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My Behind The Scenes Tour and Overview of The Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland)

Loving Life!

Loving Life!

Gorgeous art on canvas. Quality!

Gorgeous art on canvas. Quality!

I just got back from the 45th year the Montreux Jazz Festival, which took place on the gorgeous Lake Geneva, or Lake Léman as the Swiss like to call it. This amazing musical festival ran from July 1 through the 17th.

Nestled amongst the French populated section of the Swiss Alps in Montreux, Switzerland, this town has one of the most majestic views one will ever have as backdrop for a music festival.

Fun Fact: Lake Geneva was the site for the first measurement of the speed of sound in (fresh) water.

Take all your preconceptions, like comparing it to any festival you have ever attended, and throw them away.  For those thinking it might mirror New Orleans Jazz Festival in the sense of night and day jumps all over New Orleans catching shows, it’s nothing like that.  Try thinking more along the lines of a dignified, classy smallish in scale but giant in reputation, amazing, worldly festival thrown into the middle of The Sound of Music.

A Little Background

The Montreux Jazz Festival is certainly the most well known music festival in the world, at least to musicians.  I would wager that the average musical lover even has a few Live in Montreux cds from an artist or two without even realizing it.

Live at Montreux - I hope you have a few of these albums!

Live at Montreux - I hope you have a few of these albums!

Funky Claude Nobs!

Funky Claude Nobs!

It is all began with Claude “Funky Claude” Nobs, a passionate jazz fan and visionary who founded the festival back in 1967.

This guy was cool, rocking Missoni gear every time I saw him. Come to find out he rocks it almost exclusively. When I lived on Park Avenue, Missoni was the only store on Madison Avenue I cringed by when I took my daily walks home from work.  However, I took the time to take a look at the Missoni catalog that came in our gift bag (more about that later). I have to be honest with you, I dug some of the $1,000 and up items.

A group of youth tossing three teens in the air. Not photoshoped.

A group of youth tossing three teens in the air and they rotated! Not Photoshopped!

Our tour rep told us that Claude started as a cook and networked his way up to somehow create this festival.  That wasn’t a through enough description for me.  How about these facts:

  1. After apprenticing as a cook, Nobs worked in the Tourism Office of Montreux.
  2. He later went to New York, where he met Nesuhi Ertegün, the president of Atlantic Records.
  3. There he met Roberta Flack and invited her to the Rose d’Or de Montreux, one of the most important international festivals in entertainment television
  4. Aretha Franklin made her first visit to Europe thanks to him.
  5. At the age of 31, while he was director of the Tourism Office of Montreux, he organized the first jazz festival

~ Thank you Wikipedia

One of my favorite booths on the walk...

One of my favorite booths on the walk...

Gorgeous flowers were the only thing that stood between you and the water's edge!

Gorgeous flowers were the only thing that stood between me and the water's edge!

Montreux’s inaugural fest was only three days compared to the current three week run and listed almost exclusively jazz musicians.  In the 1970s, the festival began broadening its scope including blues, soul, and rock artists.  Over the years, the festival has grown to include all styles of music from around the world.  This year, I noticed that there was a large Hip-Hop focus at this “Jazz” festival, especially late night.  I would love to speak more with the team who creates the line-up.

It’s fair to say that The Montreux Jazz Festival might be one of the world’s most diverse musical gatherings. Over the four days I was in Montreux, on the streets alone I saw:

  1. Indian group chanting with flute and drum accompaniment
  2. Individual John Mayer types with guitars
  3. Japanese dancing and singing
  4. African Tribal dancing and singing
  5. A Didgeridoo group called DidgEra. (They changed spots all week, I loved them but they need to be nicer to their fans if they want us to give a crap. I got brushed off when asking about the instruments they were playing.)
  6. A solo Kora player
  7. Many versions of American songs remixed with electronic beats coming from the food booths. (Celine Dion even got some love!!)
  8. Hip-Hop dance rage on one of the park stages
  9. Four dudes strapped a barely floating raft to a paddle boat and set up their band on the raft with an electric amp playing garage band music. THAT was amazing. As seen below 🙂
Ballzy and awesome! Note the pirate flag...

Ballzy and awesome! Note the pirate flag...

Try to take into perspective that the festival is very small in ground size even though 220,000+ people are said to have attended.  It’s basically laid out along the edge of Lake Le’man on a straight sidewalk lane pretty much ending at our hotel, Eden Palace Au Lac.  Literally a 15-20 minute walk from end to end.

The Overview

Surf Board Paddlers had the best view from the middle of the Lake

Surf Board Paddlers had the best view from the middle of the Lake

I arrived in Montreux, Switzerland on the 14th of July and was there for four days. Even though it was raining, the place shined through with its gorgeousness. Spotless lawns and sidewalks, clean air, a large gorgeous blue lake in the middle of the most scenic of mountain views one could ever encounter. To have a music festival set in this type of landscape was phenomenal.  As I grow and experience these musical adventures, my definition of phenomenal has changed.  This…was…PHENOMENAL!

The town itself was rather small and you didn’t have to gaze far to see that the town took this festival seriously.  Every window display had a music theme.  There were guitars with pearls draped across them and drumsticks scattered around cupcakes.  Over our time there I would see flower vases lined with sheet music or in the shape of piano keys, cloth stores hung musically inspired cloth and restaurants serving Orchestral Salads and Musical Cheeseburgers.  It was no joke.

Lobby shot of our hotel!

Lobby shot of our hotel!

Loved these guys!

Loved these guys!

While checking in to the Eden Palace Au Lac, to our pleasure we were immediately told we had a room upgrade with a better view!   Then we were told that a representative from The Montreux Jazz Festival had contacted them and asked to be alerted upon our arrival.  We were then told that in ten minutes a representative of the festival would becoming to our hotel to greet us.  Alright, this was pretty dope…

Seriously...this was our view.

Seriously...this was our view.

Our Room with VIew

Our Room with View

Josh and I went to our rooms and melted into our view. It was the most delicious view I had ever experienced.  The grandeur of the mountains were just breathtaking.  The Blue Ridge Mountains where I spent my college years were put into perspective.

The water was so clear and clean.  Very much like a tropical island.  At any point on your walk along the lake, if you felt like swimming, you could jump in from one of the many quaint docks and ladders.  While you swam you were  floating amongst ducks, swans, pigeons, and sea gulls.  Scattered around were sail boats, paddles boats, para-gliders, surf-board paddlers and more.  Every single moment and spot was picture perfect.

View from sidewalk walk around Lake!

View from sidewalk walk around Lake! See the docks to jump in from? Too cute!

Gift Bag Welcome!

Gift Bag Welcome!

I began to unpack before the  phone call came.  Josh went down to meet the representative and came back with a huge bag of goodies. The gift bag contained two Montreux shirts, MAC cosmetics, A Montreux Jazz Festival dual-disc sampler cd, Missioni clothing magazine, and a Switzerland tourist type booklet with fun things to do around the area.

Hip-Hop Dancing on The Park Stage

Hip-Hop Dancing on The Park Stage

Over the next four days, I would experience a world I had never known as this amazing festival opened itself up to me at the same time. I was walking amongst covered Muslims and Native American Indians.  I heard people speaking French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Israeli and more.  This is something I never see/hear at American Festivals.

Fest goers lounging outside the Park stage.

Fest goers lounging outside the Park stage.

During the three week festival you could enjoy piano, voice and air guitar competitions with contestants from Great Britain, Australian, France and more.  There were paying concerts with Carlos Santana (Rock), John Mclaughlin (Fusion), Jimmy Cliff (Reggae), Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi (Southern Rock), B.B. King (Blues), and any other style of music you can imagine. There were also free shows held in various locations along the water each day.

Notice the water on the right as you walk along the side walk of vendor tents.

Notice the water and mountains on the right as you walk along the side walk of vendor tents.

The Music in the Park Stage, located right outside the Auditorium Stravinsky!

The Music in the Park Stage, located right outside the Auditorium Stravinsky!

There were Salsa and Brazilian show boats and a New Orleans Jazz train which all housed performances on board.  There were workshops in Funk, Soul, Bossa Nova, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Electronic and Classical music.  There were teachings about the rise of Hip-Hop, music in film, Slam Poetry performances, and numerous individual artists workshops.  I attended the Larry Graham Workshop and the Marcus Miller Workshop, both of which will be posted in full later next week.

The food booths were unique, diverse and fresh!

The food booths were unique, diverse and fresh!

My first meal at Fest was Paella. So Good!

My first meal at Fest was Paella. So Good!

Some 22 food stalls can be found along the lakeside.  The food was on par with the quality you might find at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the only other festival I’ve attended whose food was on the same level as the music. My first meal was Jambalaya, followed by fondue, crepes, orange and apple portable waffles that tasted like fruit loops, baguettes with amazing cheese and oil toppings, German style potato salads, cheesy scalloped potatoes with ham.  There was Sushi, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and German and there was even a salad/pasta bar in one of the booths.  The food was never ending and I didn’t get to eat enough of it while I was there.

Tons of exciting activities were around for kids of all ages!

Tons of exciting activities were around for kids of all ages!

The Behind-the-Scene Tour

To be honest, I had forgotten about the Behind the Scenes Tour until two days into the trip and we were on our last night of box seats.  All we had to do was come in between 2pm and 11pm and they would give us a Behind the Scenes Tour.  The tour ended up taking place on our last day of the festival right around sound check. Coincidence? I think not 😉

I was described the difference between Backline (everything behind the artist on stage) and Front Line (the lights and video equipment). With that info under my belt, I was taken into the Instrument Storage Room.

Hanging out with all the instruments - felt good!

Hanging out with all the instruments - felt good!

Due to the small size of Montreux, the frequency of the shows during the festival and the lack of time for each artist to set up, most artist attending the Montreux Jazz Festival use instruments from the stock pile that is housed in the Auditorium Stravinsky.  Of course, people such as Larry Graham and Paul Simon would use their own instrument but their back up bands were asked to use what was already on site.

Instrument galore...

Instrument galore...

Every day the staff prepares the instruments.  The last performer of the night sound checks first.  The selection of instruments was grand.  I was told that the staff who maintain and organize this portion of the festival were the hardest working people on site.  It was their job to make sure that every artist had the instrument they needed.  It was their job to be there multiple hours a day.  First to organize what is needed for the day, then to organize sound check, see the show through to the end of the performance, and then make sure the instruments are put back accordingly.

I immediately recognized the pressure that was on this portion of the staff and at that moment, a grumpy male snapped at Nathan to move out of his way.  Clearly, there was pressure.

Instruments everywhere, of all kinds.

Instruments everywhere, of all kinds.

Because so many artists performed in such a small amount of time on one stage, the last artist performing on a given night has sound check first and their equipment is set up.  Each following artist’s equipment is set up in front of the last.  Then, during performance time, the first act goes on, their items are removed from the line and by the time the last act is performing, only one line of instruments, that last artists instruments, are left on stage.

I was told of a story involving Keith Jarret.  There are only two pianos in the collection: a Steinway and a Yamaha.  Jarret struck one key on the piano provided by the festival and said “NO!” He refused to use the equipment.  The Montreux staff went looking all over Switzerland for the type of piano that Jarret wanted. There was only one located in Switzerland and it was flown in.  The artist struck one key on this new piano and said “NO!”  He ended up using the original piano provided by the festival.

The crates that brought supplies on the train to the Festival

The crates that brought supplies on the train to the Festival

I was escorted to the inner belly of the building.  Here was housed the recycling center.

Fun Fact about the alcohol:  The festival has 20,000 liters of beer imported from Belgium because the tiny Swiss kegs don’t serve the purpose of the large festival.

Kegs ready for the Festival.

Kegs ready for the Festival.

Montreux’s Greening efforts are intense. Their mission is to limit waste creation while at the same time maximizing sorting and recycling. This mission manifests itself through:

  • Returning the site to its original state on a daily basis
  • A team that works 24 hours a day, sorting trash and ensuring the cleanliness of the festival areas
  • An on-site eco-compatible waste plant
  • Eco Points spread across the site, both indoors and outdoors, allowing the public to recycle items including plastic cups, PET, glass, aluminum, paper/cardboard, and items to be incinerated
  • Prevention and information for the public, in partnership with the Summit Foundation, to promote eco-friendly measures

For it’s second year, in addition to financial support, Alpiq is providing practical energy efficiency solutions for the Hospitality Garden, the festival’s VIP area.  With the installation of a photovoltaic system and energy-saving LED lighting, this technology is to be extended in future to the entire festival infrastructure.

Hospitality Area...

Hospitality Area...

Audio Production...

Audio Production...

The audio trailers were also in this area. There were two audio trucks and two video trucks.   The Montreux Jazz Festival has been recording their video in HD since 1991. Back then, HD was seen as ridiculous.  Now Funky Claude just sits back and smiles with his awesome video while everyone begs for it.  The entire festival is recorded live and there has been 5000 hours of tape recorded.  As an artist playing the festival, you have to be OK with being taped. Don’t worry, you get a free copy of your show! Marvin Gaye refused to be taped until he went to Funky Claude’s personal home and saw the quality of the HD video.  Only then did Marvin agree to be taped.

The fest is staffed with 1200 volunteers who are mostly students who make little in wages so many stay with someone they know or travel in from the outer towns.    There were perks for them throughout the festival. Food was a 15% off price, there was a masseuse backstage for cheap whenever they needed to relax, they were allowed to see music days on end for free, sometimes lucky ones, or not lucky, were allowed to work for the artists!

View of the busy sidewalk near the Auditorium...

View of the busy sidewalk near the Auditorium...

The two main Halls, Auditorium Stravinsky and The Miles Davis Hall, used for the evenings shows, were located inside the Convocation Center.

Montreux Convocation Center

Montreux Music & Convention Center

Backstage at Miles Davis Hall: The Miles Davis Hall, located in the Music & Convention Center, was built on as an audition to the Auditorium Stravinsky after the festival got to big for the solo stage and has a capacity of 2,000 people.  Once built, musicians, specifically jazz musicians, wanted to perform in that space rather than the large space.

Front of Miles Davis Hall, attached to Auditorium Stravinsky

Front of Miles Davis Hall, attached to Auditorium Stravinsky

Lights testing at Miles Davis Hall

Lights testing at Miles Davis Hall

I inquired about the Jam sessions that Sean Rickman had mentioned to me when we ran into each other at a red light on the street.   Artists are encouraged to go to the Montreux Cafe after their performances for impromptu jam sessions.   There are certain set concerts to help promote such a thing happening.  Unfortunately, the scene late night in the Montreux Cafe is not one that many artists of Sean’s caliber want to participate in.  Whenever we were near the area late night, the scene was full of young 20-something drunken ragers who were more interested the opposite sex then the music fueling the vibe.

Heading towards backstage...

Heading towards backstage MDH...

Rage!

Rage!

As we approached the backstage entrance to the Hall, I could hear Larry Graham‘s bass lines coming from sound check. We were let in to watch a portion of the sound check and sadly had to leave our camera outside.

I can tell you, standing in front of the stage with just me and Larry Graham and his low end was an absolute thrill.  In that moment I felt very special. I knew I was in a special moment, experiencing a very special thing. I couldn’t help but think about the people who had gotten me to this point. Thank you to my parents, the Sloanes and Josh! I wasn’t taking any of it for granted.

Larry Graham was on stage with his wife checking things out. His wife and he were sporting matching jerseys with #1 and #2 on the back. Josh, myself, Nathan and Helen watched for about 15 minutes. Taking it all in…

Auditorium Stravinsky

Auditorium Stravinsky

Auditorium Stravinsky this way...

Auditorium Stravinsky this way...

Backstage at Auditorium Stravinsky – We headed through a few corridors and up or down some stairs to end up in the Auditorium Stravinsky, situated in the Music & Convention Center.  The interior is completely paneled with cherry wood and has an audience capacity of 1800 seated and 3500 standing,

We immediately went backstage and were walking amongst the orchestra that would be backing Deep Purple that evening.  There was a red carpet on the floor which I found out led to the stage. How cute is that?  A red carpet to the stage!!

Lounge outside Auditorium Stravinsky inner room for drinkers, etc.

Lounge outside Auditorium Stravinsky inner room for drinkers, etc.

To the left of the red carpet was Claude’s dressing room and interestingly enough, Quincey’s Jones’, who stays all three weeks each year.  When our rep explained to us that her first job had been serving artists relations, Josh asked her which artist had been the most difficult.  Prince became the topic of discussion now as she spoke of going all over Montreux with Prince’s makeup artist looking for the correct wig and he apparently has a very impressive makeup collection.

Leaving the tour, this is the entrance to Stravinsky Area.

Leaving the tour, this is the entrance to Stravinsky Area.Deep Purple fans right around the corner.

The tour was informative and exciting.  As we left the building to go do some more shopping, we passed the entrance to the line for the Deep Purple show.  Diehard fans with purple hair and Deep Purple clothing were already lined up for the show that would be taking place in 2 hours.  I knew how they felt.  The music was calling…

Deep Purple fans ready to rage!

Deep Purple fans ready to rage!

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Rage Mobile

Rage Mobile

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.

Approaching Hunter Mountain

Approaching Hunter Mountain

Get ur tickets

Get ur tickets

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.

The Weekend Rage Haven

The Weekend Rage Haven

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!)

Welcome Center

Welcome Center (& my housemates)

Waiting to see the music and get into camping....

Waiting to see the music and get into camping....

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.

Hunter Mountain (East Side)

Climbing up Hunter Mountain (East Side)

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.

Look at the view behind stage!  WHAT?

Look at the view behind stage! WHAT?

Kofi Burbridge & TR

Kofi Burbridge & TR

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.

Elmwood in Colonel’s Hall

Elmwood in Colonel’s Hall

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.

The Karma Wash @ Mountain Jam

The Karma Wash @ Mountain Jam

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!

The Avett Brothers @ Mountain Jam (Main Stage)

The Avett Brothers @ Mountain Jam (Main Stage)

The Avett Brothers

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.

Download: The Avett Brothers @ Mountain Jam VI (06.04.10)

The Avett Brothers @ The Main Stage

The Avett Brothers @ The Main Stage

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.

Here's that sunset :) SO lovely!

Here's that sunset 🙂 SO lovely!

The rad ladies room

The rad ladies room

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…

Gov’t Mule

Warren Haynes – Guitar & Vocals
Matt Abts – Drums
Danny Louis – Keyboards, Background Vocals
Jorgen Carlsson – Bass

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!

Gov't Mule @ Main Stage

Gov't Mule @ Main Stage

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.

Gov't Mule @ Main Stage

Gov't Mule @ Main Stage

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)

The New Mastersounds

Eddie Roberts – Guitar
Simon Allen – Drums
Pete Shand – Bass
Joe Tatton – Organ and Piano

New Mastersounds @ Colonel Hall

New Mastersounds @ Colonel Hall

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.

The New Mastersounds @ Colonel Stage

The New Mastersounds @ Colonel Stage

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.

Kofi Burbridge joins The New Mastersounds

Kofi Burbridge joins The New Mastersounds

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

Download: The New Masterdounds @ Mountain Jam VI (06.04.10)

Les Claypool @ Mountain Jam

Les Claypool @ Mountain Jam

Les Claypool

Les Claypool – Basses
Mike Dillon – Percussion & Vibes
Sam Bass – Cello
Paulo Baldi – Drums

Les Claypool @ Mountain Jam (Main Stage)

Les Claypool @ Mountain Jam (Main Stage)

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 PachydermThe New Mastersounds had lost me.

The Utterly Amazing! Les Claypool

The Utterly Amazing! Les Claypool

If only you could have seen what my eyes saw...

If only you could have seen what my eyes saw...

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)

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.  She was so happy and at that moment I loved me some Warren just as much as my friend did.

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