December 8, 2021

Seedstock attracts music lovers

11th festival draws musicians, and crowd, from around the region

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

Steve Balkun, of the Hartford, Connecticut, duo the Balkun Brothers, rocks the back stage at the 11th Annual Seedstock music festival Saturday afternoon.

Seedstock, in its 11th official year this weekend, drew bands from around the region, which in turn brought in 900 music lovers from all over.

Such as Cristina Howery of West Haven, Connecticut, who made a long weekend out of it with her husband and three kids. This is their second Seedstock; they were hooked after last year.

“It was a great time — really relaxing, lowkey, and a great time for the kids,” Howery said. “Cortland is such a beautiful area, so it was a great excuse to come up for the weekend.”

Seedstock started 14 years ago with a house party that got out of hand in a good way.

People had a blast, so much so that when then-housemates Chris Merkley, Tyler Coakley, Jamie Yaman and Mac Coats set up the next one, they went all out, transforming a private party into a weekend-long music festival on route 215 in Cortlandville, on the site of Reed’s Seeds.

A music festival that brought Brad Clarry from Syracuse, too. He’s been attending rock shows and festivals since he paid $3.50 to see The Rolling Stones in 1965. The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Who, Led Zeppelin — he saw them all, but these days he enjoys small festivals like Seedstock for showcasing local musicians in a comfortable outdoor venue. Clarry was volunteering at the admission tent on Saturday.

“I get to be a part of the whole thing, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Clarry, who was especially looking forward to seeing Root Shock, a Syracuse reggae and ska band.

Merkley, who played a set of his own on Sunday, jammed with Digger Jones on Saturday night, in a set that featured guest Tamika Lawrence, a Grammy-winning Broadway performer who helped belt out classic cuts by The Band (“Baby, Don’t You Do It” and “The Weight”).

Following a demented wahwah- effect harmonica rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Merkley as fireworks exploded in the sky behind him, Digger Jones reassembled with members of the Unknown Woodsmen to form The Unknown Jones Eats a Peach, which spent the rest of the night covering tunes by the Allman Brothers.

Forrest Earl of Cortland, who has been to several Seedstocks over the years, said he likes the variety that Seedstock offers. “They’re all great bands, and they’re all local musicians,” he said.

In addition to the 22 bands that played over the weekend, Seedstock also featured a “silent disco” in a forested area filled with art projects. Participants wore cordless headphones that could switch between three music tracks supplied by DJ Gourd, Proper Philth and DJ ha-MEEN.