Acoustic Afternoons at the Ross Farm
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Two Autumn Acoustic Afternoon at the Ross Farm events featured top-notch performances in October and November and brought new people to the site to enjoy live music and learn a little bit about the history of our property. Hosted by the Friends of the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate, each event was a little different from the other, based on the fact that the first one was held in the barn and the second in the home on the property.
The historic, mid-19th century bank barn was home for our first Acoustic Afternoon on October 18, which featured three talented musicians. With mini-bleachers, pews, and folding chairs, the barn held about 65 people. Softly lit with battery-operated candles and fairy lights, and with professional sound provided by Basking Ridge resident David Ferdinand’s One Dream, the barn was transformed into a cozy music venue. Volunteers donated baked goods and appetizers, which were arranged along a curtained wall by teen volunteers and enjoyed by all.
Butch Parnell, Americana artist and lead singer of Runaway Dorothy, opened the show with his gorgeous vocals and lyrics and a fun dose of self-deprecating humor. Parnell, a North Carolina native, now lives in NYC and just recently released his solo project, The Brightness, with songs he had written for his band but felt they stood better on their own without the treatment of a full band. Parnell certainly performed a lovely solo set with these songs. Christian Lopez, a 20-year-old from West Virginia, followed Parnell. He also played solo, away from his Christian Lopez Band for a few shows. He delighted the audience with songs from his latest album, “Onward,” including “Leaving It Out,” which has seen a lot of play on Country Music Television recently. Featured musician JD Eicher hails from Youngstown, OH, where he also has a band, The Goodnights, and was also playing solo for our event. His songs and stories captivated the crowd in the barn, including a beautiful cover of “Hallelujah” and songs from his three-CD series, “The Shape of Things,” “Shifting,” and “Into Place.” Parnell, Lopez and Eicher were kept busy after the show shaking hands, taking pictures and selling CDs and t-shirts to the guests who had come from as far as Pittsburgh and West Virginia to catch this unique show. We were delighted to welcome family members of the musicians as well as fans who had learned about the event from fan websites and our own social media!
We changed things up a bit for the second event on November 18 when the beautiful home on the property became the music venue. The scene was set once again with battery-operated candles and fairy lights, and the musicians performed in front of the fireplace of what we appropriately call the “music room.” Desserts were served in the dining room, while coffee and tea were available in the library, giving guests a nice opportunity to walk through and enjoy the lower level of the home before and after the concert.
The End of America, a folk-rock trio from Philadelphia, captivated the room of about 45 people with songs from their CDs, “Shakey” and “Steep Bay.” The trio includes Brendon Thomas, James Downey and Trevor Leonard, who came together from three different bands to form TEOA. Singer-songwriter Matt Hires entertained the audience with stories from the road and music from several of his releases and even a few new, unreleased songs. Formerly of Florida, Hires now lives in Nashville and a couple of the songs he performed are the result of a songwriting group he has joined in “Music City.” Friends and fans enjoyed sticking around after the show to chat with the musicians and buy some of their t-shirts, CDs and other merchandise.
The audiences at both shows were made up of Basking Ridge residents and friends who were happy to support the activities of the Friends of the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate as well as fans of each of the musicians. Social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as the Ross Farm website (rossfarm.org) reached not only our local friends but fans of the trio and solo musicians, bringing new friends to the farm for the music events.
With the success of these recent music events, our Board is looking forward to bringing more music to the farm in 2016. The second annual Rock the Barn concert is already scheduled for May 7 and will feature a fantastic Columbus, OH-based band, Nick D’ and the Believers – be on the lookout for details shortly after the New Year!