When I was just getting started in concert photography, the manager of a little-known band called Mt. Joy approached me about shooting photos of their upcoming show at the Hi-Fi Indy. Even though I’m much more into rock than folk, I agreed because it sounded like fun. It turned out to be a difficult shoot, however, with a sparse crowd, un-camera-friendly lighting and five musicians who rarely looked up from their instruments. The band members were super nice, however, and the music was not only top-notch but also heartfelt. I had a feeling Mt. Joy was going to be a big deal someday, and I was right.
Since then, I think I’ve shot every Mt. Joy show that’s come to Indy, and watched their growth as musicians, along with the growth of their fan base. Their 2020 tour in support of The Lumineers was a huge deal, but was unfortunately cut short due to the pandemic (stupid COVID). They didn’t lose momentum, though, and their 2022 headlining tour has been selling out large venues all over the country. I caught their gig at the Pavilion at Pan Am in downtown Indianapolis on 3/31/22 and couldn’t help but compare the show with the one I covered back in 2017.
What was different between that first show at the Hi-Fi and this one? Mt, Joy’s tour this time included a big tour bus, tour photographer, an arena-size production, a road crew, a huge number of intensely loyal fans, VIP and Meet & Greet tickets, and a higher energy level throughout the set. What was the same? A group of extremely talented musicians dedicated to creating authentic, meaningful music together. Although Jackie Miclau replaced Mt. Joy’s original keyboardist at the end of 2017, the other members of Mt. Joy are the same: Matt Quinn on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Sam Cooper on lead guitar, Mike Byrnes on bass, and Sotiris Eliopoulis on percussion. The band is like a tight-knit family, creating, jamming and harmonizing together through good times and sad times.
Mt. Joy’s set at the Pavilion at Pan Am consisted of fourteensongs spanning their entire discography, plus a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain.” There was also a two-song encore. As always, I loved the intro to “Dirty Love” and the “Ain’t No Sunshine” portion of “Julia,” both of which featured Jackie Miclau. I was pleasantly surprised by the live debut of “Johnson Song,” a fun, bluesy number.