The lineup this year reflects new challenges facing festivals during a tough economic time, which suggests that single-genre gatherings are headed for trouble. With this year's Mountain Jam, there is a bit of something for everybody. The Hold Steady - who focuses on architecturally rock-solid tunes aided by a tight, road-tested band - is on the bill, as is Girltalk, really a guy with a laptop. But what he does with it! Killing grooves, mix- and mash-ups of songs that you would never have thought worked together, and the ability to bring heart to a deejay set, making big spaces feel intimate. The latter will be among those acts playing well into the night.
The funky get-down orbit is well-represented by guitarist Eric Krasno and his new band Chapter 2, reedman Karl Denson's group and the Nawlins groove of Porter, Batiste and Stoltz. But make no mistake: With Grateful Dead alum Billy Kreutzman's trio Tea Leaf Green, Umphrey's McGee and Derek Trucks on the bill, plus Warren sit-ins all over the place, this is prime meat (or tofu) for those who enjoy jam-based music - including the subgenre of sonic excursions with a slight Southern twang to them. Mountain Jam also is a springboard, and begins an action-packed week for the many intrepid travelers in the area, since Phish returns to Jones Beach June 4 and 5.
A big up to the festival for once again bringing back Awareness Village, which will be home turf for Rock the Earth, a not-for-profit environmental advocacy group; HeadCount, which promotes voter registration; and Community Energy, a company committed to increasing the domestic supply of clean, fuel-free energy. A great location and a nice diverse lineup make for a sublime three-day affair.
Earlybird festival passes without camping will be offered at $129.50, before being raised to the next tier of $139.50. Earlybird three-day camping festival passes are being offered at $149.50, and will then be raised to the next tier of $159.50 after that allotment sells out. A limited number of VIP tickets will be offered initially at $349.50. A very small number of RV tickets are available at $175, plus a camping festival ticket. Single-day tickets will be available at a later date; there will be no Friday-only single-day tickets issued. Tickets are available at mountainjam.com and at mule.net.