The Frendly Gathering 2016 was an incredible 3 day adventure, that year after year, delivers more love, compassion and new ‘frendships’ than one can imagine. Jack Mitrani & Danny Davis founders/owners of The Frendly Gathering festival, and the rest of the ‘Frends Crew‘ have had quite the journey throughout their growth with the Frendly community – fans, musicians, artists & ‘frends’.
One thing that makes Frendly stand out far beyond any festival I have yet to attend, is the essence that remains year after year – no matter how big the festival gets, it maintains the inclusivity that it was founded upon. I got a chance to speak with Jack about his personal experience with this.
Chelsea Erin Wright: The Frendly Gathering 2016 has been incredible for me so far. Experiencing the evolution of Frendly since the very first one in Vermont, has been ahhh-mazing!
Jack Mitrani: Ah yes, you’re a lucky one!
CW: Yeah certainly, blessed. I’d love to hear a bit about how your journey manifesting your dreams to create Frendly, has transformed your life?
JM: My life, wow…yeah. Great question. I think that over the years Frendly has just evolved and the way that it has evolved, is by so many amazing people being behind this to make it happen. It’s taught me so much…it’s taught me so much in business, in relationships, in health…the yoga, the musicians. It’s really been such a crazy lesson, and I take the lessons from what I’ve created with Frendly into my everyday life; a host in action sports, a boyfriend, and every other thing that I am outside of this, ya know? I just feel like I’m so lucky, because I never in a million years would’ve known if you asked me before I started this, if I would be an event planner or festival owner, or any of that…some of that kinda just popped up out of the ground, and has really shaped my life today.
CW: Yeah that’s pretty incredible…it’s affected you on every level of your being.
JM: Mhmm, literally. There’s so much you can learn from, like I was saying – the yoga, the community that this festival brings is so health conscious, Earth frendly conscious…you just get so much from it that I would never have gotten. In the action sports, snowboard world that I come from it’s definitely there, but this is like the core of real human beings.
CW: Yeah, it is way more interconnected than any other festival I’ve attended.
JM: Yeah exactly, on a spiritual level.
CW: Definitely, and that’s one of the defining elements. It’s not about the typical kind of ‘party’ that you see at bigger festivals. The all inclusive vibe of Frendly is undeniable, which is one of many reasons why I have returned every year – what has been your favorite part of watching the Frendly community grow?
JM: I can think about this and come up with one billion answers because there are so many things, but the first thing that popped in my head was year after year, it grows, it doubles in size, and no matter how many more new people come, everybody ripples with the Frendly inclusive energy. Like watching Twiddleplay at the campfire, and everyone respects the band…no one trampled them for an autograph right after…it’s just great that no matter how big it’s grown, it’s still remained to the core of what it stands for.
CW: You’ve been able to maintain the Frendly essence and it’s quite a beautiful, special energy. I’ll definitely say that where I come from there’s not a great sense of community, and this experience each year has opened my eyes up in a lot of ways.
JM: That’s the best part about this weekend…for the Frendly crew that prepares the site beforehand, it’s like we’re building, and it’s stressful and crazy, and we’re like what are we doing?! And then all of the sudden everyone shows up, and we remember that’s why we do it – everyone’s so nice, everyone’s hugging you…we want to just embrace every single second around all of these people. I have a broken leg right now, for those of you who can’t see me, and people just come up to me and heal me…people ask if I’m okay, and what’s happened…it’s so nice, like you said, to just be surrounded by kindness everywhere you turn. I wish that the entire world was like that.
CW: If only we could expand this to cover the Earth!
JM: Yes if only…Vermont, I would say is very peaceful in this way. If you go to NYC and walk around on the streets you feel alone.
CW: There has to be a pretty incredible shift, which needs to happen.
JM: I agree, 100%…if we could bottle this up & turn this into a nuclear bomb of peace and blast it out everywhere…I was a huge John Lennon fan growing up, which is where a lot of this vision comes from, it’s is ingrained in me. I’ve always wondered why there needs to be borders and why everyone can’t be peaceful…this is like our version of it, our small little nugget of it that we get to live.
CW: It’s a wonderful little world that you’ve created!
JM: Thank you! That we’ve created…the team, and you for being here throughout the years…it’s all of us.
CW: Yes! And speaking of Vermont being peaceful, this mountain is the perfect place for Frendly…what led you to Timber Ridge?
JM: Well, we used to come to Timber Ridge when we were in highschool…a family friend owned it, so we would come here for prom and graduation parties…this was the spot, ya know? If Chris Waker was throwing a party at Timber Ridge, it was known that everyone was going to be there. So the first two Frendly gatherings we threw in California, and then we realized we should throw it in Vermont. So we called up Chris, he asked his dad and they were super excited…from that day on, it’s been the most solid connection and the ridge couldn’t be more perfect for this kind of event.
CW: That’s wild that you’ve been coming here since you were in highschool…makes it even that much more special for you!
JM: Yeah I know, if you only knew the memories I have from inside of this lodge from when we were kids! And I see a lot of people here from high-school, it’s kind of like a reunion. There are a lot of stories and history at Timber Ridge.
CW: The stories that continue to be created are what make the space! Each year’s line-up has been pretty special…what inspired this years?
JM: Every year the lineup comes from the same inspiration, which is a combination of myself and my partner Danny Davis’ vision…we’re huge music fans, so we spend the entire year looking for music. And then we have all of the facebook fans…we’ll throw out a post asking the fans who they think should headline and play the upcoming Frendly and we’ll get hundreds of comments. We go through each one and see who got the most recommendations, and we really spend time filtering through. We also have Higher Ground, a venue in Burlington that has talent booking, which suggests up and coming artists as well. It’s a year long process of making sure we’ve searched every band in the world!
CW: It’s pretty incredible that you guys reach out to the fans & take their opinions into consideration. I’m not aware of any other festival that does that.
JM: Yeah, of course – those are the people who are coming, and they have so many good suggestions…it’s a collaborative decision on the lineup. Our lineups are always very eclectic, and ultimately this is really about bringing people together for a good time, to shut off from technology and connect with each other, and the music is the catalyst for that experience. So we want bands from every genre, to hit every Frend. The whole point of this is because we want all of our frends to come here, to get them all in the same place…so in order to do that you have to cater to all of the frends!
CW: It’s more about connection, which is most important! That’s just another aspect of what makes Frendly so special. What has been your favorite musical experience so far this weekend?
JM: The Twiddle campfire set for sure…Thursday night Twiddle played around the campfire, and that was my favorite for sure. I talked to Mihali the lead singer and guitar player, and we were asking each other if it was possible…we talked about it for months. So then when it actually happened, and everyone was singing along, the feeling that we pulled it off. I think that’s the most special part about Frendly, is the unique performances that we get to put together and experience here.
CW: There are definitely some unique ones! Like the pond sets, where people can be swimming & have the stage right there. I saw some very young kids right up in the front at the fire and was thinking wow, if I were one of those kids seeing Twiddle for the first time, at Frendly around a campfire…how incredible. And to look around, and see almost everyone singing along word for word. It was excellent!
JM: Yes, yes! It’s so awesome! And the fact that the people respect it. Imagine if people didn’t respect that, ya know?…or like caused a riot…campfires can cause people to get wild!
CW: A riot over Twiddle at the fire, imagine that…
JM: Literally it could happen, our headlining band playing around a campfire…
CW: Yeah it’s pretty incredible that we could have them there and they don’t have to be fenced in, they could be totally exposed and immerse in the experience. I’ve been seeing Twiddle since 2008, lucky for me I grew up about a half hour from where they formed in Vermont. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities to see them play the much smaller and intimate shows around the area, including many of Mihali’s solo shows. Watching them transform over the past eight years has been so beautiful. But being able to see them play, without a fence…without a crowd pressing to be as close as possible – what a feat you pulled off! It says a lot about the energy created here, and the people that come.
JM: Exactly! We don’t have to put a fence up, we don’t have security standing everywhere. We do have security in front of the big stage…and sometimes I just want to tell them to go home, like what are ya doing here?…ya look cool standing there with your arms crossed, but everyone’s respectful here.
CW: Yeah exactly, it’s quite thing to know that you don’t truly need that barrier. What do you envision for the future of Frendly?
JM: I’ve always envisioned multiple events…bottling up the same experience we have here, and trying to send it around the world to places that need it, places that need a sense of community. That would be the dream come true…doing what we do here around the world.
CW: That would be awesome, and with how I’ve seen you manifest this into the beautiful creation that it is, I have no doubt that you’ll make that happen! Thank you for sharing your time with me, and for providing such a beautiful experience for so many people! I look forward to many more Frendly’s.
JM: Thank you Chelsea! It was a pleasure.
Stay tuned for several other photo galleries to come, of the bands from each day.