Ahhh yes, the day was new, the mud was wet and no one was dragging ass. After a little R and R last night and a surprise visit from the fairies I knew I was ready to go. You see this was a good day for muah. I found out today that I was getting the chance to interview Ryan Stasik from Umphre’ys Mcgee. Yes this
made my day and woke me right up. I couldn’t get my mind off of anything else, until I remembered the amazing set up that day. Moe, De La Soul, Greensky Blugrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Cornmeal, Tea Leaf Green, Umphreys Mcgee, and the list went on and on and on and on it was a bit overwhelming to be honest. How in the hell was I going to make it to all the shows I wanted to see and be satisfied? I managed just like everyone else did. I mozzied from show to show enjoying Moe.s first set to kick of the fest, Yonder playing “No Expectations” one of my favorite songs, De La Soul taking Pee Wee Herman on a stick on stage, Umphrey’s playing one of their new songs “Hour Glass” for us, it was things like that that tricked my trigger and that’s when I realized I was going to be up all night.
It’s an art staying up all night, it takes a lot and if you got it, you got it, if you know what I mean. After carrying a man who had a seizure out of the Umphrey’s crowd, I hit up the VIP bar with my copilot for the night Cherry. We hit up Team Bayside High in the Vibes tent after strolling the land and making many a friends and grooved there for a bit before making our way to the Campfire stage catching the last bit of Greensky Bluegrass. That was fun, I got to make Pee Wee on a stick dance and ran into another CIT Joe. That made for an interesting night. You see I personally think everyone needs to meet Joe, he is great to say the least. He is spunky as all hell, funny and a great slap the bag partner haha. So after the show Cherry and I followed Joe back to his campsite for late night festivities. We slapped that bag until it was gone bsed for a while. The pictures turned out amazing by the way hahaha oh where they funny.
Back to basics, looking at the time I realized that it was getting to that point of the night where we turn in…..NOT. In reality I looked at the time and realized heck yeah I am going to make it to kickball with Stasik this year . Last year I was awoken by the fun of kickball but could not get my butt out of bed to play, but this year I was ready to go. What a turn out, there was a good crew of people there and we were all pumped for 5 AM kickball. This year they came prepared, they had more than one kickball so it couldn’t get stolen unlike last year when someone ran off with the ball and ruined the game for everyone which is pretty lame but no no no not this year. Stasik threw the first ball and the game was on. Awaiting my turn to kick I got hungry and got some amazing cheese fries from one of the vendors close by, pretty happy they were still serving. I sat my happy butt down and inhaled those things as I watched the game, felt good. So many balls went out of bounds, some people missed the kick, it was a pretty good game. In the end Stasiks team won, YEAH BUDDY!!!! I giggled my sleepy butt back to camp, had myself a morning drink and went to bed wondering what tomorrow would bring.
Counselor in Training
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.
Counselor In Training
After flying into Chicago Tuesday night and driving down to my old homestead of the Quad Cities, Amy and I were picked up by some very dear friends and escorted the last leg to Chillicothe. We drove down Il 29 past militant looking State Patrol officers and a few unlucky souls who lost on their roll of the dice. We made it to the lot where we quickly parked and assessed the situation. In stark contrast to what we saw on the highway, local law enforcement were spending their off duty hours parking cars and bumming beers. I looked around. It had been 5 years since I was last at Summer Camp and the old girl looked well.
Besides the troves of people who had elected to arrive on Thursday the new layout of the festival was efficient and organized properly. We got into line and I made my way to the window where Arlan Goldberg greeted me. He took the honor of bestowing my wristband upon me rather ceremoniously. It was the first of many, many surreal and humbling moments that occurred throughout the weekend.
We made our way back to the car but because I was informed that I would be interviewing moe. around 2:30 p.m. I was anxious to get inside and get my tent set up. Originally I was going to be camping next the 312 Vibe Tent but because they had recently been granted a permit to have music until 4 a.m. this was not going to be a good option for my busy weekend. So I headed into the VIP entrance around 1 p.m. and found a spot on the trail to general camping. We were also able to procure a spot just down the way for the rest of my friends. I quickly set up the tent and met with Amy before heading backstage to meet moe.
There I met Skip (moe.’s tour manager) who let me know that the band’s flight had been rerouted to St. Louis and they were not expected on site until later in the evening. I thanked him and headed over to my campsite. Everything was well on its way at camp thanks to Amy and my friends. They worked hard to haul all our gear into the fest utilizing the Love Tractor (a giant off-road wagon recently purchased for just this festival.) Meanwhile it was time to meet Holly for the initial press meeting at The Church. I arrived and met various members of the press, many of which were incredibly helpful in my first foray into access and real coverage. Up until now all of my blogging has been totally independent. So I was and am very appreciative of the help I received from the jam press at Summer Camp.
I went out and quickly shot my first standup before heading back to The Church to meet with the rest of the CITs. I will say the initial meeting with my former competition was a little uneasy, but that soon passed and we were all fast friends. We divvied up the various events we wanted to cover over the course of the weekend. Anxious to go catch some music, I said my goodbye and made my way over to camp and before heading directly to Ali Baba’s Tahini. Now, I have wanted to hear these guys ever since I first learned they were regularly playing together again beginning a few years ago. They obviously don’t tour extensively so having them on the bill on Thursday was a real treat for me. And honestly they sounded like a band formed by Jake. It was like his raw gritty guitar times five.
Here is the setlist from their Facebook Page
SET: Strollin, Got Your Milk, Vegetables, Veil, Running Down A Dream*, Aramdillo, Zero, Poster Prose, Carnival Chronicles, Second, Bikes,
*Tom Petty Cover dedicated to Brendan Bayliss
The Got Your Milk along with the Cinninger’s Beatbox vs. Wavy Dave’s Mouth Harp breakdown were the real highlights of the set. Also the Petty cover was spot on. Overall I found the Ali Baba’s Tahini to be a fun way to get my feet wet at Summer Camp. Here is a video I took from the pit. http://youtu.be/7VrKkQI4gMI
I caught a little bit of Family Groove Company before heading back to camp. All along the way a person here or there would recognize me as the Summer Camp Counselor. I would chat randomly with people as I ventured from stage to stage and really this was a huge highlight of my weekend. When I arrived back to camp I took the last bit of daylight as opportunity to blow up the air mattress in my tent. After getting a bite to eat my whole group made our way to the Starshine Stage for some much needed Cornmeal. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Cornmeal grow into the ridiculous bluegrass powerhouse that they are today. Going all the way back to 2002’s performance at the 2nd Summer Camp where I first saw them, up to now where they blow away audiences across the country, Cornmeal has earned every fan. And I have to say Colorado loves them some Cornmeal. They played a great set and really got the crowd energized for the long haul ahead. I am and continue to be impressed with how far they have come as a band.
Last but not least on the agenda was 30db. Now I guess I was spoiled when 30db played The Fox in Boulder because the lineup included Nick Forster, Eric Thorin, and Cody Dickinson. But honestly I could watch Austin and Bayliss go back and forth all day. They are like kindred spirits and they definitely enjoy playing together. That kind of dynamic is infectious. They got the crowd buzzing with a long soundcheck where they basically tried to get the crowd to curse their bandmate. Finally after a short break they came back and acoustically melted faces. The highlight of the set was a cover of Wilico’s Handshake Drugs. It was a totally unexpected and a pretty interesting choice of cover. Here is a video I took from the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSwt33bl9kU&feature=youtu.be
So all in all it was a pretty productive and fun first day. Thanks to Amy and my crew for getting camp set up and schlepping gear. You guys are awesome and you helped me out immensely. Around 2 a.m. at the end of 30db I made my way back to my tent and fell tried to fall asleep. I was pretty excited for what was about to unfold over the course of the next three days so that was a challenge.