A departure, and a return: It has been a big week of news coming from Mountain Jam, the region’s storied late-spring music festival, now well into its second decade. First, the festival announced that it would be leaving the mountain – Hunter Mountain, the only home it has ever known. Only a day or two after that bombshell, Mountain Jam identified its new digs – the upscale facilities at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts – and dropped a preliminary lineup announcement that can only be read as a kind of return to form.
For the past half-decade, Mountain Jam has been feeling its way through a partial departure from its roots-and-jam-based origins. While the headliners most years remain great unifiers on the order of Tom Petty, Robert Plant and Wilco, the middle of the lineup had become a hotbed of Brooklyn-synched indie-rock and electro in addition to the standard roots and classic rock fare. This year’s preliminary lineup reads like a casual FU to hip and an all-in reaffirmation of the festival’s core values. Back in the lineup are Mountain Jam co-founders Gov’t Mule as well as Michael Franti’s Spearhead – in some ways the festival’s spiritual leaders – who were notably absent from last year’s lineup.
Cross-genre superstar Willie Nelson and Family are at the top of the bill, along with the beloved roots traditionalists the Avett Brothers. Other luminaries announced include the great Allison Krauss, Dispatch, the Revivalists. the second-generation Allman-Betts band, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and a strong set of acts known well around here, ranging from Amy Helm and the Big Takeover to the popular North Carolina transplants the Nude Party. A collaboration among Chet-5 Festivals, Live Nation, Woodstock’s legendary independent radio station Radio Woodstock 100.1 and Warren Haynes, Mountain Jam 2019 runs from June 13 through 16. More news to come. Meanwhile, check out www.mountainjam.com.