Mountain Jam – Hunter, NY

Steve Winwood

Sunday night at Mountain Jam proved to be an extraordinary affair. A joint effort by Gov’t Mule (and other bands’) frontman Warren Haynes and Woodstock radio station WDST, they stayed true to the festival’s emphasis on jamming.

We knew Sunday’s schedule would be a highlight of our summer, and that’s saying a lot. Dawes rocked the main stage, confident beyond their years and announced that their next album would be out same time next year.

Then, Michael Franti and Spearhead played high-energy, reggae-tinged rock that was more fun than a barrell of blunts, Franti interacted with fans, then took himself into the crowd for almost a whole number—quite a while, given it was Franti/Spearhead time. He invited a few lucky friends to dance and sing along onstage, so WDST’s Richard Fusco got up boogied with the best of ’em. Franti and Spearhead ran over, but no one, not even the production crew, complained. On the last encore, an enormous rainbow appeared, an unmistakable sign that things would continue to go well.

The closer for an already-star-studded weekend, Steve Winwood took the stage for an extraordinary set of Traffic, Blind Faith, and past and future Winwood hits. Leading off on organ with an extended “I’m a Man,” the band really started to cook, and Winwood started grinning. Three numbers later, on “Can’t Find My Way Back Home,” he had that dreamy, orgasmic look of a performer lost in his deepest music zone. Tripping through “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” the band seamlessly transitioned into “Empty Promises.” Winwood’s band included Brazilian Jose Neto, whose guitar is as good as it gets—and Steve Winwood oughta know.

We all smiled on the tribute to Levon Helm when Winwood went up on the words to “The Weight,” mumbling a few syllables in tune before coming back to a verse he know better. After “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone,” “Higher Love” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Winwood paid his respects to “the man who brought me here and made all this possible, Warren Haynes.” Haynes came up and played guitar to Winwood’s organ on “Gimme Some Lovin’.”   We  did give up that lovin’, and it was well-deserved.

Suzanne Cadgene and Faith James

Got something to say?