Terrapin Presents has finally found the right mix of a solid line-up,
positive magical energy, beautiful August weather, and an organized and healthy campground. The Summit Music Festival took place this past weekend in Mariaville, NY, and included a diversity of acts such as The String Cheese Incident, Deep Banana Blackout, Gov't Mule, John Scofield, The Roots, Original P, Jazz Mandolin Project, Burning Spear, and more. This being Terrapin's third festival of Summer 2001, they had everything down pat, as we should have expected. Security was tight getting in, but was beneficial because it kept much of the bad vibes out. Everything went according to schedule, and people were happy.
The festival started off with some reggae tunes from Mystic Bowie and the Pallbearers. They did some of their own stuff, mixed with reggae favorites written by the late, great Bob Marley. Some of these were "Exodus" and "Soul Shakedown Party." Peter Prince filled some time in between sets before Bernie Worrell and the Woo Warriors. Bernie was certainly on, despite the low
attendance. Many people were still stuck in traffic trying to enter the concert grounds. Bernie kept the funk going for roughly an hour and a half, and I could not stop dancing the whole time. Rahzel was scheduled to be up next, but could not make it due to heavy traffic. So up next was Deep Banana Blackout, and they did not disappoint. They played many old favorites, as well as some tunes i had not heard before. Marc Ford, guitarist of the Black Crowes came on after Deep Banana, and played some peaceful tunes before the hard-rock sounds of Gov't Mule. The Mule closed out the festival on friday night with a loud bang. They took the stage, and the volume must have increased by 20 decibels. It was insane, the way that Warren Haynes led his band in the traditional rock style. I had never seen the Mule before and did not know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. They even came out with some Allman Brothers songs, my favorite being "Soulshine". The Mule played for a bit over 2 hours, and left
us all wanting more.
Saturday morning started out with Jamie Janover on the hammer dulcimer, followed by the Persuasions at noon. The Persuasions were completely a capella, and not knowing their past work,was somewhat surprised to hear them do a couple Greatful Dead songs. Before John Scofield's Summit Project, we were treated to a short set by Lightnin' Wells. After some relaxing blues, Scofield took the stage with Billy Martin on the drumkit (Medeski, Martin & Wood), Larry Goldings on the organ, and Jesse Murphy on bass.
This set was jazzy, groovy, and it even had it's slow moments, but overall, it was a bootie-shaker. The crowd especially liked when they did a couple cut's from Scofield's album, A GO-GO, which featured the members of Medeski Martin and Wood. After Scofield's set, Marc ford played his guitar for us once again, as the crew set up for the Jazz Mandolin Project.
Having seen Jaime Masefield and his Jazz Mandolin Project before, I pretty much knew what to expect. For The Summit, he was joined by former Phish drummer Jon Fishman, and on the bass was Danton Boller. These guys explored new territory and set new boundaries on Saturday. Three fantastic musicians came together to explore the unknown, and that's exactly what they did. Their soothing sounds attracted a sizeable crowd, and they really took it up a notch and impressed the crowd. Jamie Masefield uses some jazz standards, yet at the same time he can mix in other themes from around the world. Up to this point, this set was the highlight.
Up next, Reid Genauer filled some time in-between sets before the funky Meters. Reid played some old Strangefolk tunes, which were defintely uplifting and soulful, but did not have that intensity of Strangefolk. This set the stage for the Funky meters, who defintely lived up to their name. Funk, Funk, and more Funk, was the name of the game on Saturday evening. They kept the funky grooves pumpin for about an hour and a half, allowing some time for Rahzel to do a short set before hip-hop masters The Roots came out for their set. At this point, they hit the stage with the fierce energy they're known for. All the hip-hop heads popped their way out of the wood work for this set. They did a good set, although I'm not a huge hip-hop fan, they definitely had me bobbin' my head and gettin down. Overall i enjoyed the set, but after a while I just wanted it to end, so they would get String Cheese up on stage.
Before the String Cheese Incident took the stage, John Mooney filled some air-time. When the Cheese finally took the stage, the sun had been sleeping for awhile, and it had cooled down enough for some hard dancing. They opened up the set with the title track from their new studio album, Outside Inside. "Rivertrance" was a smoker as always, with Michael Kang putting out some sweet sounds on the violin. They closed out the set with two of my favorite Cheese songs, "Joyful Sound" and "Around the Wheel." Other highlights were "Parker's Blues," with Bernie Worell sitting in on the organs. Kyle Hollingsworth dueled it out with Bernie, as Bill Nershi and Michael Kang watched in awe from across the stage. String Cheese now became my highlight of Summit Fest.
After a fun night on Saturday after the show, and minimal sleep following that, Lightnin Wells was joined by George Higgs as a nice breakfast treat early Sunday morning. They got it started off right, and the crew began to set the stage for Jazz Mandolin Project's second set at the Summit. They had blown me away with the set on Saturday, so I made sure to head down to see it. This time around, it had more of a jazzy feel than it had the day before, and it was defintely more mellow, yet I was still amazed with how three musicians could be making the sounds that were coming from the PA.
Following Jazz Mandolin's set, Tom Constanten took the stage with his keyboard for a short set. He pulled out some dead tunes, as expected, but he pleasantly surprised the crowd with a great version of "Werewolves of London". The crowd was AHOOOO-ing along, and everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Tom was followed by Max Creek, who are still celebrating their 30th Anniversary as a band. They played a very solid set, but having seen them before, I knew that I could have expected more from them. I won't say it was bad, because I had a great time, but in comparison to other Max Creek sets I have seen, this was below par. After Max creek, Jamie Janover took the stage for a short set before Burning Spear. He amazed me with the sounds he was making from his instrument, the Hammer dulcimer. I feel that Jamie Janover was the best of the smaller, "filler" type sets.
Burning Spear was incredible, and even with a pretty large band, they stayed on beat together and kept the crowd moving. They really seemed happy to be there, and created the perfect vibe when they started their set at around 4:20pm. They got everyone to rise up, and begin to shake their booties once again. During their set, I had the opportunity to talk with Randy Leo Frechette ("Frenchy"), who is a performance art painter. He was doing a piece of Burning Spear, and I was utterly amazed with his work. I seriously recommend checking out his work, he is amazing.
At this point, Reid Genauer came on for a short set before the Original P. I knew that the festival was quickly coming to a close so I sat down and got some much needed rest before the Original P. Once they took the stage, the concert area began to fill in once again, and everyone was movin to the beat. It was incredible, the way a band like P-funk can attract such a wide variety of people and let them all share in the groove. The Original P tore the roof off, with favorites such as "Give up the Funk," "Flashlight," "Standing on the Verge of Getting it On," and many more. At one point, they had over 30 people on stage getting their groove on. One of them was Kermit the Frog, doing it up P-Funk style. The Deep Banana Blackout horns joined the Original P onstage, and this added even more to the great vibe and sound. After their set, I was looking forward to our last helping of String Cheese for Summer 2001.
String Cheese Incident will never disappoint me, even if it is a sub-par show. Sunday night was not a sub-par show by any means. From start to finish, the boys from Colorado kept the groove in high gear. A String Cheese show always has good music, but many see it as an "incident" where other things become more apparent... smiles, sharing, togetherness, costumes, face paint, glitter and more. The String Cheese Fans have created an environment where they can make anyone feel welcome and content. The focus is on the group as a whole, not just the band. This final set of the summer was a Big "Rollover" sandwich, starting and ending the set with "Rollover." "Rhum n' Zouc" got Michael Kang warmed up for this hardcore set of Cheese, he was really on fire during this one! Many songs were teased inside of other songs during the set, such as "Another One Bites the Dust" teases in "Got What He Wanted" and teases of Talking Heads' "Swamp" were intertwined into "Come As You Are." Other favories they came out with this set were "Rollin In My Sweet Baby's Arms," "100 Year Flood" with Jeff Pevar on guitar, and "Black and White." The encore, "Restless Wind" was a crowd pleaser, and got everyone moving for the last bit of String Cheese. After the set, the boys made an appearance at the Homegrown tent to do a signing of their new CD Outside Inside, which is now out on the SCI Fidelity label.
Overall, The Summit Music Festival was one of the best run festivals of the summer, and I commend Terrapin for putting together such an enjoyable event.
The weather held out nicely all weekend and everyone made an effort to keep
the scene clean. The lineup was 100% incredible, and for the most part I encountered friendly, fun-lovin' music junkies all weekend. I met some great people, spent time with old friends, and most importantly I was able to spend quality time with them seeing some of the greatest live music around. I highly recommend going to the next one of these events that Terrapin puts on. I had an fantastic time and wish that all of you will do the same next summer.
Ian S. Stone
JamBase NY Correspondent
Go See Live Music!