Bobby Paltauf with The Meter Men
This year’s Catskill Chill, nestled in the scenic Catskill Mountains, hosted a non-stop schedule of live music starting Friday 9/7, ending Monday morning, 9/10. What started as a chilly evening (Friday night dipped down to 40 degrees,) ended up to be a sun-filled warm weekend devoid of any rain to speak of (except for an approximate 4 minute downpour early Sunday morning.) This is the type of weekend all festival goers dream of and it brought in the 4,000 loving fans to Camp Minglewood.
As clichéd as it sounds, Catskill Chill is one of those friendly festivals where everyone meets new friends, that makes lasting friendships. As the Chill motto states, “All love, All the time.” In a nutshell, this is the essence of Catskill Chill.
The festival’s headliners were Lettuce, Galactic, The Meter Men featuring Page McConnell (Phish), and a three-hour finale set including Dopapod and Papadosio, and “Dopadosio,” a mash up of the two bands.
Friday night highlights were Lettuce, who played a thick set of funk jams for close to two hours, much to the audience’s delight. Highlights were: the Jerry Lordan instrumental “Apache,” along with “Slippin’,” “Madison Square,” and “Lettsanity.” Alecia Chakour (Warren Haynes Band) joined for a killer “Do Your Thing,” and finally Nigel Hall (Warren Haynes Band, Nigel Hall Band) joined Alecia for the finale “Do It Like Ya Do.”
Saturday brought us Zappa. Yes, in the midst of the jambands and the electronica music, there was a trio from different groups, who came together for a Zappa set. The Z3 were: Beau Sasser (hammond organ/synthesizers/vocals), Tim Palmieri (guitar/vocals) and Bill Carbone (drums/vocals) who brought the house down for Zappa fans. Some audience members may have been too young to identify with the genius of Zappa, but those in the know were going nuts. The smiles were shining bright with the whole “B Stage” floating in music bliss. Highlights included “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama,” and then Ryan (Schwizz) came up to join in on “King Kong.” There was also a pretty hilarious audience participation part for “Titties and Beer.”
Yarn was next up on the “Main Stage” and I went to go see some bluegrass. Actually, I was schooled that this was not bluegrass, for bluegrass does not have drums. To be particularly correct, Yarn is “jamgrass.” They jammed out to a pretty sizable crowd for mid-afternoon, however I had to bail for some food.
The vendors this year was a jump from last year’s vending possibilities. There was Dave’s Mini Donuts, who prepare the best coffee and donuts you’ll ever want to munch on. They are particularly delicious when you are in dire need of coffee, or for a breakfast sandwich or for a grilled cheese on Texas toast. Yum. They also give out free samples all day long, for those in a munchy mood. Also this year was the Juice Caboose and a BBQ vendor that I heard people rave about. Nicely done on the upgrades of food.
Back at “Stage B” The Eric Krasno Band was playing. The line-up included Alecia Chakour (vocals), Eric Krasno (guitar, vocals), Johnny Durkin (percussion), Eric Kalb (drums) Pete Levin (keys) and Ron Johnson (bass) for a mix of bluesy jams and much more. The highlights were when George Porter Jr. joined in on Ron Johnson’s bass, and Chakour belted Joplin’s “Another Piece of My Heart.”
The Royal Family Records showing was strong at this year’s Catskill Chill with another iteration when “Schmeeans and the Expanded Consciousness” took the stage, featuring Lettuce guitarist Adam “Shmeans” Smirnoff. This was a dance party like no other, and one of the festival’s highlights. There was a parade of special guests, including George Porter Jr. (bass), Rob Somerville (sax), Eric Kalb (drums). This was a superfunky group doing covers from The Meters, Sly and the Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire and Billy Preston.
No rest for the weary as we moved stages to the main event with Galactic. Corey Glover was the front man for this set, with special guest George Porter Jr. making yet another appearance. Stanton Moore (drums) is the commander in chief of this band and its driving monster beat. Other special guests included Rob Somerville (sax) and Schmeeans (guitar). Highlights were: “Ooh Na Nay,” “You Don’t Know,” “Heart of Steel,” and the encore was The Rolling Stones’ “Friend of the Devil.”
DJ Logic spun with a band called Damn Right in the Club Chill stage, and this party went until about 5:30 in the morning. The place was packed, and everyone was jumping until the music stopped.
Sunday morning, Dave’s Donuts fed me with a delicious egg and sausage sandwich, and some coffee, and they were so kind to the poor souls who happened to be awake at 7:30 in the morning (myself included.) After a slight rainstorm, I took a shower, and was ready for the day to begin.
First up was Cabinet on the Main Stage. These guys have a nice Americana/alt music thing going and this was the perfect way to start a lazy Sunday. Leroy Justice was next, a 100% blues-rock band. There are no crazy jams. They are straight in your face rock. The crowd was sparse, the festival-goers must have still been sleeping, but this set was one of my personal favorites for their tightness, their lyrics, their original music and talent.
Everyone seemed to be up and at attention for the Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds set. Arleigh Kincheloe (vocals) is the smallest, sexiest singer you’ll ever see. The energy she puts out alone brings this band to another level. She and her brother Jackson (harmonica) were joined by their dad John on drums, a family affair indeed.
In the Club Chill stage, Connecticut’s own Cosmic Jibaroo played their set of salsa, latino, afro rock, and treated the audience to some jaw dropping songs. People were dancing in the aisles. Special guest was Bobby Paltauf, the 13 year old guitar virtuoso who has been making the festival rounds this summer. Shades of a young Derek Trucks, I believe we will be seeing more of this kid.
The Motet, hailing from Colorado, came to show us how they do the Dead. It became a funk dance party, with the Grateful Dead as the base layer. They crushed “Fire on the Mountain,” “Stella Blue,” and “Shakedown” complete with horns.
It felt like a crescendo was about to explode on this last night. The Meter Men with Page McConnell was next and from the get go, this was full on in your face funk. George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli, Zigaboo Modeliste and Page McConnell. Page’s contribution put a bit of sparkle over the deep funk that brought this band over the edge. At one point, the 13 year old Bobby Paltauf sat in and started trading licks with Notencelli. Porter and Page were highly amused at the tit for tat, and then George got in on the jam. You could tell these two legends were getting a kick out of Paltauf’s playing, and it was an amazing moment to witness. Highlights were: “Fire on the Bayou,” “Cissy Strut,” “Funkify Your Life,” “Hey Pocky Way,” and “People Say.”
Next year, Catskill Chill will be its fifth year, and should serve up some of the same, if not better music, people, and food. Can’t wait to get there – only 360 more days to go. “All Love, All The Time.” Thank you Catskill Chill.
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