Outside the Putnam Den on Monday starting at 4:20 p.m. will be a man on a 12-string guitar and a handful of vendors kicking off the first ever 420 Fest in Saratoga Springs, NY. Hosting the event is local stoner rock group, Jesus Christ & The Hallucinogenic All Stars (JCHA).
Inside the Den, beginning at 5:30 p.m., is a spate of rock and roll bands from Saratoga, Brooklyn, Buffalo and beyond, coming together for a celebration but also to raise awareness for the benefits of medicinal marijuana.
Esperanto will be on hand providing fresh local food. Smoke More, a Saratoga shop specializing in smoking products, will be there with a tent, selling items ranging from clothing to glass. Promoters did not want to name the rest of the vendors, as not all contracts have been signed.
Angels on the Fourth, Second Trip, High Peaks Band, Of Clocks & Clouds and Galaxy Overdrive are the other bands scheduled to perform.
Smokin’ Herb Carter will bring his brand of acoustic rock on a 12-string guitar outside the venue for the kickoff. Carter, a Plattsburgh native, lives in Troy. “Listen closely to him, because you may end up thinking it’s Neil Young,” Promoter Jim Gilbert said. “We’re very lucky to have him.”
High Peaks Band, the self-proclaimed Official Band of Saratoga, draws upon a list of influences including psychedelic rock, reggae, pop and modern rock, swirling them all together into a high-energy show. Gilbert described them as a jam band, and one with a flair for having fun on stage. The band consists of Aaron Giffin on drums, Brian Hoffman on keyboards, Mike Hoffman on bass guitar and Rick Nelson on lead guitar.
Second Trip hails from Buffalo, and are a straightforward rock band. Gilbert described Brooklyn-based Of Clocks & Clouds as “dark, driving electronic rock.”
Galaxy Overdrive, as its name suggests, is spacey rock and roll.
Gilbert said that both of his parents have had bouts with cancer, and that it has affected his family in many ways. His father is prescribed strong opioid painkillers that come with painful and unwanted side affects such as dizziness, constipation and disorientation.
As for the festival, it will not be a marijuana smoke out, but a gathering of like-minded people raising awareness for a movement that has caught on across the country.
On the musical side, Gilbert said the lineup that JCHA has constructed came together because all the bands are like-minded.
“We have a great music scene here in Saratoga, but sometimes I think the area is a bit neglectful of rock,” Gilbert added. “For JCHA, this event is kicking off a five-week tour that goes to the Midwest, and the band wanted to represent their hometown. And considering they are a stoner rock band, this is the perfect medium for them.”
The event costs $10 for the 21 and over crowd, and $15 for anyone under 21. Come dance, eat local food and get educated about New York’s limited medical marijuana law, called the Compassionate Care Act. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law in July, 2014, making it the 23rd state with an effective medicinal marijuana law. On Jan. 5, 2016, the program will be fully implemented. The state is currently sifting through applications to award licenses to five providers, also to be known as dispensaries.
PutnamDen.com for more info
*This article was originally posted to the Saratoga Today