Green Roster

Songscape: Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area- SONG RELEASE DAY!

Less than a year after our founding, Sustain’s first Songscape song is officially released! You can now purchase ‘KTAADN’, by folk-rock band Parsonsfield, at their website HERE.

KTAADN is the product of Songscape: Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area. Songscapes are Sustain’s songwriting retreats, where we partner bands with public land organizations. Through the hospitality of host land groups, we send bands out for a few days of immersion in protected landscapes. The musicians use this time to write a song inspired by their experiences and their environment. This song is then donated to the host land group, and used to inspire and encourage audiences to value these landscapes.

In our first Songscape project, we partnered folk-rock band Parsonsfield, with Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area in Maine.  Parsonsfield, formed in Connecticut in 2010, has played their rowdy Americana folk music across the USA and throughout Canada. David Vescey, from The New York Times writes, “They harmonize; they play saws, mandolins and pump organs; they back their songs with crickets and squeaking screen doors; they are boisterously youthful yet deftly sentimental...”. Theirs is a sound that has its roots in Maine as well. The name, Parsonsfield, comes from the rural town in southwest Maine where they recorded their first album. Those crickets and squeaking screen doors were courtesy of the old farmhouse recording studio there, called Great North Sound Society. Parsonsfield was very excited to pilot the Songscape program, and spend a week in Maine exploring Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area (KWWRA).

Located in the shadows of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest and most storied peak, Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area offers a sneak peak of land that one day could become a new national park and national recreation area. The land, bordered on the west by Baxter State Park and with the amazing East Branch of the Penobscot River running through its heart, includes unparalleled opportunities for traditional outdoor recreation and an opportunity to see firsthand the woods and waters that have helped to define the state. It is KWWRA’s hope that the Katahdin region, and KWWRA specifically, will gain public support to become America’s next national park and recreation area. This unique and beautiful landscape has such a rich history and ecology, and it deserves to be shared with the nation.

For our Songscape: Katahdin Woods and Waters Recreation Area project, Parsonsfield spent a week at KWWRA, at off-the-grid Lunksoos Camps on the banks of the East Brach of the Penobscot River. The first night, local KWWRA supporters welcomed Parsonsfield with a feast and bonfire- a friendly welcome that set the tone for the rest of the retreat. The band hiked Barnard Mountain and saw the Katahdin landscape cloaked in fiery autumn foliage. They went looking (and calling!) for moose. They saw glowing sunsets, and canoed in the same waters that Henry David Thoreau paddled. Parsonsfield had a wealth of experiences and beauty to draw from while writing and composing their Songscape song, KTAADN.

On the band’s final day at KWWRA, we filmed a music video of KTAADN, with the whole band playing in a canoe. This video will be available on Sustain's Youtube channel next week. Parsonsfield has also been performing the song on dry land, at shows across the northeast.

After the retreat, Sustain arranged for Parsonsfield to record their Songscape song at Dirt Floor, a recording studio in Haddam, CT. Dirt Floor, run by Eric Lichter, is one of the original members of Sustain's Green Roster program. Green Roster is a community of bands, luthiers and recording studios which pledge to uphold environmental practices in their businesses. Dirt Floor has been a great supporter of Sustain and generously donated a free recording session for this project. Another Green Roster band member, Greg Dyson of Hanging Hills, donated his graphic arts skills in designing the KTAADN album cover. Sustain is very grateful for everyone's support.

All of this work has culminated in today's release of KTAADN. Parsonsfield has donated the song to Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area to use in their marketing materials, and has made the song available to anyone who would like to purchase it on their website. The proceeds of the song sales will help support Sustain, KWWRA and the band, so we can continue to bring you great music, a great landscape, and future Songscape projects.

Sustain would like to especially thank the following people for supporting Songscape: Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area and taking a chance on our new organization and our pilot project. Lucas St. Clair (president of Elliotsville Plantation, which founded KWWRA), Susan and Mark Adams (KWWRA Ambassadors & Hosts), Simon Roosevelt, the members of Parsonsfield (Antonio Alcorn, Chris Freeman, Harrison Goodale, Erik Hischman and Max Shakun), Eric Lichter, Greg Dyson, and the Board of Sustain Music and Nature (Ricky Hernandez, Maggie Comstock, Nicole Reese, Aubrey Gallegos, Harrison Goodale and Betsy Mortensen).

Spotlight Interview: Kochel Guitars

Sean Kochel, of Kochel Guitars, is a Green Roster Luthier, and the first luthier to have joined our community of environmental bands, luthiers and studios. We sought out Kochel at Red Ants Pants Festival in Montana after reading the festival program blurb about his guitars made from reclaimed wood. As soon as we saw the instruments, we knew that Kochel was making something special. Harrison fell in love with the Kochel Guitar sound, and ended up getting one of the Sawmill models made of wood from an 1865 homesteader's barn. We've been showing it off at Sustain events ever since.

We bring you this interview with Sean Kochel to shine some light on Kochel Guitars, his ethos, and his dedication to being green.

What type of instruments do you make at Kochel Guitars?

At Kochel Guitars, I build pretty much any stringed instrument.  I mainly build resonator guitars lately. I feel like I am getting a reputation for them. I do solid body electrics guitars to acoustic guitars. I also get a fair amount of ukulele and box guitar orders. Recently I have started building and selling hollow body resonators.  They sound great and are a lot of fun to play. 

Sustain is all about highlighting best environmental practices in the music industry. Can you tell us what Kochel Guitars has done to uphold an environmental ethic?

What I do to be as environmentally ethical in my business is to use locally harvested and sustainable materials. I also do a large portion of my instrument building with reclaimed and recycled materials.  Most of those come from 100 year old plus barns, homesteader houses and any other building I can get my hands on. While at the same time, I use things like elk bone for nuts and saddles of the instruments. I get the bones from hunters and meat processors, all from the area I live.

What advice do you have for other luthiers who are thinking about adopting more environmental practices in their art?

I would say, don't worry about only using traditional materials for instrument building.  Try new materials or uncommon or found materials.  You would be surprised how well a lot of these different materials sound and work. Finds whats local or commonly discarded and work with it.

How does music and nature play a role in your life?

Music does pretty much everything in my life.  It is what motivates me, and helps sustain a certain feeling or mood. It helps me creatively.  I mean it pretty much touches ever aspect of my life, it is life!

Nature, like music, does a lot of the same things, but in a different way. I feel like I am inspired by nature. I feel it comes out in what I create.

Check out Kochel Guitars at and on Facebook here

New Green Roster Luthier: Hyde Made by Ron Hyde

Hyde Made is the collaboration between luthier Ron Hyde and his two sons. Based out of Chesaw, Washington, he has been building instruments for over 40 years. He holds a degree in Industrial Design from the University of Cincinnati, and studied to be a luthier under Clyde Edwards at the Baldwin Piano Company. Ron worked on various projects, including helping to develop the early forms of electric classical guitars. Ron's instruments feature innovative updates to the traditional forms of mandolins, guitars, and resonator instruments. He uses reclaimed wood, old road signs, and even moonshine shellac on each unique musical instrument. His resonator mandolins are widely sought for their crisp sound and eye catching shape.

Check out Ron's website (though he's more of a traditional communication guy) HERE.

New Green Roster Band: Max García Conover

Sustain is pleased to announce that Max García Conover has taken the Green Roster pledge, and will be supporting environmental tour practices as he performs across the country. Sustain's co-founders had the pleasure of meeting Max and hearing his music in Portland, Maine. It's not often that you find a singer-songwriter with the level of talent and skill that Max has, and we're really excited to share his music and dedication to the environment with you.

Max García Conover grew up at the end of a dead-end road in Western New York, listening to 90s rap on his walkman, chasing down snakes and crayfish in the creek behind his house. When he came around to listening to folk songwriters, it was mostly for the words. After moving to Puerto Rico in the summer of 2007, he taught himself to play guitar and started writing songs of his own to play for tips on the sidewalks of Old San Juan. He has written several hundred since, from delicate, impressionistic story songs to full on foot stomping ones, combining intricate fingerstyle guitar work with a gruff voice, a suitcase drum, and a lot of words. 

Now based in Portland, Maine, Conover travels the country, drawing on his deep and ever growing catalogue, playing a different set every night, and telling stories and fables between songs. In 2012, he was chosen as Maine’s Best New Act, and he’s since shared the stage with bands like Lake Street Dive and Frontier Ruckus, drawing comparisons to The Tallest Man On Earth, The Mountain Goats, and Shakey Graves. The Portland Phoenix describes Conover as “a hell of a fingerstyle guitarist [with] an arresting vocal style" and Performer Magazine called his last album "engaging [and] breathtaking," writing that "each work on this folk masterpiece is chilling [and] unmistakably appealing." Writing and releasing a new song every week and constantly on the road, he follows in a long line of scrappy, prolific folkies, making compelling music in a style all his own.

Visit Max's website HERE and Facebook HERE.


Songscape: KWWRA Recording Session

Yesterday, Parsonsfield headed over to Green Roster Studio, Dirt Floor, in Haddam, CT to record the song they composed for Songscape: Katahdin Woods and Waters Recreation Area. The studio is nestled up in the hills overlooking the Connecticut River, in a cozy log cabin, complete with a great fireplace, a bear of a dog, and even a house rabbit! Owner Eric Lichter was incredibly generous and donated a full day of recording studio time, which has been Sustain's largest donation yet! We couldn't have done this without Eric's support and time.

Enjoy a few photos from the day below, and be sure to keep an eye out for our "Making of Songscape: KWWRA" video in the future, and of course, the release of Parsonsfield's newest song!

Spotlight Interview: Dirt Floor

Dirt Floor is a Green Roster Studio, and the first member to have joined our community of environmental bands, luthiers and studios. Run by Eric Lichter, Dirt Floor has really embodied the spirit of Sustain and our desire to bring the environment into the music industry. Sun-powered, in a cabin above the beautiful Connecticut River, and run by a down-to-earth team, Dirt Floor not only respects the environment, it fosters a great environment for bands to record songs and albums.

We bring you this interview with Eric Lichter to shine some light on Dirt Floor, their ethos, and their dedication to being green.

What is Dirt Floor?

Dirt Floor was at one time simply a recording studio, but has grown into so much more. It has become more of a style of production and record making, in a very classic style reminiscent of recordings from the early 1970s, the timeless sort. As a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and artist myself, I often help solo artists craft entire records from the ground up.

What are your proudest accomplishments?

Well, besides raising a small daughter, who I adore, I would say creating a record that helps an artist get to the next level in their career. There are many, so to pick just one would be impossible. Also, watching a community of artists come together through the Dirt Floor connection has been a joy to witness. Jake Klar, Jonah Tolchin, Spirit Family Reunion, Parsonsfield, Kerri Powers and Ian Fitzgerald are but a few of my very favorites, and have become family.

Sustain is all about bringing best environmental practices to the music industry. Can you tell us about what Dirt Floor has done to uphold an environmental ethic?

Considering the environment while running a business, especially a studio, has always been at the forefront for me, as one who tries to live a clean and low impact lifestyle. I also wanted to use old technology and make records using the power of the sun, utilizing solar panels to power the studio portion of the house. It all comes back around to my role as a father, and trying to teach my child how to respect mother Earth

What advice do you have for other recording studios thinking about adopting environmentally-friendly practices?

My advice for other studios looking to do their part and adopt environmentally friendly practices would be to take stock in their surroundings. Do they use plastic water bottles? Is there a lot of trash being produced from clients? There are so many little things that can be considered, and this is a great place to start. I tell clients beforehand that we have everything that they would need and to avoid those plastic bottles. Again that is a small example. Every studio is unique, and the footprint is different for all of them.


How do music and nature relate to you in your life?

For many years I have tried to live light, and to respect mother Earth. She has been an inspiration to me as an athlete, a self-professed nature boy, and of course as a songwriter, in the tradition of writers I've admired like John Denver. Nature helps me to see the wonder in things, and to still look at the world with that sense is a very wonderful thing, and so important today. Every time I step outside my front door, that childlike excitement returns, and I feel it's my responsibility to affect my own world, and hopefully influence those around me to do the same.

What would you like to see come forth from partnering with Sustain?

Partnering with Sustain was a no-brainer for me, and an incredible opportunity I wanted to jump at, knowing that this could only benefit like-minded artists and of course the environment in a positive way, and the possibility of a beautiful ripple effect was something I really wanted to be a part of....


Learn more about Dirt Floor at

New Green Roster Luthier: Tim Sway Perspectives

New Green Roster Luthier! Tim Sway Perspectives

Tim Sway's mission is to "make nice things for nice people out of things that would otherwise be thrown away."

"After a 15+ year career as a performing, recording and teaching musician, I recently "retired" from being a full-time musician to spend more time making things out of reclaimed, upcycled and salvaged materials- and to spend more time with my family and less time in band flop houses! I often make things out of discarded instruments and instruments out of discarded things. One of my long-term goals is to make high quality, sustainable, handmade instruments from locally sourced and reclaimed materials that are affordable for working class musicians-like myself." -Tim Sway

This environmentally conscious luthier makes beautiful guitars and innovative guitar stands, among his many other upcycled products (like a pinball machine desk!). Check out his awesome youtube channel, facebook, and website for more information.

New Green Roster Member: Kerri Powers

New Green Roster Member: Kerri Powers! She's one talented musician and she's toured all over the states and Europe, and played at top festivals like Telluride. Not only talented, she also cares about the environment, and we're happy to have her in the Green Roster community.

From No Depression's Lee Zimmerman: "Powers is a soulful singer, an extraordinary interpreter and an artist with a decided folk finesse that can make even original songs --- the Dylanesque duo “Old Shirt” and “Train in the Night” being prime examples -- sound both timeless and telling."

Find her on FB:
Kerri Power's website: