For any festival to survive – let alone thrive – for 10 years is an impressive feat. Bonnaroo and Coachella are two names that immediately pop into mind, but now it’s time to add Backwoods Pondfest to that list.
This past weekend at Twin Ponds Campsite in Peru, N.Y., Pondfest, which is put on by northern New York band Lucid, celebrated its 10th birthday by throwing a truly cohesive party melding the fun of camping in the middle of the forest with live music.
The lineup mixed the best that the Adirondacks has to offer, with some of the bigger acts of the festival circuit. Lucid, a band straight from the heart of the Adirondacks, has been a staple of the weekend since inception, and while this year was the same, it was also very different. Last year, the band announced it was taking a long break, but not officially breaking up and would continue to play events like Pondfest.
And just to put any rumors to bed, bassist Chris Shacklett gave me a brief interview on Saturday afternoon to discuss the state of the band. First off, Lucid is not breaking up.
“We are totally shifting our focus,” Shacklett said. “Instead of continuing to hemorrhage money, we are being smarter about what we do. There’s not going to be much in the way of touring anymore, but we’re going to do more things like this (Pondfest).”
Along with Lucid, the other headliners were Melvin Seals and JGB, Pink Talking Fish (is Bowie), the Blind Owl Band and Twiddle’s guitarist Mihali Savoulidis and his ‘Frends’, who brought the surprise of a Twiddle set. NYS Music contributor Chelsea Wright was in attendance and gives us a first hand account of how it went down:
“I received a message from Lowell, letting me know that there would be a special surprise Thursday night. I made the last minute decision to travel the two hours from Vermont for the ‘Mihali & Frends’ show, knowing that if Lowell promised a surprise, it was bound to be extra special. Having seen Mihali & Frends the weekend prior as a part of Twiddle’s first major event, Tumble Down, I knew that some amazing collaborations were going to happen – at his sold out Higher Ground show, he brought together musicians from Nahko & Medicine For The People, Twiddle, and the Kitchen Dwellers for two full hours of incredible jams.
Arriving just on time, I approached the stage and Mihali was just getting it started by inviting a few good Frends up to join him. It was like revolving doors, including some of my favorite musicians; Ryan Dempsey on keys, Jamie Armstrong on Sax, Joshua West on drums, to Kevin Sabourin on guitar and vocals. At one point Brad Hester from Annie in The Water came up and had a back and forth match on a kazoo, with Jamie’s sax. Then they switched it up to Chris Shacklett on bass, Lowell Wurster on percussion and vocals, the beautiful Meadow on vocals, and then the big surprise of a total shift into a set by Twiddle. After Twiddle finished, Mihali remained, and invited members of Capital Zen up to join him. It was an all-around party, with special moments that no one could have anticipated.”
Arriving on Friday, I was greeted by multiple ambulances and state police cars with lights flashing all over. I was not allowed to enter for nearly two hours as the entrance was blocked for any cars getting in or out.
When pressed for a reason, a State Police officer said, “We’re here because of some overdoses. Make sure you’re safe when you go in.”