Didn’t make it to Bonnaroo this year? There’s still time to check out Barnaroo, a locally produced festival and Western North Carolina’s only youth-run music event. Barnaroo was created in 2009 by Andrew Scotchie (the frontman of roots-rock collective The River Rats). He was 16 at the time and wanted to create a space for his friends to play shows. “We were all too young to go out anywhere,” he remembers. So, his mom’s barn (as the name implies) in Weaverville became the site of the inaugural festival.
Over the years, the homegrown music fête has expanded to include groups that Scotchie met and befriended while touring throughout the region. “It was the beginning of something great because we were all finding out where our hearts were,” says Scotchie. “It was community.”
Barnaroo went from a kids’ jam session to a reputable music fest. So, after the River Rats played Franny’s Farm Fest in Leicester over the summer, Scotchie approached farm owner Frances Tacy about relocating his festival to her land. She quickly offered the first weekend in November.
With the help of longtime supporter A1 Music Warehouse, Barnaroo launches at its new home with two stages, three days of music, 20-plus acts, local artists and craftspeople, food trucks, camping and raffles.
Mountain Xpress: When did you first realize that Barnaroo was catching on?
Andrew Scotchie: We started meeting all these bands and doing show trades where we’d bring a band from Tennessee or South Carolina. We’d give them a show at the barn and, in exchange, they’d give us a show in their hometown. That created a buzz. The one in 2011 was the first one that was really legit, something the whole community could latch onto. We had bands from Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. We started printing T-shirts. I look at Barnaroo as a way to support bands that I think are really great.
The festival at Franny’s Farm this week will be the second Barnaroo this year. How did that happen? We had one in June [in Weaverville] and ran out of parking spaces quickly. I was thinking of how to get this thing on a larger scale, and I met Frances Tacy. She does things really well, and she does it out of love. I figured if we were going to move it, that would be the spot. A lot of the infrastructure was already laid down: We had the lineup within the first month.
You’ve got some impressive bands on the lineup, like Shonna Tucker. Did you reach out to someone to help with booking? I actually handled it myself. It was surprising who gets back to you and who will answer an email. A lot of bands I contacted responded pretty quickly. The River Rats have been playing the Southeast a bit, and we’ve met a lot of good people. The biggest hurdle, I’d say, was getting Shonna Tucker, because I had to go through a talent agency. I thought of how The Hermit Kings played with Shonna Tucker at Downtown After Five. I’m a huge Drive-By Truckers fan, so I went to the website. They got back to me within 48 hours.
And Chuck Brodsky — I’ve heard his name since I was a little kid. One time, the River Rats and Chuck Brodsky were announced at the same time on the WWNC 88.7 concert calendar, and I was like, “Maybe we should hit him up.” It was easy. We were friends on Facebook already. He latched onto it when we told him it was benefiting the Rock Academy [in Asheville]. A lot of these bands I’m booking I’m a huge fan of. I’m inspired by them.
What else is happening at the festival? We got a guitar donated from Music City. All the bands are going to sign the guitar, and there will be a chance to win it. A1 Music Warehouse will have a booth with rock memorabilia. We’ll have a guy spinning fire. And we’ll have food trucks. That’s one thing my mom used to nag me about at the other Barnaroos. She’d say, “Andrew, I’m not going to cook food for all these people.”
— Alli Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
where: Franny’s Farm, frannysfarm.com
when: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 1-3
Advance tickets: $65 VIP / $30 weekend / $25 Saturday-Sunday / $20 Saturday / $15 Friday or youth ages 12-17.