Load remaining images Music on the Mesa in Taos, New Mexico, came to close last week, touting their the best line-up yet. The festival transpired over three days on the site of the Taos Mesa Brewing Company and featured artists for over eight hours each day on three stages. Roughly five miles from the quaint town of Taos, the festival site was set among sagebrush with a 360-degree view and the Taos Mountains as the backdrop. Featuring music on the amphitheater, patio, and indoor brewery stages, festival organizers made every attempt to keep the music playing without pause by starting each band on their respective stages as the previous group ended their set. With the long game in mind, they utilized the brewery stage for the hottest part of the day gigs as well as the late night closers as temperatures began to drop.The vibe of Music on the Mesa was without pretense and brought out people of all ages. Arriving on site, attendees were greeted by knowledgeable and friendly volunteers who directed both single day pass holders and those who were in for the long haul. The price for Music on the Mesa’s line-up was ridiculously low at $99 for the early bird and $125 after that. Camping was an option at a mere $20, and patrons were able to come and go as they pleased, as many left the festival grounds during the day for rafting excursions or the therapeutic hot springs of the Rio Grande river gorge. For those looking for more creature comforts, restored vintage Airstreams were also available. The campground itself featured two bonfire sites for after-show festivities and a circus tent erected for late-night picking sessions, advertised and encouraged by the promoters. The walking distance between tents and the venue was no more than five minutes for even the most distant camper. Other amenities included made-to-order options, catering to both vegetarian and the carnivorous, multiple watering stations that were always filled to keep patrons hydrated, and a handful of vendors offering handmade goods, including clothing, art, and instruments. Inaiah Lujan, a self-professed ‘mole snob’ from Colorado’s Haunted Windchimes, declared the pork mole tacos worthy of his palette. Of course, let us not forget the beer! Offering their full listing, the brewery delivered on service and quality, keeping lines short and patrons returning for more.Featuring some of the best in Americana and jam, promoters enlisted a lineup that even the bigger festivals would be envious of and, as if the roster wasn’t enough, each act certainly brought their best to the table. From start to finish, it seemed as though no group needed a warm-up tune or proper sound check to get going, bringing their “A” game from the first notes of each set. As if it couldn’t be better, the innumerable amount of sit-ins kept the smiles rolling. On night one, members of Elephant Revival sat in with local boy Ry Taylor, the first act of the festival, lending vocal and percussive accompaniment. Biko Casini joined on-the-rise bluegrassers Gipsy Moon and a portion of the following set of Elephant Revival alongside Omar Al’Tbal of Gipsy Moon. Later in their set, Elephant Revival also invited Mackenzie Page and Matt Cantor of Gipsy Moon to assist on vocal duties. Drew Emmitt’s conglomerate of Leftover Salmon and the Infamous Stringdusters turned into a familial jam when Drew pulled his own son to the stage and Gipsy Moon’s Salmon spawn Silas Herman.The following day saw Austin powerhouse Patrice Pike invited to guest with Robert Randolph on both lead vocals and drums for a total spiritual meltdown. The closing band of the second evening, regional act Last To Know, certainly received the biggest and best surprise by far the entire weekend. Halfway through their set, Robert Randolph and the entire Family Band joined the stage. This extensive guesting was more than likely an effort to make up for the sound issues Robert Randolph’s set experienced on the amphitheater stage, derailing the focus of the band. The set continued past the point of alcohol service and no one seemed to mind. The set was finally called due to exhaustion and smiles carried weary patrons and players off to bed. For most, the closing day held the most potential for mind-bending sit-ins and certainly did not disappoint.Railroad Earth treated the audience to an unexpected soundcheck jam that was more of great first set then a test run. Although Andy Goessling was absent for medical reasons, uber-talented hired gun Erik Yates stepped up to the plate and the band progressed with a misstep. For their main set, most of The Cheese Dusters, including Bill Nershi and Michael Travis of String Cheese Incident and Andy Hall and Chris Pandolfi of the Infamous Stringdusters, were invited to join in for the last tunes of an already festive session. The favor was returned when Tim Carbone was summoned to join The Cheese Dusters, potentially one of the greatest one-off collaborations of the summer, which included the aforementioned musicians plus the legendary John Cowan of New Grass Revival.What made Music on the Mesa stand apart is that it still seems to be off the radar, especially in this region. Although the turn-out size was perfect, the expectation of greater numbers from the Jam Nation, especially from the Colorado neighbors, fell short. The patrons truly seemed to be there more for the music than the party, although plenty enjoyed both. The festival vibe appealed to all walks of life and many families were seen with kids in tow, including noise-cancelling headphone-sporting infants and toddlers. Surprisingly, in the age of liability, security was present, but very toned down. On each of the nights, children could be seen hoisted up on any of three stages and left there to enjoy the music without intervention. Although it would be hard to top the 2017 line-up, enthusiasm expressed by the promoters revealed that this weekend of magic was not a one-time thing and that next year they would try to outdo themselves. Going to the larger festivals might provide more of everything, but if someone is looking to experience something different at a reasonable cost without the lines and headaches, this southwest secret might be the destination that delivers.You can check out photos from Music on the Mesa below, courtesy of the author, Jake Sudek.Music On The Mesa | 2017 | Photos by Jake Sudek
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nicole Amesti of Massapequa reacts as she sees her daughter’s new bedroom renovated by NBC’s George to the Rescue starring George Oliphant, in background (Courtesy of NBC’s George to the Rescue)Nicole Amesti of Massapequa was starting a new chapter in life as the new mother of twins when her husband, Jim, lost his battle with colon cancer last year, months after she gave birth.The twins, Abigail and Jack—who turn 2 in October—had been sharing a nursery in the two-bedroom, two-story Cape-Cod-style house on Maple Street since their father’s passing shelved plans to turn the unfinished upstairs into a master bedroom for the parents. But as quickly as tragedy left the 35-year-old mother widowed and her children fatherless, an angel with a TV crew answered her prayers one sunny morning in July.“I know about the house, the twins…I’m here to rescue you,” George Oliphant, host of NBC’s hit home renovation show George to the Rescue, told Nicole when she opened a knock at the door to find the surprise news with the Long Island Press exclusively in tow.“You have no idea what this means,” replied a beaming Amesti, who was planning to move into the basement to allow the twins to each have their own room. “He’s going to give you your own room!” she excitedly told her son as she held him in her arms and the family’s brown puggle, Fred, barked at the camera crew.Oliphant, who’s has been rescuing people unable to afford home renovations for four seasons, similarly saved a widow in the Sept. 21 season premier whose house—the only one on the Nautical Mile in Freeport—was flooded in Superstorm Sandy a year ago.Three weeks after Amesti and her two tots moved back in with her parents to let the crew work, she returned Sept. 13 to find her house transformed, clouds parting just in time for her close-up during the reveal. Her two downstairs bedrooms converted into idealized childrens’ rooms—pink and doll-filled for Abby, brown and sports-themed for Jack. The upstairs “sanctuary” resembles a four-star hotel room—including an elegant full bathroom—with no signs of the rafters and bare floorboards, effectively doubling the living space of the house.“The selling point was the space up there,” Nicole recalls. “When we bought the house, it was our dream.”Despite much help from her mother, Rose, and Jim’s parents, Tony and Marie Amesti, the second-floor renovation required more work and money than could fit into the family’s budget.Roslyn Heights-based interior designer Deborah Baum, who says she relished the chance to “really get creative,” estimates she and a half dozen other companies donated a combined $150,000 worth of time and materials to renovate the four rooms.“We’re giving her a boutique hotel space…modern, everything she needs,” adds Baum.The remodeling team includes Rob Shapiro of Glen Cove-based Square One Construction, closet designer Jayne Hirshman of West Babylon’s A & G Designs, Jericho-based Fancy Fixtures, PR Painting of Oakdale, East Moriches-based MTS Plumbing & Heating, Workroom Creations of Port Washington, Hicksville-based Lunar Electric, Elegant Tile & Marble of Nebraska and North Carolina-based Angie’s Closets. Broadway Gourmet Deli in Massapequa catered the crew.Shapiro of Square One says he was glad to lend a helping hand, because Amesti is “someone who truly deserves it.”Nicole gasps when she walks into her daughter’s girly new room, the first she lays eyes on after the renovations. The sight of her late husband’s Yankees, Jets and Broncos caps hanging on the wall of her son’s room brings her to tears.“It’s alright to cry,” George tells her.She replies: “Does anybody not cry on this show?”After the crew finishes filming and friends and relatives fill the house to celebrate the renovations with champagne, Jim’s best friend, Ernie Weber, pauses to reflect on family photos hanging in the living room showing the couple on their wedding day, at Disney World and in Rockefeller Center.The 41-year-old Oyster Bay town worker from Massapequa recalls Jim’s last words to Nicole: “Are you going to be okay?” Jim had remained upbeat despite his diagnoses but worried about how his family would go on without him. “Now he’s smiling down ‘cause they’re gonna be alright,” Weber says.“I’ll have a great place of my own to start a new chapter in our lives,” says Amesti. “I’m excited, shocked, thrilled.”Oliphant adds that his show is about more than just ratings. It’s about family.“It’s not just the job, it’s the energy, it’s the people,” he says. “You could feel the energy, the excitement—you could feel Jim’s presence over the house…It’s sad the reason we’re here, but I’m glad we were able to turn it into something positive.”The episode featuring the Amesti family is schedule to air at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 on NBC.