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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

If you’re at all into jam bands, the summer time is the best time for music festivals. There are fests all over the United States, in places like New York, Tennessee, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Minnesota.

The only downside to some of these music havens is that if you’re low on cash, you might as well stay home. Sometimes, tickets to music festivals can run up to $250 for a weekend, not including food other expenses.

The good news — I have found you a mini festival that will satisfy all your jam band cravings and desires. If you live near the tri-state area, you’re set. The Mighty High Festival in Vasa Park (Hackettstown, NJ) is no three day camping extravaganza, but it’s just enough to give you a little taste of a big summer fest.

Three bands will play on the 18th of July, starting at 1pm. The Donna Godchaux band, featuring Donna Godchaux of the Grateful Dead, will kick things off. Then Keller Williams will take the stage, followed by a nice long set from Dark Star Orchestra.

Donna Godchaux has been touring for ages. Come on, she started out with the Grateful Dead for pete’s sake. It’s amazing that she is still out there, doing her thing. The same can be said for some of the Dead’s other members, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh.

Keller Williams jams out at a past performance in Pennsylvania.

Keller Williams jams out at a past performance in Pennsylvania. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

If you don’t already know him, let me introduce you to Keller Williams. You never know what you’ll get when you go to see him in concert. Sometimes he plays alone, other times he plays with a few back up performers, but it’s always great.

Keller usually breaks out several different instruments when he plays. Sometimes he stands in the middle of all of them, which he has arranged around him in a circle. He goes through them and picks which ones he wants to play, giving each one it’s turn. His instruments range from things like wooden sticks he bangs on his legs to something that looks like a xylophone. But he doesn’t hit the plates on it — he pulls up his hands above the plates to make incredible alien like noises. Some of his music is truly weird, but very creative.

You can read a review of a Keller Williams concert here.

John Kadlecik of Dark Star Orchestra.

John Kadlecik of Dark Star Orchestra. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

And finally, I will get to Dark Star Orchestra. In the Mighty High Festival, it is safe to say that this band will take the longest set. They are basically a cover band, but they cover a very special band that is near and dear to every jam band lover’s heart — the Grateful Dead.

The cool thing about them is that they usually recreate an entire GD show. They play the whole setlist from start to finish, and then at the end they tell their audience what set from which year they have just played.

But these guys sound SO much like the Grateful Dead. It’s really amazing. If you’d like to hear a podcast that yours truly composed about the band, click here.

Might I add on a side note that Vasa Park is a wonderful place to see a concert. It’s outside, it’s open, it’s full of trees and shade. You can come with a chair or blanket, or just chill on the grass. I promise you one thing, my friend. You won’t be disappointed.

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