Folks who don’t appreciate the politically and culturally diverse (one might almost say divided) reality of the mid-Hudson Valley and the Catskills should pay some attention to a Taste of Country. While in a much-publicized case of serial kerfuffle, Mountain Jam has moved from Hunter to the site of the original Woodstock concert at Bethel, and the original Woodstock concert has moved to Watkins Glen, and Watkins Glen has moved to the courts, and the courts have moved to adjourn, a Taste of Country will rather quietly assemble somewhere north of 65,000 people on the hills of Hunter for what is accurately called the biggest country music festival in the Northeast. But, on my feed at least, it’s almost like one of those silent Bluetooth EDM festivals where all you hear are the footsteps and the cracking of the light sticks: No one has much to say about it.
Perhaps the festival’s self-effacing name – a Taste of Country, like a taste of bratwurst or ribs – is part of the problem. This festival is actually a massive heaping of modern country gluttony, featuring top-line names that, in-genre, easily surpass Mountain Jam and rival Woodstock 50 for huge. Keith Urban, Rascal Flats, Brooks and Dunn and Little Big Town anchor the lineup, but the buzz doesn’t diminish much in the middle reaches, where we find new country and crossover stars like Tyler Rich and country rockers like Lanco. Modern country can sometimes seem like a parallel universe, with its own drinking fountains and everything; but many of today’s country artists express affinity with what’s going down in hip hop while they also fight to reclaim country’s half of the rock ‘n’ roll equation and in so doing restore some of the rough edges to what is arguably an overgroomed genre.
A Taste of Country takes over the slopes at Hunter Mountain on the weekend of June 7 through 9. Ticket prices are reasonable and, of course, quite various, with camping options included. Visit the site for a lucid and compelling breakdown of your options.
Taste of Country, June 7-9, 64 Klein Ave., Hunter, https://tasteofcountryfestival.com