It was 1997 when Jean Syria & Denise Hurley decided to put a dream into action. Originally started as "Lancaster Coffeehouse", this music series was created with the intention of bringing high caliber music and performances to the central Mass area. "We wanted folks to be able to come out and enjoy a memorable musical experience without having to invest time and energy traveling into Boston," says Hurley. Jean and Denise took this inspiration and ran with it.
They started off small by bringing in a wide range of local talent such as, Paul Della Valle, Walter Crocket and Slo Grass. It wasn't long before their venue had an exciting buzz and while audiences expanded, so did the interest of high profile artsts. Suddenly, agents were reaching out to get their artists on this humble coffeehouse stage.
Regional artists like Vance Gilbert, Ellis Paul, Rachel Bissex and Diane Ziegler came in, and then more national folks such as Eddie from Ohio, Janice Ian and John Gorka. Throughout the years, countless artists have graced the Wachusett stage: Peter Yarrow, Joan Osborne, Amy Ray, David Wilcox, Susan Werner, Mary Gauthier, Brooks Williams, Mustard's Retreat, Don White, Dala, Maeve, Trina Hamlin, Madison Violet, Greg Brown, Carrie Newcomer, Brother Sun, Charlie Farren, Kim & Reggie Harris, Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli, Oen Kennedy and many, many more.
Along the way, Jean & Denise found a way to incorporate a passion for helping others into the coffeehouse. Over the years, they have provided much needed assistance to: The Item Appeal, Lupus Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Lancaster Senior Center, NEADS.org, The Lancaster Angel Tree and the Lancaster Ambulance to name a few.
Ten years into the music series, Jean and Denise decided to celebrate by producing their first music festival. This would be when the name of the series would become Wachusett Music Series, and the festival became well known as the Wachusett Valley Music Festival.
Arlo Gurthrie was the first festival headliner they ever had, and they were both mesmerized and hooked! This fesitval continues to be an extraordinary event that provides audiences with a chance to enjoy exceptional indie artists as well as internationally touring musicians.
With the help of many dedicated volunteers, this wonderful musical organization continues to expand it's vision and bring inspirational events to central Massachusetts and beyond.