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When You're the Bar Manager, Murphy's Law is the Law at CMT

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Primary Blog/Bar/When You're the Bar Manager, Murphy's Law is the Law at CMT

When You're the Bar Manager, Murphy's Law is CMT Law!

Manage the Bar at CMT .. How Hard Can It Be 🤣🤣🤣🤣


I call it "Murphys Law", if it can go wrong then it probably will, You know it, we all live it , but how do you deal with it!! Over the course of the 5 but now 6 days of festivities that make up The Catskill Mountain Thunder festival it becomes my reality!

What do you mean we are almost out of Ice! Wait the burnout pit is smoking up the entrance! Hold ON, Who sent you for more Jack Daniels!! and who the hell are you! Simply put, no amount of preparation or planning will ever make an event such as this go as planned, better to have a rough outline of what you're trying to do. Duck and weave, roll with the punches, keep moving forward is the only way to survive.

We’ve had a number of bands all over the bar, & it is not unusual to have headliner bands jump behind the bar too. We have some awesome photos and stories I will have to tell you next time! 

This is the week you are truly in the trenches and in the weeds all in the name of creating a great time! And what makes it a great time? Well, It's The People, there I said it , It's the customer who comes up to the bar for the first time, order something, then comes back to you even though there are plenty of other bartenders, they kind of seek you out! first you know them by what they drink, soon you will know them by their first name or even a nickname and boy do we encounter some great ones, Like if I were to meet you on a train the following week and tell you that last week at work I ran into a bunch of guys, you know, called Bighead, Magoo, The Cowboy, Rambo, Lonesome Dave, Hobo Bill, the list goes on and on. Some of the best people in the world belong to this community of crazy's we are happy to call friends. There is nowhere like it in September Upstate.

Over the years I have always played a large roll behind the bar at our annual Catskill Mountain Thunder festival but Last year I wore a very different shirt that may as well have said, Don't F#!* it up! No pressure for the Irish guy !!! As 2023 was my first time as the Bar manager for The Blackthorne.

I'm a true believer in the saying, if you are truly happy in your work then you'll never work a day in your life. That's what the Blackthorne has meant for me all these years. Catskill Mountain Thunder is my Mount Everest. While the climb can be exhausting, the view from the top is a beautiful one. Hundreds of motorcycles maneuvering around the place, the inevitable whiskey throttle roar, the smell of campfires, the unmistakable aroma of exhaust fumes, The bands, The ride throughs and parade of motorbikes coming in one entrance of the main bar cruising only to exit the far side of the building while people dance and cheer all around and the music doesn't stop. Everyone is in sync. Yes, we get to do this all over again tomorrow! & Yes, I know, "motorbike" .. did I mention I'm from Ireland.

On to the The Pub Crawl. That epic brainstorm that the Handel family came up with to start off the fun is something I still get butterflies over. It's held on the Wednesday of CMT. Busses come and take customers on a pre-determined pub hop of other watering holes and ultimately end up right back here and you can begin to finally feel that it all starts now, There is no going back, this is where the months of planning hit the pavement and its ON!!!

Thursday marks the beginning of the 4-day weekend revelers and a lot of riders roll up and begin to find their footing and settle in. More bands rocking the roof off the main bar, food and drink crossing the bar like the world was going to end, shots, bottles, burgers and beer, this scenario is the same from one end of the bar to the other!!!

Friday starts with a breakfast followed by a motorcycle run through some of the most beautiful scenery the Great Northern Catskills have to offer. Led by Roy, Dale and Patty, Mikie the Voice of CMT, and now on his motorbike comes this Irishman close behind. That customer I spoke of meeting earlier at the bar has now by the miracle of a common love for riding, freedom, adventure and belonging, now becomes part of our family or maybe it's us who become part of theirs? Good question! As the day progresses its on to headliner bands who Rock the Big stage for all its worth then the focus turns to inside the main bar for the party of a lifetime.

Saturday brings most of us working simply running on adrenaline, vendors, motorcycle games, hundreds of conversations sharing this past week's experience and of years past too. The funny, the sad, the goodwill that's generated by these folks brings out a pride in everyone, The show goes on and from my seat I have a front row view every minute of every day. Some shit you just can't make up!! The burn pit is in full use, burnouts are always a crowd pleaser. More ride throughs the bar, more awesome bands, I've had Saliva , I've had Drowning Pool join us behind the main bar pouring shots for our customers, interacting with guests like they were at a friend's backyard party! You never know what's gonna happen. Only one thing is certain by the wee hours of Sunday morning, the fun has reached its pinnacle, the whiskey throttle roars across the resort become less and the dawn is sure to show itself in an hour or so.

Catskill Mountain Thunder 2024 is currently in the planning stages, Bigger, better that before and it's a mammoth undertaking, with so many cogs working together, While you are visiting us here all I would ask is that you say a quick thank you to the staff when you see them, to the volunteers, shake their hand, the office staff to the guys who collect the garbage a tip of your hat and to your fellow attendees, continue to be the best people coming together to let your hair down, leave your problems behind even if it's just for a short week, enjoy our hospitality and keep both wheels down.

Guest Blogger Bio .... 


Ray Francis has been attending the Catskill Mountain Thunder Motorcycle Festival since 2005 and working CMT since 2013. His first CMT at the Bar Manager at Blackthorne resort was 2023. His favorite part of the motorcycle rally is genuinely connecting with people. They are more than patrons, they are people with stories and nicknames and they can quickly become family. 
Ray can be found on Facebook at the 🔗 Blackthorne Resort Bar

It's all fun and games trying to feed Saliva and Drowning Pool until you realize you are in total darkness & you have no clue how to work a soda gun, or is it a soda jerk? No, I am definitely the jerk in this equation, wow this escalated quickly - send help.

Ray Francis CMT's bar manager tells us what it's like on the other side of the bar at CMT. Did we mention 2023 was his first CMT as bar manager, you know the universe loved that!

As the Voice of CMT, Mikie's snuck into his fair share of photoshoots with the CMT models. Yeah, he's got it ruff ! Mikie remembers some of the mischief, some he can share at least.

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Guest Bloggers

The Regular Suspects: Entertainers, Bikers, Builders, Attendees, & Other Troublemakers !

Tellin' It Like it Is 

Catskill Mountain Thunder Motorcycle Festival is open to the public, held annually  in mid-September at the Blackthorne Resort nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

Not only does the festival boast some of the best riding around, but we so fortunate to call so many of you our friends and family - perhaps best coined friends that are like family!

We look forward to seeing you each year and can't wait to see the stories y'all come up with as Guest Bloggers.

Each blog is written by someone that has touched our event or been touched by our event .. OK, that is a lot of touching, get you heads out of the gutter. 

​There are attendees, vendors, bike builders, bike show participants, stunt riders, entertainers, daredevils of all kinds, bands both national headliners and regional talented AF bands, bike games participants, photographers, staff, volunteers and of course the crazy folks which covers all of the above. 

​You have the best stories and you are the ones that truly experience Catskill Mountain Thunder Motorcycle Festival, so who better to tell everyone the stories? Just try to keep it PG or PG adjacent anyway 😜

​We have been thrilled by the response from folks and there are so, SO many stories to be told. We look forward to hearing all of them & hope all of you get a kick out of the stories as well. 

​Catskill Mountain Thunder Motorcycle Festival is held Mid-September every year. For practice, two runs are held in April and June.  The September festival is an event like no other, held on the grounds of Blackthorne resort. You can ride through the Catskills, or settle in and enjoy the resort grounds. The field is filled with bikes, bike games, a bike build-off, bike artists & builders, stunt shows (MX, Wall of Death) , bike games, a bike show, loads of vendors, bars & bands! You can make your own fun or we can instigate a little. 

Join us for all the fun and be sure to read the stories here by our very own guest bloggers, some folks ya know and some you may get to know.  

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