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Catskill Mountain high

Get your tickets now for next week’s Mountain Jam at Hunter

by Lynn Woods
May 27, 2011 09:55 AM | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Mavis Staples
Seven years ago, WDST, or Radio Woodstock, held a one-day concert at Hunter Mountain to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The following year the musicfest was expanded to two days, then a year later to three days…and voila! The Mountain Jam Festival was born. Top bands perform continuously on four stages over four days in a gorgeous alpine setting with a natural grass amphitheater – which is relatively intimate as outdoor rock fests go, with the audience limited to 15,000. That fortuitous combination of great music and stunning environs prompted Rolling Stone to rate the Festival as one of the top in the nation.

This year, the Festival will be held from Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5 and feature 55 bands. Besides CHET-5 Entertainment, LLC, and Radio Woodstock, it is produced by guitarist Warren Haynes, who besides his own band has played with Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers Band and the Dead. Hayne’s involvement lends the Festival a bit of mystique, as if it were truly a musicians’ event for musicians; and what could be more thrilling than listening in to your favorite bands jamming to their hearts’ content?

Besides the Warren Hayes Band and Gov’t Mule, this year’s top billings are My Morning Jacket and Michael Franti & Spearhead. Mavis Staples, the Avett Brothers, Umphrey’s McGee (with guest artist John Oates), Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are among the dozens of other acts who will keep attendees dancing in the aisles.

And if you can only take so many hours of jam-bands, don’t despair, noted Festival spokesperson Drew Frankel. “We make an effort to have a diverse lineup of artists, from funk to reggae to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. For example, “We’re having a the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans, playing Dixieland.” The lineup also includes musicians from outside the US.

While music is of course the overwhelming attraction, the Festival is also an excuse for a mini-vacation, with visitors having full access to such resort amenities as the mountain’s zip-line (you strap yourself in a harness and whiz through the air) and chairlift rides. On-site food vendors will serve everything from organic and gourmet entrées to burgers and pizza. Arts and crafts vendors will set up displays of their wares. The Festival is also child-friendly: A kids’ tent will feature special entertainment throughout the entire event.

Furthermore, attendees can kick back and enjoy themselves without worrying about all the pollution that they’ve generated in the meantime (admittedly, not the first thing on most people’s minds…yet). The special $20 round-trip bus transportation from New York City or carpooling (there’s a coordination website), recycling services and $1 water refills (to reduce the number of disposable plastic bottles) enable fans to reduce their carbon footprint and waste trail. In short, the Festival promotes not just some of country’s hottest bands, but also the notion that it’s cool to be a responsible citizen.

Enlightened folks will be drawn to the “Awareness Village,” which will include a stage for acoustic music, a beer garden, children’s entertainment, art performances and booths representing various non-profits with an eco- or socially conscious bent. They include Family of Woodstock, the Catskill Center for Conservations and Development, the voter-registration organization HeadCount and Community Energy.

Furthermore, in an era when a ticket to a top-name rock band can cost $150 and up, Mountain Jam is relatively affordable. A one-day ticket costs $79 ($99 if purchased on the day of performance). Kids under age ten get in free. While the lower-price categories of the four-day pass have sold out, a $157.50 pass is still available; a four-day pass with access to the campground is available for $187.50. Throw in the pre-festival party on Thursday night, and the price including camping is $212.50 and without camping, $187.50. A VIP four-day pass that includes camping and the party and access to a special section of the campground, a viewing area in front of the stage, a special lounge and hospitality area at Tavern in the Woods (complete with nice bathrooms, free snacks and discounted beer), plus a few other perqs, is still available for $434.50. A one-day VIP pass that includes some of these extras is $189.50, in advance, $199.50 on the day of the show.

For more information, visit http://mountainjam.com; it’s more like a media center than a website, with artists’ interviews, videos and a “Jam Cam,” along with details on tickets, amenities, accommodations and the like.

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