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Posted Jun 23rd, 2015 (10:00 am) by Staff
Image by Richard Clarke

Mountain Jam XI is a wrap, and what seems to be a trend with festivals, tickets are already on sale for Mountain Jam XII, slated to commence June 2-5, 2016; in fact, tickets for the 2016 event actually went on sale before the 2015 festival was over. The long weekend of music, arts, crafts and diversions from the drudgery of real life seemed to go very smoothly. The schedule flowed seamlessly with music almost constantly emanating from the two alternating outside stages. Overall, Townsquare Media Group, Mountain Jam Founder Gary Chetkof’s Chet-5 Festivals along with Woodstock, NY’s independent radio station, Radio Woodstock WDST and Warren Haynes not only curated an excellent assortment of musical performances, they did a great job managing the logistics of an event of Mountain Jam’s magnitude.



Section One: Festival Production

The sound at Mountain Jam was incredible; the quality was crisp with a low-end bass that was not overwhelming. Both outdoor stages music was pumped through the PA systems of each other, so no matter where you were situated you got great sound. Two large screens on either side of The Main Stage offered video of all the performances from both stages. The only drawback was the inside performance space located inside the Hunter Mountain Ski Lodge was a little far, and with so much great music outside, it was easy to dismiss. Stage lighting was excellent and the mood lighting and projections by SJP Productions added to the festive atmosphere.

There were plenty of food options ranging from healthy vegan to decadent junk food. The same could also be said for beverage choices, there were smoothies, juices, coffees, several beer selections, and if you wanted something more elaborate, the Hunter Mountain Ski Lodge had their full bar open for business.

A nice touch at Mountain Jam that has been prohibited at other festivals is that attendees are permitted to bring chairs to the concert field. There should be more control over the setting up of chairs in the area in front of the soundboard extending down to the stage as barricades of chairs formed huge obstacle courses for fans moving to areas closer to stage for the larger headlining performances.

Parking is the glaring weakness of the layout of Mountain Jam. When the festival was smaller, free parking in close proximity to the event was available. It was inevitable that as the festival grew that parking would become a premium and on-site parking was pricy and sold out. The unattractive option of off-site parking with shuttle bus service was available.

Score: 26/30



Section Two: Presentation
The natural beauty of the Catskill Mountains makes an incredible backdrop for Mountain Jam, and when you add to that all the lighting, art work (like the Zen Garden) and the people, it is magical. The VIP tents, positioned like mountain chalets looked particularly inviting, Mountain Jam is one of those festivals that the extra money for the VIP treatment may be worth it. With the incredible technology we have today, stage lighting is more visible in the daytime, and Mountain took advantage of this by running light even during the brightest times of the day. The large screens on The Main Stage were also clearly visible during the daylight. The space inside the ski lodge could have had more impact, even though more was to the inside performance areas (i.e. bigger stages, more lighting) there was not much to draw attendees to theses performances and art displays other then the rain on Friday, when people were seeking a dry place to hang out in. Perhaps announcements from the outdoor stages and or messages on the screens more often would have propelled people toward this underused space.

Score: 18/20



Section Three: Sustainability Practices

Let’s face it, festivals make a giant mess, and Mountain Jam is no exception. There was a huge mess left every night and that is not entirely the festivals fault; however, there could have been more receptacles with recycling bins located throughout the concert area and that might have kept things cleaner. Clean Vibes was brought in each day and they have a great reputation for being conscious of the environment and recycling. I would love to see venders using more biodegradable containers for their products.

Score: 22/25



Section Four: Non-Musical Entertainment

Mountain Jam’s focus is music, and I agree that it should be. The festival does offer a variety of other activities for attendees interested in a diversion from a diversion. Aside from exploring the beautiful mountains, festival patrons could take the Sky Ride up and down the mountain with views of the entire festival concert area and beyond. A 60 foot Adventure tower was erected at the base of the mountain behind the stage. Disc golf tournaments were offered each day all weekend. There was a variety of Yoga activities everyday, including a special class given by musician Michael Franti on Sunday morning. Hoola-Hoop workshops and drum circles were held at various times during the festival.

Score: 8/10



Section Five: Overall Festival Atmosphere

A great line up yielded a great crowd of music fans and that certainly added to the excellent vibe at Mountain Jam. Overzealous security had been a complaint in the past, particularly last year, but the security we came into contact with were courteous and professional. The combination of great sound and lights added to the majestic setting of the festival. The art exhibits around the festival grounds and inside the ski lodge were cool, but this an area that could really be expanded on. The VIP areas looked like real VIP areas with buffets (with good food) and specialty soft drinks.

Score: 13/15



Conclusion

Mountain Jam started as a small festival that has grown into quite the event. There is a potenential for this festival to become one of the première music destinations on the east coast. The festival seems to be attracting bigger headlining performers each year and that will most likely continue as the event seems to be extremely successful. With dates set and tickets already on sale for next year, there is nothing else to do but see what magic they bring to the mountain next year.

Overall Rating: 87/100

Interested in hearing more about the festival? Check out our coverage of days one, two, three, and four.

Article and photos by Richard Clarke

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