Name: Mountain Jam
Location: Hunter Mountain, NY
Dates: June 2 – 5, 2016
Although there was an artist cancellation, it seems as though Saturday was the day to be at Mountain Jam,
the annual festival held on Hunter Mountain in New York. I was planning on making the 2.5 hour drive from Connecticut early enough to make it by noon but of course I was running a bit behind. No way I was making Ratboy Jr. at 9:15 am. I arrived at the North South Campgrounds where I was crashing that night around 3:00 PM. (I somehow forgot a pillow and blanket – yea I have no idea how either – and had to stop at walmart). Got everything set up at camp and grabbed a taxi to the festival. After the 15 minute drive with Brian, who was the provider of the first bought of entertainment that day, I was in the festival and listening to The Record Company on the Mountain Stage.
Apparently, because of the Gary Clark Jr. cancellation due to family issues, The Record Company was moved onto the much larger Mountain Stage. Even singer Chris Vos announced that the Mountain Stage was the biggest they have ever played on and most likely the biggest crowd they have played for. You would have never guessed it. Well, besides when Vos dropped his guitar and most likely broke it on stage. Other than that little mix up, The Record Company owned the large Mountain Stage and provided Jammers with a set to remember. Or at least to look up their music.
At the end of The Record Companies set I walked around (and up) the festival grounds to take it all in. The first oddity I found was the much smaller Valley Stage was set up right next to the main mountain stage. I guess having a festival on a mountain you can only put those things in so many places. I found out later that the third stage was actually indoors in the ski lodge. One other component of Mountain Jam that that was very evident was the family atmosphere. I don’t think I have ever seen more kids at a festival. I’m talking babies in strollers to little kids that walk on their own. My best guess on an age range for attendees at Mountain Jam would be 6 months to 72. This is what makes Mountain Jam special. It is about all ages coming together to celebrate great music and to actually listen and enjoy the music. It isn’t about drugs or getting messed up – although there was still plenty of that, made very evident by the women in front of me at Lettuce who took two tabs of acid – it’s about the MUSIC and that is the way it should be.
Next up was Warren Haynes who was taking the place of the aforementioned Gary Clark Jr. We’re not sure what happened that caused Clark to cancel but we are sending him and him family good vibes and ask that you do the same! Now if you don’t know who Warren Haynes is, you should probably get on that. Haynes is best known for being the guitarist in The Allman Brothers as well as the founder of Gov’t Mule. He also happens to be a co organizer of Mountain Jam. Jammers were definitely dissapointed hearing of Gary Clark Jr.’s cancellation but it seemed that the crowed thoroughly enjoyed Haynes hour long acoustic set that included songs from Gov’t Mule, The Dead, George Harrison and U2.
After Warren Lettuce got funky on the side Valley Stage. I wanted to be close for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats who were playing on the Mountain Stage next so I caught Lettuce from an angle. The crowd began to pack in in front of the Valley Stage and before the second song there was already lettuce flying through the air. Yes, someone had a head(s) of lettuce and was launching the leafy green up in the air.
When Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats came on the crowd really started to get dense down low. Still with room to dance which was nice. Their set included crowd favorites such as Howling at the Moon, Shake, I Need Never Get Old, Trying So Hard Not To Know and Wasting Time. They also played two brand new songs which seemed to please the crowds ears. I also have to mention Wesley Watkins on the trumpet. The dude danced his a** off for the entire set and when I say entire set I mean he never stopped, even when he wasn’t playing. He must have gumbi legs because those things were moving! Not to mention he is an excellent trumpet player to boot. At the end of the set, Rateliff and The Night Sweats closed with the crowd favorite, S.O.B. Let me tell you it was an all out dance party. I’m sure you could hear the crowd’s “woah-oh-oh”s at the top of the mountain. All and all, even after a harrowing experiencing getting to Mountain Jam, which Rateliff must have mentioned at least three times through out the set, the energy they put out gave them one of the best performances of the day.
It started to get to that point in the day where I knew it was time to eat or I was not going to eat at all. Most of
Houndmouth’s set was missed due to a pulled pork sandwich (hold the slaw). It was mediocre, Houndmouth probably would have been more pleasing. Before I was thinking about getting something else to eat or having another Goose Island IPA, Beck was coming on stage. Well, we thought he was. It took him about 15 minutes but better late than never, right?
If you have ever seen a performer having genuine fun on stage then you can picture what Beck looked like through his entire set. He gave the crowd covers of both Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” and MJ’s “Billie Jean”. His set seemed to fly by although in reality it was one hour and 45 minutes. I was a bit surprised he didn’t play his brand new song “Wow” that he released three days prior but he made up for it with his “Where Its At” closer. The song was released 20 years that day in 1996 but he played it like it was a new hit single. The best part of the closing song was that in the middle he
introduced every band member and the party kept going. What can I say, the guy likes to have fun and get the crowd to have fun with him.
The late night sets were brought to us by Thievery Corporation and Lettuce. There was an oddly long break between
Beck and Thievery Corporation so my buddy and I found a couple empty hammocks and passed out until their rightful owners came by and woke us up. (We assumed they were set up by the festival) In somewhat of a dreamlike state we danced away to Thievery Corporations funky-reggae-acid-jazz-Brazilian-electronic music. They brought out different singers throughout their set and kept the late night crowd going. Luckily Lettuce played inside the ski lodge
because it started to absolutely down pour. My buddy woke up in his tent in a puddle the next morning with about 10
gallons of water on top of his tent.
Overall, Mountain Jam was a huge success. Not a festival that I’m necessarily used to with but a very welcoming one at that. It was so very refreshing to see an older crowd who was there to actually listen and enjoy the music. Bringing families and community together is what differentiates Mountain Jam from the rest of the fleet. Jammers young and old will be enjoying the sounds echoing from the Catskills for years and years to come.