At The Feed & Seed

feed_thBack in 2012 we did a feature on Feed & Seed, a unique music venue in Fletcher, NC housed in what was once a thriving local business, Fletcher Supply Company. It was part hardware store and part seed mill serving the largely rural and agrarian population starting in 1919.

The building sat idle for many years in the late 20th century until a small church that had been meeting in a nearby park approached the owner about renting it as a worship space. Philip Trees and his congregation moved in in 2007, and before long, after noting the big room’s natural acoustic qualities, began to host bluegrass concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings in addition to church services on Sunday.

The Feed & Seed has become a very popular site for music and dancing in western North Carolina, and is set to be the subject of a documentary film by April Janow and Dax Cuesta of SIC Films, titled simply At The Feed & Seed. They discovered the place by chance while working on another film shooting nearby, and found its charm irresistible.

April recounts how they fell in love with Fletcher and its residents, along with the Feed & Seed, back in 2011.

“Both Dax and I were working as accountants on The Hunger Games in Asheville. I rented a house in Fletcher, NC and would drive past the Feed & Seed every day. This was the summer of 2011, and on Friday and Saturday nights, the F&S was so busy that people were watching the shows from outside. A year later, I was back in Asheville and went to a Saturday show and got to experience the magic of the Feed & Seed. The people were so welcoming, and the bluegrass music and clogging was like a lovely step back in time. I had been emailing with Pastor Phillip Trees about some CD’s for a friend, and we met up that night. He is such a personable pastor, and has such a joy and enthusiasm about the Feed & Seed, which is quite infectious.

I spoke to Dax about what I’d experienced, and we talked about sharing the Feed & Seed as a documentary about its history, the people and the music. When we approached Pastor Trees, he was with the idea from the beginning.

Fletcher and the Feed & Seed are treasures that should be shared, as the people, the music and the dancing are not something that someone in a different part of the country would have the opportunity to experience. It’s definitely something that shouldn’t slip away, in this time of smart media and life going by so quickly.”

She also caught us up on the history of the building, which at various times in its life has housed a butcher shop, ceramics studio, TV repair shop, and bingo hall after an early life as a feed and hardware store.

Fletcher Supply Company in the 1980s“The Feed & Seed was built by the Youngblood family in 1919, and was the only mercantile in a 25-mile area for quite awhile. Thanks to some great people at the NC Dept of Cultural Resources, the Baker-Barber Collection and the Hendersonville Library, and the tireless work of Bob Davy with the Fletcher Arts & Heritage Association, we were given the opportunity to use fantastic photographs from the era. One of the great things that Pastor Trees has done is to have a mini-museum inside the Feed & Seed, with original pieces from the era. There is an old cash receipts machine, that local families can see what their grandparents and great-grandparents purchased back in the day, for example.

We were so fortunate that Phillip’s enthusiasm had us meet up and film bands and dancers. The main band that we followed, Lonesome Will Mullins & The Virginia Playboys, are amazing musicians and their own cast of characters. Will is a phenomenal claw-hammer banjo player, on top of everything else, and at the time of filming, Jake and Adam Burrows had only been playing their instruments for four years. The Burrows Brothers are such talented boys to see and hear…we were incredibly lucky that the timing worked out so well.

Phillip Trees and Harry Thomas Sr at the Feed & SeedPhillip’s relationship with the owner of the Feed & Seed, Harry Thomas, Sr., was also a big part of our film. Harry was a WWII veteran and a retired Army MSgt, and a treasure of the Greatest Generation. Both Dax and I were lucky to call him a friend as well, and the stories he shared of his life and what he accomplished were something that everyone could take a lesson from. Unfortunately, Harry passed away in November of last year. We were very fortunate that Harry was able to see the finished film before he passed.”

At The Feed Seed is constructed in three acts, with the building playing a key role.

“We start with the history of both the Feed and Seed then and now, with our middle section being about the music and a typical Saturday night at the Feed & Seed, then ending with Pastor Tree’s church service. Throughout the film, we asked the question, ‘what does the Feed & Seed mean to you,’ and the answers were great. One couple met there, another couple from Chicago plan their vacations around going to the F&S, and a church member talks about her struggles and how Pastor Trees and the F&S church has helped her.

And now we get to Pastor Trees. The story of how he and his wife got started with their parish, ending up having services in Fletcher Park before meeting up with Harry and being able to rent the Feed & Seed, is something that we thought was important to the film. Phillip’s family (wife Amy, son Nathan and daughter Brie) and the congregants cleaned up the building, turning it into a cornerstone of the area. Phillip also discovered that the building was five-sided, due to a bad invention from the Youngbloods back in the day, which gives the building it’s fantastic acoustics. Phillip has also gotten into the 21st century with live web streams on Fridays and Saturdays.

Fletcher and the Feed & Seed are treasures that should be shared, as the people, the music and the dancing are not something that someone in a different part of the country would have the opportunity to experience. It’s definitely something that shouldn’t slip away, in this time of smart media and life going by so quickly.”

The finished project runs 71 minutes, and is currently being entered and screened on the film festival circuit. It will debut on April 5 at the Bare Bones Film & Music Festival in Muskogee, OK. The producers expect to present it for video on demand distribution by the end of 2014.

Here’s the trailer…


You can find additional information, including more photos and video, on the At The Feed & Seed web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.