On June 3, festival-goers awoke in their tents, RVs, and hotel rooms to a beautiful day ahead. The temperature was in the low 60s, there was some light comfortable wind blowing through the mesh of tents, and some clouds in the sky, which kept the sun from waking people up hot and sweaty. Most importantly, there was the first full day of Mountain Jam 2016 ahead.
The day of music got underway on the Valley Stage with The Suitcase Junket, a one-man-band out of Amherst, MA. Matt Lorenz entertained the crowd with his adaptation of a music man, crooning out sweet lyrics, while smoothly playing a combination of a variety of instruments to accentuate those heartfelt vocals.
The next couple of acts to hit the Valley Stage were Marcus King Band and Love Canon. Marcus King and his band proved to be a crowd favorite and was invited to play a small acoustic set live on Radio Woodstock, which is broadcasting on-site all weekend. NYS Music captured a moment of that radio set on Instagram. Love Canon, a fast-paced bluegrass band with a keen ability to cover Top 100 songs got the late-afternoon crowd fired up for the evening to come. Their covers of J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” and Africa’s “Toto” ensured that as few butts were on the grass or in chairs as possible.
The Mountain Stage had its first act early in the afternoon, with And The Kids, a band based in Northampton, MA, who labels themselves as not just indie rock, but as an existential and accessible form of music. After this unique and subtle yet powerful trio was a band who has worked hard to be thought provoking with the depth to assist generations with escaping the ease of apathy. That band with such an intense charge is Nahko and Medicine for the People. NYS Music was fortunate enough to catch a few minutes with Nahko, an artist with a great heart and his mind truly in an enlightened state.
“A lot of the music that I eventually opened up to that fueled my own style of writing came from [the Sixties]. The old story-telling of a time when there was a very strong movement, as far as a social movement goes, to become aware of yourself and to be involved in your political structure and to be involved in making democracy work for the people.” He goes on to explain that he doesn’t see his music having a political drive. Instead he prefers to label it as having political content and some non-fictional history lessons, which is ultimately positioned to open fans’ minds in order to do their part in shaping a better world.
The Santa Monica, CA based band was here playing their first Mountain Jam and were excited to say the least. The only disappointment was that they had to leave almost directly after their set. However, the reason was nothing short of incredible: they are performing at a Bernie Sanders rally in San Diego, CA.
The Mountain Stage then welcomed Courtney Barnett, the Melbourne, Australia-based singer, song writer, guitarist and all-around bad-ass performer. Courtney brought her attitude-filled full-bodied sound to the Catskill Mountains, introducing many to her music and galvanizing the crowd when she played The Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie” for her first time ever in front of an audience. NYS Music posted a clip of that excellent cover on Instagram as it happened.
Immediately after the Australian indie-rocker finished her set, Brooklyn’s own Turkuaz got things started on the Valley Stage. Anyone who has seen this power funk ensemble knows that the impending set they stand anxiously waiting to see will fill everyone’s ears with a ground shaking orchestration. Turkuaz shows everyone why this relatively young band has started to gain the momentum that is likely to carry them to very high places in the national music scene and possibly beyond.
As the evening led into night, Mountain Jam 2016 was captivated by the music of Jason Isbell and Chris Robinson Brotherhood, who was making their return after having been on the Mountain Jam X billing in 2014. By the time CRB was wrapping up their ever-soul-filled set, dusk had settled in nicely and the previously anticipated rain had decided to issue a stay of aquatic festival execution.
The soon to be chilly night was then taken over by an incredible pair of Mountain Stage acts. Wilco was tasked with firing up the crowd for the historical host of Mountain Jam, Warren Haynes. The veteran band completed their assignment with mastery, giving a massive crowd of long-time Wilco fans and first-timers alike the 90’s alternative rock fix they’d been seeking, whether they knew it or not.
After Wilco, there was a 30 minute lull. That gave people enough time to run and prepare for the host to present his musical bounty. Gov’t Mule took the stage just before 11:00 pm to a crowd itching to hear the drawl of that Southern rock. It’s not easy to forget how breathtaking of a show the Mule gives its fans, but if someone in that crowd had forgotten, they were immediately reminded when the band opened up with the Black Sabbath cover “Sweet Leaf.” They proceeded to give the audience some of their favorites, including “Thorazine Shuffle” and “Funny Little Tragedy,” which finished with a “Thorazine” reprise, Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Mule,” in which the festival was teased with riffs of “Shakedown Street,” and then finished with a “Soulshine” encore.
When Warren and his crew of troubadours left the Mountain Stage the crowd was split in two. Those who filed toward Healey Hall for The New Mastersounds and those who sought the comfort of their camp sites, RVs and hotels after a long first full day of Mountain Jam 2016. For the latter, rest was needed to ensure the best experience of the Saturday of music and events to come, while the former knew that it would take a powerful force to stop their momentum.
Today, the third day of the 12th annual Mountain Jam, the festival-goers are in store for a day filled with amazing music and other incredible events. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Beck and Thievery Corporation have Mountain Stage duties. Son Little, Lettuce and Houndmouth will be playing their sets on the Valley Stage. All the while there will be workshops, documentaries and Q&As from the likes of Jay Blakesberg and Lettuce. Late night will be covered by the sounds of Con Brio and then Lettuce. Whether you haven’t yet streamed Mountain Jam 2016 or if you have all along, be sure to visit Tourpedo to stream all of these great artists. In the meantime, check out these galleries from yesterday by our staff photographer, Steve Malinski.