The second annual Festival at the Farm is once again set to take place on Prowse Farm in Canton, MA on September 16th and 17th, boasting a lineup that features an eclectic mix of in-demand artists like Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Martin Sexton, The Marcus King Band, Brett Dennen, Ryan Montbleau, Kat Wright, and many more. The event also has focused on curating a local, homegrown feel in a family-friendly environment, enlisting local businesses, farmers, and food and craft beer vendors to get involved.

As the event continues to draw closer, we were able to chat with event organizer and producer James Macdonald of Six Chair Productions about Festival at the Farm, the past endeavors at Prowse Farm that led to this festival incarnation, and how he has made it his mission to work with the local community to create a festival that has the neighborhood vibe while also appealing to an larger audience.

Live For Live Music: Have any of the artists on this year’s bill have played the festival before?

James Macdonald: Yes, in fact we have a handful of artists who have played at Prowse Farm going back to the days when I was the Festival Director for the Life Is Good Festival. Artists making a return trip to the farm are Martin Sexton, the Wood Brothers, Brett Dennen, Ryan Montbleau, Kat Wright, Dwight and Nicole, Session Americana and Josh and the Jamtones doing the kids’ thing. Between Life Is Good Festival and last year’s Festival at the Farm, we’ve created a nice little family bond and the artists really seem to enjoy the location and vibe.

L4LM: Can you tell us a little about the history of Festival at the Farm?

JM: The festival began last summer, but I have been producing events at the site going back to 2010. As the festival director of the Life is Good Festival (2010-2013), I worked to create a special event for the Boston-area at this really special location. Fast forward to 2016, the Life is Good Festival was no longer…but I felt the site was just too beautiful and convenient to not continue producing a similarly-minded music festival. So in an effort to continue bringing people back to the Farm for live music, I created Festival at the Farm. Second time’s a charm?…

L4LM: It seems organizers, artists, and fans alike have developed a connection to this venue. How was the Prowse Farm location originally chosen?

JM: There are very few places in the Boston area that are as convenient and beautiful in direct proximity to the city. We’re less than 20 minutes away and we found the site in 2009 in an effort to expand the Life is Good Festival. Six festivals at the farm later…we really feel like we have a beautiful home in an amazing place to see music. There’s a 685 foot cliff directly behind the stages and a beautiful green lawn. There’s just something magical about seeing music in a place that inspires you.

L4LM: This year boasts a particularly solid lineup of acts from across the musical spectrum. Which sets are you most excited to see?

JM: As the event’s producer I feel a special sense of excitement about all of the acts, but I’m especially looking forward to my friends Ryan Montbleau and Kat Wright. I’m also proud of the fact that we can represent the Boston music scene so well with so many bands from the area. For me, it’s just about seeing these bands discover this beautiful location and vibe. And, of course, there’s a lot of fun seeing the little kids rock out to Josh and The Jamtones.

L4LM: Outside of the music, the fest features some really great local food and craft beer options. How important is it to work with the local community in building a successful event?

JM: This event is really all about community. It’s independently owned, in fact it’s sort of a “start-up” story in and of itself. So the local farmers and restaurants on site share a kinship what we are trying to do – we have all brought great ideas out to the community and I am so proud to partner with local businesses that believe in their own mission.

L4LM: Tell us a little about the vendors and sponsors Festival at the Farm works with.

JM: The festival wouldn’t be possible without our friends at Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. People thought it was a little crazy when I told them that we had developed such a great partnership. Usually music festivals focus heavily on a different type of partner. Pete and Gerry’s are an incredible business, supporting local farmers throughout New England, standing up for organic and humane farming practices. I truly am inspired by the things they have done and the things they believe in. Yes, I am gushing about an egg company, but they are the type of business this world needs.

L4LM: Not every music festival is entirely family friendly. To what extent did creating an environment for families with children factor into your overall concept and goals for Festival at the Farm?

JM: Music festivals just get lumped into this idea that it’s all about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll …or that they are the exclusive domain of teenagers and twenty-somethings. But it’s important to me that my own daughter gets to experience the joy and camaraderie a music festival delivers. I think it’s important to other people, too. Those are our people and we want them to join us. Going back to my life in the good ol’ festival days, I realized that there’s just absolutely nothing that will bring a smile to your face quicker than a five-year-old rocking out at a music festival. So, I just wanted to create a space where mom and dad could maybe have a beer and catch one of their favorite bands while the little ones go bananas and have fun in their own way. Music festivals are for everybody and I enjoy working hard to bring that concept to life.

L4LM: There is something to be said about the natural beauty of New England in the Fall. Was the choice to put on an event in early autumn something that was decided on from the start?

JM: It’s all about the weather. You just can’t beat New England in the late summer/early fall. Plus, I’m too busy going to all the other amazing summertime New England music to throw my own event [laughs].

L4LM: Thanks so much for your time, James. Best of luck this year!

Enter to win a free pair of tickets to the upcoming Festival at the Farm below:

Single-day tickets are $45, with two-days going for $75. Kids under 5 are free, while tickets for children 6-12 are $15 (single-day) and $20 (two-day). There is a special VIP option that includes a special dinner served by Commonwealth Cambridge chef/owner Nookie Postal. Tickets for Festival at the Farm are currently on-sale and can be purchased here. For additional information and event updates, join the Facebook Event page.

If you are traveling from the Boston area, leave your keys at home! The festival has teamed up with Skedaddle to provide an easy group transportation option to the festival. Buses leave from South Street in Boston, and back. Snag your seat on a route! Use promo code FARM10 for $10 off your seat! Purchase a spot on the bus here!

Festival At The Farm 2017 Lineup
The Wood Brothers
Brett Dennen
Lee Fields & The Expressions
Martin Sexton
Ryan Montbleau
The Marcus King Band
Session Americana
The Ballroom Thieves
Kat Wright
Dwight and Nicole
Twisted Pine
Julie Rhodes
Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Sean McConnell
Josh and the Jamtones

[cover photo courtesy of Owen S. Jordan]