For the last five years, jam band fans from across the greater Capital Region have headed up to Lake George during Labor Day weekend for the Adirondack Independence Music Festival.
“It started out pretty small and last year we had 3,000 people come out over the weekend,” said organizer Jarrett Hartstone.
Twiddle, a Vermont-based quartet, is Saturday’s headlining band, while Pigeons Playing Ping Pong of Baltimore, MD is Sunday’s headliner. Both bands will play two sets at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons.
Over the years, the festival has become a place for people and bands to hang out and celebrate the end of the summer season, according to Hartstone.
For Hayley Jane, the frontwoman of Hayley Jane and the Primates, this year’s festival will mark the closing of a chapter.
“We have two more shows left then we’re going on hiatus,” Hayley Jane said.
The band, which has a loyal, tight-knit following, has had its share of peaks and valleys. Hayley Jane formed the band more than a decade ago in Boston, at first as a favor to a friend and student at Berklee College of Music, who needed help on a project.
“We needed a name and I love Jane Goodall. She’s one of my heroes and one of the reasons I go by Hayley Jane,” Hayley Jane said. Thus, they stuck with Hayley Jane and the Primates.
It wasn’t until 2009 that the band got serious and started playing shows on a regular basis. However, in 2011, the band lost member Devin “Dabbo” Caucci to depression. It was a devastating loss and one that the band members are still dealing with.
“That was a really big milestone for the band. I think that’s when we should have taken a break but we didn’t,” Hayley Jane said, adding, “I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the loss of somebody so close [to me] so I turned to substances and I chose a very difficult path.”
Sonically, the band changed as well. Hayley Jane and guitarist Justin Hancock started writing songs together and their music took on more of a jam-based sound.
“I started opening up to the idea of being a little looser with things and improvisation. My whole world changed. We were embraced by the jam scene, which is very surprising because I came from this very [theatrical] sing-song background,” Hayley Jane said.
They came out with their first album “Gasoline” in 2014, working with Brian Wallace of Sublime, and “We’re Here Now,” followed three years later. They toured frequently, including playing the Adirondack Independent Music Festival in years past.
Amidst touring and recording, Hayley Jane was dealing with mental health issues and trying to get sober. About three years ago, she moved up to Burlington, Vermont to help her through that process. Today, she’s a vocal mental health advocate who doesn’t avoid talking about her own experiences and struggles.
“I’m very open about my experience and where I’m at right now with sobriety because for me personally, it feels like a mission to take the taboo off of it so we can all start talking about it,” Hayley Jane said.
It’s in part what led to the band’s indefinite hiatus, which they announced earlier this year.
“This hasn’t been easy, trying to keep a band together while dealing with life, addiction and mental illness . . . even in my sobriety, I still need time [and] so do the men in my band,” Hayley Jane said, adding, “I really need this to stick. I really need to be sure that I’m going to be okay. In the scene that we’re in, it’s really hard. I love the jam scene but in the early months of sobriety it is crazy hard.”
After this weekend’s show, the band, which includes Ryan “Claw” Clausen, Joshua “Treebeard” Carter, Justin “Juice” Hancock and Joshua Dobbs, only has one other show scheduled before the hiatus starts.
“I’m going to miss touring and playing with the Primates so much. It’s so hard to talk about but I know it has to happen. After every single show, I come off stage and go ‘Hiatus is canceled.’ We laugh but it’s also a little painful because the shows are just going so well and we’re so tight. We really found our stride this last year so it’s really hard to put a stopper in something that’s flowing so nicely,” Hayley Jane said.
She plans to start her first solo tour later in September and will continue working with Ryan Montbleau on their project Yes Darling, as well as writing a musical.
The show at Adirondack Independence Music Festival will no doubt be bittersweet, but the band plans to have fun and take it all in. They’ll be playing the main stage at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Here’s a look at the festival’s line-up:
(Shows are at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons unless otherwise stated):
Friday kick-off event:
6 p.m. After Funk & Capital Zen at Shepard Park
10 p.m. Floodwood at King Neptune’s
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Hartley’s Encore
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Deadgrass
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Midnight North
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Kung Fu
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Lucid
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. G. Love & Special Sauce
5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Ryan Montbleau Band
6:45- – 8 p.m. Marc Benevento
8 – 11 p.m. Twiddle
11 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Funktional Flow at King Neptune’s
1 – 3 a.m. Eggy at King Neptune’s
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Rich Ortiz
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Big Takeover
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. People’s Blues of Richmond
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Barika
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Hayley Jane and the Primates
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Gubbulidis and Friends
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Pink Talking Fish
6:45 – 8 p.m. Everyone’s Orchestra
8 – 11 p.m. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
11 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. The New Motif at King Neptune’s
1 – 3 a.m. Annie in the Water at King Neptune’s
Adirondack Independence Music Festival
WHEN: Sat. – Sun.
WHERE: Charles R. Wood Park, Lake George
MORE INFO: adkmusicfest.com