Catskill Chill, the perfect end to your summer festivities. The weather was a little rainy at points but the tornado bypassed the venue and we only had a subtle downpour of rain – nothing that a pair of galoshes and an umbrella couldn’t handle!  Having limited cell reception wasn’t a problem given that the entire layout was extremely user friendly and easy to navigate.  The festival sold out on Saturday leaving a very intimate and “homey” vibe.  There were no problems with security or an invasion of cops on the premises.  Remarkably, the entire weekend was free of any medical problems or out of the ordinary scares.  The Chill had a contagious family vibe about it as people roamed freely and enjoyed the community created by the festival organizers and the media team at Brotherly Love Productions.

On Friday, Jerry Garcia Band with Melvin Seals and Kung Fu kicked off the start to a great weekend.  JGB played favorites such as The Harder They Come, Road Runner, Money Honey, Midnight Moonlight, and Deal.

Kung Fu was a band who we had never had the pleasure of seeing live before but they blew us out of the water.  Based out of Connecticut, the guys in this band are full of blossoming talent and energy.  Kung Fu uses jam and improvisational sounds to blend rock with uncontrollable funk.  Neil Evans (Dopapod, drums) & Chris Machetti (Conspirator, guitar) tagged in on their last song, Stratus.  Although their set only consisted of 6 songs, it did not take away from their noteworthy performance.

Saturday started off a little gloomy and with reports of a potential tornado the music ended up being pushed back for safety reasons.  Better safe than sorry!  Fortunately each musicians set was only cut by thirty minutes which left plenty of time to jam.

Dressed in their traditional white attire, Consider the Source took the stage for two different sets, one acoustic and one completely improvisational – both utterly mind blowing.  Their blend of tribal beats fused with sci-fi and jam literally puts you into a trance and you can’t look away.  The stage presence of all 3 members is remarkable as you can see the passion in their every move.  Many musicians joined in on the jam sesh including Frank Coda & Ryan Liatsis (ShwizZ), John Shmarack (FiKus), and Rob Sommerville & Tim Palmieri (Kung Fu).  Consider the Source is the band to watch out for.  John Ferrara has trained under bass-god Victor Wooten, Gabriel Marin tears it up on the fretless guitar/chaturangui and their newest member, Louis Miller wraps it all up with his flare on drums and percussion.  These three members are on the rise and coming up fast. If you don’t know them, you are missing out so look into them ASAP.  They have an upcoming tour with Baltimore natives, Deaf Scene beginning September 26th.

Yonder Mountain String Band brought the organic bluegrass hoe down that everyone was itching for.  The crowd was full but the vibe circulating was friendly and welcoming.  We had a good spot up front and jammed to our favorite tunes with some new friends.

Particle closed out the main stage on Saturday with covers from Pink Floyd including “Have a Cigar” and “One of these days”.  Their jamtronica beats woke the crowd up and rejuvenated everyone for more music.  People walked out of the pavilion with eyes wide and mouths agape.  Many have claimed that Particle was the best part of their weekend.

After experiencing such tremendous tunes on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was rightfully dubbed “Sunday Spunday”.  The party did not stop because it was Sunday.  This only made it mandatory to properly rage harder for bands like The McLovins, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Yarn and The Heavy Pets.

The McLovins daytime set started with some original tunes like Tokoyo and Day to Day.  Smiling the whole time and laughing mischievously they announced a birthday in the crowd and serenaded him appropriately with, “The Birthday Song”.  Next they played one of their favorite Levon Helm songs, “Cripple Creek” which left us speechless.  After CC, Atticus teased the crowd, “Do you all like Phish?! … Just kidding” and busted out more than perfect covers of “Shakedown Street” and finished us off with “Mighty Quinn”.  There is something about seeing the McLovins live that leaves you feeling like you are connected to them through their music.  They are humble and genuine.

Baltimore’s finest, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong tightly packed the Club Chill and started with one of my personal favorites, “Time to Ride”.  Ironically, the song “Julia” was suitably sung as the person who it was written about, Julia, was in the crowd.  Nobody stopped moving to their funkadelic beats – even the toy penguin was getting the fuck down.  PPPP surprised the crowd with a unique rendition of “Ghostbusters” which had the crowd chanting the “Who ya gonna call” at the top of their lungs.

Yarn paid tribute to the Grateful Dead with an incredible set featuring songs, Friend of the Devil, Dark Hallow, Scarlet into Fire, Sugaree, and Lovelight The crowd was full of dead heads that had heavy hearts and high expectations.  Yarn did not let them down.  The mandolin, harmonica and upright bass put a unique twist on the set giving it a spark of bluegrass.  They encored with a very intimate and bittersweet, Brokedown Palace and although the crowd insisted on a double encore, the set had come to an end.

During The Heavy Pets set, Chuck from Lotus jumped on the drums during “Girl You Make Me Stupid” while Jamie went up front to do some vocal scratching stuff.  Their newest member, Tony D’Amato was on point with his bass playing.  It was great to see the band in front of such a big crowd with their new tight lineup.  They definitely deserved and lived up to the hype.

Catskill Chill went above and beyond to execute a fantastic festival for all communities of people to enjoy.  There was something for everyone at this event and so many up and coming bands worth listening to.  One thing I hope for the evolution of this festival is that they don’t switch locations.  Let the tickets sell out; anyone who wants to attend will buy their pre-sale ticket.  Everyone that wants to go will find a way.  In this case, the statement, quality over quantity describes the energy at Catskill.  Appalachian Jamwich couldn’t agree more with what co-founder, Dave Marzollo said, “I really believe that anyone who comes to experience a festival here will come back next year and bring their 5 best friends”.  We will continue to attend future Catskill Chill’s… except we will be bringing 20 of our best friends!

Photographs Courtesy of:
Vernon Webb
Nick Irving
Nick Fitanides – Phrazz Photography

For more information on Catskill Chill, visit their website here.