I asked "Jesus" how he got his name?
He said it started with the hip-hop artists who he was working with. They started calling him "Jesus" because of his clean lifestyle - no drugs, etc...
Jesus is a short, Keebler-like fellow, a bouncing leprechaun. Clearly, not many humans are happier in life than Jesus.
But why not?
He is living the professional dream of every kid jamming in a garage band in Rutland or across the nation.
Jesus is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and the talented bass player for the band Lettuce.
"Jesus" is also Erick Coomes.
He was leading a merry group of ragers through the Vermont woods on a hike reserved through the
Royal Family Affair's music festival Facebook site.
The night before, Jesus or Coomes was playing a thundering rock/funk, bass riff against Erick Krazno's jamming, jazzy, lead-guitar purity.
Their music was a sick, hypnotic, grab-your-girlfriend by the hips, butt-swaying funk.
And they had more brass sound than standing a foot away from Rutland's fire department horn.
In fact that sums up most of the bands at Stratton Mountain's Royal Family music festival held on Aug. 12 to 14. Horns, horns and more horns.
Funk and its rhythm was as relevant to this young Stratton crowd as it was on Soul Train in the 1970s.
The 20 funk jam bands included Soulive, Ivan Neviles Dumstaphunk, the Sam Kininger Band and
rage bands like Big Gigantic.
And of course everyone's crowd favorite Zack Deputy who really does his own "thing."
However, one thing was different at this music festival: "The band was the crowd."
Members of the band Cavemen played tether ball with the fans, Soulive and Lettuce guitarist Eric
Krasno bought dinner at the Jamaican Jerk trailer and talked with fans, and other musicians danced and roamed the crowd.
As a twist, the festival offered music workshops by the musicians for fans sponsored by the Berklee College of Music.
But does that explain the green slimey substance that fell on my arm during a Lettuce set as darkness fell over Stratton Mountain?
The weather was perfect. I had seen Lettuce warm up earlier in the day and that was a treat.
But at nighttime, the ragers turned the funk into a neon dance party of scantily clad, swaying
bodies tossing inflatable toys in the air.
Women resembling bellydancers spun illumated hula hoops in to the darkness. Smoke and steam rose from the crowd.
Well i guess you had to be there. Well maybe you still can.
The Royal Family Affair is already on Facebook asking fans for suggestions for next year's lineup.
Stratton Mountain estimated about 1,500 fans for the event this year.
This is much less than the 20,000 at the Mountain Jam in Hunter Mountain, N.Y., I attended last June, but Mountain Jam hosted 55 major national bands headed by Govt Mule.
Mountain Jam in New York started at tiny Pico Mountain in Vermont and we lost it. Now Stratton as a gem, a jewel. I hope this one stays.
Oh the green slimey substance that fell on my arm. Lettuce of course. Someone in the crowd was throwing shreaded lettuce in addition to the neon sticks and confetti out of the darkness.
Which brings me back to Jesus, I mean Erick Coomes.
The hike with "Jesus" turned out to be educational, even though he asked me to take the lead since he was from Southern California and was unfamiliar with the surroundings. At the top of Stratton Mountain, Coomes climbed the firetower while a rager played Lettuce music on an IPod for a woman caretaker for the Appalacian Trail who was living at a shelter near the tower.
I returned down the mountain with a friend because we didn't know how long Coomes would be perched atop the tower.
In fact, the next time I saw Coomes, he was running through the crowd of ragers on Sunday to adoring fans.
He then ran up on the side of the stage as Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk band finished their exhausting performance to a screaming crowd.
Coomes rushed up and gave Neville a huge bear hug while the crowd was still in a roar. Neville's eyes opened like they were going to pop out of his face, which was supporting a huge smile.
Hopefully that's the karma moment that brings the funk back to Stratton next year.
Thank you Jesus, I mean Erick.
(CLICK ABOVE PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)
(This blog was written "just" before the Vermont flood, but I did not feel it was appropriate to post at that time.)