As we age in the scene, the generations change and the music evolves. Summer Camp seems to develop by leaps and bounds every year. With a lineup of over 100 musical acts offered they are constantly bringing in new groups and continuing to be an innovator in the festival scene. This year Jay Goldberg is bringing in Phish front man Trey Anastasio along with the regular cast of characters including moe., Umphrey’s McGee and so much more. As we approach the thirteenth Summer Camp it really feels like a whole new ballgame. Younger fans hopping on the bus, different styles of music all getting a chance on the array of stages, and additionally so many incredible events taking place all over the grounds throughout the four days beyond the music. They all combine to make Summer Camp one of the leading festivals in the country. As Summer Camp finds itself on the cusp of a new era, I found myself reflecting on the festival at a local show. On a recent frigid night out in Fort Collins I headed out to see Gipsy Moon.
Gipsy Moon represents a turning of the page for Americana and Gypsy Bluegrass. I’ve seen Silas Herman, son of famed front man and Summer Camp veteran Vince Herman, perform with Leftover Salmon several times. Gipsy Moon is his current foray into a touring band. Seeing the son of a musician that I admire so much, performing on his own is what got me thinking about the future of music and current state of affairs within the scene.
Gipsy Moon consists of multi-talented, multi-instrumentalists. Silas flanks live painter and singer, Mackenzie Page, who belts it out as well as she handles a paint brush. David Matters is a singer/songwriter who plays banjo as well as the guitar. Finally, Collin Huff holds it all down on bass. We arrived as Gipsy Moon was beginning their set at Avogadro’s Number. Avo’s is a series of three rooms divided by purpose. The first is a bar, the second is a quaint music venue, and the third is a restaurant. Inside the band performed for a small crowd already seated in the middle of the room. We came to find out the show was a bit of a homecoming for Page with many of her family and friends filling out the crowd. They opened up the night with “Ramblin’.”
Set One: Ramblin’, Little Maggie, Seven Seas, Autumn Leaves, The New Thing, Cowboy Vessel, Dark Eyes, Long Time Comin’, Away We Go, Trumpet and the Drum, Nocturnal, Swallow Tail Jig, Sweet Thing, Independence Day, Pensl-tucky, Angeline the Baker / Chinquipin Hunting, House of The Rising Sun, Hunger, Right Before The Dawn
The Gipsy Moon show was a mix of originals and traditional bluegrass style covers. They dub themselves “Gipsygrass” and their entire delivery had a free flowing style that was incredibly inviting. They each took turns at the microphone and mixed up the instrumentation often. Matters had a nice vocal range that harmonized nicely with Page who at times shook the room with her powerful delivery. Silas simply shredded the mandolin throughout the set even though he at times seemed to shy away from the spotlight. Covering everything from Russian and Irish folk songs to a smoking version of “House Of The Rising Sun” Gipsy Moon really demonstrated their range and ability. All in all it was a relaxing night of music with some talented musicians from Nederland. I foresee big things from this band; I hope they continue to venture down from the mountains to play for the masses on the Front Range. As I headed back home I was truly inspired by this new generation of musicians and it got me excited about Summer Camp this year. The art, music, and people will all be off the hook this year. I look forward to yet another amazing time in the heart of Illinois.
We arrived at Three Sisters Park, unaccustomed to the emptiness. We have been there so many times for Summer Camp, it was odd to visit our Memorial Day weekend home without the bustle created by thousands of people. Once we parked and ventured into the woods it seemed almost surreal to walk down the familiar paths sans all the tents. It was extremely beautiful and peaceful, the park was lusciously and vibrantly green.
We emerged from the path in the woods to a more open area that was still shaded by scattered trees. A little ways ahead we saw a group of people practicing poi. As we approached them it was a class for partner poi. We sat a few feet away and watched for a while. A little farther away to the right there was a group of people learning partner yoga.
Each class took place in a designated area of the park. And each area was themed according to the elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Spirit, Roots.
I am an aspiring hooper and was looking forward to taking some classes myself. To be completely honest I was a little intimidated at first; and although there were many advanced hoopers, there were also many beginners. Everyone was so friendly that any worry dissipated within no time. In less than an hour we had befriended various people. Suzanne’s beginner whoop class began and I joined in for a while. It was a little too hot to really get into it, but there’s nothing like hooping among the trees on a beautiful summer day.
We then ventured over to the Fire Station to get a glimpse of the Buugeng (pronounced “boo – gang”). Kyle was there teaching, I had checked out this art online before heading to Spark and was anxious to see it in real life. He was really nice and a great teacher. If you’re interested, like all the art you see at Spark it takes time and patience. From there we went to check out a class I couldn’t miss, “Fire Weapons Training: How to Act Like a Martial Artist and Kill Everyone.” There was a break and we went to get some dinner and cool off. We returned that evening for the fire and flow jam at the red barn.
Behind the barn a large area was sectioned off with tiki torches. There a DJ booth at the farther end blaring music that resounded throughout the woods. Within the sectioned off area there were people performing various fire arts, such as poi and staff. We sat on the lawn close enough to see the performers. There were various groups around us just hanging out and people practicing with LED hoops and poi. We stayed and hung out well into the night, and when we left for bed at around 1am, many people were still going strong. It was a great time and I was looking forward to the next day.
Saturday began with an enormous storm. The sky was pitch black, the wind scratched violently and the rain pounded down. Branches were being snapped off trees like toothpicks and so campers were evacuated from their tents for safety reasons. Surprisingly as fast as the storm came and as terrible as it was, by the early afternoon it was gone and the sun came out; soon enough it was a beautiful day.
The storm had done its damage however and so all the classes for the day were moved to the barn. It was actually really awesome to have everyone all together in that smaller space because you could easily observe and interact with others.
I spent some time going around and talking to people and watching different classes. When Olivia’s class “Olivia’s Fancy Bag of Hoop Tricks” began I had to partake. She taught us some very cool tricks, some that I already knew but learned other ways of doing them, and others that were completely new to me. It was fun to be surrounded by people all trying to learn the same tricks, encouraging you to try and try again.
We spent the rest of the afternoon talking to more people and learning some really awesome things. I watched people learn things from dart to break dancing, all type of art and performance is welcome and encouraged. Instead of going through everything myself, here’s a summary of the classes and people there through their own words.
Howard Chen demonstrates some martial art moves:
Brian Shank demonstrates whip (you should see him do this while the whip is on fire):
Jenn Rauscher demonstrates some aerial acrobatics:
Rob Hanson gives us an awesome Knife Defense lesson:
Holly Bonser performs an art new to many – Veil Dancing:
That evening they had a fire walk, where anyone could partake and walk on fire. It was a really neat experience and almost ritualistic preparing us for the night of fire performance art. To kick off the night we were in for a special treat, Jannell Justice, an experienced hooper of many years was going to break two world records for biggest fire hoop and fire hoop with most wicks. The biggest fire hoop in the world was 9 feet in diameter, and the fire hoop with the most wicks had a total of fifty – yes thats right 50. It was awesome to be there to witness it, but I got it on video for all of you who couldn’t make it.
50 Wick Hoop:
9 Foot Hoop:
There was no better way to kick off the night, and after Jannell’s performances came the Fire Battle! Two people battled it out until one person was the clear winner, then they would remain in the arena and a new challenger would enter. This was just AWESOME, the trip to Three Sister’s Park was worth this alone. Here is the first battle that kicked it off…check it out!
So for all of you who didn’t make it this year, make sure you don’t miss out next year! See you there!!