The 5th Annual Disc Jam Music Festival created a home away from home atmosphere on June 11-14 with more than 60 musical acts on four stages, an on-site disc golf course, plenty of art and daily workshops. The four-day camping festival was conveniently located in Stephentown, N.Y. on Gardner’s Farm with soft, grassy fields for camping, a small pond and wooded forest complete with a late night stage. Disc Jam had a diverse lineup of interweaving delight featuring plenty of guest sit-ins, acoustic sets and nonstop jams from devoted musicians who traveled from all over to make the weekend so memorable. The main entrance to the festival was brilliantly placed through the Artist Collective tent, compelling people to appreciate the live mural painting and abundance of visual stimulation. The V-shaped vending area created an intimate environment of food, crafts and clothing that made finding friends easy leading up to the pineapple-decorated, side-by-side main stages that hosted continuous music all weekend long.
Music started on Thursday evening as guests arrived, unpacked and set up with prime real estate available and quiet, neighboring cows. Headliner of the night, Pink Talking Fish, performed the trifecta tribute fusion of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish with high energy, crowd pleasing awe. The set saw the first official sit in of the weekend with Todd Stoops on “Girlfriend is Better” and a total rock star move from Dave Brunyak who smashed his guitar into pieces after a terrifyingly awesome “Carini.” Plus a very funky, futuristic “Burning Down the House” geared the crowd up for the late-night artists. The Innova Delirium stage, located between the main gate and campsite entrances, greeted the guests with an intense fog machine, light show and music for the ragers. Icculus, made up as a funktronica duo, fused together blaring saxophone, EDM melodies and deep bass chords, with a soaring “Fly Like An Eagle” set closer. DJ Uncle Bob, was more of a high-voltage club vibe with thick dubstep and fresh hip hop as Leila Harrison, the solo spin master, closed out the tent. Cheers to those who show up early and stay up late for the freshest music of the festival.
First up for the day was Wiley Griffin, the one man entertainer started with some light DJ work before switching up to an acoustic Phish cover of “My Friend, My Friend.” He was giddy as he bounced around stage with a huge smile that was contagious through the crowd. As the set progressed, Griffin brought out friends to complete the act with a stand out Disco Biscuits “Little Shimmy in a Congo Line.” The day kept heating up after that with Plattsburgh’s own Lucid playing new songs from latest album Dirt. The locomotive rhythm and backwoods howling made for a great bluegrass, North Country set with added voodoo magic from female vocalist, Meadow. Set up outside the main festival area and near the Innova Delirum Stage was the Relix Tent, offering yearly magazine subscriptions and intimate, acoustic sets all weekend. It was a tight squeeze for artists and fans alike, eager for the unplugged experience with bands performing both original songs and covers. One of the best features of the tent was the exposure to unique instruments such as Mister F’s guitarist Andrew Chamberlaine beautifully strumming a guitar/banjo hybrid and Root of Creation’s keyboardist Tal Pearson blowing into a toy-sized set of keys.
West End Blend took over the main stage in grand style with 11 musicians fusing soul, funk and hip hop for a get down. The mighty brass section cut the air as the saucy vocals of Erica Bryan and Tangsauce created a unique, fun-loving flavor of hip hop meets heroine. Relative Souls shared the celebration of their guitarist Mike McNamara birthday with a massive community birthday cake and a high energy funk set. The thick bass rhythm, groovy melody and vulgar language amped up the crowd especially for their rendition of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” Mister F played a heated set of original livetronica with a super flexed “This One Goes to 11” and a climactic “On and On.”
Roots of Creation created a fast-paced tropical storm of reggae, electronic and breezy metal with improvisational jams that dropped low and steady only to climb back up for tight, wide break downs. Disc Jam veterans Consider the Source brought their other worldly sci-fi screeching for a 3rd consecutive year. The trio played tunes from their latest album, World War Trio Parts II & III, a psychedelic Middle Eastern trip of grand proportions. One of the most anticipated acts of the night was Kung Fu with newest member Beau Sasser who proved to be an excellent fit for the powerhouse funk group. It’s always rewarding to see the musicians having a blast on stage, smiling to the crowd as they hype up each note to pure ecstasy. The night took a turn for the worse as skies darken with an intense lightning storm that brought heavy rains cancelling the headliner, Lettuce’s set plus much of the late night music. Guests were asked to retreat to their cars for safety much to everyone’s dismay but luckily the storm passed in a little more than an hour.
After the rain came sunshine and the remainder of the weekend was nothing blue skies. The storm had left behind ruined easy ups and tents plus an extra muddy late-night pit area. The sun was intense as the humidity poured over the festival grounds leaving most people seeking refuge in the limited shade. One of the best parts about Disc Jam is the great sound quality that you can hear from anywhere in the festival, giving everyone the opportunity to groove at their camp sites. One of the most talked about sets from early Saturday afternoon was Hayley Jane & The Primates, for their front porch psychedelic Americana sound. Jane captivates the crowd with her charming vocals and eccentric stage presence as guitarists Justin Hancock and Greg Smith shred classic rock chords. Viva La Hop was just the right amount of spice for Saturday with their jazz hip hop street fusion and explosive reggae machine, Spiritual Rez dominated as usual with rowdy brass, blasting rhythm and catchy lyrics. The Heavy Pets hypnotized the audience with their improvisational blend of blues, rock and reggae.
It’s no wonder Disc Jam nearly sold out of Saturday Passes with headlining acts Electron and Dopapod. Electron features Marc Brownstein (Disco Biscuits), Mike Greenfield (Lotus), Tom Hamilton (American Babies) and Aron Magner (Disco Biscuits) who combined created a top notch 2 hour set of interweaving electric funk. Hamilton was an unstoppable shred master on guitar as Magner heavily fluttered the high notes on keys. Dopapod traveled over night from Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee to play the drastically smaller festival in Upstate N.Y. No strangers to Disc Jam, Dopapod treated fans to an extended set of their progressive dance music of wavy melodies that started out slow but quickly launched into a smashing rage fest with sensational light show. A major buzzkill to the night was the stretched sound checks that most of the late night acts had to administer. The music was worth the wait especially for heavy progressive Lespecial and electronic beats of Horizon Wireless.
The last day of a festival always seems to come too quick and for Disc Jam it was no different. The lineup was stacked to give fans a proper send off.The Disc Golf tournaments took place on Saturday and Sunday with the on-site course being a big improvement from last year. Disc golf participants appreciated the challenging course but preferred earlier start times as not to feel left out from the music. Living up to the phrase “easy like Sunday morning” Quill started the day with a chill, ambient set that gently woke the campers. Formula 5 on the other hand was ready to rage as the four piece jam band gathered quite the crowd with their opening rendition of “The Music Never Stopped.” The boys didn’t slow down after that with build ups of original funk rock fusion with high performance nod to guitarist Joe Davis. One of the most unique acts of the day was Bellas Bartok, a gypsy prohibition punk sound with shattering swing. Dressed to the nines, the men have outlandish stage presence with a crazed accordion to complete the carnival side show. All the way from South Carolina, Dangermuffin transported the crowd to the beach with southern charming melodies especially a funky calypso version of “Scarlet Begonias.” A little delayed but Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan gave a tremendous funky performance with the sensual vocals of Mary Corso, guest Craig Brodhead supplying heavy bass bombs and Justin Henricks with rock star guitar riffs.
Sunday headliner and growing jam band sensation, Twiddle, flew in from Bonnaroo for dedicated fans to close out at the Disc Jam Festival. Twiddle shared their fresh innovative compositions with a healthy dose of guest sit-ins. One of the highlights of the set was the massive guest sit in with DJ Honeycomb, James Woods, and Joe Davis from Formula 5, Scott Hannay of Mister F and Todd Stoops for the ultimate mega jam on “Apples.” The Disc Jam Flow Tribe was out in full force with fire spinners and hooping entertainers that were almost as mesmerizing as the music. The weekend ended just as it started, with mind blowing music and a close knit community who continue to make the Disc Jam Festival special. Tony Scavone and crew did a suburb job of organizing the 5th annual Disc Jam with a new location but still the same friendly, loving festival experience that keeps fans coming back each year.
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