by Paul Meringolo, Jr.
Mountain Jam, hosted by Hunter Mountain for the 11th year, was nothing short of epic! Taking place June 4th-7th, Hunter Mountain was invaded by festival goers and did not disappoint. The music started Thursday the 4th with people rolling in throughout the day, offering plenty to see and do upon arrival. The festival offered plenty of activities for festival goers during their 4-day-stay on the mountain. Headlining Thursday night with 2 sets, Moe hit the state with Marco Benevento opening and filling the spot between Moe’s first and second set, as they got the crowd primed and ready for the weekend of music ahead.
Friday June 5th was a full day of music from various artists consisting of such acts as Trigger Hippy, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Robert Plant and Sensational Space Shifters, Gov’t Mule performing Darkside of the Mule, Zepparella, and Dopapod. While Trigger Hippy, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and other acts kept festival goers entertained and full of energy with their music and energy during a beautiful day turned wet by rain; which didn’t hinder anything. As the rain stopped and the clouds passed, it was Grace Potter who would take the stage and set the tempo for the night ahead. Performing an amazing set and keeping the crowd going with her incredible voice, beauty, stage presence and energy she shared with every song, she played a mix of both old and new material such as “Paris (Ooh La La)”, “Never Go Back”, and “Delirious”. Getting the crowd primed and ready for the next act it was Nick Bluhm & The Gramblers that took to the sister stage to keep the crowd going as everyone anxiously awaited one of the biggest acts of the night… Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters.
As the sun set and the night sky took over, the house lights dimmed and the roar of the crowd could be heard all the way to the furthest campsite. Robert Plant had taken the stage. A 13 song set comprised of his solo work and paired with classic Led Zeppelin tunes Plant rocked the mountain. Sporting tunes such as “Dazed and Confused”, “Going to California”, and “Whole Lotta Love” from the Zeppelin repertoire, and songs from his solo album such as “Rainbow”, and “Turn It Up”, created a set full of incredible music, with a tribal and jam kind of feel to it. Robert Plant had Hunter Mountain going crazy! Plant’s set was one of the highlight performances of the night and of the entire festival itself.
Scheduled next was Gov’t Mule performing Darkside of the Mule, but with an hour gap between Plant’s set and Gov’t Mule’s set, festival goers who found themselves still in a Led Zeppelin kind of mood made their way over to the Healey Brothers Hall to watch the quartet Zepparella; an all female band, covering Led Zeppelin. As Gov’t Mule took the stage kicking off their set with “Echoes, Part 1” and then into Darkside of the Moon, the crowd was transported back in time playing the majority of Darkside, along with the majority of the Wish You Were Here album. Closing the set with the classic “Comfortably Numb”, Gov’t Mule’s Darkside of the Mule was a set that every Pink Floyd fan could thoroughly enjoy and appreciate.
Saturday marked another day full of music with bands such as Rusted Root, Rebelution, The Wailers, more from Gov’t Mule, The Black Keys, and Big Gigantic among the many. Rusted Root rocked the afternoon along with Rebelution, and The Wailers got the crowed warmed up and ready for the night ahead. After Rebelution and Rusted Roots performances, each band did their own meet and greet session; signing autographs and showing appreciation to their fans. As the sun began to set, kicking things off was Gov’t Mule, the crowd still energized from there the Darkside of the Mule set, Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule started the night.. A mix of originals and a few covers, Gov’t Mule rocked the mountain with tunes such as “Railroad Boy”, “Mr. High & Mighty”, and covers such as “She Said, She Said” by The Beatles, and “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. An energy packed show to kick off Saturday night, could anyone have thought of a better way? Up next were The Black Keys, playing a 19 song set. The crowd already energized from the Gov’t Mule was only stoked more by The Black Keys performance. Playing popular songs such as “Dead and Gone”, “Gotta Get Away”, and “Lonely Boy” The Black Keys put on a show that would mark the climax of Saturday night. To close out the night, Big Gigantic took the stage. A mix of both instruments and electronic sounds this duo, one who acts as the DJ and saxophone player, and the other as the drummer knew what it took to take the audience to the next level. The mix of the electronic tracks paired with the saxophone and drums made the perfect pairing and the crowd acknowledged it with screams and cheers. A perfect way to end an amazing Saturday full of music.
As the sun rose on Sunday, the final day of the jam, festival goers were treated to one final day of another stacked list of music composed of artists such as Lake Street Dive, Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Alabama Shakes. Lake Street Dive, and Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers primed festival goers for what was to come. Michael Franti and Spearhead set the mountain off. Playing classic songs such as “Hello Bonjour” and “Stay Human” Franti spread positive vibes all across the festival. Full of energy and engaging the crowd Franti and Spearhead got the crowd amped up and not wanting the final day to end. Alabama Shakes closed out the festival, playing a 21 song set with lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard leading the way with her powerful vocals and shredding on the guitar. Playing songs such as “Rise to the Sun”, “Hang Loose”, “Gimme All Your Love”, and closing with “You Ain’t Alone” would mark the end of the music that is Mountain Jam.
Besides the plethora of music that was offered over the 4 day time span, Mountain Jam also offered plenty of other features such as yoga classes, and a Sunday class lead by Michael Franti. A hammock grove could be found in the shade for anybody seeking relief from the sun or just a spot to hand and take a nap. An adventure tour was erected for people to climb, zip lines to cruise on, a ski lift ride from which you could see the entire festival from, food from all sorts of life, a karma carwash should you need a little pick me up, and so much more. Mountain Jam is a music festival unlike any other. Full of positive vibes, good people, phenomenal music, and amazing views, Mountain Jam is a festival all should attend should they have the opportunity. Thank you to Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule and Radio Woodstock for putting together such an amazing music festival, it is one people from all over the country including myself will be attending for years to come.