Mt. Jam is a hometown favorite for me—it’s near my summer haunts and near where I ski in the winter. I have a soft spot for the event’s joint promoters, the immensely talented guitarist Warren Haynes and Radio Woodstock, one of the best independent radio stations in the Northeast. Mountain Jam just celebrated its ninth year. So why can’t the event get it together?
Overzealous security presented a problem from the get-go. I recall local cops slamming some hapless stoner against a wall in the lodge years ago, and law enforcement officers there qualify as eager-beavers in general. At one point, there was talk of moving the festival to another more laid-back town, but, according to sources, local officials sat down and agreed to reschedule the town’s annual traffic check to a different weekend (duh) and chill. “Huzzah,” we thought.
Festivalgoers (and particularly concert attendees) get used to bag checks. At Mt. Jam, we were bag-checked and frisked upon entry… and re-entry … and re-re-entry. I have never been frisked outside of an airport until Mt. Jam, when I and my fellow female reporter were frisked by men. If you went out to your car, your parking-lot campsite, First Aid or the (wonderful) flush toilets in the lodge, you were frisked—even when the guys recognized you coming back. When the security searched a middle-aged man in front of me, they only found his keys, a Bic lighter and a clean baggie; as he protested (it was raining, and he wanted to keep his camera dry), guards confiscated his empty baggie.
Post-festival, WCKL, another local radio station, reported 44 arrests, coincidentally the exact number as arrested at Bonnaroo 2012, which had over four times the attendance of Mt. Jam. Woodstock festival promoter Michael Lang (another local who also attends Mt. Jam), has said that two of the most important ingredients in a festival’s success are the right security and affordable water. Most of the trucks didn’t even sell water because Pepsi demanded water sales be fixed at $2.50. Maybe next year.
– Suzanne Cadgene
Check back at ElmoreMagazine.com for more on this year’s Mountain Jam festival.