Mountain Jam | 05.29 - 05.31 | New York

Sunday :: 05.31.09

Mountain Jam 2009 by Ainsworth
While Saturday delivered on the diversity in the lineup, Sunday's programming was a bit more of a family affair. And while the sky was crystal blue and the sun beaming, the wind came around and over the mountain, bringing a chill to the Jam.

Making their fist appearance at Mountain Jam was New England-based jam-rock outfit The Brew. The band's sound mixed highly energetic rock and soulful, melodic vocals with progressive electric guitar. "Chance Reachin'" was an up-beat tune that got the crowd clapping and moving. Keyboardist Chris Plant sings with a salty dog voice that is soulful and draws the listener in while guitarist Dave Drouin takes a melodic approach.

Sunday, Mountain Jam paid homage to the original music festival, the 1969 Woodstock Festival, which took place in nearby Bethel, NY. The BK3, featuring Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead, who performed at Woodstock 40 years ago, took the East Stage shortly after The Brew. For the trio's current tour, they've invited guest vocalist/guitarist Tara Nevins (Donna The Buffalo) along for the ride. The quartet, which also included Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski and bassist Hutch Hutchinson of Bonnie Raitt's band. They opened with "Louisiana Sun," a Max Creek song that showed what an under-appreciated guitarist Murawski is. They also did a Donna The Buffalo song and several Dead covers. They closed with "He's Gone" and "Bertha." Evans has a sweet, innocent voice, but there were points where it seemed she was nervous stepping to the microphone, and her singing wasn't as strong is it maybe should have been for someone with her experience. But, I am sure it's nothing that a few more performances with this lineup couldn't cure.

Martin Sexton :: Mountain Jam 2009 by Ainsworth
Sunday afternoon's sermon was delivered by Rev. Martin Sexton. Okay, so Sexton is not really a Reverend but his solo, acoustic set was a moving and spiritual one. Martin sings with a nasal tone that has gospel strength. "Diggin' Me" was a sweet tune with a fifties swing vibe that got feet shuffling and dirt rising in the air. "Happy" was a cheerful one that kept bodies moving as Sexton called out, "For peace, can I get a little 'Amen'?" which got a strong response from the crowd. The aching blues "Glory Bound" slowed the tempo a bit but highlighted the strength of Sexton's voice. He closed out with a stirring cover of Prince's "Purple Rain," which moved seamlessly to a soulful "Amazing Grace" that hushed the crowd.

The Derek Trucks Band took the stage early Sunday afternoon, and the mountainside was jammed with fans. Trucks opened with "Down In The Flood," which featured vocalist Mike Mattison, whose gritty voice is a soulful match for Trucks' riveting slide guitar. "I Know" was jazzy and bluesy, with Middle Eastern guitar flourishes from Trucks and rich, gospel-rooted keys from Kofi Burbridge. Trucks paid homage to John Coltrane, one of his own heroes, with a long, highly improvisational jam on "My Favorite Things," which was popularized by Coltrane, among others.

The Allman Brothers :: MTN Jam '09 by Ainsworth
The Allman Brothers, who are celebrating their 40-year anniversary and whose song gave the festival its name, were on hand to close the festivities on Sunday night. With a history as rich as the ABB, they had plenty of fan favorites to choose from. They opened their set, fittingly, with "Mountain Jam," which moved to a drum/bass jam and segued into "Trouble No More." After a Hepatitis C scare early in '08, Gregg Allman is singing with strength once again. And the stage camaraderie among these veterans, including three drummer/percussionists and two astounding guitarists - who each can and do manage their own groups - is as strong as any band.

Haynes was on fire on the classic "Ain't Wasting' Time No More." A personal highlight for this reviewer was "Revival," with the gorgeous refrain, "People can you feel it/ Love is everywhere/ People can you feel it/ Love is in the air." It seemed as if the entire mountainside of fans sang along and clapped in unison. Derek Trucks shined brightly with his slide on "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," segueing back into "Mountain Jam" to close out the set, proving beyond any doubt that he is the finest slide players alive. The ABB returned to the stage for an encore of "One Way Out," giving Gregg a chance to shine vocally once more, and allowing the Trucks/Haynes combination to catch fire once more, too.

On the screen behind the band, the words "Dedicated To A Brother" were projected and then a pictorial of Duane Allman ran to the recorded version of "Little Martha." With the power of this festival closing set, The Allman Brothers seem as though they could go on jamming together for another 40 years. And while he may have filled a much needed void for The Dead, Haynes proved to me that he is most at home playing Southern rock with the ABB and Gov't Mule.

And so ended a magnificent weekend in the great Catskills of New York State. With wonderful live music, friendly people everywhere, beautiful weather and much more, Mountain Jam 5 was a fantastic way to welcome summer and begin the festival season.

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