As the eve before Mountain Jam arrived, I couldn’t sleep, no one could. My phone was blowing up with text messages finalizing last minute plans, causing last minute mini-drama bombs that kept us on our toes. It was like the day before Christmas, as it is before every festival. It might as well be Christmas, right? You know you are going to meet up with long lost phamily that is normally scattered across the nation and when you arrive you are given lots of goodies and presents 🙂 AM I RIGHT? Oh, our world is so full of life and love.
The four of us piled into my buddy’s rage mobile and we took off down Highway 87. Two and a half hours later we were taking Exit 20 and making our way through the windy roads to the top of Hunter Mountain, the site of Mountain Jam for the last six years. The scenic drives through these mountains, or any mountains, are one of the perks of heading to any festival. Once you exit the bustling city, it only takes about 20 minutes before you start hitting lush rolling green hills on either side. My mind always gets thrown back to the Blue Ridge Mountains and it makes me miss Virgina, my home state, that much more.
I don’t do well with rain and this festival was notorious for it’s thunderstorms and drastic change of weather. After much debate and consideration, I decided to shack up with my buddy in his house for the weekend. It was a lovely cottage type house with three bedrooms and a shower, which numerous friends used over the course of the weekend. It’s always good to have a friend with a house! (MUCH LOVE FOR MURRAY! THANK YOU MY DEAR FRIEND!)
With all my friends setting up their tent cities in Camping, I was free to roam the grounds. As I walked up the hill, a lovely old deadhead stopped just to tell me I looked lovely. I was wearing my favorite skirt I had bought at my first festival (All Good) over 11 years ago. A wonderful skirt my mother has repaired numerous times over to allow it to continue to live. It is the little moments like these that I never have to write down. The little moments of joy that find their way to your ears and eyes because people are just KIND in these settings. Hippies are the greatest people in the world.
This venue was GORGEOUS. I had never been to a venue with such a gorgeous backdrop. The scene I was staring at behind the stage was magnificent. Beautifully lush green mountains with white clouds floating above. It truly was a sight to behold. Wait until you see the pictures of the sunset.
My music karma followed me to Hunter Mountain. The commute went smooth, the house was so close, the weather for the weekend was, for the most part, sunny and dry. As well, within the first two hours of arriving, I had spotted and caught up with just about everyone I was hoping to see that weekend. One of the first people I ran into was Kofi Burbridge. He is always one to be found mingling among the crowd, getting into trouble. Then came a string of friendly faces who just made the hug chain continue for a few hours. This was going to be a GREAT weekend.
As I explored the grounds, the first drop of music I could hear was from the Colonel’s Hall, one of four stages set up at the venue. I stepped in for a few seconds to hear Elmwood and was right back out. There were three other stages: The East stage (Main stage), The West stage (side stage) and The Awareness Village stage. The shows I wanted to see were going to be mainly on the East and West stages.
My home base for the festival was the Karma Wash. From now on, if they are part of any festival I am at, you can always find me there. A wonderful group of people who have more fun then I can describe. They have created a wonderful wonderland of playfulness for both adults and children. Everyone always need a good Karma scrubbing and they provide the services! Join their Facebook fanpage to see where you can get your Karma Washed next!
Scott Avett – Vocals, Banjo, Kick Drum, Drums
Seth Avett – Vocals, Guitar, High-Hat, Keys, Drums
Bob Crawford – Vocals, Bass
Joe Kwon – Cello
I made my way to view the East stage where I could hear the folk/rock sound of The Avett Brothers tearing it up. Ah, the banjo always makes me smile. Their vibe was upbeat and feisty. Scott Avett’s singing flowed over the mountain from the stage and was so lovely with his brother harmonizing. When family members sing together there is a blend and a cohesiveness in the sound that is intangible to others. I wish I could tell you who else is on stage with the Avett Brothers in the above picture but alas. They rang out bluegrass into rock up the mountain until a piano was brought out for a few numbers which slowed down the vibe considerably.
As the piano accompanied, Scott sang I and Love and You, the title track off their newest cd. A simple song with a powerful statement. The only songs I recalled from quickly listening to their cd a few days prior. It caught my ear when I heard the lyrics Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in and Three words that became hard to say, I and Love and You. This group is tangible and by that I mean that I felt something when they sang. They touched me. I am not a fan of lyrics but coming from folk/bluegrass type music, I adore it. They were solid in their delivery and emotional amongst their dancing jigs. I loved them as they had help me toss my shoes off, hike my skirt up and dance in the dirt. Dancing with nature.
Now, Mountain Jam is the brain child of Warren Haynes, of The Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule. This meant that we would be blessed with two full nights of 2 sets of Gov’t Mule. It meant that Warren Haynes would be sitting in with whatever group he felt drawn to join. Get your party pants on…because once Mule started, there was no turning back.
There was a 45 minute break before we were raging with Gov’t Mule!!! I completely shacked up by the Karma Wash for this set! I had no intention of trying to fight the thousands of people cramming up to the stage. Took off for what I heard was NICE bathroom in the ski lodge. ALWAYS a plus to have something other then a porta-potty. I about died as I walked passed the men’s room that looked like just a bunch of high school stalls. And then walking into the ladies room that had a lavish dressing room area, numerous sinks, mirrors, and couches. LOL!! Typical…
Now THIS was how one should watch Gov’t Mule. This was their festival, their time to shine. They know just as well as we do that it is their set that first night that sets the mood for the rest of the weekend. The energy and pure freaking rage of the first set was enough to cause a landslide…pun totally intended!
As World Gone Wild played, I totally realized that I was away from the city and I threw my head back to look at the stars. In that moment, a shooting star crossed overhead and I totally had a moment with myself. I shit you not. I thanked the powers that be for making my life worth living. And when the sun finally set, Hunter Mountain literally looked like it was on fire from the lights and the energy that was kicking off the weekend. Look at the picture below. Fire on the Mountain!
Thorzine Shuffle closed out the set. Warren screamed “Till the damage is done!”over the mountain and everyone sang along. I could hear the harmonica on stage as if it were right beside me. The sound from the stage up that mountain was tremendous. Warren’s solos were superb and he teased Eleanor Rigby. I looked to see my friend dancing her heart out. A fellow blogger, I actually had written in my notes to just link to her description of this set. A COMPLETE MULEHEAD!! She was so happy and at that moment I loved me some Warren just as much as she did.
For the second set of Mule we decided we needed to be closer. The highlight of the set for me was when Les Claypool joined Warren on Greasy Granny’s Gopher Gravy. Such a combination of styles: Warren’s southern drawl against Claypool’s slapstick bass. They TOTALLY jammed it out for a while. Unfortunately, this would be the only guest appearance I would SEE. I took a trip to the parking lot with a friend which caused me to miss seeing Kofi Burbridge sit in on Raven Black Night, Grace Potter sit in on Gold Dust Woman and Ray Lamontague join the stage but THANK GOD I was able to hear it all!! Kofi’s flute reached my ears and I immediately lost focus on my parking lot mission. Those conversations would have to wait. I had to get back.
I about died when I thought I had missed the end of the last set but the encore followed. Inside Outside Woman Blues was SOOO damn sexy! I loved Warren’s guitar on this one the best. Any Open Window and Steppin’ Lightly, where Jorgen Carlsson stood out on bass, closed it OUT!!! WHAT WAY TO START YOUR FESTIVAL!!!!
Set 1: Intro, Stay With Me, New World Blues, World Gone Wild, Time To Confess, The Shape I’m In, Monkey Hill >, Monday Mourning Meltdown, Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Thorazine Shuffle
Set 2: One Of These Days >, Fearless, The Wind Cries Mary, Greasy Granny’s Gopher Gravy (Part 1 & 2) > (w/ Les Claypool), Drums, Wishing Well, Raven Black Night > (w/ Kofi Burbridge), Gold Dust Woman (w/ Grace Potter)
Encores: Inside Outside Woman Blues, Any Open Window >, Steppin’ Lightly
Download: Gov’t Mule @ Mountain Jam VI (06.04.10)
After Mule, we geared up for the 1am late night sets. Les Claypool (Main Stage) and The New Mastersounds (Colonel’s Hall) were performing at the same time. This would be my first mental headache of the festival. I adore Claypool, as he feeds into my tiny dark side. However, I had tickets to see Claypool at the Brooklyn Bowl the following Tuesday in Manhattan so I decided to rage it with The New Mastersounds first. Apparently, I was not alone. The venue was PACKED but we got our front row spots on lock down no matter where we roll.
Throughout the day, my friends and I had told everyone that The New Mastersounds were the band to watch that night. Most definitely, one of the freshest acts to come out of England in the last few years. They truly have skyrocketed up in public opinion and I had been looking forward to seeing them all year. A friend spit out some interesting info the other day about NMS: “they’ll be the first to tell you they didn’t even think about “jamming” their tunes until they started touring the U.S. and learned that there were people that actually enjoyed that approach.” So, having only heard their studio album, I was blown away by their live performance.
Eddie Roberts threw out so much energy from that stage that I felt involved. He got so into his vibe that it was flat out tangible. Man, being so used to small club type settings or even large venues, on any given night, I felt closer to these bands at certain times on that Mountain amongst 15,000+ people then I ever did in NYC venues. And The New Mastersounds has us sweating bullets on that dance floor. A large portion of my friends said that they danced their hardest that first night at New Mastersounds. I know in that first set, I lost a few pounds myself. The heat was unbearable and I was dancing up front with my favorite people. SO HARD!!! Kofi Burbridge joined the stage during Fast Man and stayed for quite some time, adding his spectacular talent and sound to an already rocking performance.
Set I: Intro, Zambezi, Miracles, Dusty Groove, Thermal Bad, MRG, Fast Man -> Kofi Jam ->, Get On The Good Foot -> You Got It All, Six Underground, The Minx, 33 (A Good Year To Die), Carrot Juice, Make Me Proud!, One Note Brown ->, One Note Brown, Stage Banter, San Frantico, Idris, Nervous ->, Jam ->, Nervous
About half way through their set, I was dying of heat exhaustion and decided to take a walk outside and catch some Les Claypool. As I walked up the side of the mountain I decided if I was going to watch some Les, I wanted to be in the front row. A friend had been in charge of designing the paramedic route to the stage so the set up was a little different then previous years I was told. This new route allowed for me to walk right up the middle to the front and allowing me to access the stage very easily. And by god, it took me sometime but I got to the dead center, front row just as Les was teasing Led Zepplin’s Kashmir. We are in the second song of the second set at this point. Times FLIES! And then I couldn’t move! Not because of the people, but because Les Claypool delivered a RIGHTEOUS set and a funky David Makalaster I sandwiched a kickass version of Southbound Pachyderm. The New Mastersounds had lost me.
My favorite part of Claypool’s performance was when he left the stage for the drummer rage. Upon his return, he had put on his monkey mask and transformed into one of his many personas of strange. Freaking Creepster. I love him. This was just FUN!! The strobe lighting allowed for him to walk out stunted, as we only saw every other step. In the frame of mind I was in, I could have easily freaked out. He looked completely out of control to me. It was creepy and wonderful at the same time.
Set I: Up On The Roof, Rumble Of The Diesel, Toys Go Winding Down tease->Amanitas, Buzzards Of Green Hill**, Red State Girl, Hendershot, Precipitation->Mr. Krinkle tease->Precipitation>, Drums->, Drums & Whamola Jam
Set II: Booneville Stomp, Cosmic Highway->Goodbye Blue Sky tease->Cosmic Highway->Kashmir tease->Cosmic Highway, David Makalaster I, Southbound Pachyderm, David Makalaster I, D’s Diner
Download: Les Claypool @ Mountain Jam (06.04.10)
During D’s Diner, I took off back towards The New Mastersounds hoping to catch the last few songs with my friends. I didn’t even bother making my way to the front. Remember how my friends said they might have danced their hardest to this set? Well, as I entered Colonel Hall, everyone who I had lot track of, still wanted to see, or was looking for, was right there in the back. My friend “M” must have been introduced around 5 times but within a few minutes more glorious friend circles collided and the krewe grew exponentially right on the spot. GOD, I LOVE THIS COMMUNITY! My friends were flying all over the place. Literally, arms flying, spinning in circles, twirling each other, dipping each other….we might have been dancing with the music but we were more dancing with each other at that moment. This continued for the remaining songs. And I found myself another few pounds lighter.
The music ended and we walked 20 feet outside to the picnic tables and I SANK into the chair that would remain my best friend for another 2-3 hours. We literally raged there for the remaining time with new friends and old. I sat back watching my friends click with each other. The weather was gorgeous, the vibe was chill. To me, these might be the greatest moments…when friends from different walks of life finally cross paths and everyone just chills and talks about the great music they saw…all connected through the music, the vibe, the atmosphere. And it’s especially great when you get to say thank you to the band as they walk to their tour bus to go make more people in another location happy. The New Mastersounds had blown their spot up at Mountain Jam. Totally rocked the Mountain to a close. And when they walked out, the cheer was probably heard in Camping. They were so appreciated. I hope they knew that deep down in their souls!
We walked home as the sun came up and my head hit the pillow before 6am. It was difficult to sleep with everything running through my head. What a night and with beautiful weather to boot. I looked forward to doing it all again tomorrow.
Day II Review: Mountain Jam VI @ Hunter Mountain, NY (06.05.10)