Crossroads Acoustic Fest has strong second year

Crossroads Acoustic Fest returned for its second year, bringing singer-songwriters to share their stories in downtown Seymour.

The two-day festival featured a wide array of artists from the Americana genre. Some were more country or folk, while others played roots and modern rock.

Bonnie Chadwell attended the festival last year and was so impressed she wanted to attend again.

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“All of the artists have been so great and kept my interest,” she said. “The diverse group of musicians and talent is wonderful.”

The festival featured three quiet listening rooms that allowed the audience to absorb the stories behind each song.

Chadwell said having the artist share their stories is what is most intriguing about the event.

“I like hearing their stories, and it helps you see where people are in life and where they’ve been,” she said.

Dean Owens of Edinburgh, Scotland, played both evenings as part of a two-month stop in the United States.

“I started my way in Florida, went up to Chicago before here, but I’ve also played in Virginia and the Carolinas,” he said. “I’ve also played in Nashville and a little bit of everywhere.”

Owens will share his spirited songs during a few stops in California and another in South Dakota before heading back home at the end of May. His wife, Nicki, has joined him along the way.

“This is a great festival, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said. “Everyone has been friendly, and I see this community has a lot of history.”

Some of that history, of course, involves music because Seymour is the home of John Mellencamp, which impressed Owens. He said he has been a fan of Mellencamp throughout the years but did not know he was from Seymour.

“It’s really special, and if someone would have told me a year ago that I’d be playing in Seymour, Indiana, I would have asked where it was,” he joked. “But then you learn that it’s got a great history, and obviously, you’ve got the famous son John Mellencamp who came from here. This place is special.”

While Owens had to discover Seymour, one of the festival’s performers was pretty familiar. Stephanie Lambring, a Jackson County native who has lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for 13 years, performed on both days of the festival.

Lambring said returning home to share her latest music is something she enjoys.

“It’s cool, but it’s also nerve-racking because you feel like people from your hometown may have a certain idea of what you do,” she said. “Music has been a journey for me.”

Lambring has had publishing deals where she has written for other artists, but she has returned to writing for herself. She is nearly finished recording an album, which is set for release in early 2020.

She has had songs on the hit television show “Nashville,” and this past weekend, she performed one of her songs, “Weddings, Funerals and Empty Hotel Bars,” which was recorded by country music singer Terri Clark.

“It’s awesome to write for myself again, and it feels rejuvenating,” she said. “I just feel free and like I’m living my life with purpose, but every single step on the journey has been worth it.”

Owens also co-hosted a songwriters workshop with Mavericks co-founder Robert Reynolds. The two shared their craft at the Jackson County Visitor Center, detailing the songwriting process and taking questions.

Chadwell also attended the songwriters workshop, where she said she gained more confidence in her ability. She felt Reynolds and Owens helped answer a few questions that reassured her it was OK to pursue any idea she had for a song.

“To each individual, you have your own experiences in life, and you shouldn’t be afraid to write about them,” she said. “They helped me know it was OK for me to be me. They also shared there was no right or wrong.”

Chadwell discussed her original song she wrote about her mother and aunt, who moved from Kentucky to Indiana during World War II.

The song, “Sister to Sister,” covered their life together and was written after her mother passed away two years ago.

She even performed it for Owens and Reynolds after the workshop so they could give her feedback.

“It’s great for her to open up like that,” Owens said.

Owens said sharing the craft of songwriting was a special thing to do during the festival. Organizers said the workshop was a way to display the organic nature of the festival.

“You feel really privileged to share what you know,” Owens said. “The workshop was a real joy.”