BUCHANAN — The fields of Flatwater Farms in Buchanan, the home of River Saint Joe brewery and restaurant, will be filled with the sounds of music and camaraderie once again on Sunday, March 5th.
The second of the Greenhouse Pick’n monthly events will take place from 1-3pm, with acoustic musicians of all skills and audiences of all interests invited to join the experience.
“It doesn’t matter what level of musician you are. You can come and you can get better and be in an environment that’s really fun and safe,” said Michael Rowland, one of the event organizers.
Given the season, the event takes place in one of the greenhouses where brewery customers keep comfortable from the weather, though he has already imagined what will happen in the warmer months, with the potential for musicians to break out into smaller groups and spread throughout the property. He described River Saint Joe, with its open and natural spaces overlooking the beautiful rolling fields, as the perfect match for the music.
“The folk and bluegrass and country really fits in with the culture here,” he said. “Plus, they have really good beer.”
With only one event in the books, the interest in the event has increased substantially. Families and other brewery customers are able to come out to dine or drink and enjoy the farm, with the bonus of music all around them.
Rowland explained the accidental origin of the event. With a dearth of local jams and the onset of the pandemic, getting together to play music got difficult for musicians. Many started with playing outside when that was the safest way to gather, which already fit well with the jam element of folk, bluegrass, and acoustic music. More recently, Ann Tuite of River Saint Joe and Flatwater Farms, shared a video with Michael of local luthier Jan Burda randomly playing some music with friends while visiting the farm. Michael jumped on the idea immediately.
“Let’s do that!” he recalled saying.
Rowland’s love of the music is borne from the community it creates and builds on. He recalled watching similar events as a child, being amazed by the organic movement of the music from person to person, with real time improvisation creating a magic that no standard concert setlist could match. He described how one person would call out a song, with everyone jumping in on rhythm and individual parts being passed back and forth via nonverbal communication. Musicians who don’t know each other personally, young and old, new and professional, share in a moment, learning from each other, playing music of all genres that could be contemporary or might be over 600 years old.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re in a moment in time with something really special and unique,” he said. “You can play the same song a million different ways with a million different musicians and it’s the same but always different.”
That community is what River Saint Joe and the event organizers are hoping to foster. Audiences are invited to enjoy watching the players and listening to the music. Musicians are invited to take part in a moment in time and learn from each other. Rowland emphasized that they wanted as few barriers as possible to both musicians and audience, whatever their skill level or whatever musical genre they prefer.
“Take a chance, you won’t be disappointed,” he said. “Put your instrument in your car and just come here, order a beer and just watch.”
Information on Greenhouse Pick’n can be found at the events section of the River Saint Joe Facebook page at facebook.com/riverstjoebrewery.