Summer Camp favorites, The Everyone Orchestra is the musical monstrosity that pairs incredible talent with the razor-sharp mind of Matt Butler. While the lineup itself takes on many forms Butler and his white board are the one constant. Prior to Phish’s three-night run at Dick’s The Bianchi Brothers arranged for a little shindig under the stars. They have produced a couple of these ‘music in the park’ type events with positive feedback. This was the first to take place in Sculpture Park in front of the Denver Performing Arts Center. Giant, androgynous statues dance in the field, and they immediately became everyone’s go-to meeting place. The Dead Phish Orchestra opened up, but we arrived just as they finished up their set. Several vendors lined the ample-sized field, with the beer garden being the biggest draw.
The lineup on this particular night was absolutely stellar, consisting of Kyle Hollingsworth (SCI, KHB) on keys, Michael Kang (SCI, Panjea) on electric mandolin, Dave Watts (Motet) on kit, Jans Ingber (Motet) on percussion and vocals, Jennifer Hartswick (TAB, JHB) on trumpet and vocals, Al Schnier (moe., Floodwood) on guitar, Kai Eckardt (Garage Mahal) on bass, and Bridget Law (Elephant Revival) on fiddle, with Butler orchestrating. Jason Hann (SCI) and Ted Tilton (DPO) both sat in during the second set as well. The sheer aptitude for music in this configuration of Everyone Orchestra is utterly mind-blowing. I’ve seen many different EO shows, but this has to be at the top of heap simply from musicianship. The show began with a vocal jam between Butler and the crowd. Watts’ lockstep beat was in full effect as Kyle tickled the keys elegantly.
This two set show featured some extensive jamming from EO. Strong vocal interplay between Jans and Hartswick were yet another highlight of this musical journey. With the majority of their “songs” hitting almost twenty minutes, they had plenty of time to pass the potato around. Al was a focal point for many all night as he simply shredded. Kai too was impressive to watch as he held it all down with his funky bass riffs. The first set was a little tame, as they got into their groove during the second set. Watching improvisation happen live can be a lot like watching a flower bloom. Sure everyone on stage is an absolute talent, but they have to be truly in synch with other musicians, several of whom they may never have met before, to actually perform together. That takes a special kind of genius. Everyone Orchestra played well into the evening as the sun set behind Sculpture Park. EO would claim that they are there to have fun, but with each show they continue to foster the spirit of improvisation. The show in Sculpture Park featured a lot of crowd interaction, more than a few vocal based songs, and epic jamming. At one point during the second set I was fairly sure they were jamming on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” This was a great way to start my weekend with Phish. EO always gets the musical juices flowing. They are a jam institution as far as I’m concerned. Butler travels all over the country paring up players, and spreading the power of improvisation. In what other venue is it even possible to see members of The Motet, SCI and moe. all jamming together onstage? It’s special every time they perform and their show in Sculpture Park was definitely a unique experience.
In this post-Kickstarter era the individual music fan has a new ability to directly support their favorite musicians. Many bands have taken advantage of this new crowd-sourcing technique that allows them to produce new music as well as facilitate additional concerts. Floodwood is utilizing Kickstarter to reach out to fans for a new album and a touring van. Floodwood features Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico from moe., but they should not be categorized as a side project. They are simply put, an amazing bluegrass experience. They really got a chance to debut at Summer Camp a few years back and I’ve been listening to them ever since. Jason Barady, Nick Piccininni and Zacary Fleitz round out this lineup of real talent.
Musically and stylistically Floodwood is pushing the boundaries while still maintaining a reverence for traditional bluegrass. Their songwriting is top notch. I am incredibly curious to see how they will develop the sequences of tracks on the album and what they will do to further the instrumentation of the individual songs. So much time and energy is put into working on a studio album. Kickstarter has become a real and viable tool to actually make new music happen. In essence a supporter is basically preordering the new album. However most campaigns offer high end off the wall rewards for large pledges. For instance if you donate ten grand Floodwood will make arrangements for a VIP weekend ski trip with the entire band. The van is important as well as I would like to see Floodwood branch out from primarily playing in the Northeast. It’s time to share Floodwood with the world.
Their campaign ends on September 4th so if you have a few bucks or are able to share this link on your various social media sites that is greatly appreciated.
Here is a video of Floodwood at Summer Camp 2013
Show two from moe. was on the dock and ready to jump into the icy lake that is the Ogden. After a strange first night I was ready for a more chill experience and some classic jamming from one of my favorite bands. I spent the day playing some disc golf and then lounging at the Rockmada before heading to dinner and then the show. It was a nice relaxing day that got us ready to rage one more night. Local favorites The Congress had been selected to fill the opening slot. Ironically the first time I saw The Congress was opening up for moe. a few years back in Breckenridge. Lead by the powerful vocals and bass of Jonathan Meadows, the band is now striped down into a power trio with Scott Lane on guitar and Mark Levy on kit. Scott gyrates wildly onstage ashe sets fire to the neck of the guitar. It’s great to see a rock outfit of this caliber playing in utter synchronicity. Again making the most of their forty-five minute slot, they performed a scorching set that saw an early “Jonah Gideon” energize the crowd. There seemed to be more early arrivers on night two. Perhaps people got the message from a solid set from YAMN on night one. The highlight of their set was a sweet version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that really demonstrated Meadows’ range as a singer. He can deliver a grumbled rock voice on one song and the sing a delicate blues number on the next go. He is one of my favorite Denver singers to see live right now. They also premiered a new song entitled “When I’ve Got The Time,” which was a rockabilly number that sounded fantastic. The Congress’ set was over as soon as it began and it was time for two more from moe.
moe. opened with the Rob sung “Paper Dragon;” this track while relatively new is a great vehicle for tight riffing and fun interplay.
Set I: Paper Dragon> Happy Hour Hero, Big World> Ricky Marten> Where Does The Time Go?, Water> Haze
Set II: Skrunk> Shoot First, Y.O.Y, Spine Of A Dog> So Long> Wicked Awesome, Sticks and Stone> Spaz Medicine, Plane Crash
Encore: Zed Nought Z> Time Ed
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
They went into the fan favorite “Happy Hour Hero” that became a massive sing along. It was a smooth way to ease into the set before a nice but quick “Big World.” It was obvious that they were beginning with a quicker pace as opposed to the spaced out playing we witnessed on night one. The segues as always were clean especially so during the transition in and out of “Ricky Marten.” “Where Does The Time Go?” was a late set breather before a ridiculous “Water” ignited the fuse. Chuck’s graceful guitar licks hypnotized the audience. “Water” was the first extended jamming of the evening but never really getting too far off the beaten path. They ended the set with a stellar “Haze” that seemed fit in that spot like a well-time Tetris line.
moe. began the second set with a rowdy “Skrunk” that featured some the most intense jamming of the night. Chuck settled everyone down with a bouncy “Shoot First” before moe. pulled out the now classic “Y.O.Y’. moe. continues to be one of the tightest bands touring today. The longevity of the project has really allowed all of the members of the band to meld musically in a way that should be the standard. There are very few of groups in the scene who can say they have been around for over twenty years with not one serious breakup or extended hiatus. They treated fans to another standard with a quick “Spine Of A Dog” that a utilized a riff on Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” (Better known as the “Assembly Line Song”) as the segue into “Wicked Awesome.” Al killed it on “W.A.” which is tribute to the radio that shaped his love of music. “Sticks and Stones” is a personal favorite, so it was nice to see it in the mix. “Spaz Medicine” was well executed, but the “Plane Crash” was by far the best jam of the night. Reaching over fourteen minutes, it was an invigorating take on “PC” in its traditional set closing spot.
moe. encored with a very tranquil “Zed Naugh Z” before absolutely jumping over the edge with a huge “Time Ed.” All in all this was a very nice show although somewhat more bottled than night one at times. These two shows demonstrate the versatility that moe. has with each and every outing. They can walk stage and play four songs for an hour and a half or deliver fifteen-song sets. Each one of their tunes is like a piece of play dough that they can stretch or shrink based on their needs for that particular time and place. Much of that comes from their endurance as a band over time. moe. has already announced initial lineups for both Summer Camp and moe.down. Both look incredibly promising and if other festivals follow suit, we’ll be looking at another amazing summer of music. Wait what month is it? …
moe. made their jubilant return to Denver, as makeup for two missed shows in July. Their drummer Vinnie Amico came down with a case of mono, and they had to postponed several shows at the end of the summer tour. The wait was long but worthwhile, as the shows added openers for both nights that included local favorites YAMN and The Congress.
YAMN has been in Jam Band Purgatory and are just back from a yearlong hiatus. New to the group is Paul Evans on keyboards, which is part of the reason for the extended absence from the scene. One would expect some jitters or general nervousness from the band considering the time since their last show. Quite the opposite was true, with YAMN coming out as the consummate showmen and blasting through a smoking opening set.
Set I: Burner, Apparition, Floating Leave, Low Gravity, Ricochet, Home Sweet Home^
^w Chuck Garvey
As the opener for a band like moe., it’s important to hit it hard. With lots of potential new fans in the audience and only forty-five minutes to play, it’s important to make an impression quickly. That’s exactly what Yamn did at the Ogden. Soaring through the various sounds of jam and incorporating riff-y electronic effects, YAMN wowed the early arrivers. They proved to the crowd that they are still a force to contend with on the local scene. Given their absence they couldn’t have asked for a better show to reintroduce themselves to the hometown crowd. The highlight was a Chuck Garvey sit-in on Motely Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” Yamn is known for their random covers of classic rock tunes, but this was an unexpected treat.
After a short set break the five guys named moe. took the stage looking a bit more Grizzly Adams than usual. Al stepped up to his guitar donning a salt and pepper beard and Rob came out looking generally unshaven. They opened with a classic “Graffenberg.”
Set I: Dr. Graffenberg, Hi and Lo> The Pit, Not Coming Down> Wormwood> Deep This Time, Recreational Chemistry
Set II: Silver Sun> Puebla> Interstellar Overdrive> Head, Awesome Gary> Brent Black*
ENCORE: Four> The Ghost Of Ralph’s Mom
*Rob Teased the “Peanuts Theme Song” during his bass solo while wearing a Storm Trooper mask.
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
“DG” stretched on into the realm of spacey with a huge solo from Al before the song melted down into a pleasant “Hi and Lo.” I like this set placement, it was a bit of a step back from “Graffenberg,” but it fit in nicely. From there they broke into the darkly, stunning “The Pit.” By this point I had made it back from the photo pit to Amy and company located to the right of the soundboard. There was an over enthused girl to my right who upon my arrival collapsed into a seizure. Amy and I caught her and braced her as several slacked-jawed gawkers gazed on in bewilderment. I finally said, “Someone go get help,” at which point the girl snapped awake and a yellow jacketed security guard took her away. Not the best way to start a show. The familiar beat of “Not Coming Down” brought the show back into focus before the band took a mid-set breather with a classy “Wormwood.” From the tranquil solitude of “Wormwood” the band emerged with Rob taking the microphone on a straightforward “Deep This Time.” “Recreational Chemistry” was anything but straightforward. Stretching on to almost 25 minutes, and again seeing Al participating in an absolute shred fest, and Jim killing it on the vibes; it was an amazing way to end the first set. One can only assume that the extended “Rec Chem” was a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado.
moe. came back with a gorgeous “Silver Sun” that morphed into an dark rhythmic back and forth. The hallmark of the second set would be long jams with limited singing. It really felt like the boys just wanted to play. “Puebla” reached the ten-minute mark and continued on the darker path. moe. followed up with a massive version of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” This was a track they used to play a lot in the mid to late nineties and gets tossed into the rotation a couple times a year. It’s always a nice song to catch and this version just builds spectacularly. “Head” exploded out of the Syd Barrett classic with the .rons going nuts., but “Awesome Gary” into “Brent Black” was the highlight of the entire show. The “Brent Black” featured a nice drum solo before Rob returned to the stage, donned a Storm Trooper mask, and delivered one of the most amazing bass solos I’ve seen from him. His solo included a holiday wink to the crowd in the form a “Peanuts Theme Song” tease. The band returned to the stage to finish out “BB” and thus the second set.
moe. came back with a tasty “Four” into a brief “The Ghost of Ralph’s Mom” encore to end the first night at The Ogden. With the opener moe. pushed right up against the 2 AM curfew, but managed to squeak this one out at the buzzer. This was a solid show that ventured into the realm of space and deep jam throughout both sets. It definitely felt like the show for the fans. Night two would prove to be a show more suited for the masses.
Everyone Orchestra has become an institution at Summer Camp. They have been playing the “Make A Difference” show for the last few years, which is a private concert that rewards campers for making donations and helping to clean up the environment. This group is always a special treat. Being the fan of jam and collaborations that I am, this band does everything that I hold dear in my favorite genre. EO is always jam-packed with some the very best musicians in the scene all under the confident direction of Matt Butler who acts as the conductor. This lineup included Al Schnier, Jamie Masefield, Steve Kimock, Jen Hartswick, Marco Benevento, John Morgan Kimock, Reed Mathis, and Jans Ingber. This lineup is full of Summer Camp alumni, most notably Al from moe. Saturday was the second of a three night run. Friday saw a big turnout and Sunday featured an afternoon set on the patio. Due to the High Park Fire The Motet’s show at Mishawaka was canceled, so Dave Watts and Friends supported Everyone Orchestra. However first was the surprise of the evening; Huckle performed on the main stage.
Huckle is an acoustic rock outfit from Sebastopol, California. They had a down home feel to their delivery like a band around a campfire. However they were both smooth and complex in their performance. Huckle is comprised of Murph on upright bass, Ezra Lipp on drums, and Simon “Huckle” Kurth on acoustic guitar and 10-string slide. Each one of them are multi-instrumentalists and showed their prowess on their respective tools of the trade. A decent crowd gathered to see them play. I found them to be utterly enjoyable and a great way to start the evening. They did an impromptu version of their original song Ramblin’ out on the sidewalk after their set. MusicMarauders was there to catch it.
Next on the patio were Dave Watts and Friends otherwise known as The Motet. The Motet always brings the heat and this funk filled night was no exception. Dave Watts lead the stripped down group through a series of covers and originals. The highlight of which was a sit in from Jen Hartswick that set the stage on fire. The dynamic between Garrett Sayers on bass and Dave Watts on kit continues to impress me every time I see them play together. They are perhaps the best rhythm section on the Front Range, which is saying a lot considering the pool of talent out here. Jans Ingber was on the mic a lot throughout their two set show, which was woven into the night quite nicely. Matt Grundstad sat in for most of the night on percussion freeing up Jans to play front man full time. He pulled double duty sitting in with Everyone Orchestra as well.
Everyone Orchestra always combines the best talents jam has to offer for a great live event. Super Jams as a rule can be hit or miss. It’s difficult for a group to come together having never played with one another and simply gel. They have to be incredibly talented and Butler has always been a great judge of talent. He is a bus driver who can handle the type of pressure that comes with leading incredible musicians through the murky waters of imporvisation. It was great to see Jaime Masefield on the stage. It has been the better half of a decade since I saw Masefield with Jazz Mandolin Project. In fact one of the first times I got to see Jaime was at the inaugural Summer Camp. I got a chance to talk with him and he informed me that he had been taking it easy for some time with his family. Butler began scribbling on his dry erase board and the band quickly got underway.
You can listen to the show on Archive from Kind Recordings.
I was awed with the young but capable John Morgan Kimock on the kit. He almost looked out of place until he began playing. Al was a treat, after watching him at Summer Camp with moe. and Floodwood it was great to see him let loose in Everyone Orchestra. Jen split her time between vocalizing the instructions on the boards and playing trumpet. Jans harmonized nicely with her when he came to the stage. Kimock Sr. held back quite a bit, playing in the shadows of the stage. However, when he was given the chance to shine he did so brilliantly. Most notably was a slide solo during the second set. Reed Mathis is simply spellbinding on the bass. He effortlessly dictates the flow like a man herding cattle through a canyon. The bass is so important to the Super Jam as a concept that without someone well versed at the position it can all go awry. Thankfully Reed knows what he is doing and helped keep everyone in check immensely. The entire two set show was a blast. It went by quickly as the crowds shifted from the patio to the inside and back again. Ending just before 2 AM it was a great experience all around. I would have liked to have seen Pete Wall sit in with the band on Sunday, but alas it was time to head back to Fort Collins. I look forward to the return of Everyone Orchestra.
moe. - The most amazing thing about this whole experience was getting to meet some of the artists that I so admire. As a fan, one tends to think that there is this detachment between the performers and the audience – that they live in a different world made of stars. The first time I was behind the moe. stage on Friday, waiting for the big moment when I would have to get up on that stage and announce their first set, Rob Derhak came up to me and told me not to be nervous; he talked to me and helped stop my knees from shaking like maracas. Vinnie and Al were also so kind and gave me words of encouragement. Ever since that first time, whenever I saw them I was greeted and treated like any other person. I used to love moe. for their music, but getting to know how kind, sweet and funny they are makes me love them even moe.
Wavy Dave - After their day set on Friday, despite having jammed hard in the blazing heat, Wavy was kind enough to sit down with me and let me ask him a few questions. He is super nice and SO talented, he plays like a million instruments! The next day was his birthday; HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! And I was allowed to tag along to the celebration. It was really cool to be able to see the gathering and sing happy birthday. What was funny was that it was so hot that the icing was melting and the cake was falling apart as he blew out the candles; but it still looked delicious!
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy – I had the awesome opportunity to do an interview with Chris Michetti, Ben Baruch, Dominic Lalli, Jeremy Salken, Marc Brownstein, and Araon Magner, and it was hilarious. Again, that imaginary distance that one imagines exists between the artists and fan disappeared and we spent a great deal of time talking as if they weren’t big stars they are; I mean we discussed socks for like 5 minutes! These guys acted like they were brothers, and they were SO funny. I have no words to express how happy I am that I had the chance to meet them and spend some time with them. Please, check out the interview video and see for yourself!
G-Love - G Love is a very cool, very laid back guy. This was the first year we were able to catch his set so it was a little embarrassing going into the interview with him, since I didn’t know much about him. However, he was super awesome and made it very easy for me to get a great interview. His blue eyes are mesmorizing and he really has a great way with words. The story of how his career started is extremely interesting so don’t miss the video!
Kinetix – I was super excited to catch Kinetix for the first time – and they didn’t let me down; they played a great show and afterwards I went up to them and asked them if they didn’t mind doing an interview (make sure to watch it!) and they were so cool about it. The band consists of Adam Lufkin, Eric Blumfield, George Horn, Jordan Linit, and Josh Fairman. Another great group of guys, they were funny and it was a pleasure to meet them. This was their second year at Summer Camp and I hope they keep coming back.
Sun Stereo – I finally got to meet this band, which I have been interested in for a long time. They are locals from Urbana and have a very distinct sound that you have to hear. The main group consists of Kelly McMorris, Josh Houchin, and Jesse Greenlee but they brought some friends to add to the music with trumpets. They were all very sweet and Kelly has a great smile. Don’t miss out; check them out and the interview too!