When Miles Brown of Davidson was in high school at Cannon School and wanted to play loud music with a bunch of friends, his mother told him to “take it out to the barn.”
That’s exactly what he did, and has never looked back. This is the sixth year for Brown’s philanthropic music festival, Barnstock, which will be held July 19.
Combining his love of music and his passion for helping others, Brown, 22, has created what he hopes will be a longstanding commitment to his community with the festival.
Brown expects Barnstock to draw up to 2,000 people. The barn and field where the concert is held – in Huntersville on Black Farms Road – is Brown’s family property and home of the original Barnstock held in 2009.
It all began when, as a junior in 2009 at Cannon, a private school in Concord, Brown was required to complete community service hours in a school project.
“The evolution of this thing is pretty special to us, starting it as a community service project with one charity and now this year we have the chance to raise thousands of dollars for different charities that are both locally and nationally recognized, and also to have bands that are recognized on a local and national scale,” Brown said.
It would have never happened if it wasn’t at Cannon, Brown said, because the focus on community service, and giving back, and making the world a better place was a significant aspect of the curriculum.
Now a rising senior at N.C. State University and a business administration major, Brown said the first Barnstock had about 300 high school students in attendance with five bands.
This year, 40 bands will perform, to donate to three organizations.
The bands’ musical talents this year range from funk and jazz to rock and hip-hop. Acts include Pimps of Joytime, Styles & Complete, RDGLDGRN, Soul Khan, The New Familiars, Brody & Choch and Chasing Pedestrians. While Brown loves to play with family and friends, he will not play at Barnstock.
There are three stages where musicians will perform; the main stage outdoors, the barn stage indoors, and a DJ silent disco where headsets will be available for attendees to listen.
With hopes of raising up to $15,000 at this year’s event, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Headbands of Hope, Davidson Fire Department and Cannon School.
Headbands of Hope, founded by 2009 Cannon School graduate and N.C. State student Jess Ekstrom, provides headbands to girls with cancer and supports cancer research though the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Ekstrom and Brown crossed paths in high school, then again in college, and their partnership for Barnstock seemed to fall into place, Brown said.
“Being chosen to be the beneficiary of Barnstock is an absolute dream. The event has grown to be such a celebration of life, music and charity. We’re honored to be a part of it,” Ekstrom said.
Former Davidson fire chief Wilson Sadler said the Barnstock event has helped donate thousands of dollars to the Davidson Fire Department in the past five years.
“The fire department has been able to purchase much-needed equipment that did not make the annual budget. I am so proud of what all the kids involved in Barnstock have done to make our community safer.”
With the hope of continuing to grow the festival each year, Brown said he knows the love from the community is there.
“We’d love to see it get to the point where we can’t fit at the barn. We’ll take it year by year,” Brown said.