story and photos by Paige Langenderfer
Kara Barnard has done a lot in her career. She is known as one of the best fingerstyle guitarists in the country, and a top ranked mandolinist and dulcimer player. She has seven CDs, has toured the country with her sister as the Barnard Sisters, and has even given workshops at international conventions.
But, the thing she is most excited to talk about is teaching others and giving people an up-close experience with instruments at the store she co-owns with Kristin Thompson, The Weed Patch Music Company. The store is located just east of the Brown County Courthouse. It is known for the big banjo on the front of the building.
“When you hold an instrument, there is a vibration that puts you in direct contact with your spirituality,” Barnard said. “This is the kind of store that can change a person’s life overnight.”
Kara Barnard and Kristin Thompson
Barnard originally opened the store 10 years ago with a previous co-owner. A few years later, she sold out to her partner, but when she heard that he was going to close the store, she stepped up to take another shot at ownership.
“I thought it was really important that we keep the store open. I have always thought this town needs an up close experience with instruments. There is a vibration in these hills. It’s a magical place with a pull to music,” she said. “There are some incredibly talented musicians in this town and some people who have never played an instrument before. We’re here for all of them.”
Barnard said second-time-around ownership would not have been possible without new partner Kristin Thompson.
“Kristin brings a youthful passion and can relate to children in a way that they are able to immediately trust her,” Barnard said. “She is very passionate about teaching kids and even made the suggestion for our brand new “just for kids” section. She is going to do a fantastic job empowering and building confidence in kids as they learn a new instrument.”
Thompson and Barnard met about six years ago, when Thompson bought her first banjo and began taking lessons from Barnard.
“Kara is an incredible musician and teacher,” Thompson said. “When this opportunity came up it was just something I could not turn down.”
Thompson said she plans to start offering Kindermusik classes for young children.
“I feel like it’s really important to get kids started with music early,” she said. “Music helps with all sorts of things—with development like dedication, focus, patience, etc. It is a good way to express emotions and can be very therapeutic.”
Another area of focus for the Weed Patch Music Company will be selling locally crafted instruments. Approximately 80 percent of the instruments sold in the store are made by Indiana artisans.
“There’s nothing more amazing than someone sitting in a studio and making something that makes sounds that move people,” Barnard said. “This store gives them a voice. We’re introducing people to these incredibly talented craftsmen.”
Barnard said there is no comparison between hand-built and mass-built instruments.
“An artisan will spend hours and hours making sure that every piece of wood resonates with each other,” she said. “If the connection is sloppy, you lose some of that vibration and sound. So much more care goes into each hand-built instrument.”
There are more than 100 instruments for sale at the Weed Patch, each one hanging on the wall like a piece of art. Instruments include banjos, guitars, mandolins, dulcimers, fiddles, native american flutes, harps, ukuleles, and more.
The walls feature six local guitar builders, two mandolin builders, and two violin makers. The store also sells videos, books and accessories. Thompson and Barnard personally adjust every instrument before it goes out the door.
“We’re very proud of our affordable, good quality, beginner instruments. We set them up so that they play easily and the customer has a good experience,” Barnard said. “We want this to be a place for musicians of all skill levels to come and share in their love of music.”
The Weed Patch Music Company is located at 58 East Main Street in Nashville, Indiana, next to the courthouse. They are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. They are closed on Monday.
You can reach Weed Patch at (812) 200-3300 or visit