BERWICK, Maine — The curtain may be going down inside the barn of Hackmatack Playhouse, but outside at Hackmatack Farm a whole new form of entertainment is in the works.
The Hackmatack Farm launched a bimonthly Bluegrass Summer Porch Series on Sunday, June 26, that will continue every other Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the porch of the barn. The first event in the series will welcome all levels of musicians to bring instruments for a bluegrass jam.
“It is open to musicians who are rusty and want to build a community or folks who have been playing for years,” said Conor Guptill, farm proprietor who a decade ago brought bison onto the farm on Route 9 in Berwick. “We also hope families and fans of music will show up and enjoy the series as well.”
Musicians and audience members will be invited to tour the farm and see the bison, as well as the Mangalitsa long-haired pigs and critically endangered San Clemente Island goats.
The jam was inspired in part by this year’s 50th anniversary show, “Smoke on The Mountain,” the last show that will be performed at Hackmatack Playhouse, which was opened by Guptill’s grandfather, Carleton Guptill. This musical comedy set in 1938 takes place in the mountains of Tennessee and celebrates family and community.
“Smoke on the Mountain,” which is billed as a “gospel bluegrass comedy,” plays July 29 to Aug. 20 and is the perfect complement to Hackmatack’s new bluegrass series.
The Bluegrass concert series will be hosted by local veteran bluegrass musicians. Mr. Sippy & Old Time Dave Talmage will lead the first session June 26. Dave Talmage, an Old Time troubadour, and Cecil Abels, a Mississippi native and longtime front-man of The New England Bluegrass Band, will lead this JAM with “a sack full of great songs and fine picking,” Guptill said.
The following weeks will feature Lincoln Meyers and Taylor Smith, “guitar and mandolin Monsters!” on July 10; Green Heron, a duo, on July 24 and Cedar Mountain Bluegrass Band a traditional bluegrass band, on Aug. 14.
The bluegrass will continue until the weather is cold, and future hosts to be announced later in the season, Guptill said.
Although Hackmatack began as a farm first, Guptill's great grandfather, Lewis, was the grandmaster of the Grange for many years and performance is part of the DNA of the farm.
“In the spirit of music and community, we have always envisioned music as part of the bison farm from its very origin,” Guptill said. “It’s a celebration of our local community and local culture and the start of many different events and community-themed activities at the farm as we broaden from just being a farm to being focal point of community.”
As Guptill envisions it, the jam will be a bluegrass circle where the people who show up to play help make up the band.
“As long as people know the chords they can jump in,” said Guptill, a self-described music geek. “If you have even rudimentary experience on your instrument you can jump in at any level.”
A self-described music geek, Guptill played fiddle throughout his childhood, and picked up a bunch of other instruments along the way, landing on voice as his favorite instrument.
The jams will continue until it’s too cold. The farm store will be open with its locally grown meats and locally produced foods, and snacks will be available.
“Make an afternoon of it,” Guptill said. "Swing over on your way home from church or after family breakfast"
The Bluegrass Summer Porch Series began at Hackmatack Farm on Sunday, June 26. It will run 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Sunday through summer, and until the weather turns too cold. More information is available from firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 207-632-0618.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Bluegrass series launches at Hackmatack