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A Minute In the Pioneer Valley with Parsonsfield

Nov 14, 2016

Welcome to "A Minute In …" — a BGS feature that turns our favorite artists into hometown reporters. In our latest column, Parsonsfield takes us on a tour of the book mills and coffee shops of Pioneer Valley town Leverett, Massachusetts.

Usually when you tell someone you live in Leverett (unless they are in the Pioneer Valley, also known as the scenic I-91 corridor), they’ve never heard of it. The town is about 23 miles of mostly trails, ponds, and trees. Amongst these mysterious woods, we have found a few hidden gems we’d love to share with you. We’re proud to call this area our home. When you get to the Lady Killigrew, tell the staff that Parsonsfield sent you.

The Montague Book Mill: Their slogan says it all: “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find." Once a grist mill, this unique building on the banks of the Sawmill River has been converted into a used book store, along with several other places to hang. Be careful: You may end up spending your entire day here. We certainly have. People have been known to make the 90-minute drive from the Boston area just to hang out here.

The Lady Killigrew: Step through a door in the book store and enter the absolute best spot for nitro-iced coffee and great sandwiches in a laid-back environment. Grab a table by the window and enjoy a relaxing morning overlooking the babbling stream below. If you go on a day we’re not touring, we’re probably already here. 

Turn It Up: Now that you’re all buzzed up on caffeine, walk across the courtyard to the record store. Although their other locations are a little bigger, somehow you always find something cool here.  

Lake Wyola State Park: If you’re here in the Summer, you can have a beach day without driving to the coast — our favorite spot in the area for a swim and a picnic.  

Peace Pagoda: “… A visible form of prayer for inseparable peace in the world and within the minds of all humanity.” Built in 1985, this is the first Peace Pagoda in North America and the one place you should not miss if you happen to be in Leverett. We’d rather not reveal its mystery, so take the short hike from the parking area to the top of the hill and enjoy what you see.

The Fretted Instrument Workshop: We think this may come of interest to some people who read a site that has the word bluegrass in it. Stop in for an unbelievable selection of new and vintage guitars, banjos, mandolins, and a few stranger instruments. This is where we bring our instruments for repairs, after we’ve rocked them a little too hard on tour. Tony will set you up with something real nice.

High Horse Brewery: As rock 'n' roll goes, our band is mostly filled with lightweight squares when it comes to drinking. In our first years of touring, we realized, if we take advantage of all the free booze at shows, we may sometimes wake up the next morning freezing cold, alone, and still on stage at a festival … That’s a story for a different outlet. However, when we’re at home, we like to whet our whistles here. Go upstairs to play some pool or downstairs for some great food. Either floor you choose, they’ve got great beer and cocktails.


After cruising through the Pioneer Valley, head down to Brooklyn and hit Victoria Reed's hot spots.

Lede photo by Shervin Lainez. All other photos by Parsonsfield, except High Horse photo by Brittany Ciullo. 


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