a few months ago lauren and i decided to get tickets to this music festival at hunter mountain. this past weekend, our waiting was done, and we got to enjoy a crazy weekend of hippie culture and good music. it was a lot of fun. i'll give you a rundown.

we arrived on friday -- with a hefty hike to find a spot for our tent. AND had to make a couple trips. but after getting settled a bit, we headed to the stage. i wanted to see one of the first bands -- the Marco Benevento Trio. i know Marco from a group called The Duo, and this is another venture of his. he's a wizard on the keys -- organ, piano, etc. in this trio, he was playing this cool mini-piano, with a whole lot of effects. it was pretty sweet. i'd describe it as a good mix of simplicity and creativity.
[marco benevento trio - photo by pja]

next up was Railroad Earth -- i've known about these guys for awhile but never seen them play. great grassroots-ish bluegrass rock. can i tell you?--i love mandolin players. can't get enough of listening to them, let alone watching their fingers fly on the fretboard. my first experience with this was seeing the Jazz Mandolin Project live. jamie masefield is a BEAST on the mandolin. unbelievable stuff. anywho -- i was fixated on RRE's mandolinist, john skehan, for most of the show. great stuff.
[skehan -- photo by mountain jam]

we stayed over to watch Umphrey's McGee -- had heard their name for a long time, but never seen them or heard their music. so yea. cool stuff. not quite what i expected -- kind of a harder genre of jam-rock. a LOT of syncopated rythyms - which i throughly dug. any band that can incorporate and coordinate significant syncopation is respected and enjoyed by me. and they seemed really young -- and i know they've been around for awhile. i was pretty impressed. lauren was pretty impressed too.

before heading to the late night show (which i'll get to), i stopped by the end of Government Mule's set -- to catch them covering NEIL YOUNG'S CORTEZ -- one of my FAVorite songs. i had a moment. Warren had a few moments -- on his les paul -- thrashing away on the strings as he traded solos with Josh Clark from Tea Leaf Green. so good.
[josh clark - photo by mountain jam]

as lauren headed to pass out, i then moved on to the late night show (1a-3a!): Eric Krasno and Chapter 2. the only one i knew in this crew was Adam Deitch - a pheNOMinal drummer who i discovered when he played for a while with the John Scofield Band. Deitch is a straight up funk and soul drummer who is just unbelievable. and this show didn't disappoint -- two hours of the type of funk that i would describe to be 'perfect'. funk bliss for sure.

[not from mountain jam, but will give you a taste -- jump past the first 50seconds:]

so that was friday. saturday dawns all too early -- but we arise to greet the day, and the music ahead. we were anticipating epic performances. first up was Brett Dennen. now. i tend to have an automatic aversion to all-things-trendy-and-pop. and Brett definitely falls into that trendy, popular, indie category. so the cards were stacked against him. but since seeing him wouldn't cost me anything additional (other than maybe an hour of my life), lauren and i checked him out. front row. and let me tell you -- this guy is fantastic. what a great performer. he was super laid-back, but uber passionate and engaged in performing his music. he was dancing up a storm as he played, and jazzed up the crowd as he did so. you could tell he's been performing his stuff in front of people for a long time. he was the biggest surprise of the weekend for me.
[brett -- photo by pja]

i went back to the main stage shortly thereafter for Gomez -- i first heard 'see the world' on a House episode and loved it. so i was excited to check them out. they were ok. they're from the UK -- which always automatically screams "POMPOUS" to me (Oasis ruined the english for me). i ended up leaving shortly into their set because the sound was terrible (yes, i know, not their fault -- but i'm not going to listen to something that sounds shitty right?). oh well. i heard them play See The World from back at the campsite.
[ tom gray - photo by pja]

funny story. while we were waiting for Coheed, the Gene Ween Band was doing there thing on the secondary stage (to the left of the main stage). we had started out watching them because i realllllly love the guy who was drumming for them - Joe Russo. but they were a bit too weird. this was confirmed when, while then waiting for Coheed, a lyrical line came through the speakers: "it freaks me out how much you fucking suck!". that was shortly follow by a song entitled "Let's Get Divorced."

then came epic-ness, in the form of Coheed and Cambria. this was the reason lauren found out about this festival - she is a huge Coheed fan. so this was her moment. and i was excited to check them out. before the show itself, we went to the meet-the-bands tent -- and lauren got to meet them, and get her picture with Claudio (who, i'm pretty sure, she wants to marry):
[lauren and future husband claudio - photo by pja]

for the show itself, we arrived early and got right up front. the time came, and the crowd went nuts -- Coheed has some pretty hardcore fans. i was super impressed -- they are really high energy, pay a lot of detail, and write in a lot of syncopation. lauren was in heaven. Warren Haynes even came out to join them on a couple songs -- definitely VERY different from warren's style of music, so it was fun to watch him. but the highpoint for me, was their last song: the played Final Cut. and midway thru the song, the guitar tech brings out a theremin. and Claudio proceeds to play it (in between guitar solos), WITH HIS FACE. dude. this guy. is. awesome.
[claudio - photo by pja]

[warren haynes joins Coheed - photo by pja]

[claudio plays the theremin with his hands AND FACE - photo by pja]

so yea -- needless to say -- good stuff.

after that orgasmic performance, lauren and i decided to indulge in some vendor food -- we are uber fatkids together. then we passed out.

sunday brought only an interest in seeing Martin Sexton before we left -- and he was ok, but again, the sound was shitty so that threw my enjoyment of the performance. so we bolted. but not before having some more vendor food and beer to send us on our way on a good note.
[martin - photo by lrs]

good stuff. great music. perfect companionship. and might i say -- the drugged out hippie culture is one that continues to baffle me. it's full of hypocrisies if you ask me. but it's tolerable, to enjoy music that it traditionally accompanies. good times.

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