The last day of Mountain Jam had arrived bringing festival goers one last chance to enjoy the beautiful Sunday on Hunter Mountain. The bitter cold was blown away as clouds parted early in the morning for another perfect summer day of blue skies and sunshine. Those looking to release stress met at 10 a.m. at Healey Hall for Yoga with Michael Franti. Hundreds piled into the hall with yoga mats and towels, gently breathing as Franti strummed his acoustic guitar with care. It’s a shame there wasn’t enough room for everyone as people spilled into the lodge area and outside on the pavement. But that didn’t stop anyone from soaking up the rejuvenating morning practice and spreading positive attitude. One of the activities that saw the most action for the weekend and one of the biggest lines for Sunday was the 25-minute chair lift ride. The $6 was totally worth it as you rose above the music and camp sites for an excellent view of the festival grounds and Catskills.
One of the most talked about sets for Sunday was NYC’s own, Lake Street Dive. The quartet has an old school Chicago Blues sound to them as Mike Olson’s trumpet soars over the mountain with hot plucking from bassist Bridget Kearney. Lake Street Dive had great crowd interaction as the musicians point out amusing fashion items and encouraged a “kissing cam” scenario from the roaming cameras that shown on the big screens. Rachel Price has stunning vocals as they shift from an acoustic cover of Annie Lenox’s “Broken Glass” to their original pieces “Make It Easier For Ya” and “Hello? Goodbye.” She thanked the audience for the “reviving set, feeling charged up and loved.” Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers played an easy listening, Americana Sunday Porch set. Amy Helm is the daughter of music legend Levon Helm (The Band), inheriting sensational talent as her vocals carry great soul that moved some to tears. The Handsome Strangers provided strapping harmonies and heartfelt melodies that propelled Helm’s vocals to fly.
Mountain Jam veteran Michael Franti & Spearhead had best energy and presence as they amped up the crowd with their optimistic reggae dub. Franti did laps around the crowd with his microphone and acoustic guitar, giving high fives, dancing and drinking beer. It was great to see an artist enjoying the festival as much as the fans were. The music is full of inspirational lyrics that seek change, equality for all and nothing but love. Bringing out dozens of beach balls, shirt waving and break dancing, Franti & Spearhead know how to start the right kind of revolution. Hooray for the Riff Raff was a refreshing change-up with their New Orleans mountain music complete with great fiddle work, yodeling and tooting harmonica.
The crowd gathered one last time for Sunday festival headliner and best new artist, Alabama Shakes. Lead singer Brittany Howard took the stage wearing a gorgeous silk floral dress and big smile as they opened with “Rise to the Sun.” Alabama Shakes treated fans to new songs such as “Future People” and “Gimme All Your Love” off their latest album, Sound & Color, with fierce slamming energy. Howard is part anaconda as her vocals explode out of her body, nearly breaking her jaw with each word. The rolling guitar chords for “Hang Loose” and “Always Alright” have a free-flowing surfer vibe as the heavy organ notes for “I Found You” brought gospel chills. Howard’s focused body energy is a strong defense for the heartbreaking melodies and soulful blues rock that is the best of our generation. The set and festival felt as if it had ended too soon with the music ending shortly after 9 p.m. Guest exited the pit, headed toward one more night of camping or the long drive home as the Mountain Jam App alerted fans that they could already purchase tickets for next year’s festival, which after the extraordinary weekend, didn’t seem like a bad idea.
Check out our coverage of all four days at Mountain Jam 2015.