Welcome to the farm

Annual Farm Concert is a country music song in the making

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

Butch Hause, left and his wife, Sarah Lincoln, play around in their backyard in front of the stage that has housed critically acclaimed musicians every August as part of the annual Farm Concert. John Gardner / The Surveyor

Butch Hause, left, and his wife, Sarah Lincoln, play around in their backyard in front of the stage that has housed critically acclaimed musicians every August as part of the annual Farm Concert.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

As a child, Sarah Lincoln attended the Cumberland Gap Folk Festival in Tennessee, of which her mother was an organizer, and was captivated by the music.

“For me, it was glorious,” Lincoln said, sitting at the dining table in the kitchen of her farmhouse. “When someone is playing music, that’s the closest to God you can get.”

In 2002 Lincoln had a dream to provide people a safe and comfortable place to listen to “really good” music; the kind of bluegrass and country music she grew up appreciating. And she only had to look out her back window for a really good venue.

Lincoln lives just across the Weld County line east of Berthoud in an old farmhouse with a small acreage. She lives there with her husband of seven years, renowned bass player and Grammy nominated music engineer, Butch Hause. Hanging on the wall near their homes’ backdoor is a plaque that reads “This place is a country music song in the making.”

And that’s the truth.

The lyrics to that song would include something about a farm with a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains; open air, starry-night skies, and a backyard with a stage that hosts a music fest for friends and acquaintances every August. While that may sound like a country music song, it’s not; it’s simply the way they choose to live their life.

“The whole point; this is magical,” Lincoln said. “How often in life do you get to come to someplace that is magical?

“You get what you want; you get really good music,” she added.

And the bonus is that those who attend the annual Farm Concert get to talk to the performers as if they were making new friends at summer camp. This year marks the 12th Annual Farm Concert that will once again take place in Lincoln and Hause’s backyard under a starry-Colorado sky.

Left to right: Butch Hause, Joe Scott, Hannah Alkire, Ernie Martinez and Pete Huttlinger perform at the 11th Annual Farm Concert near Berthoud in August 2013. Surveyor file photo

Left to right: Butch Hause, Joe Scott, Hannah Alkire, Ernie Martinez and Pete Huttlinger perform at the 11th Annual Farm Concert near Berthoud in August 2013.
Surveyor file photo

“We do it in our backyard because of the love of the music,” Hause said, “And because we were blessed with a place where we can do it.”

He said that hosting the show at their home allows for locals to see musicians such as Jimmy Ibbotson and John McEwan, formerly of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bernie Leadon, a founding member of the rock ‘n’ roll band The Eagles, and country music legends such as Baxter Black and this year’s featured performer Don Edwards in an intimate setting.

Lincoln organized the first Farm Concert before meeting Hause, and that first event was an intimate evening with less than 100 guests, she said. The stage back then was a hay wagon placed at the entrance of the hay barn. That first year was a lot of work, Lincoln said.

“It was too expensive and really hard,” she said, “but I wasn’t going to quit, because it was all a matter of learning.”

The second year more than a hundred showed up, and it was all by word of mouth; the spark that Lincoln created was being fanned by those looking for a local annual festival.

The second year, construction on a real stage began. The intimate setting, smaller crowd, and quality sound provides a very different scene from other, larger festivals. The third year of the Farm Concert, Hause worked as the sound engineer and that, according to Lincoln, is one of the reasons this event is so different from others.

“You know how people at festivals are talking? Not here,” Lincoln said. “They’re listening, because it sounds so awesome.”

Since Hause’s arrival, he and Lincoln have opened the show to lay out the welcome mat for the other performers and guests. Hause always starts the show paying tribute to the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival with a quote from the man who owned the land upon which that festival occurred, Max Yasgur.

“Welcome to the farm,” is the phrase that kicks off each show Hause said. “I always come out and start that way because I’m a Woodstock kid,” he said. “That was important to me.”

Both Lincoln and Hause are accomplished musicians. For Lincoln, a computer engineer by trade and a musician steeped in bluegrass from her childhood, the festival is in part a way to capture that feeling she remembers from her childhood in Tennessee. Lincoln remembers being completely in awe of the musicians who lived deep in the mountains and would come and play at the festival.

She remembers bands that were made up of entire families; each member played a different instrument. Most of the folks were uneducated, blue-collar workers who played in their best work clothes, Lincoln said. But it didn’t matter; all that mattered was the music.

“Those people who came down from the mountain, they are the real deal,” she said. “They play in their best work clothes, don’t bother to clean their instruments, and they get on stage and do what they do best.”

Lincoln attended the RockyGrass Festival in Lyons a few years prior to starting the Farm Concert, and that’s where she came up with the idea to host her own event. That event was dusty, distant, and she couldn’t get near the musicians she wanted to talk to. Being able to speak with the musicians at the Cumberland Gap festival when she was younger was one of the aspects she wanted to provide people who came to the Farm Concerts.

“It was really about accessibility to the musicians,” she said.

It’s about connecting to the music, speaking to the musicians, and being part of a community that enjoys music on the same level.

Hause and Lincoln limit the show to 300 tickets each year to keep the event’s nature intimate.

They could allow for more people if they wanted to make more money, but this event isn’t about making money.

“We are lucky to break even on this show every year,” Hause said. “If we break even, it’s a great year. If we have a few hundred dollars left over in the bank for next year’s show that’s wonderful.”

They allow people to bring in food and beverages and are encouraged to picnic on the lawn as the show goes on.

“It works out pretty well and it allows us to keep doing this,” Hause said.

For Hause, a professional musician and sound engineer who’s played with the likes of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Southern Exposure, and makes his living in the music industry, the Farm Concert is his yearly retreat, he said, without having to leave his home.

“This is the one night we all get together on stage and we get to just play,” he said.

In the 13 years of the show’s existence, it’s only been cancelled one summer due to personal reasons. But in the years since, the event’s become more than just a concert for the two as well. The 2007 Farm Concert was the couple’s wedding reception. And every year, Hannah Alkire and Joe Scott, Nada and Dennis Fisher, and Sally and Dan Nibbelink have all volunteered and been a part of the concert since its inception.

“As long as we live here, we’ll keep doing it,” Lincoln said; her smile as wide as the landscape that surrounds the property.

“We look forward to it every summer,” Hause said. “It’s a lot of work, but we just can’t think about not doing it.”