Connecting with Amber Rubarth - Rancho La Puerta
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Connecting with Amber Rubarth

We are honored to have Amber Rubarth as co-producer (with Carissa Stolting), co-host, and artist for our second annual Rancho La Puerta Folk Festival (June 15 – 22, 2024). She is interviewed by The Ranch’s Folk Festival’s co-host Carissa Stolting.

As producer and curator of Rancho La Puerta Artist Retreat & Folk Festival, you are in the unique position of inviting artists to come to Rancho La Puerta, often for their first time. Can you share the mission behind curating the Rancho La Puerta Artist Retreat & Folk Festival? How do you choose which artists to invite?

I remember the first time I arrived at Rancho La Puerta, about 6 years ago. I had been on a very demanding tour for the release of the film American Folk which usually involved a press event, film screening with Q&A, and a concert, every day in a different city, often flying between. My dearest friend Jen, who had been to the Ranch many years before, invited me as her guest. My last concert ended at midnight in Kansas City and I headed straight to the airport. The feeling I had when I arrived at The Ranch was one of the biggest gifts I’ve ever received in life. It was truly magical to be in this nurturing, open, kind, thoughtful, spacious environment that invites you in exactly how you are and offers support to your restorative journey. I will never forget how that moment recalibrated my life as a whole and offered me a new model of recognizing what sustainability of energy means.

My main joy in curating this festival is getting to invite other artists to experience that nourishment and magic the Ranch so beautifully provides. We invite artists who are already focused on the healing power of music, who are giving a tremendous amount to the world and can benefit from refilling that deep well.

I was so taken aback at last year’s Folk Week by how deeply the entire Ranch was infused with open hearts, storytelling, and folk music. It brought everyone together in this new dimension of playfulness and depth, singing together and sharing stories. It really reminded me the deep power of folk music to bring people together and raise the vibration.

A three-part question: What do you hope this week will bring to artists, guests, and yourself?

Oh my! It’s really an extension with the added sweetness of music and stories of what Rancho La Puerta is so known for – the beautiful gift of meeting each person where they are, with such presence, deep nourishment. It’s an invitation to connect to the land, to self, to each other, to your food, your body, stories, music, nourishment, restoration, all the elements. Much of the joy for me is that we get to build the setting by inviting artists and creating the schedule, but the true magic happens when we allow all the beautiful pieces to run free and experience each other. I’m most excited for the gorgeous moments we don’t know yet.

Your creative work often focuses on deep engagement within communities, taking music and song to non-traditional spaces, and focusing on the power of music beyond commercial entertainment. Can you share a moment from your experience where you realized the effectiveness of this work?

Thank you! I’d been living on the road for years, and even growing up had moved around a lot. When Covid happened it was the first time in my life I was consistently in one place, the beautiful Hudson Valley in NY, where I still live. I began volunteering on a farm, noticing the phases of the moon, learning the rhythm of the stream, watching fawns and baby foxes be born in the woods. I started recognizing different owl calls. It did something to my body, felt like it rewired me back to this very basic simplicity of relationship with nature. 

Since then, I’ve felt called to pour my energy into what I like to think of as “earth-friendly” spaces – bringing people to a farm to hear music and performing for events like the UN Climate Week where folks are bravely dedicating their lives to being connected in better balance with our environment. I self-recorded and produced an album at home called Cover Crop, a meditation of 15 cover songs woven into a narrative around the disconnection and remembrance of our interconnectivity with nature. We are nature. Today there’s often a disconnect, and my energy going forward feels most resonant in reconnecting people in gentle ways to return to that source (and protect it), especially as everything around us becomes more complex and disjointed.

What are you most excited about creatively & artistically right now?

Oh, so much! I feel like this year for me is one of interweaving and immersion, collaboration, and cross-pollination. I have quite a few different projects going on currently that look quite different but feel connected to one ecosystem. I’m getting ready to release a new album with my favorite cellist and hammered dulcimer player. Lyrically and musically it’s exploring new territories for me, and many observations from nature. I’m also incredibly excited to be teaching a weekend retreat in September with Sara Bareilles and Celisse at Omega Institute, exploring creativity and art as an offering. From the response we have so far, it feels like people are hungry for these more immersive experiences with others. I’m also putting together a farm tour, to connect people through concerts with their local farms and to support local sustainability. I’m inspired by artistically pouring my energy into these alternative spaces, offering music as a supportive, active energy to build more generative, connective, sustainable energy with ourselves, each other, and our environments.

Learn more about The Ranch’s Folk Festival, June 15- 24, 2024.