Sunday, June 6, 2010


Before we begin, here's the set list....

Written by Evan Levy, Photos by Peggy Fusco, Ed McCarthy, & James Orr

Celebrating a legend like Levon Helm is not an easy task. How do you pay proper tribute to a man who sings songs that you know by heart, and continues to rock out past his 70th birthday? Take his best work, throw in some seriously talented guest musicians, and you've got the formula for an amazing experience. And that's really what it was, a moment in rock and roll history that can only be witnessed huddled amongst your friends at a magical place like Mountain Jam.

We heard old country favorites like "Long Black Veil" sung sweetly by Teresa Williams. We sang along to "Up On Cripple Creek" performed by Sam Bush, and we were blown away by Larry Campbell's ability to take the organ solo in "Chest Fever" and turn it into a hot guitar solo that made Jackie Greene visibly jealous. There were times when everyone jamming together raised the bar for certain songs letting their combined energy flow and really winding it up again and again keeping the crowd entranced throughout their entire set.

With guests like Donald Fagen, Warren Haynes, Jackie Greene, Alison Krauss, Alison Moorer and more - there was always some new way to experience the life and the music of Levon Helm. It was a fitting tribute to the man who continues to bring us so much joy. Happy Birthday Levon!

Check out Levon's birthday cake!

Thanks to everyone for making Mountain Jam VI such an amazing experience - see you next year!



Written by Evan Levy, Photos by Ed McCarthy

Performing with his new stage band comprised of Dub Trio, Matisyahu emerged in a white jumpsuit with the Hebrew letter "aleph" (aleph is the letter "A" in the Hebrew alphabet) on his back. Bringing his unique sound of mixing all styles of reggae, his latest album "Light" is truly something special when performed live. I spun the record quite a bit a home and it can't capture its true potential as much as when he unleashes it onto a live audience. At any Matisyahu show, you'll always get some beat-boxing and improvisation. When the spirit takes him, Matis shines brightest letting loose and along with the new backing back of Dub Trio, there's a slightly funkier edge to his music.

Matisyahu adds a something special to his brand of reggae music, it truly has a spiritual feel to it. His songs almost feel like prayers, filled with lyrics of love and praise to God. His set at MJVI this year was a great one - where Toots & The Maytals brought us the foot stomping funk we needed on Day 1, Matis delivered the deep grooves and swaying rhythm that delighted the crowd today. The highlight for me was his song "One Day" (mixed with some festive dancing from one of his friends) was truly magical.

Sure, you should pick up his albums, but the best way to experience all that is Matisyahu, be sure to check him out live when he hits your area. More coverage ahead, so keep checking back on the official Mountain Jam blog.


Written by Evan Levy, Photos by James Orr, Peggy Fusco & Lauren Armanie

Earlier we got to hear a preview of the musical goodness in store for us at the Awareness Village stage. Now, backed by his full band, Michael Franti delivered us a heavy helping of his new material while still keeping the crowd hyped up with his usual crowd pleasers. A few songs into his set, the skies opened up and dumped heavy rain and pounding wind on the crowd - a brief rain delay of the music as everyone ran for cover.

After about 20 minutes, the bad weather ended and the sun shone through again. Stagehands furiously mopped up the damage and Michael & the band were back on stage doing what they do best. The new songs from his album "The Sound of Sunshine" is not really a departure for Michael, but allows yet another way in which his music can shine. The new songs are filled with dance happy rhythms and lots of pop melodies that kept this crowd moving.

A special moment occurred when Michael talked about buying a guitar recently and had asked someone to pull a sticker off of it - midway through peeling it, Michael asked the person to stop as he claimed to see an "angel" underneath the sticker (he said that was on some heavy drugs recovering from his burst appendix operation at the time). The sticker stayed on so he could keep her spirit in the guitar. He then dedicated the song "Gloria" to the angel and all the women in the MJVI crowd. Afterwards he moved through the crowd singing songs in the thick of it, then pulling a pair of fans on stage to do some air guitar to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Another special dedication was given to anyone to had a hard week leading up to the festival - it was another new song called "Hey Hey Hey" which he has been singing alot of his tour opening up for John Mayer. The finale commenced with a rockabilly version of his recent mainstream hit "Say Hey (I Love You)" backed up by a crowd of kids twirling towels along to the beat. It was definitely another electric set from Michael Franti & Spearhead on the Mountain Jam stage. More coverage coming up - keep checking back to the blog and be sure to watch the video from the shows here.


In the middle of Michael Franti's set, the skies grew dark and pouring rain and wind sent everyone running for cover. After 10 minutes, it quickly died down and the sun came out again...looks like it's going to be one of those unpredictable weather days here on the mountain. Enjoy the pictures of everyone scrambling for shelter....


Written by Evan Levy, Photos by Doug Potoksky & Peggy Fusco

The first time I heard ALO was at Bonnaroo a few years back. They were one of the "baby bands" at that time, and few people knew them. I settled in for a set of amazing music that day in the fields in Tennessee and today at MJVI, I saw another great set by a band that has fully matured and is ready for their time in the spotlight. Bringing their signature blend of pop, rock, & folk to the crowd and kept everyone swaying to the laid back rhythms. After a great set of some new stuff as well as some classics from the guys - they put a contest to the audience to create a "label" for their music as people keep trying to come up with a definitive way of describing their sound (and aren't succeeding at it apparently). After a crowd pleasing "Barbeque", Jackie Greene was invited to perform one last song with the band - it was ALO's "Roses & Clover" complemented with a long harmonica solo by Jackie. Another great musical nugget was the guys doing a spirited version of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger".
This could be the big year for ALO to break out - their sound is tight and sure to please. Keep checking back all day for more coverage of MJVI.