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.
Well, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of online activity as I made my bid to be the first ever Summer Camp Counselor. I had some incredible competition from NOLA native Joe Albin and Healthy Hippie editor-in-chief Taraleigh Weathers. After the weeklong three-way battle I was informed I had gotten the job. I’ve been pretty ecstatic ever since.
I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who supported my run. I feel incredibly blessed to have met and known so many wonderful people in my life and that they literally came out of the woodwork to support me. It was truly humbling to witness.
Summer Camp and I have a long history. I made my way down to the first six years of the fest in Chillicothe. I watched it grow from a regional festival to the nationally recognized event that it is today. Summer Camp managed to thrive while other festivals came and went. The one key factor to their success has been a focus on the music, and that seems especially true for Summer Camp Music Festival’s 11th year.
I mean let’s be honest the lineup is pure sickness. I am really excited to catch Summer Camp stalwarts moe. and Umphrey’s McGee. These bands are the reason people come to this festival. However, a new reason in the form of Widespread Panic seems to have invigorated the fanbase and boosted attendance. Panic’s first year at Summer Camp will be one for the books and I am curious to see how they play on the Moonshine Stage.
The nice thing about the lineup at Summer Camp is that it literally has something for everyone. The huge range of musicians on the bill includes everything from electronic to bluegrass and all points in between. Of course the icing on the cake for me are sets from Bruce Hornsby, YMSB, Huey Lewis, and Bela Fleck. Having never seen Hornsby live and given my love for his short stint with the Grateful Dead, I am amped to see him perform. Huey Lewis with Umphrey’s McGee and a horn section? We are through the looking glass here people.
One thing that is new to Summer Camp this year is the Make A Difference concert with Everyone Orchestra. The lineup is awesome but what’s exciting to me is the possibility of empowering the attendees to actually do some good and aid their community. Simple things we take for granted can have a huge impact. There will be several ways to participate including attending a workshop, picking up cigarette butts, or making a piece of art out of recycled materials, which can earn you a spot at the show. Not to mention the incredibly diverse array of seminars and workshops including a brewing presentation from Kyle Hollingsworth himself.
I am also really excited for Field Day, taking place on Saturday. To be a part of a “color wars” will really add to the overall Summer Camp vibe. It will also give us a chance for some friendly competition and general camaraderie. It’s going to be an amazing part of the overall camp experience.
Tough decisions will have to be made. Do I stay and finish the 7 Walkers set or hit the end of STS9? Do I finish the rUMors set or do I catch the beginning of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. These are the kinds of problems I like to have. And Summer Camp has done a good job creating the lineup and schedule and I couldn’t be happier with their choices. All that’s left to do now is show up. I look forward to meeting everyone at Summer Camp and working to begin a tradition that will hopefully live on as successfully as the festival that spawned it.
Summer Camp Counselor