It’s been a little over two weeks since I got back home from Summer Camp
and I’m still buzzing from the experience. Everything about the Summer Camp
Counselor position from being selected by the people all the way to my private
Cornmoe. show was truly mind-blowing. Even now, I have a hard putting the entire festival into words. Having been to literally hundreds of shows and dozens of festivals in my 30 years on this planet, I have never lived through something like what I experienced at Summer Camp 2011. Never have I been so warmly received at a festival. From the moment Arlan put on my wristband and gave my backstage pass until the very end, it was like one long hug. I’m being a little warm and fuzzy now, but in retrospect, that’s exactly how I felt the entire time.
The four days of the festival were a blur of activity. I can tell any future Camp
Counselors, be prepared to do the work. If you do it correctly you will be left with an incredibly gratifying feeling. There were some hard decisions, but the nice thing about being Camp Counselor was that I got to handpick what I wanted to cover. At times it felt like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel of festivals; if you would like to see Bruce Hornsby turn to page 36. Other times I took the opportunity to decompress and enjoy the company of my friends. Those times were short in comparison though. From the time I got to Chillecothe until Monday morning, I was constantly on the move. And honestly, that’s how I am at every festival I attend. It’s all about consuming as much music as possible, and seeing all my favorites in one place.
For me, one of the highlights of being Camp Counselor was having total
access. I was able to float in and out of the various venues with relative ease. In fact, I could pretty much come and go any way I pleased. The security folks knew Amy and I by about the second day, so after that, it was clear sailing. For me, it wasn’t about being a fanboy backstage either. Sure I got to talk to Kris Myers, Ryan Stasik, all the members of moe., Jimmy Herring, and Kyle Hollingsworth but it was very casual. I tried not to bother them too much because I recognized that with access comes responsibility. The backstage area is a refuge for the artists and I never wanted to take advantage of my awesome situation.
Another huge highlight was being onstage for moe., Widespread Panic, and
Umphrey’s McGee. Being so close to your heroes as they do what you love is an amazing thing. In fact, the one set onstage with UM may have turned Amy into a legitimate Umphreak. Watching moe. play from the side of the Moonshine stage was just epic. This was perhaps the most powerful part of my prize package. I could not fathom the intensity of being so close as the music was created right before our eyes.
And finally, the icing on the cake for the Summer Camp Counselor position
was all of the wonderful people I met. On Thursday, a few people saw me and either asked if was the Camp Counselor or congratulated me on winning. After I introduced moe. on Friday it was like I was a rock star wondering through the
crowd. People were stopping me, taking pictures, and just talking about their
experience at Summer Camp. I found this aspect to be both wonderful and
enlightening. Summer Camp, as I originally stated in my video, is a melting pot. I met people from all over the country who were all there for a single purpose, the music. Whether they were there to see Bassnectar or moe. or any of the many bands on the side stages this was the unifying factor. We were a community that almost tripled the population of Chillecothe for a weekend. It was great meeting so many of you wonderful people at Summer Camp.
And there you have it. As the first ever Summer Camp Counselor I worked
hard to document and contribute to this amazing community. I tried to be proper with the access that was bestowed up me, and I tried to meet as many people as possible. My time at the festival went by like a flash but it is an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Before I finish I would like to take one last opportunity to thank my crew; Amy, Sean, Cristi, Anna, and Pete for being my shelter from the action as well as Jay, Ian, Holly, Arlan, and moe. for making dreams come true. Keep an eye on the blog and on the Summer Camp Music Festival website in the coming months as my job did not end the Monday after the fest. I will continue to cover some of the many great musicians and bands that have graced the stages of Summer Camp out here in Colorado. I look forward to contributing some great content over the next year until we meet again at Summer Camp 2012.
Counselor In Training
Sunday was the culmination of my Summer Camp experience. Not only was the lineup jam-packed, but it was also the day of my private campsite show as well as my interview with moe. So it started nicely with me heading over to the barn to get cleaned up. The clouds looked ominous at this point but I was optimistic. I was also wrong. I stopped by my P-Town friend’s RV for Sunday Brunch. I thought this was both clever and cute. I mean how perfect is that? So I took a little video of it, which you see here.
It was a nice gathering of friends and the protein helped me for the final push that was Sunday at Summer Camp. Angie made Amy a plate and I headed back to camp as the winds were beginning to pick up. I dropped off the food and went to our friend’s site to make sure they had everything buckled down. It was about this point that I made this video.
It was getting a little scary as the winds whipped through tarps and tents. Luckily, those of us who camped in the woods got some solid protection but us lowlanders were also the victims of some serious puddles. All in all it was a fast moving storm and after about 45 minutes it was completely over. Music resumed on the Camping Stage, but the two main stages were out of commission for at least another hour. That meant there would be some on-the-fly rescheduling. Fareed Haque & Math Games did not get to play due to a scheduling conflict and Cornmeal was bumped up to 2 PM on the Sunshine Stage. That meant that UM and Huey Lewis would be playing at 3:45 PM. It meant that I would miss Cornmeal’s final set because of my interview, but I would be able to catch the rUMors show.
Amy and I hunkered down for the rest of the storm and after a bit of rolling thunder it was over. The only real issue left after the storm was the mud. It had been an element all weekend but after we got pummeled certain areas of the concert fields became impassable. The steady plodding of people’s feet had done a lot to pound out the moisture in the ground over the last three days, but in one quick storm all that hippie footwork was undone. The Wood Brothers’ set was also canceled but they were already playing the Campfire Stage for late night so I was okay with this move as well.
I went to my interview with moe. Rob had a last minute emergency he had to deal with so I sat down Al, Chuck, Jim, and Vinnie. In another surreal moment I got to talk to my heroes for about 20 minutes. We talked about a wide range of subjects including everything from how Summer Camp came to be to the new album. For the record there will be a new release out next year and no it will not be a double album. We also got a chance to talk about the role social media played in their recent Electric Lemoe.nade Show. The issue Al had was the fact that fans think it’s funny to vote for songs like We Got The Party and they are the ones that actually have to take the time to learn, like a Miley Cyrus song. Obviously the Internet can be ruthless sometimes. I finished up my interview as we heard Bela Feck and The Flecktones take the stage.
Bela Fleck is the epitome of musical prowess. He has been nominated in more categories than any other musician in the history of the Grammys. If that doesn’t give you an idea of his range, I don’t know what would. The set was tight, but I only got to catch about half. Since Coffin’s departure to Dave Matthews Band, they have been playing with original Flecktone Howard Levy on keyboards and harmonica. After an 18-year absence he began playing with them last year. This was my first chance to catch the original lineup and I have to say they played like butter. They were smooth and Victor Wooten drove the bus as Future Man punched out the drums on his SynthAxe. The highlight of the set for me was Sinister Minister, the sweet jazz drifted out over the crowd as I made my way over to the Soulshine tent for moe.’s acoustic set brought to us by HeadCount.
The acoustic moe. show really got the day going proper. The Soulshine tent felt like the cultural center of Summer Camp. It was located adjacent to the Make A Difference area and featured everything from open mic jams to headlining acts. It was a place for Yoga, Raffles, Workshops, and some amazing music. Unfortunately with so much going on all weekend I only got to take part in few of the events, moe.’s acoustic set was one show that I could not miss. The boys took the stage and opened with That Country Tune, here is the rest of the setlist from Phantasy Tour.
SET I: That Country Tune, Blue Eyed Son, Can’t Seem To Find, Okayalright, Tambourine, It, New York City
The audience recording is on Archive. Thanks to Travis Souza for posting.
This set was a lot of fun. I snuck backstage and got a few shots from behind the band before finding Amy exactly where I expected her, dead center in the mud rocking out to moe. I had tried to text her for the last 10 or 15 minutes before the show with no response. She was walking by when she heard the barker shouting about a moe. show in the Soulshine Tent. She of course stayed for what was about to ensue. Blue Eyed Son displayed some excellent vocals as well as picking from the band. Before Can’t Seem To Find you can hear Rob asking about the Mega Man totem that can be seen in just about every picture from Summer Camp. The fan blasted back, “Where you from, you don’t know Mega Man?” To which Rob replyed, “I went outside and played sports… and had girlfriends.” The crowd got a kick out of it, and actually I happened to be filming at this point so you can see most of it in my video.
I love the banter moe. comes up with onstage and as of late I have been missing it. I was happy they got a little more playful during this set. The acoustic Okayalright was sublime. It’s been one of my favorites as of late and it just rocks the face, and seeing an acoustic version in the Soulshine was my highlight of the show. They busted out a nice Tambourine before blasting off with It. Some of these songs rarely get the acoustic treatment so I found this to be one of my highlights of the weekend. I mean there couldn’t have been more than a few hundred people in attendance because as I stated earlier, with so much going on, the tent shows are often overlooked. They closed the set with a fulfilling New York City.
And with that I hurried back to the Sunshine Stage for some Umprhey’s McGee. They actually opened for their much-anticipated alter egos the rUMors, with Huey Lewis by playing a couple originals. I got into the pit for the first song and actually got some great shots. UM opened with All in Time followed by a new song, Room To Breath before inviting Mr. Lewis onto the stage. Here is the full setlist from http://www.umphreys.com:
SET I: All in Time, Room To Breath (*), Don’t Fight It (**^$), Up on Cripple Creek (^^), Heart and Soul (^^), The Weight (^), Women Wine & Song (^), Respect Yourself (^$), Workin’ For A Livin’ (&&^), She Caught The Katy (^^), Partyin’ Peeps (^), I Want A New Drug (^)
* first time played, original
** first time played, Wilson Pickett
^ with Huey Lewis on vocals and harmonica and Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret horns
^^ with Huey Lewis
$ with Gale Gardner and Linda Greenwood on vocals
& first time played, The Staples Singers
&& first time played, Huey Lewis
You can listen to the show on Archive. Thanks to tonedeaf for posting.
Room To Breath was like a meaty fight song, with melodic guitar interlacing from Jake and I enjoyed it very much. The rUMors got it started with a Wilson Pickett cover of Don’t Fight It with Gardner and Greenwood on backing vocals. It was like the band transformed from the Umphrey’s we know and love to a an 80’s powerhouse right before our eyes.
“I went to Summer Camp as a kid but it was nothing like this.” –Huey Lewis
They went into The Band’s classic Up On Cripple Creek, where Lewis seemed a little rough before getting into his groove. Heart and Soul got the crowd moving and honestly, it was the Huey tunes with UM as a backing band that gave me chills. Hearing Bayliss take over on vocals was amazing. Not to mention the raw power behind the chords played by the rUMors was just incredible. As they went into The Weight, I had to make a quick run over to the 312 Vibe Tent to check in on the home brewer’s workshop put on by Kyle Hollingsworth from SCI and Adam Lewis of Family Groove Company. I took some pictures of the tasting before grabbing Adamfor a quick recap of the workshop. You can see that interview here.
I thanked Adam for his insight on brewing before racing back to the rUMors set just in time to catch Respect Yourself. It broke my heart to leave, but as the Summer Camp Counselor, it was my duty to see and take part in as much as I could. Huey Lewis, always the showman, never left the spotlight for the entire set. Workin’ For A Livin’, another Lewis classic woke everyone up and the Taj Mahal blues standard, She Caught The Katy, was a very nice addition to an already stellar setlist. I also have to point out that Lewis’ harmonica work was just solid all day long. Lewis got a chance to jam on an Umphrey’s original with Partyin’ Peeps. They ended this history-making set with the much anticipated I Want A New Drug. I was very happy with how this all turned out. And a big thanks to Huey Lewis for taking a chance, it was well worth it.
I ran over to the Red Barn as Everyone Orchestra was finishing up their soundcheck. In the interim I got a chance to talk to a few people who participated in the Make A Difference Challenge at Summer Camp.
Make A Difference was a series of tasks that attendees of the festival could take part in to earn their ticket to this private show. This incarnation of EO included Kyle Hollingsworth, Al Schnier, Natalie Cressman, Jans Ingber, Brian Jordan, Randal Moore, John Stanton, Abigail Stauffer, Chris Wood, and Erin Zindle and orchestrated as always by Matt Butler, which meant that we would be witnessing a serious jam session from a mind-blowing lineup. The jamming was sick, if you have never seen Everyone Orchestra, they are lead by a conductor who feeds them words, phrases, audience suggestions, and feelings to create a live musical collaboration. It’s awesome to watch and a great way to reward the proactive festival goers who took the time to clean up and recycle. I think this experiment was a rousing success and I hope to see other festivals taking notes from Summer Camp. By giving just a little incentive, people really became involved and that was what Make A Difference was all about.
I stayed at EO until just before 6:00 PM when I said goodbye to the great jam and headed back to my site. No one was around but I met up with CIT Jeff Greenswag on the trail and we ventured off to see Bruce Hornsby together. I tried to spend a little bit of time with all the CITs so this was my chance hang with Jeff for a set. My only real familiarity with Bruce Hornsby comes from his short stint with the Grateful Dead and some of his popular work. I know he is a truly accomplished pianist, but what I didn’t realize is how much fun he has playing live. He took us on a journey through blues, jazz and rock before bringing Bela Fleck and Jimmy Herring on stage for a cover of Huey Lewis’ Jacob’s Ladder. Hornsby picked up the accordion for this song and regaled the crowd with this powerful composition. I was headed back to get ready for moe., but couldn’t resist the opportunity to film this one from the back of the bus. This video is a little shaky mainly because of the zoom (also keep an eye out for a spot about midway through when I was almost run over by a wook) but hey, the sound is good.
I made my way back to camp where I met up with Amy. I told her it was time for some moe. and she hopped out of the tent ready to rock. We headed over to The Moonshine stage where we found the rest of our crew by the soundboard. We were pretty much in the same spot all weekend, which made it easy to reconnect in the massive crowd. I told Amy I would meet her in a few songs and headed down to the pit as moe. opened with a rocking Deep This Time, here is the rest of the setlist from PT.
SET I: Deep This Time, Y.O.Y, Down Boy, Happy Hour Hero*, Rain Shine**, Farmer Ben, Moth
SET II: Plane Crash, Shoot First***, Silver Sun, Seat Of My Pants, Billy Goat
*w/ Kyle Hollingsworth on key
**First Time Played – Original – Al Song
***w/ Bela Fleck on Banjo
You can download the audience recording on Archive. Thanks to Travis Souza for posting.
Y.O.Y was one the first moe. songs I ever heard and it still holds a special place in my heart. It was a solid version that saw some very nice percussion work from both Jim and Vinnie. Rob busted out a nice Down Boy before they invited String Cheese’s Kyle Hollingsworth on stage for Happy Hour Hero. This was incredibly appropriate considering Kyle had just released Hoopla a festival pale ale at Summer Camp. It was a mild but hoppy concoction that he collaborated on with Boulder Beer. I have to say it is a tasty beverage and a festival is the proper place for its consumption. Check out my video of Kyle with moe. here.
Rain Shine (or is it Rainshine?) was my favorite moe. song debut of the weekend. It was a very fitting song considering the topsy-turvy weather we had on Sunday and I do believe it could be a huge vehicle for the dark jam. I might add that during this set the sun was shinning brightly. Farmer Ben was what was up. I love it when Jim grabs the mic and plays the part of front man, but this version was special. It included teases from Chalkdust Torture as well as the Grateful Dead.
As moe. went into Moth I hightailed it back to my site to set up a couple chairs and drop some glow sticks so the crew could find my site for the private show. Afterwards, as I raced over to Widespread Panic, I stopped to chat with the Concious Alliance guys for a few. You can see our conversation here.
WSP was the last of my onstage sets, but when I arrived, no one quite knew who to talk to and the stage was on lockdown. They opened with a rowdy North. Here is the rest of the setlist from PT.
SET I: North Proving Ground, Party At Your Mama’s House, Wondering, Heroes, Angels on High, Tall Boy, Driving Song, Saint Ex, Goin’ Out West, Drums, Porch Song, Driving Song, Airplane, Protein Drink, Sewing Machine
I was just sort of relaxing backstage enjoying the music when I noticed Heis walking up with Kyle Hollingsworth. I headed over and had a nice chat with Kyle about his Brew Fest last year and about Hoopla. When we finished talking I watched him approach a couple of hula-hoopers by the fence and ask to borrow a one of theirtoys. That’s when I caught this video.
It was the little moments like this that I witnessed that were really the icing on the cake of the Summer Camp Counselor position. Holly soon found me and took me up to a spot about 8 feet from Jimmy Herring where two chairs had been set for our arrival. I was onstage for Tall Boy through Drums and this may have been the best chunk of the set. It was pretty awesome to watch Schools and JB communicating onstage while Jimmy just wailed away. I did grab a video of the first part of Driving Song, which you can see here.
I headed down during Drums mainly because I didn’t want to be alone up there and I had seen a great part of the show from a truly unique vantage. I was ready to mingle. Plus, I was getting antsy for my show. I enjoyed the rest of the set and hung out with my old pal BC. As they finished up I met Holly at the back gate and took a seat on the golf cart. We were waiting for WSP to sign my poster, (another part of my prize package.) Well, as I sat there Jimmy Herring comes walking over to the bus and takes a long look at me, “John, John, how the hell you doing? Geez it’s been two or three years, how the hell you doing?” With that Jimmy came bounding around the barricade and entrapped me in a massive bear hug. He began rambling on about how good I looked and how happy he was to see me. The joke was that Jimmy thought I was John Popper. Well, I let him go on for about 30 seconds before I cut him off, “ Jimmy I’m really too big of a fan to let you go on, I’m not really John Popper, but now you have to take a picture with me so I can tell this story for the rest of my life.” Jimmy obliged before making a quick exit to the bus.
It was getting to be crunch time so we left the poster in the hands of WSP management and drove over to the Camping Stage to meet up with the Kris, JP, and Allie from Cornmeal. Ben Slayter (my Director of Photography) met us and we all piled on the cart and drove through the crowd down to the VIP gate.
I had texted or told about 10 or 15 of my close friends at Summer Camp that this shindig was about to go down. I also told the moe. Phantasy Tour crew which made up the bulk of the crowd that was assembled as we pulled up. I took my seat and Ben got his camera ready. Amy and my friends smiled as I made my way in and I was just happy to be surrounded by so many good people. Honestly, there couldn’t have been more than 60 people in attendance. I had contacted Jesse Scott to tape the show, but he had an unforeseen issue with his deck so I am very thankful Ben was there with his video camera. (I was told I could not film my own set which is why I don’t have anything posted yet.) Stay tuned for the footage.
So all five members of moe. along with Allie and Kris from Cornmeal gave me a private show. It was just unbelievable.
PRIVATE SET: Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, The Weight
ENCORE: Speedy Golf Cart Exit
It was a huge highlight of my festival. Allie was close enough that Amy could feel the breeze from her bow. moe. was just a few feet away as they picked out the songs. I mean even now I’m still buzzing from the experience. After the first song Al looked at me and said, “We do have to get to work soon.” I assured them their time was greatly valued and I appreciated every second of it. At one point some kids charged through the crowd in front of Cornmoe., probably in a hurry to catch moe.’s final set. Everyone just sort of chuckled to themselves and the music continued. The Weight became a sing-along and with that, they all hopped in their respective golf carts, the crowd parted, and they disappeared down the path. We all just sat there for a second in the post glow smiling about what we had witnessed.
Amy, my friends, and I got our gear together and headed back to the Moonshine Stage for moe.’s last set of the festival. I told my friends they were going to open with Plane Crash, because it was time, before I made my way down to the front. It was my last opportunity to get photos so I hit the pit quickly then wandered backstage where I finally met the elusive Jay Goldberg. I thanked him and Arlan for an amazing experience and headed back to my group. As I was heading back, moe. invited Bela Fleck onstage for Shoot First. I loved the twang Bela’s banjo added to moe.’s mix. Silver Sun built slowly but exploded into a dueling guitar jam reminiscent of an AC/DC show before coming back to planet Earth. The SOMP was face melting and the set-closing Billy Goat was full of funky goodness. Now for those that don’t know, I edited my Summer Camp Counselor Video Resume with Rebubula
as the sound bed, which they chose to encore the last set of the festival with. I couldn’t help but feel that this was one final nod to me from my favorite band. It was the perfect exclamation point to my once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thanks guys.
Afterwards, Amy and I drug our chairs over to the Campfire Stage to end our weekend with the Wood Brothers. It was a euphoric end to my weekend as the first ever Summer Camp Counselor. I felt magnanimous and righteously good. I had literally met and talked to hundreds of campers. I had filmed a ton of great music and events. I had taken over 4,000 photos. My job was complete.
The next morning we tore down our camp and filmed my final standup, which can be seen here.
It was time to head home… until next year Summer Camp. Thank You.
You can see my Sunday pictures here.
By Saturday Morning I was into my routine at Summer Camp 2011. I planned to rendezvous with my P-Town friends at Yoga around 10 AM This meant that I only got about five hours of rough sleep, which was intermittently, interrupted by the DJ at the next campsite. I will say that he played on tiny speakers so it was actually fairly enjoyable despite the fact that I kept waking up to it. I rose around 9 a.m. and let Amy sleep in while I got cleaned up at the Barn. I headed over to the Soulshine Tent around 10 a.m. and started taking some photos. There was actually a decent-sized crowd in attendance. The instructor talked about balance and structure with your body’s dance and movements. I tried to take that to heart for the rest of the weekend. I met up with Joe and Angie and headed to their RV to charge my Flip Camera.
Afterwards I made my way over to Ben and Erin’s Bus to copy off my cards and clear up some space. They graciously let me borrow their macbook so I could get that accomplished. Thanks guys. I hit up the press meeting around 12:30 and took the extra time to upload my content to Holly. It was only Saturday morning and I had already taken over 2000 photos and a ton of video.
I found out later in the day that Amy went and caught Gaelic Storm; she let me know they were a very interesting act. While doing research I learned that this is the same band that is featured in the Titantic steerage party scene. In addition to coving Paul Simon’s Cecilia they combined elements of traditional Irish/Celtic music with elements of rock, pop, and world I will definitely have to catch them next time they come to Colorado.
I ended up hanging out with the CITs for a few minutes before heading over to the Field Day activities going on at the 312 Vibe Tent. Red Team was definitely in attendance. I met up with my Purple brethren that included Chief, Will, and our captain Mike among others. I will say that purple was a small presence and I was not too happy about that. Obviously events were spread out through the day and some logistical issues caused some of the competitons to be rescheduled, but overall I was very impressed with this element of Summer Camp and how it was run. It was a fun distraction from the festival and a good way to get a little exercise. I arrived as they were getting set for Capture The Flag. They were a man short so I jumped in, I was tagged out in the first round but Purple won and moved onto the finals. We faced the Red Team but by trying to out maneuver and patiently wait for our spot we forced a sudden death. Will grabbed the flag and ran it over the line for the win. It was literally a millisecond before the Red player, but it was enough for the victory. I got set for tug-o-war next. I was the anchor but having lost a few pounds I guess I was not the giant stone that I once was. We were simply shredded by the Yellow team. It was a good time and with a record of 1-1 for the Field Day I made my way over to Euforquestra’s set.
Heis, Euforquestra’s manager and long time Summer Camp coordinator and I conspired to have me introduce the boys from Iowa for their 3rd time playing the festival. You can see that video here.
It was definitely cool but not nearly as intimidating as giving the intro for moe. the day prior. As the video points out I have a little biased towards Euforquestra having been in school at U of I while they were there as well. I was just lucky enough that the band decided to make a move to Colorado so I get to see them a ton and it’s always a great show. Within the last couple years they have revamped their rhythm section moving Grasso to drums and putting Ben Soltau on bass. It took them a second but they are playing so tight now it’s disgusting. They are a great foundation on which the rest of the band blends blues, reggae, funk, Afro-Cuban, and world music. They opened with a sick Cause A Reaction as soon as I finished my introduction. A massive version the Zalatel penned Free into their now classic ode to grandma’s cooking; Soup. Throw in a little Talking Heads and we have a pretty great set of music. Thanks Euforquesta.
I walked by Wiz Khalifa on my way to Slightly Stoopid. The kids seemed be having fun but I was looking for a different brand of hip-hop infused goodness. I have listened to a number of Stoopid recordings and just never really got it, well I have to say that SS is best ingested in a live setting. They have a serious ability to interact with the crowd and as the sun poked out for minute I got a chance to see them shine. It was a bouncy set with elements of punk, hip-hop, and straight rock. You can see a recording I did of Baby I Like It, here.
After Slightly Stoopid we walked towards Girl Talk and noticed a ton of people on stage and what looked like rolls of toilet paper spewing into the photo pit and onto the crowd. I headed to the camp and listened from there. We went back to the Moonshine Stage for Kdubalicious featuring Keller Williams.
Keller is a Summer Camp veteran if there ever was one. Having performed at 9 out of the 11 total, for me he will always be indelibly linked to this Midwest festival. This year was special in the sense that he was playing with his newly formed band Kdubalicions with Keller on bass, Jay Starling on keyboards, and Mark D on drums. I thought it was interesting to have Keller on bass which added an almost lounge-y feel so some of his classic songs. From the Feel Like a Stranger Kdubalicion played with Al to the Tell Me Something Good with Chuck Garvey, they began to feel more like a house band with rotating guitarists than their own entity. You can see the video I caught of Freeker into Golden Road into Freeker here.
I found the funky reggae-infused stylings of Kdubalicious to be exactly what my Saturday evening needed. I ended at the top of the hill between Keller and Umphrey’s watching for them to take the stage.
On the docket was a double-decker moe. and Umprhey’s sandwich that I was ready to take a big bite out of. Umphrey’s came out with Jazz Odyssey and given the fact that they kept going back into it throughout the entire weekend it almost felt like their theme song at Summer Camp 2011. That Jazz Odyssey really tied the room together did it not? … I digress. Here is the setlist from Phantasy Tour.
SET I: Jazz Odyssey> 40’s Theme, Conduit> Jimmy Stewart> Conduit, Divisions, Go To Hell, Puppet String*, JaJunk
SET II: Jazz Odyssey> Bridgeless> No Comment> Bridgeless, Forks*, Plunger> Glory> Hajimemashite> Plunger, Hurt Bird
ENCORE: Booth Love**, Live and Let Die***
*First Time Played (Original)
**with Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret Horns
***First Time Played (Paul McCartney & Wings)
You can hear the audience recording from Archive.
Thanks to tonedeaf for the post.
The two sets Umprhey’s McGee played on Saturday night were high water marks for the weekend. The musicianship of these guys never ceases to amaze me. They are perhaps the most technically proficient jamband touring today. They can stop on a dime and pick it up and put it in the meter. Jake got gritty on 40’s Theme and a busted Conduit with Jimmy Stewart in the middle was my highlight of the first set. Divisions was just too big, clocking in at over twenty minutes and Bayliss’s prog was showing. It’s songs like Go To Hell when I feel that the Death Metal moniker for UM is appropriate. I mean sure it’s laced with delicate playing as well but that song gets scary. You can see what Kris Myers had to say about that question here.
I was just getting used to the Flip so it’s a little shaky but the questions are still good. Moving on.
So as not to confuse subjects I will stick to my UM review then get to moe. Second set on from UM on Saturday was just exceptional. Once again Jazz Odyssey reared its head to open but went for an extended journey through Bridgeless to Not Comment and back into Bridgeless again. Showing their musical dexterity in that run the No Comment was just plain sick. Forks was a new song and it was okay, I feel like this song needs some more road testing before it really will blow the crowd away. The Plunger bookended Glory into Hajimemashite was the peak of the show as far as I’m concerned. Hurt Bird closed the second set nicely.
They encored with an unbelievable Booth Love featuring Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret Horns and the brass meshed with this song incredibly well. They rounded out their show with a cover of Paul McCartney & Wings’ Live And Let Die. This just was a giant punctuation mark to the night. I was totally happy with how UM handled their second night at Summer Camp. Well played gentlemen.
Rewinding to moe. The first set of on Saturday was my second of three onstage sets. So I got to watch from the side of the stage with the rest of the moe.ron elite. The boys came out and gently eased everyone in by opening with Wind It Up. I thought that was an appropriate opener, here is the rest of the setlist from PT.
SET I: Wind It Up, Tubing The River Styx> The Pit, Understand, Smoke*, Sensory Deprivation Bank, Waiting For The Punchline> Haze
SET II: Crab Eyes**, Buster, Skrunk> Lazarus> McBain> Recreation Chemistry
You can download the audience recording on Archive.
Thanks to Bean again, for posting.
The Pit was huge with a solid extended jam to begin with, and Understand was pretty straight. You can watch it from the stage and synced up the audience recording here.
Smoke was a new song debuted at Summer Camp and I have to say I liked it quite a bit. It has a carnival-inspired springiness, but the juxtaposition of the referentially serious lyrics with the music is pretty powerful. Nice work Al. Sensory Deprivation was my highlight of set one mainly because of Rob’s funky bass. They finished up with Punchline into Haze, which pumped up the crowd before they exited.
For their second set all five members of moe. came back onstage to small music stands and stood at the front . I was baffled as to what was happening but when the first notes of Crab Eyes floated out over the crowd it was obvious that moe. was making a statement. I like to think it’s a little nod to the other electronic acts almost as if to say, “See we can play on computers too.” The most eye-opening aspect of this is that on the recording other than a few slower transitions the Crab Eyes is spot on. They went into a fantastic Buster that lasted almost 15 minutes. I love this song and every time I hear “Pig Can Fly” I smile. The Skrunk> Lazarus> McBain> Recreation Chemistry section is the reason I see moe. It was jaw-dropping; I caught the beginning of that run on video from the crowd, which you can watch here.
That Lazarus was sublime but the Rec Chem was absolutely enormous. moe. came back to encore with a crowd-rumbling Captain America. Great choice and I remember the two brahs behind me arguing whether the encore would be Plane Crash or Captain America. Brah number one was correct.
After catching moe. late night in the barn on Friday I was pretty sleepy so I handed off my pass to CIT Jeff Greenswag, who went in to see Big Gigantic and Lotus at the Red Barn. Keep on eye on his posts for some detailed electronic coverage. I watched a bit of Cornmeal on the Campfire Stage before heading back down the trail to my tent. I had one more day as the first ever Summer Camp Counselor and Sunday would prove to be a non-stop adventure. Stay tuned.
You can see all of my photos from Saturday at Summer Camp here.
I woke up on Friday totally ready for the actual festival to begin. Thursday was awesome but it was time for the heavy hitters. I headed to the barn to get cleaned up. One of the perks of total access was getting a shower every morning and believe me, this is a luxury I’m not used to in a festival setting. After getting ready I made my way backstage. It was time to give my intro for moe., and I was actually pretty nervous. I took a little time to compose myself and think about what I wanted to say. How do you introduce your heroes? Wandering around before the set I got the chance to chat with Jim for about 10 minutes. I had met him previously at the now defunct Green Room when he played a show with Willie Waldman. Amazingly he remembered our meeting and congratulated me on winning the camp counselor position. Around 12:30 moe. gathered at the stairs and followed me onto the stage.
In the second of my many surreal moments of Summer Camp 2011, I stood in front of a crowd of 15,000 or so people and let them know moe. was about to play a show. As soon as I said, “…would you please welcome moe.,” they tore into a massive Akimbo. Here is the rest of the setlist from Phantasy Tour .
SET I: Akimbo, Puebla, St. Augustine, Mexico, Blue Jeans Pizza, All Roads Lead To Home, Kyle’s Song> Kids
Encore: The Harder They Come*
*with Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee
You can download it on Archive. Thanks to Bean for the recording.
I wandered out onto the lawn triumphantly looking for Amy and my friends, but they were knee deep in the crowd. So I took the opportunity to take some wide shots before heading back to the pit for some closer photos. This set was literally a collection of some of my favorite songs. St. Augustine was tight and Mexico was huge and featured a playfulness that really set the mood for Summer Camp. The closer of Kyle’s Song into Kids was face melting and as the sun blasted through the clouds for moe.’s only day set, I knew I was home. Bayliss came out for a cover of Harder They Come to encore and signaled a passing of the torch for UM to take the reigns Friday Night.
From moe. I went to my CIT meeting and discussed the previous days coverage and touched base on what was left on the schedule for Friday. I took a few minutes afterward to interview Tom Mcelroy of the Sun Foundation and Primitive Arts Collective who told me about some of the primitive living skills and native art forms that they teach. They led workshops all weekend that varied from fire making to hide tanning. It was a very enlightening interview.
I made my way to the Sunshine stage for the Punch Brothers’ set. Now I have wanted to catch this band for quite some time, I have been a huge Noam Pikelny fan since his days with Leftover Salmon and Chris Thile is always a bucket of energy. However, it seems like every time I plan to see them in Denver I miss the boat. Well Summer Camp 2011 cured me of this longstanding issue. I headed down to the pits for some photos and caught a little video which you can see here.
The Punch Brothers have a level of authenticity rarely seen in bluegrass these days. They dress the part and as a string band they are a sight to behold. I was thoroughly impressed with their set and after I finished taking photos, I simply stood back and enjoyed it for a minute.
I went back to camp to gather my friends for Cornmeal. Cornmeal as I stated in my previous post has really grown with Summer Camp Music Festival. They definitely took their evening set seriously by just nailing down good tight bluegrassy goodness. I shot some photos and again went over by the bleachers with my friends and just enjoyed the show. The nice thing about the scheduling at Summer Camp is that they allow different fans to enjoy what they like without having to make too many tough decisions. For me Friday was a bluegrass day bookended by moe. and Umphrey’s with just a sprinkle of Dead provided by 7 Walkers. But many, many other fans opted for the raw electro-funk of Big Gigantic and the hip-hop of De La Soul. That’s what I appreciate about Summer Camp. Cornmeal kept fans very happy on Friday afternoon and afterwards I took a minute to grab some food and watch De La Soul for about 15 minutes. They absolutely energized the crowd and it was refreshing to hear them at Summer Camp.
We headed back to Sunshine for Yonder Mountain String Band, we walked up to the bleachers just as they started Out Of The Blue here is the setlist from PT.
SET I: Out Of The Blue> Looking Back Over My Shoulder, Another Day, Little Lover, Just Like Old Times, Complicated, All The Time, Strophe For An Unsung Albatross (Peanut Butter Cup), No Expectations> Casualty> Whipping Post> Casualty
Encore: Crazy, Troubled Mind
Living in Colorado I usually get the pleasure of seeing these YMSB a couple times a year, I would say they played a pretty standard set except for the No Expectations>
Casualty> Whipping Post> Casualty which was fairly earth-shattering. I caught the beginning of that amazing run here.
At the beginning you can hear Jeff Austin pointing out what everyone in attendance already knew, and that the Sunshine Stage had been the bluegrass stage all day and then dedicated the next song to the greatest bluegrass band ever Umphey’s McGee, “…they play the old way.” My apologies for the Don’t Tread on Me flag that makes its way into the frame around minute two, that happens from time to time when you are shooting wide. I did my best to shoot around it but it is what it is. The Whipping Post was just stellar. They came back to encore the set with Split Lip Rayfield’s Crazy and a nice Troubled Mind.
I hit Tea Leaf Green but only for a song or two before heading backstage for my first onstage set with Umprhey’s McGee. It took us a minute to find someone in the UM management to let us go up, and as we were standing there I heard the Jaws theme played before they opened with Prowler. Here is the rest of the setlist from PT.
Set I: Prowler> 1348> Jimmy Stewart> Red Tape> Jimmy Stewart> Red Tap, Pay the Snucka> Bulls On Parade> Pay The Snucka, 2nd Self, Senor Mouse, Mulche’s Odyssey
Set II: Jazz Odyssey, Preamble> Miss Tinkle’s Overture> Higgins > Miss Tinkle’s Overture> Higgins, Rocker Part II, Day Nurse, Hourglass*, The Floor, National Anthem**
Encore: The Triple Wide> 1348
*First Time Played
**with Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic) on Saxophone
You can download the audience recording on Archive.
Thanks to tonedeaf for the post.
A moment or so later someone found us and took us onto the stage. Now I know Umphrey’s is intense but being 8 feet away from Jake as he is shredding a solo is a little mind bending. Amy and I didn’t stop dancing for their 80+ minute first set. The Red Tape was just massive clocking in at over 20 minutes; this song features both sides of the Umph coin. It allows for Bayliss’s prog-rock run, some cheesy 80’sesque jams, as well as lots or room to shred. The sheer number of notes Jake hits in between verses would make any metal guitarist envious. The real highlight of the first set has to be the Pay the Snucka into Bulls On Parade into Pay the Snucka. I caught this in Aspen in February but to see it on stage ten feet away from the band was life affirming. They ended the set with a tight Mulche’s and we were whisked off of stage and just like that my first of three was over.
Of course we immediately crossed the road to see 7 Walkers at the Starshine Stage. George Porter Jr. couldn’t make the show so they enlisted the help of Tea Leaf Green’s Reed Mathis on bass. I was pretty impressed with the band Billy put together. Papa Mali is a solid guitarist with an incredibly unique voice; he has the rasp to belt out Dead tunes properly. Highlights from the set included a sweet Bird Song and a rendition of 7 Walkers which they took their name from. You can see my recording of it here.
The audio is a little over modulated as I was in the pit and couldn’t find an audience recording with which to sync. I would say that overall they were a lot of fun and a nice breather between UM sets.
Umphrey’s came back on for their second set ready to rage. They opened with a quick unassuming Jazz Odysssey almost like they were trying to lull the crowd into a false sense of calm. Then they played the eerie Preamble before snapping the audience awake with Tinkle’s. The Miss Tinkle’s Overture> Higgins > Miss Tinkle’s Overture> Higgins was just disgusting and the reason why I go to Umphrey’s McGee shows. The rest of their second set was all bonus as far as I was concerned. Additional highlights included a Day Nurse dance party, and Hourglass, which was debuted at Summer Camp. They invited Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic to play saxophone on the set ending National Anthem. They encored with a nice Triple Wide into 1348. I thought the UM sets from night one were very strong and they definitely took their headlining night at Summer Camp to a new level.
There was about a thirty minute break between the end of UM and the beginning of moe. in the Red Barn. We took the opportunity to sit at our camp and talk about the events of the day. Amy and I headed to the Barn past Greensky Bluegrass who was just getting started on the Campfire Stage.
moe. came out to play for 400 lucky souls with a sweet Dr. Graffenberg, here is the rest of the setlist from PT.
Set I: Dr. Graffenberg, Bullet, Letter Home*, Timmy Tucker, Downward Facing Dog, Big World> Ricky Marten> Time Ed> George
ENCORE: Spaz Medicine
You can download this set on Archive. Thanks to jessedscott for posting this recording.
I thought the barn was a blast. I always feel a little conflicted inside knowing there are about 15,000 other people who would like to be in as well. I can honestly say I have listened from outside a number of times over the years But moe. made magic in that little sweat box and despite my misgivings I would never miss them in the Red Barn. The reggae-ified Letter Home was awesome and you can see it here.
Timmy Tucker was big and they didn’t stop for the second half of the set. I had a great time and really enjoyed the fact that I got to start and end my day with moe. We stayed until the beginning of Spaz, which was close to 4 a.m. before heading back to our tent. We slept hard and good. It was already an amazing experience and the next two days would continue to impress, humble, and excite me. Stay tuned for my Saturday and Sunday recaps coming soon.
You can see all of my Thurday Photos here.
As well as my Friday Photos here.
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