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Where the music lives

Kellish Hill music barn: a music venue with family values

Tony Alexander improvises on his keyboard at Kellish Hill music barn’s Thursday night open mic session on Feb. 21.

Tony Alexander improvises on his keyboard at Kellish Hill music barn’s Thursday night open mic session on Feb. 21. Allie Wenner

— Kathy Kellish is a ball of energy. Whether she’s getting up at 4 a.m. to make breakfast on two hours of sleep or rocking out onstage with her autoharp, you can bet she’s doing it with all the enthusiasm and vigor she has inside of her. It’s this unfading drive she has that’s helped her to turn her old family farm into one of Syracuse’s best new music venues- called the Kellish Hill music barn.

“My friends tell me, ‘Kathy, you’ve got to slow down, take care of yourself.’ But I get so high on the music, I just keep going,” Kellish said.

Although she renovated the farm and began hosting music events a little over 10 years ago, music has always been a driving force at the family farm. She recalls her father tinkering around on the piano after a long day on the land and her mother joining in, singing. Kellish said she grew up listening to everything from Broadway show tunes, to opera, to country music.

She relocated to Colorado for a period of time when she was young. Kellish said even when she was in Colorado, she just knew that someday she would come back to Pompey and the farm. When her mother told her she wanted to sell it, that was all Kellish needed to hear. She moved back to Pompey right then to prevent her farm from being sold and has been there ever since.

The only time Kellish loses some of her enthusiasm is when she recalls what Pompey Center Road, the street her farm is located on, used to look like when she was growing up.

“Family farms have really gone by the wayside,” she said. “There’s only one farm between our place and Manlius. They’ve been gobbled up by [developments] the Preserve and Pompey Pines. It’s just not what it was in my youth.”

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