FESTIVAL RECAP: Mountain Jam Festival 2013

Photos and Words by Craig Sandor

Ok, so I really don’t even know where to start with this one as the adrenaline and overall energy that has been pumping through me since I first arrived at Hunter Mountain is still flowing. I’m just going to roll with it, but I have to say that this was an absolute epic weekend for me even though it basically rained from Thursday afternoon straight through early Saturday. That aside, one thing I do have to say though, is that Warren Haynes can throw one hell of a party!

Yes, it was a wet and muddy mess up on the mountain, but in all honesty, despite that, I never saw it have a negative effect on anyone there…the vibe at this festival is so positive that it felt like the sun was shining, even though it was downpouring at times! For me personally, I was able to meet, shake hands with and even get a hug from many of my favorite artists. Being able to just have a few minutes with them up-close-and-personal was just absolutely awesome. They’re all just such real people, with some real smiles, and some really positive words just having a real good time, just as I was!

Although I wasn’t able to catch every act there, I had the time of my life being able to cover more than twenty of them. Being able to cover some of my favorite bands right up front was and always is an amazing experience, but I had the absolute pleasure of being introduced to a great deal of new music that’s been in my queue ever since.

I of course caught the the veteran acts such as Primus, Gov’t Mule, Phil Lesh & Friends, Michael Franti & Spearhead as well as Widespread Panic which never dissapoint. Then there was of course ones such as the lovely Amy Helm and her band, the ever so beautiful Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, ALO, Deer Tick, Jackie Greene, Dispatch, and of course The Avett Brothers who can energize the crowd at any festival.

The list of new performers for me was quite impressive as these are the ones that have really kept my interest since the festival. I’ve of course heard of some of these, have heard some of their music (some I didn’t realize was them), but these include Bill Evans’ Soulgrass…BAM!!! Now that’s some serious funk and fun, this man can blow sax like no other. Also with him on banjo was Ryan Cavanaugh who, in my opinion is leading his own world of banjo playing on a different realm, kind of like Bela Fleck did. Warren Haynes sat in with them for a bit during their set as well since he was bopping all around the fest anyway. On that note, Bill Evans sat in with Gov’t Mule during their set on Saturday night. But, there was also Gary Clark Jr. who I finally caught…and all I can say is that’s some pure, bluesy, rock and f*cking roll music.

Next up I got to see The London Souls whose bass player was out of commission so Eric Krasno of Soulive and other fame stepped in to cover for him but the trio played like they’ve played together for years and belted out some great music. I also saw The Revivalists who were completely new to me and now will be a staple in my music collection as they absolutely killed the stage and put on one hell of a performance! Other bands include The Christine Spero Group, Spencer, and David Wax Museum. Someone then told me I should check out this small band named SIMO that was playing inside and holy s*** was I glad they told me about them! These guys were like Wolfmother meets Cream and Led Zeppelin with some Hendrix flair to them! This was totally psychadelic throwback rock and roll, and I’m hoping to see them again as soon as they’re around my area, they put on an amazingly energetic performance, and were obviously a treat to the crowd.

Last but not least was The Lumineers. Now, I’ve heard them, as well as a few songs of theirs, but I have to say that this was a complete highlight for me. They have a way of captivating a crowd unlike I’ve never seen and it’s obvious why they’re booked for so many festivals this summer as they have every right to be. I have to say that I get chills thinking about their performance as they’re true musicians, who work with very little, yet produce so damn much! I wish these bands nothing but good luck and positive vibes in their futures as they have long ones ahead of them. Folks, this festival was built on nothing but real musicians, with an amazing amount of talent, as well as a seriously deep passion in their lives to make people happy by doing what they do.

I’m going to end this with the following…

Music is a huge part of my life, and I do what I do because I love it and for the way it makes me feel…period. Also, there are the amazing people I have the pleasure of interacting with at these festivals from attendees, vendors and old friends as well, but this year was especially awesome for me as I met some amazing people who I can truly call friends now. I have felt nothing but love and this amazing energy since the ending note of this festival, and it would be nothing but an honor to be able to cover Mountain Jam in the future. I hope everyone else that attended this festival feels the same way as this party was done right.