A Frenchman moves to NY. In 2003, he opens a bar with a friend in South Brooklyn. He calls it Barbès, named after a hardscrabble North African neighborhood in Paris where he used to hang out as a teenager. They start booking bands there — including his own — and it quickly becomes Brooklyn’s favorite hang for omnivorous, authentic, non-commercial and international music. Today the venue hosts more than 700 performances A YEAR.
OK, great. So now you probably want to go there.
So this is where we country mice invite the city mice for a really killer hang. Barbès in the Woods is a one-day summer music festival in Western Massachusetts with a no-filler, all-killer ensemble of musical talent from NY. The best of NY meets the best of Western Mass: idyllic, pastoral — I’m going to drop the B-word here, people — even bucolic.
What we’re talking about here is the quintessential backyard festival — the sort of festival you’ve always wanted in the middle of your Happy Valley summer. The Bartlett Farm is 12 acres of field, river and forest abutting the Sawmills Conservation Area. It’s a five minute walk from the Book Mill. There’s a public swimming hole down the street. For children it’s like the Hundred Acre Woods. And there’s a pipsqueak of a dog called Gunner ambling around trying to chew off people’s ankles. If Barbès was an outdoor music festival rather than an intimate bar in Brooklyn, this is exactly what it would look like.
In a somewhat magical turn of events, The Bartlett Farm is becoming Barbès for a day. On August 17 Montague is in for a musical bacchanal unlike anything the little town has ever seen. It is a wispy fantasy come true to be co-curating this midsummer night’s dream with my Laudable colleagues and with Olivier Conan, founder of Chicha Libre and co-owner of Barbès. This first year lineup includes a lot of the folks who made the place what it is: Slavic Soul Party, Stephane Wrembel, Combo Chimbita, Big Lazy, and Anbessa Orchestra; as well as other Brooklyn wonders like the great Antibalas (celebrating their 20th afrobeat anniversary!), Underground System, Alsarah & the Nubatones; and some local friends: Klezperanto and the Berkshire Bateria.
August 17. You got that? Oh hey — before you get started! I don’t care if you’ve already booked a fancy AIRBNB in Vermont or bought tickets to Hamilton. Forget Hamilton. Hamilton is not going away on August 17. But this particular convergence — this first-time woodsy homage to the best bar in Brooklyn — is going to be an empty field on August 17.
Get your ticket already. Ya’ll are the loveliest audience we could ever imagine — we can’t bear not having you with us for this one.
— EDO, KYLE & CASSANDRA