Backwoods Pondfest Scores A Perfect 10 In Tenth Anniversary Celebration

first_imgBackwoods Pondfest scored a perfect 10 this year with another treasured festival in the books. Twin Pond Campsite in Peru, NY had their fill of music, art and community on August 4th-6th.  Backwoods Pondfest has become more than just a festival since its start 10 years ago. It’s a safe haven for people of all dynamics to bask in the beauty of Upstate New York while enjoying a diverse, talented music lineup and continuous positive energy on an intimate level. It makes the festivalgoer feel important knowing that musicians travel just as far if not further to reignite the magic that returns each summer. The small festival gives the attendee a bigger responsibility to clean up and take care of each other, a role that is easily attained year after year.One of the best parts of Pondfest is the close proximity of everything. Twin Ponds offers woods camping, open field and family camping that is within earshot of the two stages. The lush green grass and relentless cleanup crew makes for a ‘once in a festival’ barefoot exception.  Full Circle Music Productions continues to be a key player in the festival as promoter Derek Haviland says, “To me it’s an opportunity to work with people who genuinely want to bring people together around really good music, first and foremost. It’s not that easy to find that everywhere you go in this business.”Arriving on Friday evening, guests were greeted by the eerie travelling circus music by Bella’s Bartok. Their old world bohemian punk melodies signaled to the crowd that it was officially time to get weird. Thunder Body were eager to rock the main stage after drummer/vocalist Matthew O’Brian said they took a few years off to relax and make babies.  The soul reggae tune of “Anger is Poison” laid out a wavy bass line as the crowd swirled in excitement with the promise of heavy touring to come.Nothing officially starts Backwoods Pondfest until Lucid plays their first set of the weekend on the woods stage. Lucid’s sound is a spicy maple syrup with jambalaya mixed in, a jazzy grass that is true to the backwoods of New York. The set brought Lucid family together as they were joined by Chris English on “Home” and founding drummer, Ryan “Rippy” Trumbull for wildly original rhythm.The necessary Grateful Dead tribute festival slot was phenomenally filled by Melvin Seals and the JGB. Led by Seals on the Hammond B-3 organ and keyboard, the gospel groove is thick with improvisational bluesy jams that loosen the crowd into psychedelic bliss. Syracuse natives and Pondfest veterans, Sophistafunk turned the woods stage into a hip hop dance club you’d find in New York City.Closing out the main stage was long time traditional Pondfest performers, Spiritual Rez. The entire set was a full velocity of reggae ska rock that energized the crowd for the rest of the festival. One of the highlights was having Hayley Jane jump in on vocals for a massive group sing-along of “Stand by Me” plus a standalone solo from Rob Cook aka the Washboard Tie Guy. The set was heighted by the lightening storm overhead that soon turned to torrential down pour forcing the music to end and everyone to seek shelter.After much regrouping and a clear sky, the music resumed with first timer Pondfester’s Tweed closing out the woods stage for a renewing set of electronica dance music. When interviewed about the storm, drummer Joe Vela and bassist Dan McDonald felt that spirits were high at their set as no one wanted to sit in their wet tents so you might as well get wet listening to good music. “We’re in good company with amazing musicians and bands. It has a super hometown vibe,” Vela said. Showcasing their original jump starters “Loup-Garou” and “RL WRLD” plus covering Ween’s “Monique The Freak” with guest keyboardist Scott Hannay was the ideal recipe to dance your shoes dry.The stormy night created a beautiful foggy sunrise that greeted day two of Backwoods Pondfest. There was a glorious breeze that helped the festival goers overcome the intense heat throughout the day with little to no rain. The music started with DoomF#@K, a raunchy punk band led by the badass Catherine Harrison-Wurster. The afternoon kept on rocking as Albany’s own four piece band, Formula 5, sent out waves of funky rock jams. The Honey Smugglers continued the chill vibes with a blended set of folk, jam grass and Americana with lyrics about drinking whiskey, dirt roads and simple smiles. Mister F turned up the heat at the woods stage as they supplied fast paced, progressive dance rock. Lucid’s saxophonist, Jaime Armstrong, provided a funky start to the set as Mike Candela later stepped in for a total shred fest.Backwoods Pondfest was crucial this summer in bringing together fans since Lucid had been on hiatus for most of the year. The uncertainty for the future of Lucid made their Saturday set so much more meaningful and memorable. The set had one of the biggest crowds of the weekend making it a family affair for everyone in attendance.  It was quite the hootenanny as strong life blew into harmonicas and metal washboards pulsated. Fireworks shot over the ponds in grand celebration for the love of Lucid and the 10 years of hosting the annual North Country festival.The Blind Owl Band continued the night with strung out, aggressive acoustic blue grass. No stranger to the festival, BOB carry on the tradition of fast string picking, mountainous harmonies and heavy foot stomping. Pink Talking Fish Does Bowie was a superfecta party playlist. Their improvisational segues feed the curious jamband fan and bring a new appreciation for classic influential songs. All we needed was a bigger disco ball. Once again, Hayley Jane joined in for a ground shaking cover of “Burning Down The House” by Talking Heads. Gang of Thieves has a distinctive stage presence from their wild outfits, unpredictable gestures and dirty funkified rock. The blaring horn section adds high kicking rhythm while vocals are smooth and steady. The Nth Power closed down the main stage with layers of deep south soul, big city jazz and a worldly grooves. Nikki Glaspie is a force of nature as she maintains a savage control on the drums while each musician shines a light through the madness.Festivals always seem to end too soon as Sunday morning suddenly gives way to reality. It’s no wonder that musicians and fans travel from all over the East Coast to the refuge of Backwoods Pondfest. The festival has worked hard these past 10 years to create a family friendly, fun seeking environment that continues to convey the importance of community and music. “The amount of time and stress that goes into throwing a weekend event like this, in a proper fashion, is mind blowing and sometimes, well sometimes it’s terrifying. To hear from people how special Pondfest is to them, year after year, is more than heartwarming, and that is absolutely the reason why we have continued this path. “– Lowell Wurster, Lucid[All photos courtesy of Laura Carbone]last_img read more