I’ve been doing the Mountain Jam thing for a few years now and really feel like I’ve got this music fest under control. I know how to get to the event, where to park and the best landmarks for meeting my friends. I understand and accept that there will be red mud and rain at least one of the days and that the sun always shines when Michael Franti plays. I got this. For those who may not have had the good fortune to attend MJ2015, let me share some of my impressions from this year’s festival.
• Grace Potter is always an energetic and enthusiastic performer. I particularly enjoyed “Turntable” and her rip through “Cinnamon Girl.” The complete setlist is here.
• I’ve had mixed Robert Plant experiences, but amazingly enough he’s gotten better each time I’ve seen him. How’s that for longevity? That 66 y/o rock and roll icon was so smoking hot that he compelled me to drop an f-bomb when I captioned an Instagram shot of him. I had no other word to describe the thrill of seeing him rock once again. Prepare to be impressed by this setlist!
• Gov’t Mule’s Dark Side of the Mule inspired me to stay on the Mountain far later than ever before – it was definitely pushing 2:00 a.m. before we headed for the gates. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but Warren and the band (including 3 phenomenal female back-up singers) killed it. I hope to experience this spectacle again and my respect for the band has gone through the roof.
• The food and beverages in which I indulged were all of good quality and fairly priced. I was impressed by the sausage stand’s commitment to checking the internal temperature on their offerings prior to selling and thought $6 for a big cup of cider was more than reasonable. Take note, SPAC!
• Saturday’s headliner was the dynamic duo, The Black Keys. I’m most familiar with their junior Kimbrough tribute album, Chulahoma, as well as 2011’s El Camino. Well, these guys absolutely rock! The drums/guitar combination is always my favorite and watching these two play was unbelievable. I’d do that again in a heartbeat.
• Unlike other large musical gatherings I’ve attended, there was zero drama or aggression in this crowd. It was soooo mellow and pleasant.
• I already talked about Sunday on the mountain, but I wanted to add a note about Warren Haynes joining Franti and Spearhead during their set. What a treat it was to see Haynes play three consecutive days! And, his range – from Pink Floyd to jammy originals to Franti…wow! I even finally got a few good pictures of him, too.
- Check out all my photos here.
Have you ever had a day when the universe lets you know that you must be doing something right? You know, everything just goes your way, from the weather to the drive to the food you eat and the people you meet..every single thing just goes your way. For me, that was yesterday in a nutshell.
My day began a little bleary after two consecutive late nights (more on those in another post), but I fortified myself, and the guys, with French toast with strawberries and bacon, along with coffee. Lots of coffee. I refused to rush, but still managed to get some necessary chores done, read the paper and mow the lawn before heading south for my third day of music on the mountain.
I found myself with an unexpected opportunity to have a friend join me and immediately thought of my Franti-loving, Lunar B#tch friend, Chrissy. I knew she was on the road, heading north after some time spent with friends, and figured Mountain Jam might be the perfect pit stop – and it was. We texted and talked and put an impromptu plan together, including parking coordination and where to meet on the inside. And it all worked. Perfectly, in fact.
Franti was his consistent dose of sunshine and good vibes and the crowd was fantastic. Being in the pit to shoot photos has ruined me for all future shows, I’m afraid. It’s going to be like returning to coach after being bumped up to first class on an international flight. The other photographers were all friendly and cooperative as we moved around the area, each taking our shots and making way for one another. Security was cool, too, and there were no harsh voices to be heard. Amazing, just like the set Alabama Shakes laid down after Franti. Mercy, Brittany Howard takes no prisoners! She didn’t hold an iota back and I am so glad I got to experience this band live. If you have the chance – do it. No regrets, I promise.
I took hundreds of pictures this weekend and every single person I interacted with was pleasant and happy and totally cool. There were smiles and laughs as far as the camera and eye could see. It was one of those magical times when I couldn’t stop myself from continually wondering “How did I ever get to live this life?”
When I was 15, I went through my hardcore Doors’ days. Didn’t you? Although not their most commercial album, An American Prayer became my definition of poetry. I eagerly awaited my turn to read the dog-eared copy of No One Here Gets Out Alive, a Morrison biography, which was circulating through my town and I promised myself that one day I would pay my respects at Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris. Assuming, of course, that he didn’t return from wherever he had fled to escape the fame which had made his life unlivable in the U.S.,* before I got there.
While my son was committed to visiting Napoleon’s tomb while in Paris, a trip to the cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise was on my must do list. On Easter Sunday we took a long Metro ride to make our my pilgrimage. The cemetery is quite large, walled in and covering a hillside in northeastern Paris. Despite our map, we became a little disoriented and missed Morrison’s grave on our initial climb up the hill. Maybe it was the encounter with the fairly fresh grave of one of the victims of the January Je Suis Charlie attacks that caused our confusion. Regardless, we found ourselves in close proximity to Edith Piaf’s grave.
I talked to Liam about who she was and described her rendition of La Vie en Rose, explaining that her version was the definitive one of that classic French song. We paused, paid our respects and then headed down the hill to find Jim Morrison’s grave, inaccessible due to the metal barricades designed to discourage the enthusiastic and devout vandals who have persisted in leaving their mark on his tombstone for more than four decades. It was completely cool and satisfying nonetheless.
Later, we went to Montmartre to view the artists and their work, along with Sacre Coeur. As we walked, from a distance, I heard someone melodically whistling a tune – La Vie en Rose. Perfect.
*if you’re near my age you probably remember the theory that Jim would come back a decade after his “death.”
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally ready to admit that my iPod Classic is a goner. I keep getting the black apple of death and it just won’t charge or play anymore. I believe it lasted nearly 8 years, which is pretty remarkable in our constantly demanding an upgrade society. She was along for the ride for multiple trips across the Atlantic, as well as across this country. I probably went through at least 3 or 4 cords which permitted me to listen to my music in my pre-iPod-compatibility car and countless pairs of ear buds. It was a good run.
When I originally got my Classic, it was a big step up from the Nano with which I had begun my iPod relationship. It had so much room on it that I bought music willy-nilly never imagining that I could ever possibly fill it. But, I did, 30 gigs worth of my favorite tunes portable and playable on demand. We’ve come a long way since my Walkman, baby.
What to do now? I’ve got my iPhone but it only holds a fraction of my music because of storage issues and I haven’t committed to buying a speaker that will amplify my songs. All of my music is on my cloud, and I’ve got Pandora and Spotify apps, but I can’t say I’m adept at streaming what I want, when I want it. How are you managing your devices? Where does your music come from? Do I replace my iPod??
It was summer and I was about 13 years old. I don’t know what initially started the disagreement, but words flew between me and the other girl. She was from a family of girls and she was far meaner than I. She wrapped up her verbal assault with a shocking assertion regarding my mother, my brother and myself. The sound of her words stung me with an undeniable ring of truth and I immediately recognized that secrets hurt.
Secrets are kind of like snakes – what makes them scary is that they appear unannounced. If only they would wear collars with bells which tinkled as they approached! Since that isn’t realistic, living life in the open without rocks to hide under seems to me to be the best way of preventing things from sneaking up you. So, that’s what I do.
The secrets that Mary Lambert sings about are not my own, yet this song still perfectly expresses my own sensibility of secrets. I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are. So what.
While I was driving down to Kingston last night to meet a friend, I was impatiently scanning radio stations looking to hear something that wasn’t some nonsense about how I’ll “only miss the sun when it starts to rain.” When I landed on Pink Floyd’s Money, I hit the button to stop scanning and turned up the volume. Good stuff, right?
The answer is yes and no. While the bass line still rings true, the censored version I heard rang false. Is the word “bullshit” really so potentially damaging or offensive that it can no longer remain in a radio broadcast? Have these concerned censors seen what is on television these days?
I know I’ve mentioned the sanitization of song lyrics before – I believe it was in reference to Tom Petty’s lyric about rolling another joint, but the hypocrisy of it continues to irritate me. On a regular basis my children witness advertisements about erectile dysfunction, see sexualized children hawking clothing and glimpse various versions of “reality” which couldn’t be further from the truth. I really believe they can handle a song lyric that references smoking marijuana or uses a word that, quite frankly, is in my frequent rotation of utterances.
You know what? I think it’s bullshit.
Last year’s memories of Mountain Jam are a bit tainted. I’d had a really rough morning, thanks to my middle son, and my early afternoon proved that the day could, in fact, become even worse. As always, my friends pulled me through that day and were once again on hand this year to replace any previous negative associations with laughter – and beer.
Unlike previous years, the weather was spectacular. I think this May have been the first time I attended this show wearing anything other than rain boots. We successfully smuggled some sunscreen in and I do not regret my criminal decision. I would have fried without repeated doses of #30.
The music was great! Chris Robinson (from the Black Crowes) has a new project and I appreciated their set more than I had enjoyed his band when I saw them last. Sean Lennon performed with his band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and while I may not have been familiar with his band, it was really cool watching the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono making music. He’s definitely rocking his father’s look and vibe.
As far as Michael Franti goes – well, sign me up to be a member of his church. He preaches good vibes, positivity and love and I’m a believer. He is one of the most inspiring and alive performers I have ever seen and this show was awesome. Musical joy. The Allman Brothers played a super set of rock and roll. As always, their songs seemed to have risen up from some dank mud which also happened to have bred the blues and jazz. While we didn’t stay for their encore, we did hit the road satiated and completely satisfied with our day.
A couple of random things –
- Security was pretty strict and did not permit food or aerosol cans to be brought in. A bit of a bummer for those on a budget or who had packed cans of sunscreen.
- I ate a delicious bratwurst sandwich, with everything, thank you very much. And an ice cream sundae! Beers were reasonably priced ($6 for decent drafts) and a full bar within the lodge was also available.
- Offered as continued evidence that it is indeed a small world, I ran into not one but, two, guys I knew from when I was married. I hadn’t seen either in years and it was more pleasant than awkward.