10 Memorable Performances From the History of Mountain Jam
As we gear up for this year’s installment of Mountain Jam (June 4-7) -- which will see the likes of the Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters taking the stage -- we know we’re sure to leave the annual Hunter Mountain, N.Y.-based festival having witnessed a ton of unforgettable performances.
With that in mind, we take a look back at Mountain Jam’s rich history. Since its 2005 inception, it's expanded from one to four days and has consistently produced memorable performances and inspired collaborations. Below, we recount just 10 of those standout moments from the past decade of Mountain Jam.
The Band leader Levon Helm made a pair of appearances at Mountain Jam -- first in 2008 and again in 2010 -- before his death in 2012. Both instances produced unforgettable moments, including this performance of “I Shall Be Released” for which Helm was joined by his backing band and Mountain Jam co-founder, Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes.
Helm returned to Mountain Jam two years later to celebrate his 70th birthday. He did so in epic fashion, accompanied by a laundry list of friends and guest performers -- including Haynes, Ray LaMontagne, Sam Bush, Jackie Greene, the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen -- for the Band classic, “The Weight.” It was Helm’s last performance at Mountain Jam before he passed from cancer. During 2012’s Mountain Jam, Gov’t Mule and the Levon Helm Band played the song once more in tribute to the late singer.
In addition to joining Helm’s onstage birthday celebration at the 2010 iteration of Mountain Jam, Ray LaMontagne and Warren Haynes also teamed up for a beautiful duet of LaMontagne’s “Shelter.”
Mountain Jam is certainly no stranger to its fair share of Dylan covers, but the Avett Brothers 2011 rendition of “Just Like a Woman” was truly exceptional. For the cover, the North Carolina folk-rockers were joined by Simone Felice, a staple at Mountain Jam over the years, whether as a solo artist or with the Felice Brothers.
In 2011, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes brought their massive hit, “Home” – from their 2009 debut, Up From Below – to Mountain Jam, making for an instant crowd sing-along.
Shortly following the death Beastie Boys’ Adam “MCA” Yauch, the Roots took the stage at Mountain Jam and covered the rap trio’s iconic “Paul Revere” from their 1986 debut, Licensed to Ill. The Roots’ Black Thought, Questlove and company dedicated the song not only to Yauch, but also D.C. “Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown, who passed days after the Beastie Boys rapper.
At 2012’s Mountain Jam, the Carolina Chocolate Drops caught concertgoers’ attention when they served up a lively bluegrass rendition of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s version of “Jackson.” Dom Flemons – who has since parted ways with the North Carolina outfit -- and frontwoman Rhiannon Giddens absolutely wowed with their original and spirited rendition of the classic song.
Shortly before the release of their fifth full-length, Negativity, Deer Tick visited Mountain Jam and treated fans to a blistering cover of Nirvana’s “Breed.” It wasn’t the only outstanding cover from their Mountain Jam set, either. Their rendition of the Replacement’s “Can’t Hardly Wait” was equally terrific.
A few months before they dropped their self-titled debut, the Lone Bellow brought their newly minted LP to Mountain Jam and left quite an impression. And the trio’s signature, powerful harmonies as heard on “You Never Need Nobody” will give you a good idea as to why.
During the lead-up to Tweedy’s – Jeff Tweedy’s latest project featuring his son Spencer – debut full-length, Sukierae, the Wilco frontman and company made a stop in Hunter Mountain for the 2014 festival. Together, they played a bunch of cuts from the then-forthcoming album, but “Down From Above” was a standout moment in the father-and-son outfit's set.