Berkleefest Student Bands

Berkleefest: Student bands play two free music fests at Vt. resort

By Lauren Daley


Will Gittens and his band played last fall at Topnotch in Stowe.

STOWE, Vt. — The good news: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are playing Fenway Park in August.

The bad news: Center stage tickets on the field are going for $808.25 a pop on StubHub.

One of the best parts of summer is getting your groove on under the open sky — but if the high prices of summer concerts are getting you down, you might want to check out Berkleefest, a free event at Topnotch Resort & Spa in Stowe.

Eight young indie acts — all of them made up of students at Berklee College of Music — will play two outdoor concerts at Topnotch, a year-round resort tucked into the lush hills of the Green Mountain State.

Four bands will play Berkleefest on July 26, and another four will play Aug. 30. Both concerts are from 2-6 p.m., free, and held rain or shine.

With the green you save on concert tickets, you can make a getaway for yourself. Berklee alumni have collectively won more than 270 Grammys and Latin Grammys, so you could be seeing your future “saw them when.”

Both fests will be held on a swath of open green with the backdrop of majestic Mount Mansfield. You can grab a craft beer at the beer garden, or head to the resort chef’s grill station for a black bean veggie burger, hot dog with street-cart onions, pulled maple BBQ chicken, or an Angus beef burger with locally-grown lettuce, tomato, and onion, and option of Vermont cheddar cheese.

“We wanted to bring a little Boston to Vermont and a little Vermont to Boston,” said Stephanie Mehail, general manager at Topnotch.

The AAA-certified four-diamond luxury property sprawls across 120 acres, and includes two new restaurants, equestrian stables, tennis courts, spa, and indoor and outdoor pools.

“The view here is unbelievable. You’re overlooking the mountains,” said Mehail. “You don’t have to stay with us, but we’ll welcome you with open arms. We’re just thrilled to have lot of fun and do some charity.”

Berkleefest is a concert for a cause — a few causes, actually. Each band has selected a charity for which to play. Fans can vote on Facebook for their favorite band — or charity — and Topnotch will donate $1,000 to that cause. Topnotch will also send two Vermont high school students to Berklee’s acclaimed summer music camp in Boston next year. And Berklee alums will visit a few Vermont high schools in the fall to promote music education, event organizers said.



Berkleefest Topntoch Resort Mt. Mansfield

Berkleefest Topnotch Resort Mt. Mansfield


The resort’s Mansfield Overlook Lawn (beyond the tables) is where the bands will play the summer Berkleefest events.



Berkleefest organizers see the concerts as a “two-way flow of arts between Vermont and Boston,” said Jordan Hollander, a creator of the event and business development officer at MetWest Ventures, which owns Topnotch.

The July 26 lineup is The Frotations, a rootsy R&B band; Nikolas Metaxas, a Cypriot singer-songwriter who placed second in the first season of the Greek version of “The X Factor”; experimental folk vocalist Arielle Vakni; and Damn Tall Buildings, a rollicking bluegrass band.

The Aug. 30 lineup is Will Gittens, an R&B artist from Trinidad and Tobago; Great Caesar, a chamber rock band; five-piece folk band Grey Season; and singer-songwriter Bigfoot Wallace.

“The grounds look absolutely beautiful. Vermont is gorgeous, and the whole charity aspect is really cool,” said Max Capistran, 21, a Berklee songwriting major and lead vocalist for Damn Tall Buildings.

The band, which often plays on Newbury Street and in the subway near Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, will play for Horizons for Homeless Children. “We’ve met so many homeless people who come hang with us while we’re playing,” Capistran said.

Michael Borgida, marketing manager at Berklee, said the fest “is a great way to help Vermont music education, and a great opportunity for our students to perform live. Hopefully this will become an annual festival.”

For more information on the bands or events, to book a room at Topnotch, or to download free tickets,

Lauren Daley can be reached at

About Topnotch Resort

Totally reimagined in 2013, Topntoch is a year-round destination located at the foot of Mount Mansfield in the quintessential New England village of Stowe, Topnotch Resort. Re-opened in 2013 following an extensive renovation, the iconic property which is an AAA 4-diamond and Preferred Boutique Resort, offers an authentic Vermont experience with an updated look. A new arrival experience, lobby, guestrooms, meeting and event space and outdoor venue, a new restaurant and bar and a reconceived restaurant (formerly known as Norma’s) are the latest additions to the storied retreat in the Green Mountains. Set on 120 acres with 68 guestrooms and a variety of Resort Homes, Topnotch Resort offers endless recreational pursuits in a comfortable and luxurious atmosphere. The 35,000 square foot Spa at Topnotch features over 120 treatments in 30 treatment rooms, and the Tennis Center features 4 indoor and 6 outdoor courts for year-round play. Other amenities and activities include cross-country and downhill ski rentals, bike rentals, horseback riding, a state-of-the-art Fitness Center, an indoor pool with a cascading massage waterfall, a whirlpool/Jacuzzi, and two outdoor pools with mountain-views – one of which is heated year-round. The property is pet-friendly, a part of the MetWest Terra Hospitality collection of boutique hotels, and also designated as a Preferred Family and a Preferred Pride hotel.


About MetWest Terra

MetWest Terra Hospitality is comprised of a diverse group of capital managers, real estate professionals, and lifetime hotel operators. The team is led by Chairman Richard S. Hollander who calls on nearly three decades of the successful founding and management of institutional investment strategies, which combined for total assets under management of $80.0 billion.  MetWest Terra Hospitality operates Topnotch Resort in Stowe, The Inn at Jackson Hole in Jackson Hole, Hotel Abri in San Francisco, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in Sausalito, The Lodge at Tiburon in Tiburon, and Toll House Hotel in Los Gatos. For more information please visit