Jack Mitrani sheds some light the 3rd Annual Frendly Gathering, the biggest one yet

The Frends crew on stage at last year's Frendly Gathering

With the third Frendly Gathering hitting Vermont's Timber Ridge in a couple of weeks we thought we would hit up the man behind the plan, Jack Mitrani, to get an inside look at what it's all about. From the perfect location to a lineup of music that's sure to please everyone, this year's Frendly Gathering will be the biggest one yet.

How did the first Frendly gathering come together? What sparked the idea to do something like this?

It's actually kind of a crazy story of how The Frendly Gathering came together. Three years ago, the Frends Crew and I were all trying to make the Olympic team. As all of us know, Kevin Pearce suffered a horrible crash while training and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Two weeks later Danny Davis made the Olympic team but then fell off of an ATV and broke his flippin’ back so he couldn't go. Needless to say, it was a crazy emotional roller coaster of a season.

After all the chaos I felt it was necessary to get everyone together and move past what had happened. So with a little help from my frends we put on a weekend getaway camping trip and called it, “The Frendly Gathering.” So, it basically started as a meeting point for all of our frends to come out, celebrate life, and get over the wild winter we all had just gone through.

The Timber Ridge venue in Vermont for this year's Frendly Gathering | Photo: Cole Barash

The festival seems to have grown pretty quickly. Last year you had 16 bands and you've expanded to 35 bands with 5 stages. What attributed to such a rapid growth and success of the gathering?

After last summer’s Frendly Gathering it was clear to us that we wanted to make this years much bigger and better. I don’t think we were planning on making it this much bigger, but when we started emailing our favorite bands to see if they were available and most of them starting saying “yes,” there was no turning back.

Last year you guys did an East and West coast edition of the Frendly Gathering. Have you decided to just keep it to one stop this year, and if so, why in VT and not on the West Coast?

We were actually planning on doing one in Tahoe and one in Vermont, but we couldn’t help but spend the entire budget on bands for the Vermont Frendly Gathering; we didn’t really have a choice! We also felt it would be a better call to focus on pulling off one big Gathering rather than two small ones. One big one rather than two small ones is always better apparently… (That’s what she said).

We chose Vermont because of my roots there, not to mention the most badass location on Timber Ridge for a music festival (thanks to the Waker family). We all know that “home is where you make it!”

Trouble Andrew on the main stage | Photo: Ali Kaukas

How diverse is the music lineup this year? What can people expect in terms of the different genres that will be performing?

We don’t want to exclude anyone’s taste in music here, which is why we booked a band for everyone’s likings. If you’re into Reggae we got SOJA, if you’re into DJs we got Z Trip, Bluegrass – Railroad Earth, Rock ‘N’ Roll – Deer Tick, Dr. Dog, The Felice Brothers, and Mason Jennings. For the Dub Step crowd we have Robotic Pirate Monkey, and the list goes on and on. We just want to make sure everyone can have the option of hearing the music they are into.

Besides music what can people expect at the Frendly Gathering?

People can expect to do a whole bunch this year such as: skateboarding, hiking, swimming, yoga, face painting, camping, slip and sliding, hula hooping, trip out on some crazy totem poles or giant teepees, and just enjoy a Frendly enviroment for three days. The keyword "FRENDLY" is our main focus here and we want to make sure no matter what we do everything is geared toward a Frendly environment that you wouldn’t want to leave for anything.

Sweet potato fries, just one of the food options at the Frendly Gathering | Photo: Ali Kaukas

What's on the menu in terms of food or can people bring a grill and cook up something of their own?

People can definitely bring their grill to cook up some food. But if they don’t feel like bringing one we have a bunch of amazing vendors coming with a bunch of different options. F.E Wood fired Pizza, local grass fed Burgers, gourmet food, vegetarian/vegan food, kebabs, coffee, free Ben & Jerry’s and a whole bunch of other good stuff to satisfy your munchies.

Tickets don't seem too bad for a three-day music festival. Where does all the money go and do you guys donate to any charities?

Wow, you are the first person to say that!  Everyone has been tough with the ticket prices mainly because they’re either stuck on last years price (because it was a lot smaller) or because they’re our friends and don’t feel like buying one. Ha! But all the money going into this festival is coming from the pockets of Danny Davis and myself.

If we make a profit we will be definitely be donating a portion to the Vermont Hurricane Irene Relief fund and something affiliated with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) for our main man KP (Kevin Pearce).

Twiddle rocking out at last year's Frendly Gathering | Photo: Ali Kaukus

Could you see this growing into something like a Bonnaroo or Coachella?

You never know. The future of the Frendly Gathering is wide open right now and we are taking it one step at a time. I mean who knows? We could potentially branch out and do a Frendly Gathering Food Festival, Frendly Gathering Snowboarding Festival, Frendly Gathering Hop Skotch/Pogs Festival, whatever makes sense really. There are no limits for it at this point.

We only want to stay true to what The Frendly Gathering is all about and that’s bringing Frends together to share a damn good time. Whether it’s music, food, hop skotch, segway, shake weights or whatever, we always want to focus on creating the best intimate Frendly environment for everyone to share. Period.

If people want to get involved and help how can they go about doing that?

Of course, the more Frends the better the Gathering! Hit us up at thefrendlygathering@gmail.com or write us on the ol’ Book of Face facebook.com/thefrendlygathering. Hopefully see all of you who read this in Vermont June 14-16!

If you're looking to score some tickets head over to frendlygathering.com.

This dude definitely had the best time of his life | Photo: Cole Barash


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