Warren Haynes Looks Forward to a ‘Very Memorable Few Days’ at Mountain Jam: Exclusive Interview
Mountain Jam has been rolling for more than a decade -- 2016 marks the 12th year for the festival and in that time, Warren Haynes, a co-founding organizer of the fest, has seen the changes and the popularity explosion of the overall festival scene.
“The festival thing has become a different sort of commodity now, I guess, in the way that people get a lot of bang for their buck,” he tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “There’s so many great shows out there these days between current music and new music and classic music. People can’t see everything that they want to see. They can’t hear all of their favorite bands or artists, so if you can experience a bunch in one setting, it makes for a very memorable few days. We’ve been doing this for over a decade now and we’re trying to tweak it a little bit where it’s more artist-friendly and more audience-friendly and just kind of keep it growing.”
Haynes has played Mountain Jam himself in a variety of configurations over the years, both solo and with his group, Gov’t Mule, as well as with the Allman Brothers Band. He’s also been a part of plenty of memorable onstage collaborations and jams. The veteran guitarist is looking forward to another fun time at this year’s installment, which runs from June 2-5 in Hunter, N.Y.
This year's lineup includes Beck and Wilco, as well as the Avett Brothers and Michael Franti, who've performed at the fest in the past. "[We're] keeping a large part of it moving all of the time to keep the people that are coming back stimulated [and] also reach out to some different people,” says Haynes, who notes that having some things in the lineup that people “don’t expect or get to hear every day” is an important part of planning the event.
One example of that is Train, who will make their first Mountain Jam appearance performing the entire Led Zeppelin II album. “Having tackled the Zeppelin thing with Mule -- we did Houses of the Holy one year for Halloween -- anytime you take on something like that, it’s quite an undertaking,” he says. “It takes more preparation than you realize. Because as much as we have those songs embedded in our psyches, they’re still quite complex. People remember it verbatim. We’ve all heard that stuff so many times and it’s such an impressionable time in our lives that they’re kind of imprinted.”
As Haynes pointed out during a 2013 interview, having been a part of Mountain Jam since its inception, when it was originally set to be a one-time event, he’s happy with how things have evolved across the years. “It’s changed in an organic way, because I think we all feel like the main concern is that we cater to people that really take music seriously and really love music and don’t mind going the extra mile to find something that they like,” he says. “They’re open minded about what they like and don’t get force-fed the music from mainstream media.
“That’s really the most important thing and I think the diversity really helps it,” he concludes. “Each year it tends to become a little bit more diverse, but it’s great because it’s a wonderful opportunity for the bands to play to people that have never heard them before and for the people to discover that maybe they’ve heard about or maybe they haven’t even heard about. In either case, it’s a win-win.”
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