What started as a small musical gathering last year has grown into the massive Meadowlark Festival. The event is being held at Stone Ridge Orchard this coming weekend, with an opener on Friday evening, and full days of music Saturday and Sunday.
Meadowlark features an eclectic mix of musical artists that’s hard to put into a single category, but if you’re a fan of Americana or contemporary indie music, it’s safe to say you’ll find things you’ll like in the line-up.
“We’ve got a single stage that’s going to be very special,” says festival producer Daniel Leslie. “Our production team is bringing in a vintage 1940’s travel trailer called the Ramblin’ Rose that’s been converted into a stage. Between sets we’ll have performers from the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, and a screening by video artist Preston Spurlock.”
The headliner on Saturday is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, fronted by Alec Ounsworth. The band hails from Philly and Brooklyn, and will be performing material from all five of their albums.
“We’re looking forward to getting up there and playing this festival,” says Ounsworth. “It will be a beautiful time of year up there and perfect for the music.”
Saturday’s lineup also includes Jolie Holland, Chris Staples, Babehoven, Kaia Kater, and The Detroit Cobras.
Sunday’s headliner, DeVotchKa, promises to be a most interesting highlight. An alluring blend of instrumentation hints at South America one moment, eastern Europe the next. How does a band from Colorado come to sound so intriguingly international?
“We started in Denver,” explains DeVotchKa’s singer, Nick Urata. “Kerouac called it the Greenwich village of the west. It’s the stomping grounds of his muse Dean Moriarty. There’s something about the wide open skies and cold hearted reality that makes for great art.”
You’re probably familiar with DeVotchKa’s music, even if you don’t realize it, as it’s been highly featured in indie films, including Little Miss Sunshine and I Love You Phillip Morris.
Whether you come out Sunday or not, make sure to go online and check out DeVotchKa’s luminously filmed video for “Done With Those Days,” in which the band goes searching for a tornado—and finds one!
Sunday’s line-up will also feature Kacy & Clayton, Chris Smither, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, The Kondrat Sisters and Ryan Lee Crosby.
The backdrop for Meadowlark is one of the festival’s attractions. Stone Ridge Orchard has been a working farm for nearly two centuries. Among the apple trees are McIntosh, Golden Delicious and others dating from the farm’s early years, along with over 1,000 trees of newer varieties. Elizabeth Ryan, of Breezy Hill Orchard, has been managing the orchard at Stone Ridge since 2008.
“I’m from a long line of farmers,” Ryan says. “My mother grew up on a family farm that is still being farmed in Iowa. I went to Cornell and I have a degree in pomology, the science of growing fruit. I’m now operating six farms in two counties. We use ecological best practices, and we also have one of the highest pollinator rates in the State of New York which we attribute to our regenerative farming practices.”
The significance of holding the festival at Stone Ridge Orchard goes beyond the bucolic setting, Meadowlark is also donating a portion of the proceeds to farm organizations including Farm Aid, Rondout Valley Growers Association, and Stone Ridge Permaculture Fund.
“Despite the recent popular interest in local food, farms are being lost in New York State every day,” says Daniel Leslie. “Farmers struggle to break even most of the time. This year alone there have been catastrophic crop losses in New York due to early frost and flooding, and with climate change this is becoming the new normal.”
Leslie says that, assuming they’re able to cover costs, the festival plans on donating 50% of the net proceeds to these organizations, and will give a percentage of each ticket as a baseline contribution whether or not the festival breaks even.
In addition to the music, there will be a variety of local food trucks, as well as things baked, brewed or distilled right at the orchard or nearby. There will be handmade goods by local artisans as well. Does Elizabeth Ryan have any favorite ciders in particular?
“All of our ciders will be available at Meadowlark,” she says. “We’ll be offering fresh fruit ciders and scrumpy along with Northern Spy and other varieties. Our peach cider made with our own ripe peaches is just delightful. We will have eight or ten ciders available for tasting and purchase.”
Tickets for either Saturday 9/9 or Sunday 9/10 start at $90 for general admission. Gates open at 11:30am both days. See the Meadowlark website (meadowlarkfest.com) for information about VIP amenities available at a higher ticket price. Also see the website for information about Friday 9/8 evening’s event at 5:30pm, which for $80 features Lizzie No, Beccs and Cloudbelly, dinner included.