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Mountain Jam 2007


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Mountain Jam 2007

Festival Review

By Lara Purvis

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Josh Clark of Tea Leaf Green
Forget the rain. Mountain Jam doesn't need good weather.

The three days of Mountain Jam music festival once again endured at best, light on-and-off drizzle and at worst, heavy downfalls. Somehow the festival managed to still be a beautiful experience - quite likely related to the scorching-hot musical talent.

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Mountain Jam takes place in Hunter, NY on the first weekend in June and was started by Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes. For a mid-sized festival, only its third year, the 2007 line-up included more than its fair share of heavy-hitters including Phil Lesh & Friends, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Umphrey's McGee, Tea Leaf Green, North Mississippi Allstars and of course Gov't Mule among many others.

Having had a similar experience the previous year, festival organisers were clearly ready for the rain. There were likely some grumpy, hungry cows in the region because hundreds of bales of hay and straw were put down to handle the footing this year. It truly did seem to be easier to get around. Another change, not my favourite, was an increased police presence - some even with dogs. Thankfully they stayed around the entrance area but it was certainly a bummer to see a car-full of kids sitting on the sidewalk while police went through their trunk, dumping even their food out on the curb.

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Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule
Thankfully, once you'd entered the festival grounds the vibe was cheerful and laid-back. And although we were often drenched, there wasn't a single set that sent me in from the rain. There is something grounding and real about choosing to stand in constant rain to enjoy the music. Or better, choosing to dance in mud. Children dug deep in mud puddles and coated their skins as so did some brave adults. It was a liberating experience for this squeaky-clean observer.

It was a treat to see Tea Leaf Green demonstrate their growth over the past year. And of course Umphrey's McGee pulled off their signature ruckus, rewarding the crowd who endured one of the heaviest downfalls during their set. Robert Randolph smiled and joked through his set, pulling away the clouds with the strains of pedal steel. But nothing really compared to the set by Michael Franti and Spearhead.

First I have to admit - this girl used to be a cynic. I lumped Franti in the 'gimmick' pile a while back. I admit it. Boy was I wrong.

Franti at Mountain Jam 2006 changed my mind. But Franti at Mountain Jam 2007 blew my mind. There was something extra to the band that day. I said earlier that at best the weather was a light drizzle. That's true, except for Michael Franti and Spearhead. Just like 2006, Franti began his set - the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun came out. I'm not kidding.

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Michael Franti and Carl Young
There was such joy in that hour. And it had to have been felt by everyone because an ecstatic Franti nearing the close of his set, actually leapt off the stage during 'Everybody on na Move.' Standing upon the photo-pit gate with grass held high in the air he sang powerfully, little kids gazing up in awe. He then astonished both the crowd and security when he leapt down into the crowd and headed out into the centre continuing his song in the midst's of thousands.

It was amazing and beautiful. There were smiles all round.

Rain or no rain, there was no where I'd have rather been.

 

 

 

Photos by Lara Purvis (click to enlarge)

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