The Recorder – Barbès in the Woods makes Montague a world stage

MONTAGUE – The Barbès in the Woods music festival made the small town of Montague the center of the world on Saturday.

The a musical program of global influence which marked the day’s festivities between previous precipitation and impending Hurricane Henri. Cloudy skies and mid-1980s heat did little to dampen the festival, as the location of Bartlett Farm saw its vast field crushed by hundreds of dancing feet.

The farm installation consisted of two stages – the Field Stage and the Grove Stage – which participants could alternate from at the end of the sets. Several food trucks and other vendors have set up on both sides of the field. The cove at the back of the site was lined with loudspeakers playing music and a sign inviting people to splash around and cool off.

Edo Mor, festival talent buyer and master of ceremonies for Laudable Productions, said he had high hopes for attendance, compared to the number of people Barbès in the Woods drew in 2019.

“We expected it to be twice as full and twice as full,” said Mor. “It’s incredibly encouraging to have an attendance that exceeds expectations for music that people have never heard before. ”

It is this theme of curiosity and foreign attraction that made the festival so special. Barbès in the Woods was inspired by Barbes, the bar in South Brooklyn, NY, which has proudly hosted internationally diverse live music since it opened in 2003. Kyle Homestead, Founder and Impresario of Laudable Productions, said the The main goal was to juxtapose international relevance with the small town vibe of Montague to “bring as much magic to the nooks and crannies (of the region) as possible”.

Robyn O’Brien, a Plainfield resident who attended the inaugural Barbes in the Woods 2019 festival, said Mor did a great job sculpting the identity of the event.

“I love everything he brings to the valley in terms of world music,” said O’Brien. “I like the performers. They are original and wonderful.

Gyan Riley, a member of artist Arooj Aftab’s Vulture Prince ensemble, said the outdoor nature of the festival is especially exciting for him as someone who has enjoyed performing at Barbes in Brooklyn countless times.

“It’s just a really wonderful way to hear this music,” said Riley.

Another member of the ensemble, Darian Thomas, said such a congregation was particularly significant given how the COVID-19 pandemic made such gatherings difficult.

“It all feels like an exercise in perseverance and perseverance,” said Thomas. “I think it’s really beautiful.”

“It’s really cool. I haven’t really done a lot of outdoor festivals,” Aftab said. “We’re really, really thankful to be able to play again.”

Some participants, regardless of location and connection to the city, relished the sense of community that could be fostered in such a place.

“It’s your woodland festival crowd,” said Aftab, a Brooklyn resident. “It’s really cold. Our music is like that too, you know?

“I really like the sense of community,” said Kiana Garvey, a Boston resident. “I just saw two people kissing and it was really amazing, especially because of the pandemic.”

Even though the festival attracts people from all over the world, the organizers made a point of emphasizing that the local community deserves its own love.

“The community here is really important to us,” Homestead said.

Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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