With its spectacular sun-drenched mountain vistas and pastoral farm backdrop, Ottauquechee Farm in Bridgewater, Vermont is always beautiful this time of year. This particular week, however, it wasn’t just beautiful…it was magical.
Music came from every nook and cranny of the property – the distinct twang of the banjo on the crest of a hill, the sweet strums of the guitar from a faraway picnic table, the deep thump of the upright bass unexpectedly poking up from the grassy field like some statuesque plant. Magical.
Such was the scene at the recent Ottauquechee Farm Songwriters Festival, the first event launched by our new, non-profit OQ Farm – a unique sanctuary for creative artists, and our partner and friend, Grammy-Award-winning producer Charlie Peacock. Charlie brought the sounds of the Nashville scene to Vermont – inviting both veteran and up-and-coming songwriters to spend a few days in this bucolic, inspiring place.
“I felt incredible peace wash over me the moment we pulled up the driveway. Everywhere I set my eyes looked like a beautiful postcard, and I had no doubt in my mind it would be a fruitful and memorable week. Friendships were made and rekindled. I felt nothing but inspiration during my time at OQ Farm. My only regret is that my time there was much too short!” — Sam Ashworth, Songwriter
By day the songwriters would gather in groups of three or four – some of them friends, some strangers – to collaborate and create. At night after dinner, all assembled under the tent and sang their new creations, as well as some old favorites. The music and fellowship lasted deep into the night, as though no one wanted to leave and break the spell that had been cast on them by this place and these people.
“The days at the farm were transcendent — so peaceful, so filled with a spirit of love and commonality. I can’t wait to go back.” — Chris Roberts, Songwriter
The songwriters, many used to the fast pace and grind of the music world, reveled in the serenity of the farm – stripped of the distractions of the outside world. They spoke of finding inspiration everywhere they turned – whether in the surrounding rolling green mountains, the brilliant colors of the wildflowers scattering the fields, or the whimsical faces of the alpaca grazing in the field.
“As artists, I believe we’re all blessed with the privilege to pursue music and the arts on a day-to-day basis. However, as much of a blessing as it is, there’s also a big challenge to find continual focus and inspiration to create. Ottauquechee Farm provided an incredible experience to cleanse the creative palate after the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the city. I’ve never experienced anything like it. And probably never will outside of it.” — Matt Menefee, Member of the band ChessBoxer
The songwriters capped off the festival with an open-air free concert at the farm. Spectators gathered on chairs and blankets on the fields for performances by these talented musicians. Complete with food vendors, a rustic stage, and the natural amphitheater of the land, the farm was the perfect setting for such a special show.
Indeed it was magical to see these hills that are usually alive with the sound of nature and its beauty, to instead be alive with the sound of music. Magical – and fantastic!
Artists participating in the festival and concert included:
Kris Allen — Charlie Peacock — Matt Slocum — Marc Beeson — Sara Groves — Jason Harrod — Chris Roberts — Sam Ashworth — Ella Mae Bowen — ChessBoxer — Ginette Claudette — Sandra McCracken — Nathan Tasker — Tauren Wells — Swagg R’Celious — Josh Garrels — Andy Albert — Jillian Jacqueline — Alaina Stacey — Scott Mulvahill