Interview with Gary Chetkof: Founder of Mountain Jam Festival and principal owner of Radio Woodstock 100.1

Interview with Gary Chetkof: Founder of Mountain Jam Festival and principal owner of Radio Woodstock 100.1
Interviewer/photographer: Vernon Webb

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The history: What was your inspiration for Mountain Jam and how did it come about? What was the inspiration?

It is Radio Woodstock 25th year anniversary. I wanted to put on an outdoor party. Found Hunter Mountain and it’s a beautiful location. We had five bands and it was a one day event. After everyone said how amazing it was we decided to do it again the next year. The following year the festival was two days; the next year three days. The growth in size and sound was organic, it was unplanned and spontaneous. Gov’t Mule was the first headliner, they were onboard from the get go. I had been at Woodstock 94, 99; Bonnaroo and thought it was the coolest thing in the world to escape from the world and meet new people and experience new music. Michael Franti has been on the bill since the second year. The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter, almost every year. The community of musicians and fans that get together shows musical diversity, it’s a good mix of old and new. Ya, it’s incredible and bigger than we ever imagined. Mountain Jam I and II, started out with half a dozen people, now it’s probably thousands of people. Every year it’s like wow, I can’t believe it.

The town budget has increased. By year three Phil Lesh and Friends; year five Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule’s Levon Helm Tribute. Last year, we had the Black Keys and Robert Plant. Never imagined they would have this level of talent.

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I’ve heard rumors of it being moved, is there any merit in that? If so any thoughts on a good place to move too?

It got big, we are constantly thinking of ways to make it good but not too crowded. We do not want to change location. You always look to see options but no intentions of moving. It’s an incredibly beautiful spot, green rolling hills, hiking trails, biking trails, it’s hard to beat. We’ve moved things around so there’s not as many hospitality tents. We want to keep it at Hunter mountain as long as possible.

What are some of the bands that represent the feel of Mountain Jam?

Gov’t Mule and Michael Franti are the soul of the festival. Warren is an amazing guitar player, they are the nicest guys. Franti is on a whole other level where he lifts people’s spirits. The combination of the two is very powerful. Franti has a way to make it stop raining, sunshine for Franti. There was one year there was a rainbow when Franti played. (In fact in stopped raining and the rainbow came out during The Sound Of Sunshine.)

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How does rain affect Mountain Jam?

It doesn’t rain every year, you’re there for 4 days, it’s going to rain at least 1 or 2 days. Years 2 and 3 we had a lot of rain and you develop a reputation. Years 4 and 5 no rain but there is the reputation of rain. The perception isn’t really the reality, it is unpredictable. Franti said it’s the only festival where you get all four seasons at one festy. Everybody knows to come with all different clothes to the festival.

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What do you like most about putting on Mountain Jam?

Putting the music together is the best part. You get some of your favorite bands together to create the festival. Seeing the creation come to life is my favorite part. There’s a million moving parts, improvisation things that happen where you have to deal with the unexpected. I have a large staff that takes care of most things and only contact me when there is really important things.

What advice would you give to someone who’s wanting to create a festival?

Don’t do it! (lots of laughter) It’s hard to start a festival now. There was a time and place where it was easy. Now it’s very regulated, competitive it was a lot easier and fun at the start. It’s an honor and a privilege to be creating the festival. I feel really lucky. You get to see your friends, like extended family, like a reunion. Cool thing to do but it’s hard to get it started now because of big competition.

Why you got rid of smaller stage on the side?

The only reason we got rid of the small stage was we simply ran out of room and needed the room for something else and issues with sound bleeding over. There’s not a lot of space so you have to compromise.

What are the plans for next year?

I’d like to have all the bands I couldn’t get to this year. I have pie in the sky dreams of who I have in mind.

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Poor Man’s Whiskey at the Great American Music Hall

Great American Music Hall
Saturday, Mar. 19, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Writer/Photographer: Susan Weiand
Poor Man’s Whiskey brought their foot stomping, good time music to the legendary Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Saturday March 19. Opening the evening was an acoustic version of Lonesome Locomotive, who delivered a harmonious set of their folky rock to the appreciative crowd.  Poor Man’s Whiskey music can be described as “High Octane Hootenanny” which is an upbeat combination of bluegrass, rock, folk  and country with clever songwriting and entertaining  stage antics thrown in.  Tonight the highly excited crowd was dancing and singing along to the infectiously good time music. Poor Man’s Whiskey is known for their innovative bluegrass covers of Dark Side of the Moon (shine),  Paul Simon’s Graceland, The Allman Brothers,  Old and in The Way, and tonight they paid tribute to music of The Eagles. Their second set evolved into a audience sing-along with such Eagle favorites as “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Lyin Eyes”, “Hotel California”, “Desperado”,  “Life in the Fast Lane” and many others.

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Jennifer Hartswick Band and The Nth Power at the Brooklyn Bowl

Jennifer Hartswick Band and The Nth Power at the Brooklyn Bowl
The Brooklyn Bowl
March 16, 2016
Photographer: Vernon Webb

 

 

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Tedeschi Trucks Band to perform at historic Dockery Farms

Tedeschi_Trucks_Band_Photo_Credit_Tedeschi_Trucks_Band_Duo_Exclusive_3The Dockery Farms Foundation has announced that the Tedeschi Trucks Band will perform this year’s outdoor show at the historic location on April 24. It follows their first annual show last year featuring Roseanne Cash.

Dockery Farms is considered one of the holy sites of the Delta Blues and draws visitors from all over the world. Located just east of Cleveland, Miss., it was the home of blues pioneer Charley Patton, who taught locals including Howlin’ Wolf and Pops Staples.

The non-profit Dockery Farms Foundation is focused on preserving the historic property and facilitating public interest in its musical and agricultural heritage.

TTB is touring on the heels of their new album Let Me Get By, which was released in January. The Dockery show provides a rare example to catch the band in an intimate and historical setting.

“This couldn’t come at a better time, soon after the release of the band’s latest album and at a time when they are playing to sold-out venues in Nashville, Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.” said Carolyn Powers, co-chair of the Dockery Farms Foundation.

Bill Lester, executive director of the Dockery Farms Foundation, added, “The Tedeschi Trucks Band is just on fire right now, and we expect a high level of excitement that they will be coming here to play.”

One of the restored buildings on the grounds, the former cotton storage shed, will be the main stage for the concert, which is a fundraiser for the Foundation. The show will start at 7:00 p.m., with gates opening at 5:00 p.m. with a yet-to-be-named opening act.

More information and tickets are available on the Dockery Farms website.

Following a tour of Australia and Japan, Tedeschi Trucks Bands stateside  Spring Tour dates are as follows:

 

April 17      Charleston, SC             Southern Ground Music and Food Festival

April 20      Kansas City, MO        Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland

April 21      Ames, IA                      Stephens Auditorium

April 23      Birmingham, AL           Legacy Arena at The BJCC

with Widespread Panic

April 24      Cleveland, MS              Dockery Farms

April 28      New Orleans, LA         New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

May 7         Buffalo, NY             University At Buffalo Center For The Arts

May 8         Buffalo, NY                  University At Buffalo Center For The Arts     with Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers

May 10       Syracuse, NY        Crouse Hinds Theater @ The Oncenter

with Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers

May 12       Hershey, PA                Hershey Theatre

with Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers

May 13       Newark, NJ                  New Jersey Performing Arts Center

May 14       Atlantic City, NJ         Boardwalk Hall Arena

May 26-29      Cumberland, MD        DelFest

Yonder Mountain String Band at the Variety Playhouse

Yonder Mountain String Band
Friday, February 6, 2015
Variety Playhouse
Atlanta, GA
Photographer: Brad Kuntz

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New Year’s Eve in the Windy City with Cornmeal and Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth with special guest Cornmeal
The Vic Theater
Chicago, Illinois
December 31, 2015 – New Year’s Eve
Photographer: Amber Jennings/Crowe Light Photography
Writers: Amber Jennings/Nik Earl

The hub for the Midwest music scene, Chicago, Illinois houses some of the finest music venues in the region. The Vic Theater located in the Central Lakeview area is one of the top contenders in the well-known realm of Chicago venues. Built in 1912 the ostentatious five-story vaudeville house still has most of the original ornate wall sculptures within and accommodates 1400 people. The eclectic neighborhood is home to great restaurants, theater, and shopping. One of the greatest perks of the venue is the Vic’s parking garage directly across the street and the easy access to the train for ease to and from the venue.

Continue reading New Year’s Eve in the Windy City with Cornmeal and Railroad Earth