FLYER Q&A: Fayetteville duo Dana Louise and Noah Richmond launch new venue and music festival

Noah Richmond, Dana Louise and Bertie Sue. (Boston Mountain Photography)

Fayetteville power couple and all-around excellent people Dana Louise and Noah Richmond have just announced their new outdoor venue Old Friend Farms, and music festival Old Friends Music Festival.

Chances are, you’re already old friends with Dana and Noah. They have been omnipresent in the NWA music and arts community for over a decade now. You’ve definitely seen them performing as Star Charger, Meadow Makers, Noah Richmond’s Little Monster, or one of their many bands. They were staples at Fayetteville Roots Fest and Roots HQ. They’re regularly at George’s Majestic Lounge, Arsaga’s Mill District and Fenix Art Gallery at Mount Sequoyah Center. When they’re not performing, they have also been bringing touring artists to Fayetteville for years.

If you aren’t already old friends – you can become new friends by getting involved with
Old Friend Farms. They’re currently looking for sponsors and volunteers for Old Friends Music Festival on May 24-26.

The inaugural festival includes The Creek Rocks, Dylan Earl, Jude Brothers, Little Mazarn, Creekbed Carter Hogan, Hemlock, True Lions, Bayard Blaine Trio and more. They’re announcing more artists soon, and tickets are on sale now.

I talked to Dana, Noah and Bertie about all the news and here it is.

Hi Dana, Noah and Bertie Sue. You recently announced Old Friend Farms – your new events and arts space. How did this come together, and can you give us a brief history?

Noah: When we lost our jobs and gigs during the pandemic we just kind of burrowed in here and started developing and falling in love with this piece of property. We lived for two years in our van while we built a house and had a baby. We realized that as stewards for this beautiful place, we needed to find a way to make it more accessible and to reinvest back into the property.

Dana: When Noah was in a bad car wreck driving home late from work, we realized how quick it could all end and didn’t want to keep going through the motions. He quit his job the next morning, we sold our tour van, and invested the money back into this dream. We built a stage and a bathroom and booked our first wedding.

You’ve been staples of the Fayetteville music scene for a long time. How was the adjustment when you moved to the farm? What was the hardest part of farm life and what’s been the easiest?

Noah: The hardest part is leaving and the easiest part is when you get to stay at home!
In all seriousness, the learning curve has been incredibly steep, but with all the smashed fingers and swear words, there has been so much reward and gratification. We are the luckiest people on the planet to be able to care for this place and can’t wait to start to share it with NWA.

Dana: This property is just a few miles down the road from where I grew up, so it feels really natural to be back out in the valley. I’ve always been a country kid that thought that “making it” would mean living somewhere with more opportunity or traveling constantly to be a working musician. During the pandemic I realized how much I was craving putting down roots and it feels really nice to commit and relax into this lifestyle. I think the hardest part is reckoning whether to take one or two cars into town!

Old Friends Music Festival

When: May 24 – 26
Where: Old Friend Farms
Address: 21581 Buckhorn Camp Rd, Prairie Grove
Cost: $50-$100
Lineup: The Creek Rocks, Little Mazarn, Dylan Earl, Still on the Hill, Jude Brothers, Trevor Reichman, Creekbed Carter Hogan, Hemlock, True Lions, Mary Elizabeth Remington, Fritz Hutchison Band, Bayard Blain Trio, Star Charger and more.
Tickets & Info:

You were married on your farm and are raising your little one Bertie Sue there. How has her youthful energy affected your connection to the farm?

Noah: She solidified our connection to this place from the very beginning! We were lucky enough to be able to have a home birth in the house we built, and I got to deliver her myself. Luckiest dice roll of our lives.

Dana: I’ve got a lot of emotional ties to this place, getting married, burying my best friend Lenny (my red heeler) and having our baby out there really dug us in. I love seeing Bert’s little awareness come online. She’s so close to the ground and notices the tiniest little things. We joke about making her our little truffle pig, she can spot mushrooms quicker than most.

Your first live music show is coming up on Friday, April 19 with The Brother Brothers and Fritz Hutchinson (tickets here). Tell us more about this show and how you decided on it as the first event?

Noah: I first met The Brother Brothers at Kerrville Folk Festival a few years ago and was instantly mesmerized by their ability to harmonize and their keen sense of musicality. I remember being intimidated as hell by their talent and it wasn’t until one day, lounging by the river, I was playing banjo and Adam came over and asked if he could play. We spiraled off into a wonderful conversation about music, and playing music, and feeling music, and banjo, and all of the good things one can find to talk about. Fritz Hutchison is one of my oldest and best friends and he is the most musical person I know. His songwriting and playful musicianship make me feel like I’m watching some special fire start to burn.

Dana: All of that, and this past summer, sitting around camp at Kerrville we just said let’s go and booked our first show. They were coming through our neck of the woods and decided to take a chance on a new venue and get to help us build our concert series. We’re thankful for our talented friends!

Your first festival is May 24-26 with a huge lineup that includes Arkansas’ own Jude Brothers and Dylan Earl along with lots of touring artists. Tell us more about the lineup. Are these all old friends from your touring days?

Noah: Our old touring days? Book us and we will go almost anywhere!

Dana: We have met a lot of these folks on the road, shared shows and meals, felt a kinship or saw a little glowing ember to cup our hands around. Everyone on this lineup is someone we feel moved by. Their poetry and songs, who they are as people, and how they show up in the world. I get goosebumps thinking that we might be a bridge to new universes unfolding, just by these people camping and hanging out all weekend. Who knows what could come of this creatively, what friendships could be born and how it might change the course of our lives.

Old Friends Music Festival is also a chance for everyone to camp and connect with the farm. What activities and food will be available for campers?

Noah: We will have food venders on site, as well as all kinds of non-musical programming, like workshops, trail building, poetry, nature walks, and more.

Dana: We will have fun and made up Ozarks games, and will announce our food vendors soon. We have some dear friends that will host the “Ozark Olympicks” and a late night run down of “WoLFeRiNe” and possible tournament to follow. We plan to have healthy options for all types of eaters, but encourage people to bring food if they have any specific dietary restrictions.

Your sponsorship tiers for the festival include tickets to the shows. What kind of sponsors are you currently looking for?

Dana: We are looking for people that want to help us build something unique and sustainable. Financial sponsors help us pay bands, production, and make sure everything is protected under a tent. There are a lot of hidden expenses that keep arising that just help an event like this run smoothly and ensure folks have the best time and we’re not too stressed. I’m not sure anyone will sponsor us at our highest level, but if you do, we will let you set a musical alarm – where one of the performers will gently, or not, wake you up each morning.

Noah: Please come to one of our scheduled work days, buy a ticket to one of our events or concerts, or become a sponsor for Old Friends Music Festival. We need serious help with infrastructure and accessibility and are open to any type of assistance you can offer. We need money, materials, labor, and expertise. Anyone is welcome to send us an email at [email protected] or come on out and see the farm.

You’re asking educators and artists to reach out about booking events at the farm. What types of events do you envision?

Noah: We are open to bookings for weddings, elopements, workshops, and are looking to host resident artists. Currently we are booking our Creekside Concert Series, as well as hosting a variety of nature walks and foraging hikes trying to give people access to a natural space. Check out our website for tickets and event details, as well as booking availability.

Old Friend Farms (Boston Mountain Photography)

Dana: I would really love to have artist residencies out here. I did one back in 2010 and it changed my life. It was the first time I had ALL of my time to do something creative in a beautiful place and I wound up learning to play guitar. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that experience. It showed me what the magic of a supportive community could create and how important those corners and hubs of the world are.

From downtown Fayetteville, what’s the easiest way to get to Old Friend Farms?

Noah: Google Maps will get you out there just fine, however there is no cell service out here so you have to have your maps ready. My favorite is the old school way that goes like this.

  • Take MLK out to Prairie Grove.
  • When you reach Mock Street take a left.
  • Keep right at the fork and stay straight until you hit the dirt road, go another 5.5 miles and you’re at Old Friend Farms.

Dana: I like to pass through Hog Eye, Bugscuffle and Floss on my way home, but it’s a little less obvious, so do what Noah says.

How can people get in touch about touring the space or volunteering at an event?

Noah: Check out our website, or send us an email at [email protected]

As new parents and now new venue owners, do you have time for anything else? What have you been working on musically?

Noah: Our collaborative project Meadow Makers just released a new EP, and we are playing a few local shows as well as a few out of town dates and festivals this spring. Really, we are taking this summer to focus on the event space and increasing accessibility to Old Friend Farms.

Dana: My neighbor Fred Holden used to say “the more you do, the more you do.” I keep hearing that in my head. I started this year off taking a friend’s songwriting course and it opened a portal inside me! I’ve been waking up before the sun, writing songs, making art and believing that we can plan a festival together with our friends. I feel really inspired to put my new musical project, Star Charger, out into the world. The idea is still forming, but it’s a whole new world and collection of songs I’m excited to share. Bert is a pretty special person too, she is an inspiration and kick in the ass to make something great, thankfully she’s able to entertain herself pretty well these days.

What’s a dream show scenario that you’d hope to book at your farm? We’ll ask everyone to share it and hopefully it gets willed into existence.

Noah: It’s crazy but this is all kinds of feeling like a dream come true already. The fact that this amazing lineup of talented people want to help us envision our dream is insane. That being said, please help me get Steve Kimock here.

Dana: My list is long and is sprinkled with friends and heroes…Michael Hurley, Adrianne Lenker, Laraaji, Madison Cunningham, Anais Mitchell, Dijon, Buck Meek, Andrew Bird, Laura Marling, and Mountain Man, to name a few.