Traditionally, in agricultural areas at the end of a growing season, the surrounding community would gather to celebrate the harvest. Together they would come, congregating in a large field or barn, gathering to lift their voices in song and share spirits to keep the cold at bay for just a little while longer.
Unconsciously, grounded in pagan rites closely attached cycles of nature, it was a way to say thank you to the people of the region whose labors and support made the harvest possible and give one last chance to gather in the glow of each other’s friendship before the winter’s flurries kept everyone at home for a long, quiet season. This autumnal revelry started somewhere around the end of October; spreading through November when the majority of ales, ciders and wines had finally fermented; and peaking at the celebrations nearing the end of the year during the time of winter solstice.
It was on a cold and crisp Saturday, November 15, when I journeyed from downtown up to the Apple Hill Campus. Traveling through the rolling hills of the LaFayette region, twisting and turning around the bends, I had the sense that something special was going to occur. Bare branches waved in the breeze and small patches of glistening white appeared on the ground, a gentle reminder of our first of many snowfalls soon to come.
An odd yet comforting sense of déjà vu washed over me, I was going to do what generations had done before, celebrate the harvest season.
It has been an especially good year for 1911. This multi-generational family orchard now creates hard ciders and distilled spirits that have been widely recognized as the best of their kind, bring international attention to local production. In addition to this success, the recent renovations to the old barn on Apple Hill Campus created a rustically stunning tasting room. The perfect place to meet old and new friends, to enjoy the delicious offering and the take in the spectacular view.
For the evening’s performance, the barn was warmly lit with the soft glow of hundreds of tea lights. The crowd gathered and soon it was standing room only. Though the space was very crowded, it was a room of smiling faces and warm regards, no one pushed, no one shoved.
Opening act was Charley Orlando, who started early at 4:30pm, playing soulful uplifting brand of folk for almost an hour. Glabicki and his fellow musician started shortly after Orlando’s set. Glabicki had the crowd moving with his world music infused set that lasted for almost two full hours. Paired down from the larger amount of band members in Rusted Root, he and his fellow guitarist created a canopy of sound, carrying through the night air and calling to our primal past. Innately we felt the need to dance and imbibe together; to share enough joy and cheer to last us through the dark winter time until the warmth of spring rebirths us into a new year of growth. Playing several request favorites like “New Batteries” and “Send Me On My Way,” he also sprinkled in covers like Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” the crowd sung along with gleeful enthusiasm, at times, taking over the songs themselves.
Though the performances were long, it felt like it all ended too quickly. And as sad as it was to know this was the last concert of the season, the glimmer of future excitement shines in our hearts as we anticipate what the next year will bring for 1911 and the music they share.
Charley Orland has just released a new CD and you can learn more about him and his music HERE.
Michael Glabicki will be back in the area with the rest of Rusted Root on January 28, 2015 at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY. For more information and tickets – CLICK HERE.
The Tasting Room is now closed for the season and will reopen sometime in April. The distillery is open for the rest of December, from 10-5pm, just enough time to stock up on ciders and spirits to ring in the New Year. In the off season you can purchase 1911 products at a variety of liquor stores, grocery stores, and convenience stores throughout New York State. For a list of locations and updates for 2015 events at 1911, go to the WEBSITE.