The Mountain Jam music festival has gone back to its “roots” changing its location to Bethel Woods, New York, the home of the legendary Woodstock festival. This festival will take place from June 13-16, with Gov’t Mule, Dispatch and The Avett Brothers set to headline, bringing back the jam band, roots and Americana style the festival was founded on.
Back in 2017 Warren Haynes, who founded the festival in 2005 alongside Gary Chetkof, took a break from his involvement in the festival. The following year Sturgill Simpson, alt-J and Jack Johnson headlined the festival, which featured many other prominent indie performers such as Kurt Vile, yet it featured very few jamband or roots acts, which the festival was catered toward.
This led to the chagrin of many fans who felt the festival was “selling-out,” from its original roots, in favor toward a trendier sound so they could sell more tickets. However Haynes, who was also the former guitarist for the Allman Bothers Band and who currently serves as the guitarist for Gov’t Mule, is back on the masthead for this current event. He has also teamed up once again with the festival runners Radio Woodstock, which Chetkof serves as the owner of.
The partnership between Haynes and Chekof goes back for over a decade, as Gov’t Mule was the first act to sign on for the original Mountain Jam festival back in 2005. Mountain Jam was named after the Allmans Brother Band song of the same name, and has featured headliners such as the aforementioned Allman Brothers Band , Medeski Martin & Wood, Phil Lesh & Friends, Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic, Benevento/Russo Duo, Mike Gordon and the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
“Radio Woodstock, a station that I purchased in 1993, was having a 25th year anniversary in 2005 and I wanted to throw a big outdoor concert,” Chetkof explained in an interview with Backstageasxess back in 2015. “We found Hunter Mountain and we booked four (4) bands for the day. Gov’t Mule immediately signed on as our headliner. After the one-day festival was over, I was inundated with people who encouraged me to make it an annual event. I had been attending music festivals and decided to turn it into one, so I expanded it with multiple days and camping. Warren was one of those encouraging people and he said that he wanted to be a co-presenter and play it every year.”
Athough Gov’t Mule is a southern rock jam band, they have also veered toward more unconventional music even releasing a Pink Floyd cover’s album. In true jam band fashion, the band performed the covers originally for a large Pink Floyd theme party, and once they became happy with the results they decided to return to the studio to mix it.
“You know, when [bassist] Jorgen Carlsson joined the band 10 years ago, we did one of our special Halloween show in Boston and the theme was Pink Floyd,” Haynes explained in an interview. “So we learned all these Pink Floyd songs, and we record every show and after the fact thought, ‘Well, that was really good. Maybe we should mix it.’ And we had filmed it, specifically thinking if it turned out great, maybe we can make a DVD out of it.”
Photo Credit: Kalyn Oyer