Mountain Jam Festival V
Hunter Mountain Ski Lodge
This year my buddy Steve and I decided to check out a spring time music festival. Our options were, Summer Camp, Bonnaroo, or Mountain Jam, and after looking at locations and line-ups we settled on Mountain Jam hands down. Located only 6 1/2 hours from Ottawa in the heart of the Catskills it was by far the nearest to home and with the addition of a 3rd night of music to help celebrate The Allman Brothers Band 40th anniversary it was a done deal.
Included in this year's 30 band line-up for Mountain Jam was Umphrey's McGee, The Derek Trucks Band, Gomez, Gene Ween Band, Tea Leaf Green, Richie Havens, John Medeski, Marco Benevento Trio, Alberta Cross, and Michael Franti & Spearhead. And of course the hosts of the event, Gov't Mule, would be playing two shows at 3 hours a night.
Our trip started Thursday night as we figured we'd be too pumped to sleep a few hours as originally planned. We wolfed down a couple of slices of Panormous pizza with my family and then packed up and left. By 7:30 we'd crossed the border and were greeted by a slow moving beaver as it made its way across the highway. (And I thought all beavers were Canadian, eh.)
We made it as far as Utica before deciding to jump off the toll road and catch the end of the band opening up the Saranac Thursday concert series. As luck would have it though the gig had just ended so we stretched legs while I had a pint with the local university kids. Back on the road we took a more direct route to our evening's destination - the Cobleskill Wal-Mart Superstore. Yep, you heard right. Tonight we would be sleeping in the glow of a Wal-Mart parking lot.
The next morning we were rested (but still pumped) as we loaded up with food and beverages before driving the last hour to Hunter, NY. The sun was out (it poured on and off our entire trip so far) and the scenery was breathtaking. Welcome to the Catskills.
Zoom zoom zoom we were through the gates to the Hunter Mountain Ski Lodge and parking up in our VIP section. Ahhh, VIP. Our decision to purchase VIP tickets was definitely the right call (cheers to Mic on that one). We had prime parking, an excellent camping area, VIP only showers, loads of free food, cheap beer, our own lounge area on the concert hillside, and best of all our own front row center stage viewing area. Sweet.
Though we'd both packed for rain, the weekend weather proved to be stupendous - sunny and warm during the day and cool at nights. Overall the event itself was extremely well set up. Security was present at all times (including some troopers), people were happy and friendly, plenty of food options, and the location was... well in the Catskills. All that said, I've only ever been to one other weekend music festival, moe.down, and in comparison moe.down was definitely more rustic. Add showers and flush toilets and any camping festival scene starts to feel like a 5-star.
Here are a few of the photos from Mountain Jam.
[Left to Right: Alberta Cross, Porter, Baptiste, Stoltz, Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule), Gomez, The Gene Ween Band, Richie Havens, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Derek Trucks, Gregg Allman, Umphrey's McGee, Jake Cinninger and Warren Haynes, The Allman Brothers Band (Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks), Haynes and Trucks, Warren Haynes]
The last photo deserves a short story... Friday night between Gov't Mule sets Steve and I got separated. Not a problem. Later that evening around 3am Steve came back to the tent and woke me with some crazy story about stumbling across Warren Haynes on a golf cart, stopping the cart, and getting a picture of himself with Warren. I nearly burnt my retina out staring at the pic in a foggy stuper. It was true and I missed the whole encounter. Damn.
The next night Steve packed it in early and I wandered the grounds checking out the late shows. Around 2:30am I was making my way back to the tent when I spotted this guy walking alone up the stairs from the lodge. Sure enough it was Warren and there was no way he was getting past me without a photo. As a side note, I was so surprised by the chance meeting that I started rambling like a freakin' school girl. I think I used the word "awesome" about 20 times.
And yes, when I got back to the tent I immediately woke Steve to show off my new pic. Awesome.