Music festivals come and music festivals go. Over the course of the last decade dozens of such events have started up with lofty aspirations of being perennial yearly happenings, only to disappear from the calendar after one or two disastrous seasons. Most big-dreaming promoters simply had no idea what lay ahead, especially in these times of tightened audience wallets, when they set out to launch a festival that attracts big acts and big crowds every spring or summer and remains profitable. Thus, one could easily call Mountain Jam, which from May 31 to June 3 looks to head into its eighth successful run at Hunter Mountain, a triumph on many levels.
“We always learn a lot from our experiences running things, and we try hard to improve what we do every year,” says Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes, who co-founded the outdoor affair with local multimedia firm Radio Woodstock in 2004. (Called the 23rd Greatest Guitarist of All Time by Rolling Stone
, the Grammy-winning Haynes is also revered for his work with the Allman Brothers Band and the Dead.) “We put a lot of work into creating a festival that’s audience and artist friendly, and we also put a lot of time into hand selecting the acts on the roster, which is diverse but not scattered all over the map too much, thematically.”
The effort shows. In addition to headlining slots by Gov’t Mule on two nights, this year’s lineup of over 50 acts presents appearances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Steve Winwood, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Roots, the reunited Ben Folds Five, a DJ set by LCD Sound System’s James Murphy, the Word (featuring Robert Randolph, John Medeski, and the North Mississippi Allstars), returning favorite Michael Franti & Spearhead, electronic jam band Lotus, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, soul genius Charles Bradley, Dawes, the Travelin’ McCourys with Keller Williams, Zach Deputy, and many more across four stages.
This year the camper-friendly festival ups the accommodations ante by unveiling a limited number of luxury prepitched tents adjacent to its main concert field. A signature Mountain Jam component is the Awareness Village, a section that features an acoustic music stage, an interactive children’s entertainment area with music and other fun, a beer and wine garden, not-for-profit exhibitor tables, performance and sculpture art, physical and spiritual healing, and other attractions. In keeping with its continued green commitment, the wind-powered festival touts an on-site recycling program and free water refills to reduce the usage of plastic water bottles.
“Hunter Mountain is a great location and we’re really excited to be doing it there again,” says Haynes. “[The festival] keeps getting better every year while sticking to our original vision—which is to offer something great for people who just really love music.”
Mountain Jam takes place May 31 to June 3 at Hunter Mountain in Hunter. Ticket prices, a full schedule, and more details are available at Mountainjam.com