Mountainous Jammus Sixthus
Assistant/Web Editor Jessica Friedlander’s Mountain Jam Journal
(page 1 of 3)
Nobody who plans on attending a day-long rock ’n roll festivus in the middle of nowhere actually wakes up at 5:30 on a Sunday, much less hits the road before the Today Show. But there we were, fueling Melissa’s truck in the pouring rain and getting my bacon, egg and cheese swiped by some sneaky girl at Dunkin Donuts. (Bacon-lovers know no bounds.) Mountain Jam 2010, here we come!
The hour-long trip to Hunter is gorgeous despite the cold rain, and none of the photos I take from the passenger seat do the landscape any justice. We debate stopping near Kaaterskill Falls, but the winding, slippery road and fear of being late (late? Really?) keeps us truckin’ on.
The first thing we notice when we pull into the crowded, muddy lot is that the dirt is red and it’s pretty good at seeping into pristine white sneakers like cherry syrup in a Sno-cone. Nevertheless, the breeze is refreshingly sweet and heady, like flowers and hay; Melissa’s first words are “Everything here smells so clean!” (We will be reviewing that quote later.)
The drizzle lets up for a moment, so I photograph festgoers while Mel mans the video camera. We soon realize we’re missing an essential sine qua non in Mountain Jam fashion: galoshes. Spotted, striped, plaid and paisley, they are everywhere, and surprisingly, they look pretty chic with all the tie-dye. The conformist fashionista in me vows to buy a pair the second we return to Poughkeepsie.
We decide to see what’s poppin’ at the Main Lodge, where it’s drier (for the most part). A small group congregates at the bottom of a gated staircase; they tell us that WDST is doing a live radio show up on the landing with Michael Franti, one of the Jam’s headliners. Natch, we sneak up and flash our wristbands, which garner suspicious looks from the staff — we’re sporting the equivalent of campers’ passes instead of the VIP badges we’d asked for. Thankfully, our awesome WDST contact recognizes us and we witness magic in the making (see Melissa’s journal/video about Michael Franti being the rainman and such). A lot of clapping and singing ensues, and we earmark his show at 3 p.m. as can’t-miss.
Back outside, we catch snippets of a series of concerts: The Bridge — the first act of the day — includes an Eddie Vedder lookalike on lead guitar and a saxophonist in a baseball cap. The band was amazing, especially when Baseball Sax Man and Eddie Vedder II do an awesome back-and-forth jam. Next door, London-based One eskimO begins their set — Melissa echoes my thoughts when she dreamily remarks of the British guitarist (Pete Rinaldi), “I can listen to him talk all day.” The California quartet ALO, joined by Jackie Greene (who later makes an appearance at the Levon Extravaganza), are tremendously fly as well.
We pop indoors for Myles “Mojo” Mancuso, one of the musicians we’d profiled the week before for Melissa’s “Forever Young” music feature. Seriously, this kid is good. At first glance he’s an unassuming 14-year-old: quiet, freckle-faced, and blue-eyed with a shock of red hair that just screams chess club. But onstage and guitar in hand, he transforms into a true bluesman (his husky “How y’all doin’ tonight?” channels a Mississippi man-alter ego). Along with his dad, Nick, on the drum kit and Bruce “The Wolf” Wolffield, the bald, bearded bassist (and master of the “Myles Mancuso Horn Section” — a kazoo), the Mojo Myles Band has some serious soul. Everyone in the room — from teenyboppers to baby boomers — were either singing, grinning, or making some sort of rhythmic movement (watch the videos here), especially during the note-perfect cover of “Ring of Fire.” Needless to say, Myles rocked it.
Afterward, our schedule gets hectic — we opt for some grub and skip a few notable acts (Justin Townes Earle, Alison Moore, These United States, Jay Farrar, and the James McLean Band) for the aforementioned weather-controlling Michael Franti (see Melissa’s report); Matisyahu (you know his hit, “King Without a Crown”); and the McLovins, a trio of high-schoolers from Hartford that could give Phish a run for its money. (After the crowd chanted relentlessly “One more song!” the guys hopped back onstage and treated us to a perfect rendition of The Doors’ “Break on Through,” introduced simply by 17-year-old bassist and vocalist Jason Ott as “one from the ‘60s you might know.”)