I have known about Mountain Jam for years but either the timing didn’t work or I wasn’t interested in the lineup. This is my first year and the lineup eventually sold me. String Cheese Incident, Elephant Revival, Shovels & Rope, Moon Hooch, Tom Petty, Peter Frampton and The Infamous Stringdusters. There are lots of other big acts playing that can support their own events but these were the ones that sealed the deal. The others were a bonus. They include Matisyahu, Michael Franti, and Steve Miller.
The festival was easy to get into Friday morning. The only minimal wait was the car in front of me being searched before me. If I came 5 minutes later, I would go right in. The search took 2 minutes and I parked at the base of the mountain. Luckily this was mostly flat and also close to the venue entrance. Arrival was so smooth I was able to get in at noon, set up camp, browse vendors, and still hear part of the first band of the day which ended at 1. Mountain Jam is at the base of Hunter Mountain, a ski resort north of Kingston. You camp on a trail, you can pay to ride a chairlift, and there are actual buildings. Most of the music was on one of two stages at the base of the mountain. Inside the lodge were a smaller stage in a bar and an even smaller one for open mic performances.
Elephant Revival was the highlight of the day. I got to the stage early enough to be center on the rail. The sound could have been better but the music was great and seeing them live was a treat. I found them via a Pandora channel based on Your Rocky Spine
by The Great Lake Swimmers and I am grateful.
String Cheese was great as well. I can’t remember the last time I saw them but it was at least a year. I was napping on the hillside in a hammock and woke to the sound of them playing.
Saturday morning started with a yoga class led by Michael Franti. A small stage was assembled on a field next to a river for Michel, his guitarist, and a yoga instructor. After MAY Fest, my expectation was background music while we stretch. Instead, Michael ran most of the show while playing and singing. The yoga was light but the crowd loved it. We danced, spun partners, sang, and made room for the kids to play as well. Afterward, he took pictures and shared hugs. Luckily it wasn’t too early in the morning.
I managed to see all the bands I wanted to including my first Tom Petty performance (amazing), Shovels & Rope (always fun), and Moon Hooch (who I last saw on the streets of Austin). Other notable performances included Tauk, Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son), and Marty Stuart.
The weekend was quiet. I felt the venue could hold far more people, it was easy to get everywhere, nobody seemed completely spun out, etc. Dead & Company were playing Fenway Park at the same time and many of my friends were there, I came alone. The Mountain Jam crowd was a bit older; there were lots of locals and a general sense of a relaxed weekend of music. It was nice to have a weekend without too much talking, great weather, and great music. This is still a festival I’ll go to depending on the lineup but I certainly hope to return next year if I can.