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Taking tunes on the trail


There's nothing new about taking music outside; players across the world have been picking on their metaphorical and literal front porches for centuries. But only recently have we discovered that if you take really good musicians, stick them on a flatbed trailer out in the middle of a space with no power, no amenities of any kind, can you use music to raise money and awareness for the preservation of outdoor spaces.


That's exactly what this site is here to do: inspire musicians and land trusts to head out for kind-of glamorous events to both raise a few bucks and get people to realize what a treasure open space means for this messed-up world. If music in the wild can get a few more people enjoying the trails and the wilderness, so much the better.


As this is the opening post for this site, let me fill in a little history of my own experiences. I had both founded and run the Fire In The Kitchen Concert series back in the mid 1990's as a way to bring in top fiddlers from around the world and introduce them to local school-age kids, hoping to show them that string instruments were really cool. It wasn't all about choosing between being an orchestra dork, a choir member, or marching band member. You could choose any path you wanted, and that most folk music was actually the punk rock of its day. As one old time fiddler who had learned at the knees of the original players down in Appalachia told me, " The job of the fiddler back in the mill town days was to keep the citizens of that mill town from killing each other on a wild Saturday night. Play loud, play fast, keep them dancing and distracted. If they were drinking too much, which they all did, keep them moving until they passed out."


I had many musicians do workshops to teach the particulars of their music. It was a blast, but as it was totally all-volunteer, including myself, it got to be a bit much. A little while back, a local farmer approached me with an idea. There was a recently-acquired local land trust property consisting of an old farm, and it needed funds to do a lot of outbuilding repairs. She suggested we hold a concert there, she'd do the cooking, and we'd raise some dough for the trust. So we dragged a generator down, a bunch of sound equipment, a few musicians who were a little unsure of how it was going to work, and gave it a whirl. In short, the result was an absolute blast. We repeated it for a few years, and it only got better. The pandemic hit, and all we did was double down on outdoor shows out in the wild.


In fact, it was during all the lockdowns that we realized it wasn't just fun, but we were raising considerable chunks of money for the trusts, as well as providing a much-needed mental health break for some really stressed-out people. Since then, I haven't looked back, and have taken the Fire In The Kitchen Concerts from a boutique, high-end indoor concert series to an outdoor-only series. OK, so when it's raining, we'll head into a barn or something, but it's still at the property that we're racing money for.


So now, sitting indoors on a rainy day, it's time to start putting all this experience, the hundreds of shows through 30 years to use. I'll be using this space to share tips for musicians and land trusts to repeat what I've been doing, and to share some outdoor experiences to hopefully inspire others to get outdoors.

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