A Harvest of Summer Sounds at Hudson Valley Farms
When the warm weather comes to the Hudson Valley, our local farms serve the freshest produce and another powerful harvest that feeds the mind, body and spirit – music.
Venues like the Stone Ridge Orchard, Arrowood, White Feather Farm, Chaseholm and Cool Whisper Farms have complemented their agribusinesses with live music. Some come in the form of multi-day/multi-act festivals showcasing big names in rock, indie, Americana and blues; others are intimate folk and jazz performances by talented locals taking place in tasting rooms and on modest flatbed stages out of doors. Lesser-known entities like Rosekill Art Farm, a below-the-radar “passion project” of the owners of the NYC gallery Grace Exhibition Space, don’t grow crops but are broadening our area’s alfresco artistic offerings by showcasing performance art, sound installations and electronic music.
For Accord’s Arrowood Farms, the move into music was a strategic one, something designed to bring locals and tourists to the farm to sample their beer and liquor products. Arrowood began growing hops and brewing the farm’s namesake beers in 2013, and then built their tasting room in 2016. The room not only became the site of events which drew scores of microbrew devotees, but the home to weekend concerts by local artists and its Open Mic Mondays.
Through a partnership with Impact Concerts, Arrowood has emerged as something even grander and more vital – the site of some of the summer’s most anticipated concert events in the Hudson Valley.
In August 2018, the farm hosted the inaugural Dirt Farmer Festival. This event transported the intimacy of the famous Midnight Rambles concerts at The Band’s drummer Levon Helm’s famous barn to a bigger stage, in an event headlined by Jackson Browne with Amy Helm and other notables. The event, which drew a capacity 1,000 attendees, was reprised in 2022 at Arrowood, with Helm and the Midnight Ramble band being joined by more stars like Mavis Staples.
In 2023, Arrowood will feature a number of major concert events produced in partnership with Impact.
On June 10, The Wood Brothers will share a bill with the up-and-coming folk duo Shovels & Rope, while on June 17, Arrowood will host the second installment of the Follow The Arrow Festival. The latter event will be curated and headlined by Woodstock local and keyboard wizard Marco Benevento, best known perhaps for his collaborations with the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon of Phish. On July 1, Arrowood will present the Soulshine Festival headlined by Michael Franti & Spreadhead, co-sponsored by Radio Woodstock. Radio Woodstock is again on board for the July 6 event with indie pop darlings Lucius with opener Al Olender, a critically-acclaimed, Kingston-based singer-songwriter. On September 23 – 24, Arrowood will have the return of the Woodsist Festival, an off-shoot of buzzworthy Woodsist Records label. Their 2022 fest featured performances by Guided By Voices, the Sun Ra Arkestra, The Feelies and Mary Lattimore. The lineup for this year’s festival and few more concerts produced with Impact are set to be announced shortly.
Elizabeth Ryan of Stone Ridge Orchard has longtime roots in presenting “music with agricultural traditions,” beginning with her lengthy association with the famed Clearwater Festival. For Ryan and Stone Ridge, COVID-19 proved to be the turning point.
“People needed to be outside, so we built a stage and started to do more concerts, starting with blues and world music,” says Ryan.
This year’s offerings at 115-acre Stone Ridge kick-off on April 29 with its annual Wassail Festival & Balkan Dance Party. Attendees can partake in an ancient Celtic ritual where they sing to the apple trees to insure a bountiful harvest to mark Djurdjevdan/Herdelezi (St. George’s Day). The event will feature hard cider tastings, Balkan foods and dancing to traditional music provided by three artists including Zlatne Uste, a high-energy, 12-piece Balkan brass band.
On September 2, Stone Ridge Orchard will present the return of a popular event begun during COVID-19, its Cider, Blues & BBQ. This event has featured performances by top-name national talent like King Solomon Hicks and popular locals like Alexis P. Sutter. From September 8 – 10, the Orchard will present the second annual edition of its Meadowlark Festival. Billed as a “celebration of American Roots & Independent Music,” it will be headlined by iconic bluesman Chris Smither, with Jolie Hollard, Chris Staples and many others. The farm has also been the periodic home to Radio Woodstock’s annual Sunset Concert series and it will continue to feature live performances by locals in its tasting room every weekend.
Saugerties’ White Feather Farm has also made entrees into music presentations, although its main focus as a market garden farm is serving 80 varieties of produce via its farm stand, donations to local food pantries and in wholesale to local restaurants and markets. The farm’s recent history dates to 2017 when it was purchased by a new owner. This now not-for-profit farm immediately converted its acoustically-resonant, 280-year-old Broken Wing Barn into a performance space by adding professional-grade lighting and sound system. In August and September 2021, White Feather Farm showcased its first music event, the SoundWaves Festival. This global music series presented world-class artists in genres ranging from Gypsy-jazz and Afropop to Latin Boleros, Indigenous American Songscapes and African-American folk, soul and gospel. The lineup included the West African guitar music of The Mandingo Ambassadors, the Indigenous American singer Martha Redbone and Stéphane Wremble, a world-renowned acolyte of the Gypsy-jazz guitar great Django Reinhardt. On New Year’s Day 2023, White Feather Farm hosted SAMSARA, an annual spoken word and music extravaganza featuring over 60 local poets, writers and musicians. In the coming season, music will play a less prevalent role, with the farm focusing more on its agricultural and community activities (including workshops for raising chickens, bird watching, maple syrup making) and its children’s day camp. But music lovers should check White Feather Farm’s website for periodic music events to be scheduled this summer and fall.
You might just need a treasure map or military-grade GPS to find Rosendale’s Rosekill. This “art farm” on a 60-acre property is a D.I.Y. passion project of two gallerists, Erik “Hoke” Hokanson and Jill McDermid-Hokanson of Grace Exhibition Space in the East Village. You will traverse a somewhat rocky ¼ mile-plus dirt road to get to the site. And while the Hokansons don’t grow any fruits or veg, they do serve up seemingly endless quantities of pizza made at an outdoor brick oven at their decidedly low-key affairs. And their evenings most often end in spirited jam sessions led by Hoke in the barn. The couple’s curation may be some of the most adventurous in art-centric in Ulster County. In 2022, they presented “Soundwalk,” an hour-long “music-through-the-woods” experience with experimental rock band CVLK. Also on the slate was Marni Kotak’s “Midnight Swim.” In this piece, the artist invited attendees to take a midnight swim in the farm’s lake surrounded by a sculpture and sound installation. “WE DO – Surfing the Apocalypse” was a communal singing and multi-channel outdoor installation presented by John Halpern and Emily Harris. Charles Dennis’ “Recycle Me” was a performance/movement piece using recycled household garbage, tiki torches and a bonfire set to a solo electric guitar score by Spaghetti Eastern Music.
Wildflower Farms in Gardiner is the stage for something far removed from the agribusiness, a luxury resort. A property of the Auberge Resorts chain, it featured 65 high-end cabins and free-standing cottages across 140 arcadian acres, with sweeping views of the mighty Shawangunk Ridge. The farm/resort has been tapping a great Hudson Valley resource, the incredible wealth of top-flight musicians, to feature performances by nationally-known locals like Simi Stone and Rhett Miller in their lounge.
For several years, Cool Whisper Farm in Ghent was the site of the Oldtone Music Festival, a two-day affair presenting some of the leading names in roots music including 2022’s headliner Tuba Skinny, along with Jesse Lege & Bayou Brew, Bad Penny Pleasuremakers and many others. The farm has also presented a la carte concerts by noted New England-area acts like Dumpster Debbie which will continue this summer. Also in the works is a pending new edition of Oldtone that could be announced shortly.
Chaseholm Farm, a third-generation, sibling-owned and -operated dairy farm in Pine Plains, also has a long history of bringing the public to its beautiful valley locale to enjoy a day of fine food, drink and music. For several years beginning in 2016, Chaseholm was the site of Huichica East, a music, food and micro-wine festival. Attendees were able to camp out for the two-day event which featured performances by name artists like Robyn Hitchcock, Bettye Lavette, Mercury Rev and New Paltz-based indie rockers Real Estate. The farm is set to announce its upcoming season of events and music at its website later this month.