FARMINGTON — The Backyard Acoustic Music series held its finale session on Sunday, Oct. 4, with Louisa Stancioff as the last featured artist of the season singing and playing acoustic guitar in the hidden, Middle Street garden.

The Sunday sessions featured a total of five women artists throughout September and the first week of October in Megan Brown’s backyard where people could gather with blankets and snacks to enjoy live music. Brown’s yard is large enough for 30 people to attend events while maintaining social distancing guidelines, and she said most people wore masks. 

Main organizer and Twice Sold Tales Co-owner Amber Stone was looking for a safe space to hold community events again after having to cancel the bookstore’s poetry and writing events due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Megan Brown hosted the Backyard Acoustic Music Series at her home on Middle Street in Farmington every Sunday in September and the first week of October. Twice Sold Tales Co-owner Amber Stone helped organize the five featured artists and is hoping to host more events in Brown’s backyard. Photo Courtesy of Megan Brown

Since we’ve taken over, events have been really important to us and we haven’t been able to do that indoors because of COVID,” Stone said, who took over Twice Sold Tales with Ben Hanstein last year. “So it felt like a good opportunity to participate in an event that’s not in the bookstore.” 

Inspiration for the music series came about while Stone was interviewing Megan Brown in her backyard. 

“It was mid-summer, and it’s just beautiful back there and totally hidden,” Stone said. “It’s right on Middle Street and it’s hidden from the road, and so I was immediately like, ‘how can we use this backyard for more events?’”

Brown described the backyard as very Martha Stewart-like and said the owners of the house invested over 20 years establishing gardens that are in continuous bloom in the warmer months.

Brown moved into the Middle Street house in May and was busy establishing a home bakery out of the location, Meg’s Sweets. By the time Stone approached Brown about the idea to hold a concert series, she was already searching for a way to give back to a community that had shown her tremendous support for her new business. 

“I’ve been overwhelmed with the town giving back to me. I kind of had a rough go at the beginning of the year and some unplanned things happened,” Brown said. “And I ended up moving, and then I found this place and people donated so much stuff and just helped me get back to normal, so to speak, and I just thought it was a good idea to help give back as much as I could on my end.

Musicians were also positively impacted by Brown and Stone’s collaboration which provided a safe space to perform during the pandemic.

“Usually I go on at least three tours a year and usually one of them will be a month long, another will be a week, another will be two weeks. And then there’s little shows inbetween,” last backyard featured artist and Chesterville native Louisa Stancioff said in a phone interview.

In the past six months, Stancioff said she’s only played at one other small gig and was ecstatic for the opportunity to play at the Middle Street location.

“I had high hopes for the summer, but alas,” she said with a whimsical tone.

Stancioff typically plays with her cousin in their band called Dyado which she described as folk and roll. The pandemic forced the band to take a break for the time being, and Stancioff said she’s written a considerable amount of new music which she performed for the first time in Brown’s backyard.

“All of the musicians have been super grateful for having this spot and being able to do what they love and make some money,” Brown said, who donated all ticket sales to the featured musician of the week.

As winter approaches, Brown and Stone are already planning another season for the music series as they anticipate yet another unpredictable spring.

“I have a feeling things aren’t going to be normal, so to speak, next year either,” Brown said, who is excited to start the series next spring when the garden is bursting with flowers.

Even though the music series has come to a close this year, the backyard events aren’t over yet. Stone is currently organizing a screening of Gather, a film about indigenous peoples reclaiming their cultural identity through food sovereignty.

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