making that happen.”

Duff moved to Prescott Russell from Ottawa in 2012, where he ran a successful human resources consultancy, the first cloud-based human resources company in Canada. With his brother Brian, he is half of the music group Highway 34, with Andy Perreault sometimes joining them on harmonica. Ken plays guitar and drums, his brother also plays guitar and mandolin and as Ken says, “We play everything except jazz and classical.” They can be found at the Vankleek Hill Farmers Market every second Saturday between 10 o’clock and noon, as well as at the many live music venues in the area.

Duff established one of Vankleek Hill’s most popular events when he staged the first Porchfest here in 2015. “One of my daughters had attended a Porchfest in NDG and suggested it to me,” he remembers. The first event attracted 12 musicians on 18 porches which grew to 38 performers on 28 porches in 2019. Duff hopes to pass 40 performers at this year’s event, to be held July 18, 2020.

Homes for Home Routes performers

In September 2019, Duff took over the scheduling of the local Home Routes Concert series run out of Winnipeg, which promotes a series of house concerts across the country, featuring established and upcoming Canadian musicians. “I mostly send out the promotional material they provide,” he modestly says, “and arrange for the musicians to be billeted and fed.” The concerts take place at the Arbor Gallery in Vankleek Hill.

His most recent project is the development of the web site, which is a data base outlining upcoming live musical events in the area. Musicians can promote for free on the site and locals looking for a night out of live music can check the venues.

When asked what future projects he might add, Duff says, “I’d like to climb in my 1974 red MG B and tour all of the 138 Porchfests that are held in North America. Through music, I have met some amazing people along the way.”