There were Discs and Jams a plenty at this year’s Disc Jam Music Festival in Barre, MA on June 13 -15. The 3-day event took place at Camp Coldbrook, a “recreation destination” and golf hot spot that offered plenty of space for festival goers to relax and enjoy the weekend. Veteran Disc Jammers agreed that Camp Coldbrook was a great new location from previous years for its spacious, softer camp grounds and were happy with the addition of late night musical sets. Tent city was an organized mess as folks were given somewhat free range of the open field located at the bottom of a hill plus you could hear the music perfectly and catch a glimpse of the light shows. VIP had the perk of wooded camping plus access to two swimming pools with a pool stage that hosted various DJ’s throughout the weekend.
Disc Jam had two main stages, the Innova stage and Rage stage, set up right next to each other providing a nonstop continuous flow of music. Circled around the stages were the various food and craft vendors as well as Disc Jam Artist Collective tent, located in the corner of the entrance. The tent was overwhelmed with visual stimulation, featuring work from 16 main artists plus diverse and consistent live art that spilled onto the walkway. The festival offered “flow classes” for those who know how to surrender to the flow and were seeking to learn hoop tricks, yoga, juggling and much more. But the main focus of the weekend was the music. Over 50 musical acts from all over the Northeast and beyond traveled to Disc Jam to experience the carefree and intimate party loving festival.
Heavy rain in the morning with dark clouds throughout the day is a harsh start to any festival but Disc Jammers came prepared and ready to party. Albany’s Mister F were lucky to miss the rain with an early slot in the day with a set that had a few songs off their latest album, The F Stands Four. They began with an electronically funky “Eye Level” to a blast of brass from Matty Carl from ShwizZ on saxophone during “Answer the Dog”. Boston’s own, The Jauntee, was up next and had a set of improvisational funk rock with an extra funky “Blownin’ Up the B Line” closer. Twiddle from Vermont provided an easy shifting of genres in their set with a steady flow. One of their highlights was the “Hattie’s Jam > When It Rains It Pours” with soulful key playing from Ryan Dempsey and lyrics reflective of the weather with hopes of sunny skies with a brief “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” tease. Headliners of the night were the mighty Turkuaz and Kung Fu, plenty of funk with different flair. New York City slickers Turkuaz brought their high energy, funk loving family to Disc Jam and left nothing but smiles, especially from their traditional but always powerful encore “Monkey Fingers” featuring solos from all over the rage stage. There was no getting around the hard-hitting funk that Kung Fu throws at you. Todd Stoops scratched his double layered keys apart while Chris DeAngelis warped the crowd with his heavy bass slapping. Straight up in your face funk!
With the main stages closed at 1am, late nighters had the option of checking out the Disc Jam Music Hall that featured music until 4:30am. The music hall featured your typical stage with open dance space and a 2nd level walkway around half of the hall. The talk of the night was Indobox as they performed light, upbeat electronica. The storm of Indobox creates no destruction; it is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The Silent Disco Tent was exclusively for VIP and staff members and was kept low-key despite the fast paced beats being pumped through the headphones.
Heavy clouds still lingered into Saturday with brief breaks of sunshine and plenty of wind gusts. Santa Mamba was a great way to ease into the day thanks to their salsa flair from Rhode Island. Their cover of Peter Frampton’s “Oh Baby, I Love Your Way” was refreshingly spicy. Aqueous brought their improvisational rock jams from Buffalo with original compositions and catchy melodies, setting the groove bar high. Goosepimp Orchestra was a collection of crazy characters, donned with various wigs and party hats that created a loud funk party on the Innova stage. Their fun-loving attitude was carried out with their booming brass section and the boogie beats from the bongos. Alan Evan’s Playonbrother, formally known as the Alan Evans Trio, proved they are more than just a jazz band. Their sound is gigantic with shattering guitar shredding from Danny Mayer and Beau Sasser must have extra arms to work the keys the way he does. Alan Evans is a thunderstorm on the drums as his vocals come out clear as day.
With the clouds finally clearing, the night sky was filled with stars and a full honey moon, unleashing the wild side in party goers just in time for the evening sets. Disc Jammers got a double dose of Consider the Source for a two-hour set on the main stage and a late night acoustic set. Their bizarre and Middle Eastern psychedelic tunes are powerful, warping experiences, acoustic or not. If you’re lucky enough to get close to the stage, you can marvel at the focused finger picking skills of Gabriel Marin and John Gerrara with Jeff Mann controlling the rhythmic speed. The main act of the night was Dopapod, who were happy to return to Disc Jam for another year of experimental funky rock. The quartet from Boston blasted off with “Like a Ball” with screaming vocals and a steady climbing melody. After a 17 minute space odyssey from “STADA” with “Smoke on the Water” teases, Dopapod brought out one of their biggest fans, Kristen DeTroia, to celebrate her 100th show. The set went on after a brief set break with a pretty decent glow stick war ensuing as they soon as “Trapper Keeper” began. Dopapod makes you feel like a kid again with their playful, adventurous funky bass and relentless dance rhythms.
Sunday brought out blue skies with limited clouds, plenty of sunshine and with a full music schedule, the day was looking bright. Hope Road: A Tribute to Bob Marley and The Wailers woke up the crowd with their laid back, chill tunes that the reggae legend and lifestyle is known for. There was no sleeping through The Party Band, a marching band that paraded around the campsites with a full brass section and drum line playing classic tunes and today’s radio hits. Otis Groove, a trio from Boston, delivered a set of high voltage rock with some funky Hammond organ playing by Sam Gilman. Disc Jam got spun some Hip Hop Funk when Upstate NY band, Sophistifunk took the main stage with Jack Brown spitting the ever true words of “Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll”. The unstoppable duo known as The Hornitz got bumped up to an earlier slot and got put on the main stage with no argument from anyone. Their fresh beat boxing and brass horn looping is original and fun as they remix Phish’s “Lengthwise” and “Day Man” from the popular TV cult show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. One of the most up and coming cover bands took over the main stage with tributes to Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish to form Pink Talking Fish. Their setlists are incredible as they easily transition from one smash hit to another twist of a surprise like “2001>Life During Wartime>Run Like Hell.”
The Nth Power do more than play music on stage, they are spreading love. They have a smooth R&B soulful with enticing vocal harmonies that ease the crowd into the groove. But when Nikki Glaspie starts to wail on those drums, the contagiousness had Nigel Hall playing his keys so hard that he literally sent them flying. He had to ask if anyone had crazy glue to piece it back together while Weedie Braimah stretched his worldly bongo skills for listening pleasure. The last two acts of the night were double hitter super jams with a special Disc Jam Funk All-Star set and Particle and Friends Super Jam to close down the main stage. The All Star set consisted of Alan Evan’s PlayonBrother guitarist Danny Mayer, Nikki Glaspie on drums, Aaron Bellamy on Bass, Club D’Elf keyboardist Amy Bellamy with Brian Thomas and Jared Sims on horns. Jen Durkin from Deep Banana Blackout joined in on vocals and tambourine as she cheered “Let’s Funk It Up!” Before Nigel Hall could join in on the fun, the power cut out resulting in an urgent rush of staff who luckily had it up and running for the final act of the night, Particle.
The West coast quartet of Particle brought up some special guests to help end the weekend at Disc Jam. The Hornitz joined them for the set starter of “The Battle Without Honor or Humility” also known as the theme to Kill Bill. Shred master Danny Mayer once again hopped onstage for his turn for “W”. Eric Gould’s friends of Pink Talking Fish Richard James and Dave Brunyak sat in for “Metropolis”. Particle jammed out their space rock until a little before midnight with half the attendees still left with the option of camping until Monday morning.
After a weekend full of unlimited music, art and disc golf, Disc Jam continues to be a festival that is spinning towards a bright future. Disc Jam is a great festival for families, people new to the scene and those who keep coming back for more. Here’s hoping that Disc Jam has found at home at Camp Coldbrook and will return next year bigger and better than ever.