An all-star cast of Vermont musicians is coming together to aid local farmers affected by the July floods. And they’re paying tribute to the music of Bob Dylan while they’re at it.
On Thursday, September 7, at the Flynn Main Stage in Burlington, guitarist Bob Wagner (Kat Wright, Dark Side of the Mountain) leads a local supergroup dubbed the Hug Your Farmer Band. The who’s who of Vermont musicians includes Phish bassist Mike Gordon, keyboardist Ray Paczkowski (Trey Anastasio Band), soul duo Dwight + Nicole, Kat Wright, Steve Hadeka (Matthew Mercury), Matt LaRocca of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and plenty more.
The Hug Your Farmer series, originally organized by Burlington musician Rich Price of the Sweet Remains, has been raising money for Vermont farmers since 2011. Its first concert was a similarly star-studded benefit at the Higher Ground Ballroom for Pete’s Greens following a devastating fire at the Craftsbury farm. Subsequent editions of the series have featured Grace Potter, Guster’s Ryan Miller, Jon Fishman and Page McConnell of Phish, and Dave Matthews.
Wagner, Price and Flynn programming director Matt Rogers organized next month’s concert.
Taking inspiration from Dylan’s classic track “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” the Hug Your Farmer Band will perform a selection of Dylan songs over the course of the evening. Wagner, who has recently led all-star lineups for birthday shows at Higher Ground and a tribute to Bill Withers at the Backside 405 summer series in Burlington, knows just how effective this crew of musicians can be.
“Having led the band on these shows in the past, I know the musical impact it delivers is palpable for both the audience and the performers,” Wagner wrote in an email. “There’s a real feeling of being in the room together and, not to state the obvious, but this is clearly a time for folks to come together and help each other out.”
All net proceeds from the benefit will go the Vermont Community Foundation’s VT Flood Response and Recovery Fund 2023. The nonprofit has already directed more than $1 million in funds to Vermonters impacted by the July floods. Wagner also revealed that they have a donor match for up to $100,000.
“If we raise $20K, we’ll actually raise $40K. If we raise $50K, we actually raise $100K,” Wagner explained. “That kind of match will go a long way in terms of helping out farms who have lost crops, infrastructure and equipment due to flooding.”
For more information and to purchase tickets to the benefit, go to flynnvt.org.