Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill located in pristine Harrodsburg, Kentucky plays host to what is shaping up to be the best Americana music festival of 2014. Well Crafted, August 8-9 2014, couples some of the best musical talent in our beloved scene with the fine frothy libations of Kentucky’s local Craft Beer creators. Shaker Steps Productions’ Derek Feldman , Shaker Village’s VP of Marketing and Development Jennifer Broadwater, and Delight Hanover of Alias Records helped put together a line-up of artists that reads like the most played list on my Ipod.
Headlined by local songstress Dawn Landes on Friday the 8th and a solo performance by Lucero’s Ben Nichols the following night, the rest of the line-up is equally phenomenal. Great Peacock, Small Batch, and The Townies performing on Friday August the 8th; Wooden Wand, John Moreland, Austin Lucas, Adam Faucett, William Tyler, Kelsey Waldon, Tyler Childers, and Freakwater on Saturday. That’s just the main stage, Those Crosstown Rivals, Josh Nolan, Egon Danielson, and Derek’s musical alter-ego Doc Feldman round out the affair, to name a few.
I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing more than a few of these artists’ records and it’s safe to say, Well Crafted is a healthy mix of local Kentucky talent and some of the best national touring musicians on the planet. I had a chance to get the skinny on the festival and how it came about with Derek, who I might add, had a prodigious record last year entitled Sundowning At The Station as Doc Feldman and the LD50, a definite Sad Songs Keep The Devil Away favorite. If you’re an Americana fan and have the means to get out and see just one festival this year, your decision is easy: Well Crafted is your choice.
SSKTDA: For those of us outside of Kentucky, what exactly is Shaker Village?
Derek: Well, one good way to learn more about Shaker Village is to visit them on the web at www.shakervillageky.org. However, I can give you and your readers a summary of sorts. Basically, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a restored village that was home to a Shaker community primarily during the 1800s. I'm not sure exactly when the last Shakers left Pleasant Hill, but I think it was around the 1940s or 50s. The property has been restored (though with such old buildings there is just constant repair and upkeep needed). It is a non-profit organization now and a national historic landmark. It's truly an amazing place with beautiful old buildings and fantastic scenery. Something like 3,000 acres of land; walking, biking, and horseback riding trails; a river and even a riverboat. It's simply one of the most beautiful places in Kentucky (maybe even the entire U.S.). They have rooms where people can stay over night, and they have a relatively famous restaurant on the grounds that is supplied in large part by the working garden and farm on the property. I think there are probably a lot of misconceptions about the Shakers. I think people confuse them with the Amish. The Shakers were innovators. They were not anti-technology. Many of them were inventers, and they've had an impressive influence on American culture through architecture, furniture, food production, and philosophy. They were progressives. They were anti-slavery, anti-war, pro gender equality, and practiced communal responsibility and property. I personally find them fascinating, and I hope to do some sort of documentary or something at some point in my life.
Is Well Crafted the first live music festival there and how did the whole idea come about?
It's the first live "Americana" music and craft beer festival of its kind there, but actually they have had a Chamber Music Festival there for a number of years now. The whole idea came about when our music video production team, Shaker Steps, shot a session at Shaker Village with Egon Danielson in The Meeting House (one of the most amazing acoustical spaces anywhere). Shaker Village reached out to us because they were curious about our name. We got our name from the Shaker spirit drawings on the stairs of my video partner Mark Rush's old home in Garrard County. We just hit it off ever since. Jennifer Broadwater, VP of Marketing and Development at Shaker Village, asked if we would be interested in curating the lineup for a music and craft beer festival and we jumped at the opportunity.
The line-up is a veritable who's who of the Americana scene, how were you able to pull it off?
Thanks so much! Yeah, I'm personally very proud of this line-up. I wasn't able to get everyone I wanted of course due to budget limitations and artist availability and all that, but I'm extremely happy with how it turned out. The lineup fit perfectly with the overall theme of the festival. This idea of things being "Well Crafted." Whether we're talking about Shaker furniture or architecture, or if we're talking about local beers hand crafted to perfection, or if we're talking about the craft of great songwriting. We have some of the best songwriters anywhere on this lineup if you ask me. Honestly, we got lucky in a number of instances getting the artists we got. I know some of them personally, so I sort of called on a few of those friendly "favors." I'm not above begging by the way. My very good friend and sometimes collaborator James Toth (aka Wooden Wand) was helpful in reaching out to a number of artists for me. I also enlisted the help of one of the best promoters in Lexington, Delight Hanover (of Alias Records), and she did an amazing job just as I expected. In the end, we got an awesome mix of both nationally touring artists and local artists that in my opinion deserve to be out there mixing it up on the road with the best of them.
Kentucky is a hot bed of musical talent right now and really always has been, how close knit is the music scene there and what do you see as the reason for such a deep talent pool?
I didn't grow up here, so to some extent I have an "outsider's" perspective, but I think it's great. Like any "scene" there are ups and downs, agreements and disagreements, enthusiasm and apathy; but overall I'd say there is a pretty healthy camaraderie and a genuine love of collaboration. It's continually amazing to me the depth of talent throughout Kentucky and in Lexington specifically. That's one of the primary reasons we started Shaker Steps sessions music videos. We wanted to amplify the reach of these fantastic artists. I'm a fan of music first and foremost, and I'm passionate about sharing what I love with other people. Shaker Steps is kind of my way of saying to the world, "hey, check this out!... this music is so damn good!"
Well Crafted is all for a great cause, can you touch on that for us?
Definitely! All proceeds go towards Shaker Village, which is of course a non-profit organization. Specifically the money will go towards helping to fund Shaker Village's new Living Green and Environmental Stewardship initiatives and educational programs. The Shakers were excellent stewards of the land, and Shaker Village wants to utilize that same spirit to both transition to a more environmentally friendly daily operation of the site as well as teach others how they can become more green too.
I'm a huge fan of you and your songs, what is your musical background, and how did you get involved with Shaker Village and Shaker Steps?
Thank you so much for that. It really means a lot to me coming from you. I guess I've just always been a singer. My parents still joke with me that they could tell whether I liked my dinner by whether I would hum loudly throughout the meal. My dad was a Deadhead, so I grew up on the Grateful Dead being played in my house nearly all the time. I definitely have a kindred spirit in Jerry Garcia. He was my vocal coach and spiritual guru I suppose via my parents' stereo during my formative years. I learned to play bass and harmonica when I was in high school and had a rockin' basement/garage band there for a while with my friend David Lazaroff (of Brothers Lazaroff). I continued to play guitar and write songs ever since then really. I moved to Austin and then Nashville for a while but nothing too serious. I sort of gave up that dream of ever really "making it," so I went back to school and focused on that. About 3 or 4 years ago I met and became fast friends with James Toth (Wooden Wand). That was definitely a huge revelation for me. I was inspired, and he was incredibly encouraging. We formed a sort of Alt Country / Psych Folk group called Good Saints. It was relatively short lived, but it was a great learning experience for me, and I got to collaborate with James who in my opinion is one of the absolute best contemporary songwriters out there today. After Good Saints called it quits, I had a few songs that never got properly recorded as well as a handful of new songs that just sort of poured out of me during that time. I decided to go into the studio and record what became Sundowning at the Station with David Chapman (drummer from Good Saints), James (Wooden Wand) of course, and another friend Jeremiah Floyd on guitar. I sent it to the guys at This Is American Music, and to my surprise they actually wanted to release it. The response from bloggers and other music fans was really quite overwhelming to me. I never honestly expected anyone to listen. I'm just extremely thankful that people seemed to dig it. Well, I was inspired to start Shaker Steps after participating in ShowMeShows out of St. Louis (my home town). I thought to myself "why doesn't Lexington have anything like this?" So I went to my good friend (and Good Saints bassist) Mark Rush who was a photographer and asked him what it would take to do something similar here in Lexington. Mark loved the idea and we both just ran with it. We started out doing sessions with Wooden Wand, Coralee and the Townies, Tyler Childers, and J. Marinelli. It was definitely learning by trial and error, but we just went for it, and people seemed to enjoy what we were doing. We did a session with St. Paul and the Broken Bones right as they were about to blow up. They said our video was really helpful to them at that early stage, and I know it was helpful to us as well. We were asked by KET (Kentucky Public Television) to turn our sessions into an actual 30 minute weekly show on public television, and the rest is history as they say.
Any plans on a new Doc Feldman and the LD50 record and subsequent tour?
Actually, there are a few things coming up. I was recently in St. Louis and recorded with my old friends Brothers Lazaroff. Things are still in the works, but it looks like we will probably release a single as one side of a 7" vinyl split with another artist. Hopefully that will release sometime relatively soon. I've been incredibly busy with Shaker Steps stuff and Well Crafted stuff, as well as my actual day job, that songwriting has unfortunately taken a bit of a back seat. However, I am actively working on writing some new songs. I've been playing with and collaborating with a great group of local guys who have their own Drone Metal project called Everyone Lives, Everyone Wins. It may seem strange at first glance, but I'm really excited about the sound we're creating together. It's sort of a Psychedelic Doom Folk type sound. When we're ready to record and release new material it will be under the name Doc Feldman and the Infernal Method. So keep an eye out for that eventually.
+Words: Scott Zuppardo+