Last Weekend I had the Privilege of attending Rock N Roll Resort V3 “Tiny Rager” located in Kerhonkson, New York. Although this is the 3rd installment of this Season Opening Festival, the second time being held at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa as well as my first time in attendance. Arriving at the festival was in itself a euphoric experience seeing the beautiful ground and fans scattered throughout the lots. The sound of colors and luggage being dragged through the lot and old friends from festivals past reuniting and sharing in the collective energy that was already in the air. First mission is to check in and hit the music and this is done relatively quickly and efficiently thanks to some very helpful staff and volunteers The lobby seemed to suck me in as I walk in and directly to the fully stocked bar for a beer and as I wander the small but impressive shakedown “one of the nicer I've seen”. I hear the familiar sound of a band somewhat local to me, ShwizZ begin to rip into “Duggan” and from there pounced into a dance frenzy music driven set. The band is playing to a well packed Blingin Beads Digital Underground room and it seems as if they have everyone’s attention. As the set progress the band brings out Matt Wayne of Mr. Breakdown to add some sax to “Slow Down” which oddly enough is the one thing they don't seem to be doing anytime soon. After a very solid set the band finishes of with a tight version of “Doorbell” and with that the weekend is off to a phenomenal start.
With a full weekend ahead of me I head upstairs to set up the room and get ready for what is gonna be quite a long few days. The halls are full of smiling faces and the elevator seems as if it’s almost the place to be. As I get to the room I am pleasantly surprised by the size and amenities of the room, we as with all who chose to stay at this impressive resort surely did not find disappointment in their accommodations! As quick as I arrived it was off to catch The Nigel Hall Band, my first trip into what was a very impressive main stage with both seating and a huge dance floor this room appeared as if it was the place to be as it filled up rather quickly. The band made up of Erick Coomes (Bass player from Lettuce) as well as Adam Smirnoff (Guitar player Lettuce) and brought together by Drummer Jermal Watson was on point from the opening notes and truly showed a love for what they do all of which seemed to take the room to the next level. Directly after Nigel's set The Pimps of Joytime, a band whom which I have never seen, took the stage and completely blew me away leaving myself and from what it seemed the entire room wishing they had “one more song” or set for that matter. Needing a change of pace and being at a “Tiny Rager” with less than 2,000 other fans has many perks over a large outdoor festival one being that just down the hall were two other room pumping great tunes staggered throughout the evening making sure everyone was able to get their fill. Yet to see the Empire lounge I and photographer Mike Geller stumbled upon one if not the most welcome surprises of the weekend with the Nephrok Allstars.
The room very much an old school lounge had a full seating area to the left and huge dance floor dead center with a full length bar to accommodate your beverage desires and still was not ready for what was coming. This band raised the collective heart rate of the entire room with song after song. Full of soulful and beyond funky grooves two of my personal favorites being “Ride It” and the final selections “Bootsy” (What's The Name of This Town?) > “Standing On The Verge of Getting It On”. At this early stage into night one I already had more than I could have imagined it being. At 1:00a.m. We are treated to the headlining hosts of the festival, Soulive, putting together one of the tightest and most entertaining set's of this trio's history. The addition of Shady Horns also in attendance just meant that much more soulful jazz tunes painting a pretty dope picture through a set that seemed to last forever or at least so I wished. The men on stage truly get each other and weave a web of amazing highs and lows all tied together to give you want anyone who has seen them will tell you is nothing short of a priceless experience.
As the set ends the crowd files out to “Dub Apocalypse” who is just getting going in the Empire Lounge performing some heavy Dub Reggae Tracks which at this hour felt so right. Two standouts of theirs being “Master Minds” and a welcomed sit in by “Nephrock” on vocal and “Amy Bellamy” (key’s) on “It’s Alright”. At this point it’s 4 in the morning and having skipped dinner I find myself taking advantage of the snack bar on shakedown for some snacks and soda and it’s off to bed or so I thought until a rage in the Elevator led to a room to room excursion making new friends and hanging with those from years past that have become family on the journey. By the time we made it to our room it was plain to see why those in attendance were here and how easily it would be to guarantee my presence again next year already.
Early morning has seem to come and pass and I wake up ready to hit the ground running it’s a quick shower and outside to check out the golf tournament as well as mini-golf tournament being held by the festival for any of those interested. It seemed as if mini-golf was the way to go; a simple yet fun little course turned into moonshine and humor and a very welcome offering not normally even a consideration at a festival. The thought of lunch is now screaming in my head and its back inside for some food served good old buffet style.
The line is a little long but not unbearable in the least bit as the menu was spot on and the staff working to feed everyone in attendance have so far done a stellar job. This is not your normal festival food and well worth the meal tickets package. Full and satisfied a quick stroll through the art area is a welcome break and great way to see how some very talented men and women express themselves through yet another style of the Performing Art’s that is easily accessible for all in attendance. With a full night of music already going strong we wander over to catch “Alan Evans Trio” a band I first saw in Colorado while out there on Phish Tour and one that I will be continuing to see hopefully for years to come. These 3 musicians mesh together and know exactly what their fans are looking for leave nothing behind, not a note kept on the table. Next up is “Kung Fu” who as always is as high energy as it gets and having a good time in playing “Wedding March teases while shouting out the “Tiny Rager” herself while she got down at was nothing short of an epic bachelorette party. As this was all going down two other stages as for most of the first two days we also in full effect offering fans several choice in quality music which many seemed to be working into their own personal rotation.
Still early in the night of any festival and especially “Tiny Rager” Ryan Montbleau Band is gearing up in the Manhattan Theatre which seems to be the place to be as the room is full from front to back. The set seems to be as funky as ever with sit in’s by the Shady Horns, Primate Fiasco as well as Nephrock and Kit Holliday giving everyone a show that by its self would have been more than enough. It’s now only halfway through the evening and as the song says “After Midnight” this place seems to pick up even more energy as Soulive makes their second and last performance of the festival and seem to come out with something to prove. These guys have continued to impress night after night and always provide a level of entertainment that many can’t contemplate even coming close to.
Keeping in the flow of the night “eff Bujak takes fans on a Live Electronica journey with much side entertainment to fill one's senses. My highlight being a remix of “Tiny Dancer” in a nod to the festival’s own “Tiny Rager” which once is available I would highly recommend checking out. At this point in the evening there is one band left on the main stage for the weekend and its UV Hippo who offer up as many different styles as they have influences within the industry. Having only heard recordings and knowing that they always like to keep fan’s guessing as to the how the show is going to play out I must say I was pleasantly surprised by their powerful music and moving vocals. This seemed almost the perfect way to end the night as almost everyone in attendance was spinning and rolling around for what I must say was my first ever desk chair dance party. These guys really came to play and that they did giving everyone there the chance to end their night in just about perfect fashion. With that it’s off to rest and get pictures off of the memory cards and prepare for the last and final day at the resort.
Sunday morning is here before you could even imagine and with that comes Brunch and some much needed relaxing before another full day of fun and music. As with the rest of the weekend the food was very good and just what I needed to get my day started. Upon leaving Brunch all I can hear is a beautiful acoustic guitar and this seems like a perfect mellow sound to start the music for the day. The Kind Buds just starting in on “Brown Eyed Women” was as perfect as it could get and just enough to keep me planted through the rest of their set which was highlighted by “China Cat Sunflower/Viola Lee Blues” which was played as well as the entire set was. With the set ending this means a trip to the pool and hot tub for both a cool dip and a relaxing “soak”. Two more options to add to the list of little things that make you realize how amazing this festival is and how fortunate we are all to be in attendance. After just enough time relaxing back to the room to get changed and off to get a custom glass pipe made, yet another superb option of things to do while at the festival. Being able to order and watch ”Keith” from The “Last Fair Deal” a artisan vending co-operative combining some of the finest glass blowers in New England blow glass right in front of you is a treat and a definite memory that will stay with me for some time. Enjoying this nice weather a stroll down to the lake on the Resort Grounds was one last stop of peace and relaxation before its back to the music for the day. The grounds are extremely well kept and we happened to just make it in time to watch an osprey swoop down and grab a fish right out of the water, pretty cool to see happen and a reminder that though the accommodations we're 2nd to none, we we're out in nature, and the scenery outside was sometimes just as intriguing as the music inside. The sky is blue and the clouds few so standing out on a dock and just enjoying nature could eat away the day but the Music calls and last meal of the Festival are calling. The line for dinner tonight was rather long but with a Hotel full hungry heads topped with Steak on the menu will do that for sure. While waiting in line I notice Jordan Simms keyboard player from Mother’s Wine climb on the lobby piano and treat those in attendance to a little “The Squiring Coil” a Phish cover that was much welcomed by what seemed to be everyone within hearing distance. This kind of music was one of the coolest parts of the weekend and happened quite often throughout the festival, with all the different dynamics and groupings giving the festival goers just another option for something cool to do while on the grounds. Standouts were Chali 2na & The House of Vibe who brought out “Nephrok” for tunes “Don’t Stop”, “Quality Control”, “Lock Shit Down” and “Right Now” which had each and every fan in the room going strong and fully glued to the stage. With it getting closer to the end of the festival it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else at this moment as Fikus takes the stage with a seriously nasty Michael Phelps opener paired with lights that flowed with the band perfectly. The set continues to flow and ends just like it started with a “Cool Refrigerator in your Ear” that left fans looking for more as always. As the night and festival winded down one last trip around the festival was in order to soak it all in and get some fresh air, which no doubt leads me right back to the Empire Lounge for Mother’s Wine festival closing set. This 5 piece jam band came out firing on all cylinders and by the second song in they played “Fair Weather Friend” which happens to be one of my favorite tunes of theirs. Moving almost in full circle the band brings out Nephrok who’s presence with guest appearances has been large and undeniable over the course of the weekend. Both with his band and sitting in with several different artists. Backed by some killer grooves Neph jumps into an original “Do it Again” followed by “Yes we Can,Can” by “The Pointer Sisters”, written by “Allen Toussaint”. This set is making it hard to let the weekend go but couldn't be happier to have it end in their capable hands. The show is ended with “555” which takes the crowd on one final journey into space before the lights turn and the festival winds down.
A weekend that had no expectations but would have surely shattered them is coming to an end as we sit around a chat with the remaining artists about the festival and their impression. All anyone can say is good things and based on the chatter we engaged in would all be more than honored to be a part of this as many times as possible. As a first timer to the “Rock N Roll Resort” but not to festivals in the least bit I must say there is are really something unique with this one and I can only hope it continues to grow not in size but in location as this would be beyond amazing to see go on the road which seems to be one of the possibilities moving forward. A weekend in a hotel resort with vendors and music surrounded by amazing people on the grounds of a fine venue that offered everything from a pool and hottub to yoga and golf can only lead to a phenomenal experience and it surely did. I can say for sure that this is a not miss festival from this point on.