Mountain Jam means thousands of people.
It means quite a few bands (including more than a few high-profile performers).
This year, it also means a chance for Capital Region musicians like Sydney Worthley, Sean Rowe and Jocelyn & Chris Arndt to perform.
The music festival kicks off in Hunter this weekend. It is expected to bring in over 500,000 people and will more than likely be the largest audience Worthley has ever performed in front of.
“We’ve been counting down the days ever since we found out that we’re actually playing at Mountain Jam,” Worthley said, “I’m so excited about it.”
Worthley is a sophomore at Voorheesville and at 15 years old she’s not only recorded an album and toured with Sawyer Fredericks, but has also played with Moriah Formica and has written several other albums.
Sounds like a lot, right? Worthley admits that there was a point not too long ago that she almost gave it all up.
“I was at a point where I was like ‘I don’t know if anything is going to let up. I don’t know if I’m going to be any less busy’ and to tell you I did not get any less busy. I definitely got a lot busier,” Worthley said, “but I’m very, very glad that I stuck with it.”
She began playing guitar when she was nine years old, taking lessons via Skype. Her songs are a reflection of her life, weaving in relationships, jilted lovers and bullying. “Strong,” her first album, which was released by Ambassador Music Group last year, was dedicated to her grandmothers, who both died of cancer just a few months apart from one another. The album was praised by local radio stations including WEXT and Radio Woodstock.
Though she hasn’t had time to record another album, she has at least two others written and ready to go.
“As I’m getting older, I’m learning a lot and [can] put that into a musical form,” Worthley said.
She’s also been taking a few steps forward with her live performances.
“Upstate Concert Hall with Moriah Formica was incredible. It was an amazing night because I kinda stepped outside of my comfort zone with that show. It was a standing room only show and I’d never done that before,” Worthley said.
She’s often been compared to the country-turned-pop artist Taylor Swift, whose musical career also took off around the age of 14. It’s a comparison that Worthley is more than okay with. Worthley has been taking note of Swift’s stage presence, something that sounds less important than it is. “Her theatrics are a little bit too big for me right now but I’m working up to it,” Worthley said.
“As a musician, I’ve never really stepped away from my guitar. I’ve always learned songs that weren’t meant for guitar on my guitar just because I didn’t know what to do with my hands basically,” Worthley said. But recently, she’s stepping away from it on stage at times, letting her voice shine a bit more.
Performing live has been one of the best (and perhaps most daunting) parts of becoming a professional musician.
“I just loved being in front of a crowd that understood music the way that I did,” Worthley said.
Mountain Jam might be the biggest stage she’s played yet and she’ll be playing twice; one set on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday. She’ll be playing a few covers (like Summer of 69), but mostly original music.
A few other familiar faces will be playing at the festival as well.
The brother and sister band, Jocelyn and Chris Arndt will take the stage today. It’s not their first time at Mountain Jam - they went during a few summer breaks in between semesters at Harvard. Now that the two have graduated, they’ve gone full steam ahead with their careers: touring, working on new music, etc.
Songs from their last album, “Go,” hit Billboard’s AAA Top 40 list and they’ve continued to play at venues and festivals as popular as SXSW and The Sundance Film Festival. Their classic rock sound comes through with a bit of a modern twist, supported by Jocelyn’s powerful voice and Chris’ guitar shredding. Keep a lookout for them.
On Sunday, Sean Rowe will take the stage. The singer/songwriter was born in Troy and spent the beginning of his career there. His baritone voice and hauntingly wise lyrics have garnered more than a few fans across the country. Rowe, who is also known as a forager and teaches wilderness classes, has traveled around the U.S. playing shows and performing house concerts. “New Lore,” his latest album, which came out last year, marks a bit of a change for the artist.
“I’ve always been tied to the idea of having each record sound different from the one before it, and there’s no exception with this one. My writing on this one is really reflective of the story that I’ve been living out over the past few years--as a musician, a father, and a human trying to navigate this crazy world. It’s also the stories that we all share: the everyday stuff and the big stuff. As always, I poured my heart into these songs,” Rowe said of the album.
WHEN: Thursday - Sunday
WHERE: Hunter Mountain
MORE INFO: mountainjam.com