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Gov’t Mule, Umphrey’s McGee and My Morning Jacket Among Mountain Jam Highlights

Gov’t Mule played one of their only 2011 shows Saturday night at the 7th annual Mountain Jam Music Festival. The festival returned to Hunter, NY from June 2-5. The one-off appearance made sense: Mountain Jam is co-produced by local radio station Radio Woodstock and Gov’t Mule leader Warren Haynes, and the group has played the festival every year since its inception.

The group offered an extended two-set performance that opened with “Railroad Boy” and “Thorazine Shuffle.” The members of Gov’t Mule later ran through a diverse mix of classic rock covers as well, including “Nasty Dogs, Funky Kings Play Video” (ZZ Top), “Won’t Get Fooled Again Play” (The Who), “War Pigs” (Black Sabbath), “Money” and “Have A Cigar Play” (Pink Floyd cover), “Angie” (Rolling Stones) and “Working Class Hero” (John Lennon). While the group shied away from guests during its first set, Warren Haynes Band saxophonist Ron Holloway emerged for both of the abovementioned Pink Floyd selections at the start of Mule’s second set while longtime Mule collaborator Hook Herrera added harp to “Lay Your Burden Down” and “Smokestack Lightning.” Herrera and the North Mississippi Allstars Duo also appeared on “32/20 Blues.”

Mountain Jam’s other sit-in marathon took place during Umphrey’s McGee’s late night set on the West Stage. As previously reported, Hall & Oates’ John Oates—who collaborated with Umphrey’s in his hometown of Aspen, CO this past February—joined the group for a few songs. Oates emerged a few songs into the group’s set to play guitar on the UM original “Booth Love” and then moved to the microphone for a first-time cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “It’s All Right.” He remained onstage for “ Much Obliged,” “Pipeline” and Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” Later in the set, Warren Haynes himself sat in on “Slacker” while Zach Deputy joined in for an Umphrey’s McGee “Jimmy Stewart” improvisation based around “Drain My Snake.” The segment later got really trippy as New Deal bassist Dan Kurtz replaced bassist Ryan Stasik for a jam based around his band’s “Home” while Stasik jetted over to another one of Mountain Jam’s stages for to sit in with the New Deal on the same song.

Haynes also made surprise appearances on both Friday and Sunday. Late night Friday, the guitarist joined 7 Walkers for a stretch of songs that included “Mr. Charlie” and, on Sunday afternoon, he made his final festival appearance with Grace Potter on “2:20.” Potter’s set also included a high-energy take on The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” The weekend’s other collaborations included fiddler Casey Driessen sitting in with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Zach Deputy playing a stealth show with the members of Ryan Montbleau Band on the festival’s campground Wormtown stage and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James sitting in with Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the two songs he recorded with the group, “Louisiana Fairytale” and “St. James Infirmary Blues.” The members of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros also ended their show by diving into the audience, sitting down and singing a song.

My Morning Jacket closed the festival with an extended headlining set that featured material recorded throughout their entire career. The group—which is in the midst of a festival sweep that includes appearances at The Hangout, Wakarusa, Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Ottawa Bluesfest, Latitude and Austin City Limits—previously played an afternoon set at Mountain Jam in 2006. Last night’s performance’s opened with the first three songs off My Morning Jacket’s new studio album Circuital and featured every song off the record with the exception of the acoustic “Wonderful (The Way I Feel).” My Morning Jacket also invited out the members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band for
“Highly Suspicious,” Al Johnson’s “Carnival Time” and “Dancefloors.” Though he did not join My Morning Jacket onstage as he did at Bonnaroo in 2008, The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis watched the show from the festival’s soundboard and was seen joking with Warren Haynes backstage.

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