5 Great Artists We Discovered at Mountain Jam 2014
Mountain Jam is a particularly eclectic festival this year, with up-and-coming bands from all different genres joining the jam-band trifecta of the Allman Bros, Gov't Mule and Bob Weir and RatDog. Here's a survey of our favorite lesser-known acts from our four days here, a group as wide-ranging in their breadth as the festival itself.
June combines garage rock, Appalachian vocals and a late-night soul sensibility, a mix that, onstage at Mountain Jam, felt like something utterly new and surprising. Her original ‘The Hour’ starts with the kind of beat you’d hear in a polished late-'60s Stax soul cut. But where the orchestra would normally kick in, you get June’s voice, as if Hazel Dickens got lost and stumbled onstage at a William Bell concert. This is roots music without the mimicry, music inspired by the past without feeling bound to recreate it. Songs we like: ‘The Hour,’ ‘Trials, Troubles, Tribulations.’
Reignwolf, a.k.a. Seattle’s Jordan Cook, is one of those bands whose buzz precedes them. Cook plays guitar, sings and, with one foot, the bass drum, and has recorded with Dave Grohl, and is about to embark on a European tour with Black Sabbath. It isn’t hard to see why, though – Cook’s violent performances and studied '70s-metal playing was downright riot-inducing at Mountain Jam. Fans of Sabbath and Guns N' Roses will be pleased with the music, and impressed by the economy and energy of Cook's performances. Songs we like: ‘Are You Satisfied?,' ‘In the Dark.'
If you show up onstage with a chest-length beard, a straw cowboy hat and a poncho, your hurdles are half cleared. It was only icing on the cake when Citizens Band Radio delivered a set of solid gold honky tonk. 'Workingman’s Dead' voices, hot-rod Telecaster solos and Loretta-and-Conway harmonies drove home the point made by the ponchos. The band's joyful, family-band-style stage performance was a crowd pleaser. Songs we like: ‘Big Blue Sky,’ ‘Good in a Bad Man.’
There’s not much higher praise we can give Moon Taxi than to say that their cool pop was the perfectly pleasant soundtrack for an afternoon in the sun. They were also one of a few bands joined onstage by Gov’t Mule frontman and Mountain Jam staple Warren Haynes, who grounded the hot-air balloon for a few minutes as Haynes and Moon Taxi guitarist exchanged licks on the bluesy ‘Cabaret.’ Vampire Weekend influences weigh heavily. Songs we like: ‘Morocco,’ ‘Cabaret.'
Another festival-ready act, Jackie Greene plays '70s-Dylan and Tom Petty-influenced tunes ripe for soaking in the sun under a pair of aviators. Greene also sat in with day-three headliners Gov’t Mule, covering Grateful Dead standard 'Sugaree,' putting a gleeful soul edge on the loping folk tune. Greene is a friend to Deadheads and folk-loving hipsters alike – a fan base for a Dylan apostle if there ever was one. Songs we like: ‘Tell Me Mama, Tell Me Right,’ 'Gone Wanderin'.'