Chris Merkley said every year, it would get harder to fit all the bands playing at Seedstock into one day.
He and fellow organizer Tyler Coakley decided this year’s Seedstock VIII would be different: Three days of music, almost double the acts, two nights of camping and amped-up food vending with a local vegetable farmer providing the produce.
“We always wanted to see what Seedstock would grow into … We tried to grow it at the rate that felt right,” said Merkley, president of Old Boy Records and an area musician. “People have been asking for years now, ‘Is there going to be camping?’”
“That’s the newest part of the festival, taking on camping (enough for 200 tent spots), extending days, seeing outside vendors, crafts and artisans,” said Coakley, a William George Agency employee who has been with Seedstock since its first year, when it was just a house party. The event has grown from some 200 people in its first year to some 1,200 last year.
Seedstock VIII will take place Friday through Sunday at Merkley’s home on Route 215 in Cortlandville, next door to the Reed’s Seeds farm.
The event kicks off 5 p.m. Friday and goes until 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Nth Power, a national act from New York City, is a headliner of the event. Other bands include Driftwood, Big Mean Sound Machine, Sophistafunk, Digger Jones, The Blind Spots, Thunder Body, Mosaic Foundation, Tim Herron Corporation, Los Blancos, Unknown Woodsmen, Rockwood Ferry, Ruha, Horizon Wireless, Molly and the Badly Bent Bluegrass Boys, Jackson Massive, Jimmyjohn McGabe, Dana Twigg, Travis Rocco, Fall Creek Brass Band, Rachel Beverly, silent disco with DJ Gourd and more.
“Tyler and I are all-hands-on-deck,” said Merkley, as far as organizing.
Besides working with a team of volunteers, they have hired a security firm to promote safety and sound experts Matt Barnes and Jared Light. They also have lined up insurance, and Renovus, an Ithaca solar company, is providing a solar-powered charging station for people’s cell phones.
Coakley is helping build two stages at Merkley’s house, and a third, small stage will be in the “meraki forest,” a quiet space with art installations off to the side. He is overseeing the volunteers and the website and is providing light technology with Greg Marsted.
Vegetables for the festival will be provided by Allan Gandelman, an owner of Main Street Farms, who leases Reed’s Seeds farm next door. Don and Carol Reed still dwell in their home next to Merkley.
“We feel like we are living up to the name even more, teaming up with Allan and the vegetable farm,” said Merkley. He’s calling it a “farm-to-fest” event.
Organizers have brought in Brix of Cortland and barbecue enthusiast Dan Zech to come up with the food that will be available, with breakfast, lunch and dinner and night food.
“I don’t even know what the menu will be,” said Gandelman. “I am looking forward to — besides the music, of course — the food. That’s always my favorite part of the festival. I love hanging out. I love listening to music. I love eating. … I am excited to have Dave and the people at Brix (come up with the menu) and have fresh vegetables.”
“It’s local everything. Local people. Local food. Local musicians,” said Gandelman.
Coakley said the Don Reed crew would help out every year. Now that his farm is leased to Main Street Farms, that crew is stepping in and helping, too.
“It’s nice to see camaraderie of the festival. The give and take,” he said. “There are not too many festivals … where a residential house is dead center of a festival. It is unique in that way.”
For Merkley and Coakley, it’s been a team-building experience. Griffin Construction is helping build the stages. A Syracuse promoter is helping secure bands. A ticket agent is handling tickets.
“It’s a very expensive house party,” said Merkley. Sound, lights, bands, insurance and security all add up, he said.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of three days, seeing a lot more bands coming to the festival,” said Coakley. “Always a favorite is the silent disco and meraki forest. I’m excited to see how the food vendors come together.”