This year was the tenth anniversary for Mountain Jam, but only my first visit to Hunter Mountain for this prestigious event. Or so it used to be. Seems the promoters would like to entertain a less volatile caliber of music lover, because they did everything they could to dissuade anyone from going again. Food and beverage concessioners operated by fiat and were forced into brand enforcement and price gouging. Vendors were victimized by poor design and lack of access. Media management was haphazard. But the worst offense was the move by the promoters to credential law enforcement agents who had a heyday arresting patrons and processing them in an instant action facility…get them in, take their money, send them on their way. There was talk of one young patron being escorted to an ATM where he was forced to withdraw three hundred dollars, hand it over, or be escorted to jail.
I hate that the handling of an event dominates my review, rather than the music; certainly not what I envisioned driving to this beautiful venue. The lineup was spectacular…many bands I’ve never seen before…but a stellar array of top name acts: Allman Brothers, Ratdog, Govt Mule, Tedeschi Trucks and Umphrey’s McGee, amongst others, brought smiles, laughter and high times to most of the festival goers despite the efforts of promoters and the law to have it otherwise.
Of note: Ratdog’s set, featuring Steve Kimock on guitar, was NOT your older brother’s Ratdog. This configuration is Bobby’s version of Phil and Friends and they brought their A game. This was only my third opportunity seeing Umphrey’s McGee, but I’ve been progressively impressed each time. Tedeschi Trucks and Govt Mule were equally soulful. The Allman Brothers did Live From Fillmore, a wonderful finale for a less than stellar weekend.
Needless to say, this will be my last time on Hunter Mt. Perhaps the saddest part of the demise of Mountain Jam is the blatant affront to Warren Haynes. This was his event, his baby. I KNOW he was appalled by the handling of his erstwhile festival by this new Philadelphia conglomerate whose actions completely undermined Warren’s efforts to bring a first class event to this Catskill ski area. Hopefully those who promote festivals will take greater pains to help their patrons have a wonderful time and keep those who’d undermine their efforts away!
Please enjoy the photos and we’ll see y’all next time. Please don’t forget to visit us at the Dead Images gallery!
Words & Photos by Robbi Cohn (website)