Photos by Alexandra Dudman
Last week Mountain Jam returned for its 11th year to Hunter Mountain in the beautiful Catskill area. For four days, bands of a wide variety of genres – from New Orleans Funk to Mountain Folk – graced the three stages of the festival and provided the attendees with a perfect soundtrack for the weekend. And with the exception of some rain on Friday, the sun held out and helped to make the weekend a truly special one.
Those who were lucky enough to make it to the mountain on Thursday were treated to double sets by both Marco Benevento and Moe. But for the rest of us, here’s a breakdown of Friday through Sunday up at Hunter Mountain:
Quote of the Day: “I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?” – Kids Singing CCR
Those who were able to play hooky from work on Friday got to hear some great music in the early afternoon on Friday, including sets from Trigger Hippy and The Mother Hips. The rain came down while Joe Russo’s Almost Dead played, turning the mountain side into a slosh of mud for the rest of the day/evening. But that didn’t stop Robert Plant from putting on a powerhouse set chock full of Zepplin covers. That powerhouse was followed by Gov’t Mule’s Dark Side of the Mule, in which Warren Haynes and his band played through the majority of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, as well as pretty much all of “Wish You Were Here.” Sandwiching “Dark Side” between the 23 minute “Echoes” (studio version length) was the icing on the cake. Dopapod closed out the evening with a spacey set on the indoor stage.
Dark Side of the Mule
Saturday began with a set from local Burnell Pines. Afterwards came Benjamin Booker, whose raspy soulful voice and fast paced sound, mixing elements of blues and garage rock, had the crowd up on their feet and bopping their heads. Shakey Graves brought some of his Texas charm to the West Stage before Gov’t Mule came out for the second time at the festival, this time to play a set of mostly originals (with a few Beatles covers thrown in for good measure). Headlining Saturday night were The Black Keys, who had the crowd singing along as they blasted through many of their hits, as well as playing “Gotta Get Away” from 2014’s Turn Blue
Saturday turned out to be a nice sunny day, but by the time The Black Keys went on the temperature had dropped drastically. Many festival goers headed indoors when the ‘Keys ended, where they were treated to a shockingly awesome set that only a few could not have predicted. Arc Iris, the current project of The Low Anthem’s Jocie Adams, played a set of music so interesting it’s hard to articulate. Weaving through elements of folk, pop, psychadelia, and much much more – PLUS some theatrics as an added bonus- made their set the sleeper set of Mountain Jam 2015. When their set ended, those who wanted to get their EDM fix on headed back outside for Big Gigantic, while others remained inside to check out The Budos Band.
The Black Keys
Quote of the Day: “Anyone have any sunscreen?”
Sunday began with another hometown native in the form of Simi Stone, whose big voice was a great way to start off the day. Husband-and-wife duo Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams took the stage next, playing songs off their eponymous debut album as well as some folk classics. Sitting in with them was legendary keyboard player Bill Payne, and so the group treated the audience to Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” as a set closer.
Sunday’s schedule was packed with powerhouse female lead singers, the next of which was Rachel Price and her band Lake Street Dive. Their set consisted of a handful of songs from 2014’s Bad Self Portraits, as well as a cover of Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” and an interlude of Van Halen’s “Jump.” Afterwards Michael Franti & Spearhead had the entire crowd up and dancing to their infectious reggae-influenced sound, sending beach balls into the crowd that were seen bouncing around throughout the rest of the day. Next came charismatic folk set from Hurray for the Riff Raff, followed by fan favorites The Alabama Shakes. With the sun still beating down, as it had been all day, Brittany Howard brought the house down with her incredibly powerful voice and heavy guitar playing: A perfect cap for a beautiful weekend of music.
Lake Street Dive
Larry & Theresa