Fall festival season is in full swing, and with it, a whole livelihood of festivities. The weekend of Sept. 11-12 celebrated the third annual Backwoods Pondfest, a smallish music festival located about a half hour north of Burlington in Peru, N.Y.With the total turnout around 1,200 including attendees, bands, and guests, Backwoods Pondfest brought in an even larger crowd than in past years, filling Twin Ponds Campsite with love and music
Tents and campsites rallied around a pond to the right of the main stage and extended into the open green fields to the left, a quarter mile to the edge of the woods. Contained campfires were totally acceptable – a rare treat on the festival scene, but one vastly enjoyed by all.
Lucid, the weekend’s host band worked tirelessly and showed hospitality the way it should be; music for all, and for all a good time. From the moment of our arrival on Friday afternoon, until our departure early Sunday morning, the music didn’t miss a beat.
A lineup of 15 bands played throughout the weekend. The music included a psychedelic and stimulating variety of soul, reggae, funk, electronic, folk, jam, jazz, rock, and blues. It was nothing short of energetic and raved until the wee hours of morning two nights in a row.
Bands included the Ryan Montbleau Band, U-Melt, Spiritual Rez, Shameless Strangers and The Grift to name a few. Paul Caraher on acoustic played between sets.
A mass of excitement arose from the crowd when fan-favorite and disbanded talent, the South Catherine Jug Street band made a reunion appearance late Friday night – a true Backwoods specialty. Their performance was followed by The Breakfast, which kept the fire burning until the a.m.
Elephant Bear, a band from the Queen city, got crowds moving early on Saturday morning with a spot-on rendition of “Character Zero,” along with some lively originals.
Saturday brought a mid-day treat for the head and feet from Hot Day at the Zoo, a string band with a swell of passion, based out of the Massachusettes-New Hampshire area. With a self-described genre of “Zoo-grass” – an intent blend of “ragtime, jazz, blues, rock and roll, and rap” – when it comes to inspiration, nothing is off limits.
The quartet sat down for an interview post-show, cross-legged in a circle on the grass in the band camping area, with the upbeat music of Greyspoke swirling in the background.
They described their closeness, their always-democratic dealings with and respect for the band, and their own personal blend of “Zoo-ified” tunes.
Hot Day members spoke fondly of their tour van, which keeps the music moving and the band in close quarters, playfully debating whether the van named “The Bone Wagon” was a “he” or “she.” They shared their excitement for the night’s upcoming Ryan Montbleau Band, Twiddle and Lucid shows.
Along with groovy music, art was in the air too. A duo of artists set up camp in the center of the field, laying out a white banner on the grass for passers-by to make a pit stop and play with some paint markers. A number of neon black-light paint covered canvases surrounded the base of their car – an inspiration for those hesitant to just let go and draw.
“We set this up once people started waking up and getting out. It took awhile to get people to start drawing on it cause it was all white, people were like “ahhh, I don’t know what to do, I’m not creative.”
“But, it was like, who gives a fuck, draw some lines!” said Kyle Root an artist from Burlington, and one of the two who had set up the spot.
By 6 p.m. Saturday, the formerly white banner in center field was almost
completely filled with a colorful mix of trippy treasures, lines, and designs. Around the banner sat a slew of festies, eager to get into the art.
“I really love you guys,” one of the girls said, smiling wholeheartedly as she stood up to spread hugs around the circle.
The Saturday sun set slowly in shades of pink and orange; the breezy trees silhouetted perfectly by the dim light.
Twiddle, a wildly entertaining musical talent, pulled in an astounding crowd with their 10:30 p.m. Saturday performance. The crowd flocked almost immediately to the front of the stage as the first note of Twiddle floated through the atmosphere. The lights were spectacular and inseparable from the heart-pounding, body-moving, soul-building music they so carefully synched. As Twiddle finished their set, they passed their high-on-life fans onto the night’s next act and spice of life, Lucid.
Lucid sizzled the crowd into the early hours of morning with their frenzied four-hour set. They raged on until close to 5 a.m., completely clearing the once-cloudy skies with their second and final performance of the weekend. Their set chugged on with a beer-drinking challenge instigated by Jamie (the saxophonist) as well as a nudie free-for all when Chris (the guest bassist) shed the thread and let it all hang out – literally.
Nothing short of pleasure, punch, and personality, Lucid indulged their guests with a four-course meal of energy and soul-moving grooves. As the end of their set neared, the clouds cleared revealing a stunningly crystal-clear night sky, silver moon and all.
The weekend’s good vibes stemmed from the very center of the action, with a hardworking team of staff and volunteers who tirelessly kept at it. Chris Boire, one of the co-owners of the festival and Backwoods Promotion, Inc., expressed his gratitude of the event’s turnout.
“The amount of people actually watching the bands increased,” said Boire, “The one thing about our venue layout is you can hear or even see the bands from anywhere you camp, so lots of people set-up camp and never leave their seats. So, it was good to see more people come up to the stage.”
He commented on the excellent quality of the lighting and praised Atomic sound for their grade-A support, acknowledging all of the help their team received to make the weekend a success.
“We have many wonderful friends and family volunteering to make this all happen,” Boire said.
In the true spirit of music festivals, Backwoods Pondfest kept the energy alive and rocking for over 48 hours with 360 degrees of live entertainment. With beautiful weather, little sleep, and a lot of love, the third annual Backwoods Pondfest is one for the books.