Next week is the first year of Catskill Chills new venue in Lakewood, Pennsylvania. Josh Cohen with The Catskill Chill dropped some knowledge on us as thick as bass lines bumping through Camp Minglewood. Here are all the reasons you need to join in and dance the Summer 16 blues away:
What is your official position with Catskill Chill?
I’m one of the co-founders of the Chill, a partner. Marketing and vending are the specific rolls I handle within the organization.
The biggest news for Chill, and of course what’s on everyone’s minds, what changes will the new venue bring?
The biggest change, I’d say there are a couple of them. The main stage is in a field now. The only uncovered stage we’ve ever had was our acoustic junction, which is now called DC Corner, but to have the main stage on a big open field is an awesome thing for us. Now granted if it rains we’ll get wet at the main stage. But, we’re all excited to have people watch awesome music on a grass field, look up and see the stars, and not be standing on concrete. So that’s one cool change.
Another great change is the lack of hills. Our old venue was really spread out. The parking was on the other side of the mountain. This year, the parking fields are right next to the campground. You park your car, walk through a thin tree line, and you set up camp. That’s it. There are no shuttles; everything is a lot easier for people camping.
Another thing that’s different is that we’ll have some wood camping. It’s not a huge area but there will be some spots for people looking for extra shade.
The VIP program is going to be extra special because we’ll have use of the swimming pools on the property. There is an outdoor pool and an indoor pool that are next to each other with a Jacuzzi as well. These will be available for the VIP program and artists as well.
There also is the indoor movie theater that has 150 movie seats. We’ll be able to show some documentaries in there and keep our Sunday Football tradition alive. Every year it’s hilarious, Chill Fam is watching the games and wear their gear because they’ve come to know we do the game. It’s a fun little tradition we’ll get to continue this year.
I’d love to see L4LM’s Lettuce documentary “LetUsPlay” in there too.
Yeah, I’m working on lining that up. The guys will all be there, obviously, and we’d love to share that.
Another great new one is the B Stage was very small; it was connected to the vending village. Now our B Stage is covered once more, but on an indoor hockey rink. It’s awesome; it’s way bigger than our old B Stage. The walls from the rink will be taken down and one entire full side there is a courtyard of about 10 basketball courts. It’s a huge area. Everyone can watch the B Stage now.
And then we have an additional stage. We still have Club Chill, which is also an indoor theater space. This additional late night hall, which that is a large wooden gym on the banks of the lake. Late night music will be both there and at Club Chill; all music after around 12:30 will be in those indoor areas. Having two areas will be exciting.
It sounds like you have the new aspects down and picked the right venue. What are some of the things veterans can look forward to remaining the same?
Some of the things staying the same are some of the things I’ve already touched on. It’s that we still do have besides our Main Stage and the DC Corner stage all the other stages are covered like in the past. And that’s a good thing, pretty much anywhere besides the Main Stage we have our people covered from the weather.
There are still cabins! Cabins bring about a fun part. What’s different about the cabins is that they’re a little newer. The cabins last year were spread out, and this year the cabins are in a different layout. This year they will be situated in two courtyards and all right next to one another in a circle. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
That’s going to be the party spot.
We have a feeling there is going to be a lot more cabin-to-cabin partying with them all together in a circle. It’s going to be fun.
Another thing that will be the same is paved walkways. If it gets wet, there’s always dry ground to walk on. If you’ve got to get somewhere, you can hop on a path and go. That’s always been a nice plus.
One thing, I should say, that is different is that there is cellphone service. I’ve come to love not having cell service at a festival — people are a lot more present. When it comes to finding your friends, “Oh, hey, I’m at the B Stage.”, “Ok, I’ll be right there.” It’s that easy.
What are the Thursday Party and VIP Package about?
The Thursday night pre-party on site, which is a separate ticket for most people in addition to a GA pass, unless you’re VIP, then the pre-party is included. There will be music Thursday, two full sets of Twiddle, late-night music with Trakstar, and The Works, with also sets by Jimkata and Aqueous.
So, the VIP program includes entry on Thursday and bunch of additional stuff. There is an exclusive viewing area of the Main Stage, which is going to be a small part of the front viewing area, not too much. There will be a private VIP cash bar with discounted beverages and hang area with a tent set up at the Main Stage.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoon there is going to be a private daytime BBQ music set for VIP folks. Saturday afternoon is a private set by the Eric Krasno Band, while Sunday afternoon will be a private set by a band we call Michelangelo’s Sunday Sauce, that’s Michelangelo the drummer from Turkuaz, featuring Nick Cassarino, Nate Edgar from the Nth Power, Roosevelt Collier, and Steve Mullitz. We also have exclusive use of our indoor and outdoor pools, plus Jacuzzi from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday to Sunday Which are for VIP and artists — you get to hang with artists at a pool! The VIP lounge cabin, which is one of our cabins that take the beds out and put couches in, it’s an nice air-conditioned hang spot. VIP people camping can use the showers and bathrooms in the VIP lounge cabin. VIP parking is in the nearest lot to the Main Stage, also right near the VIP camping. There’s a private VIP entrance, and we’ll have golf cart move in move out service. And then it comes with the line-up T-shirt, poster and commemorative laminate. It’s stacked.
Last year I had the most fun at Catskill Chill out of every festival I attended. A large part of that is due to the super groups, one in particular, Dopakuaz. What collaborations and super groups are in store for us this year?
We have Dopakuaz coming back! We’re super pumped about that. Those guys are all old-school friends with each other, so the thing that we do with these super groups, because we love doing this, we love bringing together things that you don’t see every day.
This was one of the keys to success we found for us was that, sometimes with collaborations they aren’t used to playing together, they haven’t practiced and sometimes it doesn’t work out as beautifully as planned, but it’s all part of the beauty of improvisation. But, what we do is ask the artist who they want to play with, and we also don’t dictate what they have to play. We ask, “hey, what would you guys like to play?” Last year we didn’t say “Hey, Dopapod. Hey, Turkuaz. We want you all on stage together and you have to play disco tunes.”
We didn’t say it like that. It’s “What do you think would be fun?” and they come up with it, it ends up being a lot more organic on their end.
Last year Studio 54 was one of our favorite sets, it was history, epic, so much fun. This year they’re doing “Yacht Rock." At first I was like, I don’t know — but if you Google what it means, which I’m going to do right now. Here, this is on an IGN article, and I quote “In a music sense Yacht Rock refers to the highly polished brand of soft rock that emanated from Southern California between 1976 and 1984. The term is meant to suggest the kind of smooth mellow music that early yuppies likely enjoyed sipping champagne and snorting cocaine on their yachts.”
I’m talking about like Toto, Steely Dan, some Africa, Kenny Logins, tunes like that.
Haha! Wow, that is awesome. That sure won’t be the rager that the disco dance set turned out.
No, it won’t be the disco dance set, but they’re so pumped about it, they said they’re going to put their own spin on these songs. It will make for jamming. We’ll all want to sing along, it’s going to be fun.
We also have Bitches Bloom, a tribute album to Miles Davis. Which is probably what I’m most looking forward to. It’s a tribute to the album Bitches Brew, but this will be starring Eric Benny Bloom from Lettuce, with almost all the guys from Lettuce, Bloom, Adam Deitch, Ryan Zoidis, Nigel Hall, Adam Smirnoff, Jesus Coomes and Broaham Lee from Break Science. It’s going to be amazing, Sunday afternoon, Miles Davis set.
I’m probably next most excited about Reed Mathis Electronic Beethoven, this will be their East Coast debut. It’s composed of Reed Mathis from Billy & The Kids, Jay Lane from Primus/Ratdog, Todd Stoops from RAQ, Cochrane McMillan from Tea Leaf Green and Clay Welch. It’s Reed Mathis brainchild where he’s taken two of Beethoven’s symphonies, breaks them down and jams them out. He’s dubbed it a Classical Jam Band. They made an album, there’s a bunch of famous people on the album, Mike Gordan being one of them — so, we’ll see we have him scheduled to play on the same day as Mike and we’ve got our fingers crossed!
We also have Pink Talking Fu, which is Pink Talking Fish and Kung Fu, and they’ll be doing Prince/Bowie.
That’s officially the set I’m looking forward to. That will be the dance party of the weekend.
Yeah, those guys will have blast up there ripping Prince solos. It’s going to be a good one. We have that, and then we have PartiWerks, which is Particle and The Werks. They’re not doing a specific tribute, they’ll probably jam each others tunes, a couple covers — but they’re doing whatever they want to do up there.
And then we have the ChillFam AllStars playing Michael Jackson. That is going to be an awesome, fun set as well. We have Roosevelt Colliers New York Get Down, they did this in New York once and it was really sick. We’re also excited to have Elise Testone’s Tribute to Led Zepplin, with Trey Cooper on Keys, Michelangelo on Drums, Danny Mayer of the Eric Krasno band on Guitar, Eric Gould on Bass, and Matt Chase on Guitar. And then ShwiKus is doing their annual set, which is ShwizZ and Fikus and they’re doing a tribute to The Beatles this year.
Lastly the VIP set, which I had mentioned before, Michelangelo’s Sunday Sauce. There’s like 10, it’s going to be huge!
Who do you personally look forward to seeing perform?
Bitches Bloom is definitely one of the things I’m excited to see.
I will also say, I know this is an old Catskill Chill thing, but, Particle. Even though it’s a new Particle and they’ve got new guys in the band, Particle brings the heat to Chill every year. They’re the only band that’s been at Chill every year. They’re a band I’ll always look forward to. Especially seeing what they bring with new guys in the band.
I also like seeing new bands who have never played the Chill before, so Green Sky Bluegrass. I really like Green Sky Bluegrass a lot. They write great songs. I love them. And of course, Mike Gordan, how could I not.
Last but not least, where does Catskill Chill go from here?
Well, hopefully nowhere. I’m hoping this is our new home. We’re not looking to move the festival every year. We think the site is better than the last site for the fans, and we’re not looking to grow the festival much. We’re looking to continue the experience we’ve built.
It’s a great space with an intimate feel, with less than 5,000 people basically. So, hopefully we’ll stay where we’re at and make it more and more fun.
The perfect answer to the perfect feel good, community oriented festival. Catskill Chill gives you all the bang for your buck – don’t wait until next year to find out what the party is all about. See you on the dance floor!
Check out a fly over video of the venue here: