WINDHAM -- You can learn a lot from the name the Frends Crew chose for their music festival, which opens at a picture-perfect setting in Windham today and continues into Sunday morning.
Nowhere in the name is the word "music," although the festival features a killer lineup. Nowhere in the name is a particular genre of music -- it’s not a bluegrass festival, or a folk festival, or a reggae festival, or a jazz festival -- it’s got a whole lot of many different styles. In fact, nowhere in the name is the word "festival."
This is a different animal, started by friends and expanding like a social network to friends of friends, this event is a great, big, high-spirited, music-filled, ultra-chill, ultra-welcoming happening, and you’re invited.
With an insane lineup of nealy three dozen musical acts, including SOJA, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Dr. Dog, The Felice Brothers, Waylon Speed, Jatoba, DJ Z-Trip, Twiddle, Myra Flynn, The Junkman, Tilth, Mason Jennings, Jesse Malin and much more, the event is called "The Frendly Gathering," and no, that a typo.
"We spell it F-R-E-N-D-S. There is no ‘I’ in friends because that’s what we’re about," said Jack Mitrani, one of six snowboarders who make up the Frends Crew which is organizing the festival. "It’s about everybody getting together and having a good time."
Music starts today at 2 p.m., when the Junkman rattles into town, and continues
The site is on Timber Ridge Mountain in Windham, on the backside on Londonderry’s Magic Mountain, a fitting site for a festival founded by six super-tight snowboarding friends.
The origins of the festival date back to 2010, an intense year for the six snowboarders -- Jack and his brother Luke Mitrani, Danny Davis, Scotty Lago, Kevin Pearce and Mason Aguirre -- who make up the Frends Crew.
It was a year of agony and ecstasy for the Frends Crew who were all training for the Olympics. First, Pearce fell and sustained a serious brain injury; then Davis broke his back in a snowboarding accident. At the Olympics, Lago brought home a bronze medal.
"The year was the biggest emotional roller-coaster you could imagine," said Jack Mitrani, who rides for Burton Snowboards and counts third place finishes in the quarterpipe at the World Championships in Norway and on the Dew Tour among his accomplishments.
That summer, the Frends Crew, all big music fans, decided to put together a little gathering with some musicians to "do a soul refresh" according to Mitrani.
"Really the way it started was to get all our friends in one place and to get all of our friends to get their friends to come. We just want to get more and more people to come hang" said Davis, who, thankfully, has recovered and is back snowboarding for Burton. He credits his mates in the Frends Crew for seeing him through the tough times. "You become like brothers. That’s kind of how that tight bond was created, and we all had a love of snowboarding and a love of music."
The first Frendly Gathering took place out West and was such a good time, the Frends Crew decided to do one in their home state of Vermont last year. Some 600 people turned out on the Timber Ridge Mountain site.
"It was totally unreal," said Mitrani. "This year it’s looking better than last year. ... It looks like we’re pulling off our dreams."
"We just figured that this year we wanted to do it big," said Davis.
They started by inviting bands they really wanted to see. Then they sought the advice of friends of theirs. The result is 37 hours of music on four stages, and there should be something for a lot of different tastes -- reggae, soul, funk, jam, bluegrass, newgrass, folk, you name it.
"We wanted to get music of all kinds to get all kinds of people," said Davis. "We want people who have no clue about snowboarding to just come and have a great time. ... It’s a friendly atmosphere."
Tickets are $129.95 for three days (pre-sales only), $99 for two-day Friday and Saturday, and $74.95 for Saturday only. RV parking is available at the venue.
For tickets and more information, visit www.frendlygathering.com. You can also check it out on Facebook and Twitter.