Mountain Jam Provides a Different Type of Festival Experience

The weather is finally catching up to the calendar, and it’s time to start thinking about your summer festival schedule. Instead of heading to the behemoth festivals that have dominated the scene like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Firefly, consider Mountain Jam in Hunter Mountain, NY (nestled in the beautiful Catskill Mountains) from June 15th -17th.

The 2018 Mountain Jam lineup features some of the best in indie (Father John Misty, Philly’s own The War On Drugs); country (Sturgill Simpson, Anderson East); alternative pop (Alt-J, Portugal The Man); folk (The Decemberists, Jenny Lewis); and throwbacks (funk icon George Clinton).

Unlike the major corporate involvement at most modern festivals, the Mountain Jam Festival is produced by Mountain Jam, LLC, a collaboration between Townsquare Media Group and Chet-5 Festivals in association with Woodstock, NY’s legendary independent radio station, Radio Woodstock 100.1 (WDST). Now in it’s 14th year, Mountain Jam originally started as a one-day festival to celebrate WDST’s 25th anniversary.

“We’re all about localism for sure,” says co-founder Chet Kof. Rock On Philly spoke to Kof about what changes Mountain Jam has gone through and why it stands apart from other festivals.


Rock On Philly: In the past few years, Mountain Jam has made a distinctive shift from lineups heavy on jam bands and classic rock to a more diverse and contemporary roster. Why the shift in lineup curation over the years?

Chet Kof: We just saw the trend; a lot of the older, some of the classic rock and jam bands were dying off, literally [Mountain Jam had Tom Petty and Gregg Allman headline in recent years]. We thought that it was time to really focus on the rock n’ roll bands that are in their prime and making relevant music and making their best music today, rather than just playing the old hits. We also thought the area was changing, with younger people coming up from NYC and Brooklyn and that this was a really more vibrant and exciting music scene.

ROP: How was the lineup developed this year? 

CK: There’s a committee who chooses the lineup, just a bunch of music lovers that all share the same philosophy. Then there’s a whole process of what bands are available. Probably 1 in every 10 bands you want is available. You want good variety and mix it up and have a balanced lineup. It’s a bit of an art form as well as a business form.

ROP: The Awareness Village has been around since Mountain Jam’s inception. Can you tell me a little more about it?

CK: It’s basically a way to get nonprofits and local community groups with a good social purpose into the festival so they can interact with the audience, and we want people to be aware of certain things in the world (social, political, environmental). We really just try to spread the word and call attention to their efforts.

ROP: What sets Mountain Jam apart from other music festivals?

CK: I think you have to start with location. You have to be different. Being at New York’s world class ski mountain – it’s beautiful, the views are incredible, and it’s in a natural amphitheater so everyone can see the stage easily.

There’s a lot of different lodging options – we believe in providing a lot of variety for people. You build your own experience a la carte, and that’s kinda special about what we do. There’s also a lounge, bar, indoor bathrooms, and places to eat that are open to everyone.

It’s a boutique festival with 15,000 max capacity. We’re really about creating a quality event for lesser people; it’s just more manageable that way and everyone has a better experience.

Tickets are available to purchase here for Mountain Jam 2018 (including the highly-coveted VIP options).

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