CHIMACUM — Love songs and honky-tonk, “Backsliding Blues” and “Ophelia,” ice cream and apple cider: That’s the plan this weekend at Finnriver Farm & Cidery, a fertile spot among the orchards and the pastures of the Chimacum Valley.
From Saturday to Sunday, three bands will make nine hours of music in “Red, White and Bluegrass,” the annual Independence Day celebration for which there’s no cover charge at the farm at 124 Center Road, Chimacum.
‘Kickoff for summer’
“This gig is pretty much the kickoff for our summer,” said Jim Faddis, singer-guitarist with the FarmStrong trio, set to play from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
With his fellow guitar man and vocalist Cort Armstrong and standup bassist John Pyles, Faddis plays a blend of bluegrass, country and rhythm and blues. “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” from the Temptations has been known to be on the set list with songs from John Prine, Ray Charles and Delbert McClinton.
For Saturday evening, local multi-instrumentalist Matt Sircely, known for his work with the band Hot Club Sandwich among others, has rustled up a quartet for this occasion: Charlie Beck on banjo, Lamar Lofton on bass and Mike Oenbring on fiddle will join him from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Finnriver and food vendors from close by will dish up local fare for lunch, supper and dessert: the farm’s own salads and bratwurst, Hama Hama Seafood, Dented Buoy Pizza, Fiddlehead Creamery vegan gelato and La Crepe de Quimper are among the choices.
Sunday brings an ensemble over from Seattle to play “just good foot-stompin’ music,” in the words of banjo man Al Shelley. He’s with the Cascade Creek Bluegrass Band, which has on its agenda songs like “Hot Corn, Cold Corn,” “Cluck Old Hen,” “Muddy Waters” and “Fox on the Run.”
Shelley said his band does traditional bluegrass: not the “newgrass” where the musicians race to play their licks as fast as possible, but rather the kind of songs that tell you a juicy story.
“If you can’t have fun listening to bluegrass, you haven’t got a soul,” Shelley believes.
Shelley, Sircely and Faddis are fans of Finnriver, not only for its booking of live music but also for the atmosphere. This is a farm and 50-acre orchard with more than 6,000 organic apple trees, a 20-acre field of grains, a children’s play area, a flock each of geese and sheep and lots of green grass.
“It’s a wonderful family venue and a lot of space for the kiddos, and excellent cider and vittles,” is how Faddis puts it.
“We’ll have live music every Saturday and Sunday with also some pop-ups” on other days of the week, said Ashley Zawrotny, Finnriver’s booker.
Whenever live music is happening on the farm, according to www.finnriver.com/, draft pours of the various ciders are a dollar more; those proceeds go to the performers.
“Finnriver has grown to be an amazing venue,” said Sircely, who played there back when the place had no stage for musicians — just a bunch of straw in front of the barn door.
The farmers here, he added, have shown how much they value live music.
“If you think about it, music and agriculture have a lot in common,” since both start with a seed — an idea — and both provide people with nourishment.
But “uncertainty reigns,” Sircely said, and the only way to go is to “keep the faith [and] work with great people.”
For more information, see www.finnriver.com/music or call 360-339-8478.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.