Wednesday & Thursday Summer Camp Experience

For those of you who travel, I’m gonna be starting this Thursday blog with Wednesday. I think we finally got the car packed up and we got on the road around 7:30 mountain time. Coming to Chillicothe from Colorado, well, now that I think of it, coming to Chillicothe from anywhere is not the most scenic of drives. Vast flat expanses, smells of poop, it can get pretty boring. Fortunately Kelly mentioned the “Swift” game…anyone who spots and calls out a Swift truck on the interstates gets a point…ties are half points, like sacks in the NFL. For some reason though, driving through the night, listening to music, we were all a little too excited to sleep and talked through most of the drive. As we approached Chillicothe, the weather went from bad to ok to not so good again, and when we got there, we could see what the weather days before had done. It was gonna be a mudfest…get your boots on.

We arrived around 12:30 and got through the ticket line relatively quickly, I was at my site and set up by about 3. The next couple hours were spent reacquainting myself with the grounds, deciding which food vendors I’d frequent, meeting up with friends as I walked the campsites, and ultimately I met all the other Counselors in Training. What an amazing group of kids. We all come to this festival from different parts of the country and from different occupations; it was no surprise that we had different music tastes. If you are into more of the rock and electronic stuff those are the bands I was seeing and who I’ll mostly be talking about…Anyway, we were debriefed by the amazing Holly Brinkman. If you know her, you know how much she does for Summer Camp and the CIT program. Thanks Holly for making this possible. After getting somewhat of an understanding of what I was supposed to be doing over the weekend (I’ve never “covered” an event before) I set out to see my first show.

Ali Baba’s Tahini was awesome. It was great to see where Jake got his start…well, that’s not true, but to see that band that ended up becoming a big part of Umphrey’s sound was very cool. It was kind of a playful rockabilly vibe to it with a lot of good grooves setting up Jake for some nice guitar work. The guy on keys was slaying and could hang with Jake musically. Overall they were a real fun band who I would definitely go see again. I was lucky enough to walk in on a Got Your Milk (Right Here) which I found to be pretty much the same as Umph plays it. I went back to my site for a minute after that to check in on the rest of my people (wolfpack) who’d be trickling in over the next day and a half. The site was almost ready to go. About 6 of our 13 were there, 3 canopies for the living room/kitchen, about 15 chairs, rope lights (there’s power in the forest…you just gotta find it). I really feel like this was one of our best set ups yet. We didn’t bring so much it was a pain to set up, didn’t bring too much food. Just lots of “soda” and “juice”…

Anyway, we set out to see Brainchild but made a quick stop to see Family Groove Company. Now, I went to the University of Illinois from 02-06 and I remember seeing FGC a lot. Those guys continue to play great show after great show and the stage they were on and the attendance they received was evidence of their continued efforts to be one of the hardest working bands out there. Always upbeat with a great rock feel I love the way FGC jams. If you know ‘em, you know what I know, if you don’t, you should. Down at the campfire stage (where the fire was yet to start, I presume due to the wetness) Roy Ponce, his mustache and Brainchild were destroying. Those guys can really play. And If you are into a sound that changes on a dime with great tension and release build ups, then Brainchild is for you. After Brainchild it was on to a little bit of Cornmeal. Allie is so stunning and such an amazing fiddle player, that, despite my general lack of interest in bluegrass and related genres, I rarely miss Cornmeal play. And you know what, every time I see them I enjoy them a little more. This time was no exception. I love the way they can bring their whole band to this central place that is darker and heavier and then through their jam build it up and out to a twang explosion…like I said, this is my first attempt at blogging to if some of the things I say are weird, well, I don’t know what I’m doing.

By this time, we needed to go back to the site again for one more recharge, we met up with about 5 more of the wolfpack, we drank some more “juice” and “soda” (got to stay hydrated) and we set out for the rest of the night. We made it back to the campfire around 10:15 and saw about 30 minutes of the Pimps of Joytime. Now I have known about these guys for a few years now, maybe 4 or so, and they are awesome. If you like a kind of new school electro funk with a lot of soul then you should have been at this show. Pimps of Joytime are always a fun time and a dance party, which was great to warm up for what we were to experience next.

The first Red Barn “late night” it was only 11:00pm, was one of my favorite bands at the festival, Digital Tape Machine. What an awesome show. I interviewed Marcus Rezak, guitar player for DTM and he was saying that they tried to base a lot of their music on the video games of our youths. Well they did not accomplish that because I felt like I was in the video games of the future. These guys are super talented musicians, with Joel and Kris from UM they pull a lot of attention. But the beats are amazing, super danceable and usually up-tempo and every once in a while they will throw in a neo classical guitar riff or even complete breakdown that makes you remember there’s people up there and they are ROCKING. I hear DTM could be gearing up to tour some in the next year or so, so be on the look out.

After having my hair blown back in the barn I stepped outside for a couple hours of some of the best stage banter you will ever hear, and the music ain’t bad either. 30db is Brendan Bayliss and Jeff Austin’s project that came together at a time that was really difficult for both of them. But from this shared time they created some awesome songs. They play them together like two guys happy to be beyond that stage in their lives often sharing a lot of whiskey as well, only increasing the hilarity of their aforementioned stage banter. What a great way to wind down the first night of the festival. I had been up for about 42 hours at this point and decided to head back to the site to crash. Like any experienced festival goer I brought my landing gear; put my “ear plugs” on and slid gently into sleep. Goodnight Summer Camp.

Jeff Greenswag
Counselor In Training