Gary Chetkof

Insights From a Music Fest Veteran: Gary Chetkof

Gary Pic (3)The Mountain Jam is now in its 14th year of operation on idyllic Hunter Mountain in Upstate NY. In a climate that seems like there's more and more carbon copy festivals each year, we thought you should check out these insights and tips from the festival's founder, Gary Chetkof, who's found a way to consistently keep things fresh for a decade and a half. Here are some ways he does it:

Keep Things Local: Chetkof established the festival about 20 miles from his home, in a community where he also runs Radio Woodstock - the first completely community-funded commercial FM station in the U.S. This allows him to keep a pulse on his community's evolving musical tastes, as well as emerging local talent in the area.

Keep Things Diverse: The 2018 Mountain Jam lineup features the best in indie (Father John Misty, The War On Drugs), country (Sturgill Simpson, Anderson East), commercial hits (Alt-J, Portugal The Man), folk (The Decemberists, Jenny Lewis), throwbacks (George Clinton, Jack Johnson) and local talent (Woods, The Felice Brothers) - a survey of the region's musical tastes and a reflection of the next-generation Woodstock ethos.

Don't Be Afraid To Change With Your Community: In the past few years, Mountain Jam has made a distinctive shift from lineups heavy on jam bands and classic rock to the diverse and contemporary roster highlighted above. Knowing the community as well as he does, Chetkof says he was able to abandon tired Woodstock stereotypes and program for a growing region that's become more eclectic than ever.

Don't Underestimate Natural Beauty: In an era of parking lot music fests, Mountain Jam's main stage has been described as "the perfect natural amphitheater" time and time again, renowned for its immaculate acoustic properties. The festival's location high in the Catskill Mountains creates a picturesque backdrop for each performance. This is accentuated by a Sky Ride, which allows the opportunity to take in the mountainous views/watch sets from an operating ski lift, and North America's longest/highest zip line. Yoga and spiritual healing actives ensure the serene environment is stress-free.

And never forget to:

Give Back: Mountain Jam features an Awareness Village, which hosts exhibits from local non-profits and environmental groups, and is committed to greening efforts including recycling and carbon offsets. For those with children who wish to enjoy the festival, Mountain Jam has free admission for anyone under 10 and a children's activity tent with arts & crafts and regular entertainment.

These are just a few elements that help Mountain Jam endure as New York State's flagship summer music festival year after year.