Fairs & Festivals 2010
From traditional county fairs and innovative theater performances to music of all types, these 20 local events help put the fun in summer
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Mountain Jam Music Festival
Hunter Mountain, June 4-6
In just six short years, WDST-Radio Woodstock’s Mountain Jam has grown from a one-day event with four performing groups to a three-day super fest with 50 musical acts. Last year’s event drew approximately 12,000 people each day — quite a substantial increase from the original 3,000 participants. And this year, festival founder Gary Chetkof anticipates similar attendance.
“Word on the street is it’s a very cool, diverse lineup,” Chetkof says of the festival’s 2010 program, for which he can largely take credit. “Booking a 50-act festival is kind of like being a chef — you have to have the right ingredients, the right variety, the right flavors.” This particular menu has something for every taste; there’s a well-rounded sampling of today’s music, from seasoned performers to up-and-comers, representing genres from blues to folk to Hassidic reggae pop.
What has made Mountain Jam one of the year’s most anticipated festivals may be the same sort of cutting-edge musical style that has for years set WDST apart from the rest. “The radio station has always championed the emerging artist. But the reality of being in this business and trying to appeal to a wide audience — you have to present the emerging artist with the established,” explains Chetkof matter-of-factly. So in addition to such fresh talent as Company of Thieves, One eskimO, and the Avett Brothers, this year’s program includes heavy-hitters like Toots and the Maytals; festival partner Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule; Alison Krauss and Union Station; and Derek Trucks with his wife Susan Tedeschi. A special 70th birthday tribute to Levon Helm will feature such artists as Steve Earle, Jackie Greene, Ray LaMontagne, and Patterson and David Hood of Drive-By Truckers. And of course, homegrown talent is amply represented as well. “One of the reasons we went to 50 bands — there are so many great bands out there and so many locals, so we just added another stage,” says Chetkof. Among the Valley’s own are Simone Felice and his new project, The Duke and The King; Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams; 14-year-old blues guitar prodigy Mojo Myles Mancuso; and jam band IS.
With such a lineup, it’s no surprise that the festival draws a diverse crowd. “Mountain Jam attracts a really wide demographic group — 18- to 64-year-olds — all there for the same reason: the love of great music and the community aspect of spending a few days together away from the realities of their home life,” says Chetkof. He fondly recalls sneezing at the first festival — held in 2005 to commemorate WDST’s 25th anniversary — and having 12 people turn to say “bless you.” “It’s the Woodstock vibe: the right people, the right music. Everyone is really nice and kind. The music is just the catalyst for people to gather.”
And Mountain Jam certainly embraces that Woodstock spirit of peace, love, and good vibes. The festival’s Awareness Village provides concertgoers with all the familiar amenities of a three-day music fest while encouraging social, political, and environmental consciousness. “It’s the spiritual place of the festival,” says Chetkof. “It’s a more ecological, more socially conscious place.” In addition to an organic beer and wine garden, prayer altar, sculpture garden, and nighttime poi dancing, a number of services will be available in the village. Woodstock Wellness, for example, offers chiropractic, massage, and energy work. Local farmers will discuss organic farming techniques. Owners of solar generation companies talk about the benefits of installing solar panels on homes, and nonprofits such as Heads Up (which works to help people register to vote) will be on hand to provide information (www.mountainjam.com).