Once a year, there’s a special thing that happens in the mountains of New York State. Nestled in Catskills is Hancock, NY’s Camp Minglewood. Mainly a theatre camp, the lakeside property is spotted with cabins (decked out with showers, toilets, bunks: heaven!) and stages – perfect for a tiny but amazing party: the 5th annual Catskill Chill. Going down this weekend, Chill is easily one of the most close-knit festivals on the scene today. It’s an intimate affair with only 5000 tickets to go around, and it’s fantastic.
Every festival has its charms, but it seems Catskill Chill just has more of them and they’re a lot more charming. Need an example? Two years ago, Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion band Consider the Source put on a surprise unplugged show along one of Minglewood’s winding paths to everyone’s amazement. Being that they are generally electric and heavy, their unique acoustic versions were something many had never heard before. In fact, they’d only played two acoustic sets before this instance to little additional notoriety. Fast forward to last year, and the festival erected an additional stage called Acoustic Junction, just across the path from where CTS dropped unamplified magic the year before. As was only right, Source played two acoustic sets on that stage last year, one including a guest appearance from their original drummer, Justin Ahiyon. This year, CTS is back in support of their new triple album, playing one acoustic set and one electric set.
While it’s not unheard of for festivals to have close relationships with their talent, the folks behind the scenes at Chill seem to absorb and enjoy what’s special about their festival, and magnify those elements the following year. Simply put: they care…a lot. That’s rare, and it does not go overlooked.
Another example? Again, two years ago, there was a massive storm that could have left hundreds flooded out. A bunch of great staffers knocked on every cabin on the property and asked those who paid hundreds for the luxury and privacy to take in others who may be exposed to some very dangerous weather. And you know what? Everyone did when they did not have to. There’s just something about the attitude and ambiance of Chill that’s, well, just really freaking chill.
What’s cool about this year? There’s free pancakes. Yes, free pancakes, during returning main stagers Dopapod’s set. And if you spring for the VIP passes, you’re in for a full on private BBQ with Dopapod providing the tunes. As far as the lineup goes, it’s pretty great. This year boasts an amazing balance of Funk, Acoustic, Jam, and Electro to suit everyone’s needs. Yonder Mountain String Band returns to the Chill with monster fiddle player Allie Kral, and The New Deal is back on tour and gracing the main stage. Simon Posford (Shpongle) and Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator, Electron) are spinning DJ sets. Electro-jam supergroup Electron will be there. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will be there blasting brassy awesomeness, not to mention power-funk masters Lettuce…
One unique aspect of this year’s lineup is the cover sets. Twiddle is playing a set of originals and a Grateful Dead set, Fikus and Shwizz combine to form Shwikus to play Parliament-Funkadelic, Alan Evans’ Playonbrother is playing an original set and a Cream set, and extreme funk army Turkuaz is playing an original set and a Sly & the Family Stone set. And for a taste of electronic beats, there’s Particle, Break Science, and Manhattan Project among others.
Perhaps the chillest part of the Chill is the late night bonfire at the lake. It’s always a blast to settle down with the people you’ve been raging with all day to just hang out by the water and take in the sunrise. This year’s Catskill Chill has really got some great things in store and undoubtedly some surprises…there always are!
Written by Pete DeStefano | OurVinyl Contributor