Doodad Farm is more than a music venue
*Editor’s note: The Seventh Annual Groove Jam Music Festival has been rescheduled from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22 due to weather conditions.
By: Terry Rader
In January, I discovered that the annual Groove Jam Music Festival is just one of many events hosted by Dean and Laurel Driver at Doodad Farm. When a friend took me to my first house concert, with Joe Newberry and Gabriela la Foley, I quickly returned for more house concerts. Specifically, the 1972 Redo Music Benefit for Harmony Music School, outdoor shows with local musicians performing original songs including Sam Frazier & the Side Effects, Trent Lee, Jack Williams, Barry Gray & Graymatter, Jack Gorham, Jon Shain, Carrie Paz and national act, Jonathan Byrd.
Driver told me how he and Laurel first discovered the American/folk-rock band, Driftwood at Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. They were so impressed with how well Driftwood was received and offered to host them in 2012. Driftwood has returned to Doodad Farm, their favorite place to play, every year since, creating quite a following in Greensboro. They bring in larger audiences than any other act, considering they are from upstate New York.
“They ruined me for most every band, they are so good,” Driver said. “They might go from playing a folk-rock song to a traditional rendition of ‘Turkey in the Straw,’ and when they do Dylan covers, you don’t realize it until further along. They make every cover their own. Driftwood may dazzle the crowd with a few tasty cover songs, but mostly they perform originals from their five albums.”
The group, formed in 2005, consists of Dan Forsyth (guitar, vocals), Joe Kollar (banjo, guitar, percussion), Claire Byrne (violin, vocals) and Joey Arcuri (upright bass, vocals). Just recently, Driftwood added drummer Will Sigel.
Everyone who has become a part of the Doodad Farm tribe will attest to Dean and Laurel being gracious hosts, happily sharing the land and connecting more people to music. They are open to hosting more musicians and local community nonprofit fundraisers, and they never take a penny for any event.
Rich Lerner of Rich Lerner and the Groove, was also happy to find Doodad Farm, the venue of choice for six years now for the Groove Jam Music Festival. Lerner has managed this nonprofit fundraiser for the Greensboro Urban Ministry since 2011.
“I met Warren Haynes at The Christmas Jam benefit that originated in Asheville to raise money for the Habitat for Humanity,” Lerner said. “Haynes was featuring bands he was friends with or had played with, including The Allman Brothers Band, The Avett Brothers, The Doobie Brothers and others. That was such an inspiration to me. I wanted to do a smaller fundraiser in my community with a group of my musician friends. Since 2011, it has grown to include many local acts, and they play for free. All of the proceeds go to the Greensboro Urban Ministry. Last year was our biggest year ever. With an attendance of 750 people, we raised $19,000 and collected 4,148 pounds of food donations. We expect this one to do even better as it has grown every year.”
Driver told me that Lerner runs this fundraiser like a well-oiled machine. It’s the only event where the Doodad volunteers get to be hands-off, relax and enjoy the music.
“The farm is only 10 minutes from downtown Greensboro, but you’ll feel like you’re way out in the country,” Driver said. “For Groove Jam, we’ll have a food truck and plenty of activities to entertain the kids. Bring your coolers and chairs. Sit up front to watch the band or sit further back to visit with friends. It’s a win-win for everyone. Doodad Farm has its own vibe. You’ll feel it when you’re here. Please spread the word about our events so everyone can enjoy our place.”
This day-long fundraiser with local bands performing mostly covers is not the typical Doodad experience (which consists of original music and smaller crowds). Driver revealed that there would be a new Candlelight Concert series starting in late September.
They plan to take music back in time 150 years. That means no amps, mics, electric lights, cell phones or photos for the most intimate, natural setting ever, where only 35 people sit right up on the stage with the performers. RSVP to save your spot.
Driftwood (9/1), Seventh Annual Groove Jam Music Festival (9/22), Candlelight Concerts: Abigail Dowd (9/20), Karyn Oliver (9/28), Daniel Ayers (10/5), and Jeff Wall (10/19). For more details, visit the Facebook event and website.