Can you believe Summer Camp 2013 is ONLY 44 days away? What do you think of the lineup the crew put together this year? Pretty amazeballs if you ask me. The festival mainstays of moe. & Umphrey’s are again front and center holding down headlining spots. But they share some pretty rarified company! The Wood Brothers and The Wailers were late adds that pleased many a camper. The only thing left to figure out is where everyone will be slotted with other great acts like Trey, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Avett Brothers, and YMSB.
I caught Thievery’s NYE show out in Vail as the ball dropped and we rang in 2013 at Dobson Ice Arena. Their mix of house electronic beats along side a live band with amazing female and male vocalists has been heard around the DC area for years. I’m thinking that the late night set with ZEDS DEAD is going to easily rival last years by Pretty Lights. Be sure to get your tickets to the RED BARN late nights while you still can. If not don’t worry they’ll have another set placed strategically throughout the awesome weekend at Three Sisters Park.
What sort of collaborations will we see this year at Camp? Will Trey get down with moe.? Will Yonder and Cornmeal team up? These are the questions that get people excited, and with 44 DAYS to go…let your imagination run wild.
Speaking of who is bringing rage sticks or totems this year? Last year saw some pretty unique creations, and I for one am gonna be scouting for the famous “STOP & GET DOWN” sign along with a host of others. I may give out prizes so be on the lookout for me and when you do see me throw up your best “rage face” for the picture.
I’m really thankful that this year i’ll have time in addition to covering the festival to hang with my band pals Family Groove Company, Old Shoe, Henhouse Prowlers, Afternoon Moon, Chicago Farmer, The Giving Tree Band, The Ragbirds, and Zmick. Friends are what makes the festival experience that much more special and its been almost a year since I hung out with my fellow CIT friends and Camp Counselor from last year. That’s a year TOO long for sure.
Let’s see besides seeing Widespread Panic this weekend at UIC. I’m heading out west on tour with Old Shoe as they play a few Colorado dates at the end of April. If you are around Fort Collins (4/17), Steamboat Springs (4/18), Denver (4/19), or Nederland (4/20) make sure you look up where they are playing on that Facebook thing and get on down to check them out pre SC2013! I’ll even share a tasty local beverage with you (if you are of age of course). Until we meet again at Camp keep your eyes peeled for the schedule and when its released start planning your romp through Three Sisters cause a good time starts with a good plan!
For a small town man from just south of Peoria, Cody Diekhoff sure has adapted to life as Chicago Farmer. The one man folk singer was an appropriate choice to open up for The Ragbirds as just a few days earlier his reincarnation folk hero Woody Guthrie celebrated what would have been the legend’s 100th birthday. There was plenty to celebrate for Cody as well as he and his wife Kymber recently had a milestone anniversary of 5 strong years together. Although he jested that he never liked love songs having only penned 8 (6 being about revenge he mused) during this special evening he dedicated a few sweet stories of the time they met, and even one song about “true love” in “Nothing Better To Do.”
His fast talking approach on stage lays in stark contrast to the pace of his upbringing in Delevan, a town of just 25 people. Still his lyrics, like Guthrie’s, are timeless and can be taken in by folk of any size town as his set at SPACE in Evanston demonstrated Sunday.
He tells the audience “Who On Earth” came after he was asked to write a protest song to stop mountain top coal mining in West Virginia. Being that he was from the flat lands of southern Illinois he drew his inspiration partly from the Occupy movement with lyrics that hit home like “it seems poor criminals are kept on a leash, and rich criminals are catch and release.” While his message is politically charged he is never polarizing. It seems as if he simply wants to make you think about what’s right in the grand cosmic scheme of things. Who makes the rules and why should someone get ticketed for going 57mph. Arbitrary rules set by folk no different than you he figures determine right and wrong and access to the pearly gates.
The reason for his success I believe, nay reckon, is accessibility. During “Workin On It”, he teaches a lesson on how to speak like a “folk singing hillbilly from the upper midwest side.” He gets the crowd into the refrain having them repeat in hillbilly dialect “Im-ma/ Werk-in / Ah-oOn / It” that brings the room together and sets a comfortable tone for the evening. What he can’t teach them, however, is what he has learned during his journey. He does his best, however, to relate it spinning yarns about how upon his first time playing Subterranean’s open mic night a bum asking for change offered him some instead after seeing the look on the artist’s face. He “busted the roof” off of all 8 people in the place and gave the CD proceeds from the evening to the vagrant who gave him an even better gift in the song “Hero”. Those days are long gone as he now has an contingent of loyal fans to keep him company during his travels.
A casual off the cuff jokester one moment he never strays far from his humble roots or foundation of family, and honest people doing a respectable days hard work. In these days where prefabricated pop rules the airwaves…that in and of itself is a breath of fresh air. With his in-laws front row “looking up his nose” as the Farmer put it, he surely made them proud, setting the table for the main act The Ragbirds. Oh and he threw in “Illinois Anthem” that recounted the tales of a wayward ex just for a good measured revenge song. Gotta love that twist Cody puts on life.
The Ragbirds are a world music act out of Ann Arbor that put a folk spin on life with their music. With the positive infectious floaty voice of Erin Zindle front and center they easily captivate a room. Good storytellers never force a subject of discussion on an audience and neither does Zindle. Quirky but cosmically centered she suggests that her band’s music comes from inspiration from the moon, but that maybe she is personifying the moon as herself.
Juxtaposing and analyzing her stance on self psychoanalysis the band launches into “The Frame.” What’s nice about the group’s playing style is they pull from different musical elements and play multiple different instrument arrangements. Rare does one see the electric kalimba much on stage and it complements the rangy swinging number greatly.
In “Lemon Grove” Zindle shares that the winter is a great time to store lyrics until they can be put to melody in warmer weather when the music comes to her. This number proved just that. It of course is also about the moon. Curious tunnel vision on song influence aside one can’t help but grin and let it melt away as the Ragbirds perform the old african tribal dance “Moribayassa” which the lyrics are featured by the sirens in the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”
Zindle likes a good dance. On “Tarantella” she bounces and strums a variety of instruments next to her guitarist brother T.J. and percussionist husband Randall Moore. She tells us its important to sing and likes times where she can be alone with her thoughts to create. Old tales use to say ancients believed dancing got poison out of the soul and they urge those feeling brave to try their hand for the tango influenced number with Zindle on violin.
A great version of The Talking Heads “Nothing But Flowers” kept Zindle with bow in hand. It felt right to hear the earthy group cover a song recounting Eno’s dystopian future. During the set they also expertly teased the Beatles “Norwegian Wood” and a number of Paul Simon tunes. With a number of summer tour dates still left make sure to catch both these acts the next time they are around.
Chicago Farmer plays Whippersnap Music Festival in Rockford. More can be found at http://www.chicagofarmer.com/shows/
The Ragbirds can be seen in their homestate of Michingan. Complete tour schedule is at http://www.theragbirds.com/.
Cody Diekhoff talks about his experience at Summer Camp Music Festival.
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