This Must be the Band just came through Colorado and boy was it a treat. Don’t miss them at the Soulshine Tent, 1am Monday morning, the only way to bring this festival to a close. Click HERE to check out my video blog on them!
Summer Camp is so close I can practically smell it. The lovely mixture of fresh air, food on the grill, and the ripe natural musk of thousands of hippies. Athough it has almost been a year since Summer Camp 2012 I have been busy seeing lots of Summer Camp artist all over Chicago. In my last blog I wrote about the festivals I went to in 2012, well this is the rest of the story, the non-festival shows I attended in 2012.
- Phish – 2 Nights at Alpine Valley
- Iron Maiden with Alice Cooper
- Easy Star Allstars
- Keller Williams
- Old Crow Medicine Show
- 7 Walkers
- David Byrne and St. Vincent
- Family Groove Company
- All Eyes West
- Still Alive
- Old Shoe
- Full Court Press at the Abbey pub (featuring many Summer Camp artists)
- Psycles – with guest Kris Myers
- Helping Phriendly Orchestra
- Yip – Yip
- The Hue
- Umphrey’s McGee Halloween in Milwaukee
- Punch Brothers
- Jaik Willis
- Hen House Prowlers
- Chicago Jazz Orchestra (playing the music of Frank Zappa)
- Terry Bozzio Drum Clinic
- The Motet
- UmBowl IV
- The Grey Boy Allstars
In 2012 had the opportunity to see a lot of musicians that I have been waiting years to see from the legendary David Byrne, frontman of the Talking Heads, to European Drum and Bass virtuoso Squarepusher. It was definitely a year of branching out as well seeing Iron Maiden perform live for the first time. I had the pleasure of being completely blown away by the talents of the Punch Brothers when I went to their show on a whim. Also got a photo pass for the first time to shoot pictures of Old Crow Medicine Show. I was most recently able to attend the epic UMBowl IV. Needless to say it was an epic year for me. I will detail some of my favorite shows below. Remember to check out my Videos and Pictures from all the shows I went to.
David Byrne and St. Vincent
I am a huge fan of David Byrne, I love practically everything he does, his music, photography, art installations, his writing too. In my opinion he is a true genius. To be able to see David Byrne and St. Vincent play their new album “Love This Giant” was a real treat. They played the album in it’s entirety as well as a few T-Heads and David Byrne solo songs. The stage show consisted of an empty stage, David Byrne, St Vincent, and their band, a mixture of brass instruments, prancing around stage in an awkwardly beautiful manner.
I was introduced to Squarepusher a few years ago by a friend and have been dying to see him play since. Born as Tom Jenkinson, Squarepusher is from the U.K. and doesn’t make it to the U.S. much so when I heard he was touring in Chicago I bought tickets as soon as I could. He is an extremely talented electronic musician specializing in Drum and Bass, but his real specialty is when he plays solo electric bass. His music is heavily influenced by jazz and would be appreciated by the biggest haters of electronic music.
Iron Maiden / Alice Cooper
All I can really say is wow! Iron Maiden will take you on one hell of a ride. The stage was a set that looked a stone alter dedicated to the the devil. The back drops kept changing through the show depicted their famous mascot “Eddie” in various demonic states. And the great Bruce Dickinson ran, climbed, and jumped all over the stage in true rock-n-roll fashion. It was great to see these legends play at the top of their game. Alice Cooper opened up the show. I saw him earlier in the year at Bonnaroo and was just as pleased to see him again. His show consist of costume changes, a giant spider, a Frankenstein monster, and even a mock guillotine execution. Alice Cooper is shock rock at its finest and is still rocking hard when most artist have put touring on hold.
I was introduced to the Punch Brothers a few weeks before I went to their show with my friend who had an extra ticket. These talented guys remind me of a younger, hipper version of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. They are all masters of their instruments and can pull of jazzy bluegrass versions of Radiohead’s “Ok Computer,” They played most of the tracks from their two albums including “Movement and Location,” “You Are,” and “Patchwork Girlfriend.” I was particularly blown away when the mandolin player, Chris Thile, came out after the encore and played a piece of classical music without any amplification. After seeing the Punch Brothers live I have not been able to take them off my iPod.
Old Crow Medicine Show
My Mom introduced me to Old Crow and they quickly became a favorite of mine. I have even learned their song “Wagon Wheel” on Ukulele! I was lucky enough to get a photo badge when I went to this show so I was able to get some really good pictures, you can check them out here These boys really know how to throw down. They played their hits like “Wagon Wheel,” “Levi,” and “Methamphetamine.” Everyone in the theater was really feeling it and having a good time especially when they played the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land is Your Land.”
This years UMBowl was as epic as ever. It was my second UMBowl, I also attended the UMBowl II. For those who don’t know this is Umphrey’s most fan inclusive show of the year. It is a place for the most hardcore Umph fans to do what they always dream of and call the shots at the show. During the first quarter the band took a second look at previous “jimmy stewart” improvisations that gained the most votes from fans. The second quarter setlist was created by attendees voting from a list of songs and/or band configurations. Highlights included Metallica’s “Orion,” “Cantina Band” from Star Wars and my personal favorite a medley containing most of the final songs on the Beatles “Abbey Road” album. Something that I can only compare to seeing most of Umphrey’s members play it last year as the Brain Damaged Eggman, at a Summer Camp Late Night Red Barn set. The third quarter was a S2 art event, where attendees texted in themes for the band to improvise off of. The best part of this quarter was when one of my buddies themes “Tribal Drum Jam” was put up for the band to jam on. The fourth and final quarter is a “Choose your own adventure” where 3 or 4 song choices are put up on a screen for attendees to choose from so the setlist is made in realtime. The UMBowl is always a good time and never ceases to remind me why I keep coming back to Umphrey’s McGee shows.
Well that is pretty much everything I have seen since Summer Camp 2012. It has been a great year but I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces at camp this year!
Hello everyone! Summer Camp 2013 is coming up quickly so I figured it was about time to share with everyone the interview I was able to do with Janis Wallin and Jordan Wilkow of Family Groove Company.
In the interview we discuss Family Groove Company growing with the festival over the last 9 years, their favorite collaborations with artists at Summer Camp, and why checking out the workshops at Summer Camp is so important.
I hope everyone enjoys this interview and is looking forward to attending Summer Camp Music Festival 2013 as much as I am.
Check out the video blog here:
I was also lucky enough to interview Todd Stoops. Check out the interview here:
Got a chance to check out the New Mastersounds on November 17th…check the video blog out here:
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/.
The past harmonizes. Everyone on Earth has a doppelganger. Both axioms proved to be true upon my second time seeing the Grateful Dead reenactment group, Dark Star Orchestra. As I stared onto the stage at guitarist Rob Eaton’s mouth gaping Bob Weir face, I thought to myself, “how was tonight any different than if i’d been born a child of the 60’s and gotten here through a more natural twist of fate?”
Time is obstinate — it can twist and contort, but ultimately remains constant in a relative state of mind. On this particular hazy post liberty influenced weekend, as the Chicago heat toned down from triple digits outside, inside the Park West Theater Dark Star Orchestra did their best to raise the temperature by recreating one helluva Grateful Dead set whose original audience experienced during a time and space at the Auditorium Theater on 5/13/77.
One could contend the spring of ’77 is arguably one of the best runs to be a Deadhead and if you looked around the venue last Saturday and judged by who was onstage and in the audience you might have surely thought you stepped into a wormhole that transported you back 35 years to that golden era. This particular show saw the band perform the very first “Jack-A-Roe” and had a wonderfully rare first set close with “Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain.”
Those who tell me they don’t like seeing bands that only cover one specific group with no original tunes have their right to an opinion. But imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, why wouldn’t you want to close your eyes and let your mind expand on a cosmic journey from one of the legendary groups that influenced thousands? Oh and who, by the way, changed the course of history along the way creating an entire genre. You’d have to be on a close minded ship of fools to believe you couldn’t enjoy DSO even one tiny iota.
The likeness both in playing style and appearance is palpable. During “Cassidy” the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It didn’t matter that it was Jeff Mattson and not Jerry Garcia to me onstage because this was my reality — not 1977 Dave. Besides I would like to think Jerry would like his music to live on through such a dedicated group of musicians. A Deadhead is the harshest critic when it comes to judging an audible incarnation of a legend. The artistry and skill in one’s craft needed to be able to pull off such a feat is beyond comprehension. Not one person dancing and whirling in the crowd that night knew or cared. Original hippies and neo-hippie clad youth all shouted the chorus to “Goin Down The Road Feeling Bad” with the same exuberance.
Lisa Mackey, who plays the role of Donna Jean Godchaux, returned from a brief hiatus for the bands Colorado stint. She donned her trademark headphones, spun, and whirled, lending vocals to “Stella Blue.” Later as the set closed she provided a treat on harmonica for “Next Time You See Me.”
The highlight of the show, chalked full of classics as it was, however was “The Other One” jam. Coming out of “Drums” people exploded when Rob belted out the first verse nearly 13 minutes after the song began. The past run in Chicago had DSO playing the Vic which while having a larger capacity room diminishes the intimacy factor slightly. Park West was perfectly suited to cater to a crowd that appreciated the musicianship more than the ability to consume. The high domed ceiling where the disco ball hung allowed for those with laser pointers to add to the spacey spectacle. Past and present collided and for one more Saturday night in one of the best Grateful Dead cover bands 1900+ shows it harmonized to perfection.
Well folks, we did it. And as a Summer Camp veteran, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this was possibly the best Summer Camp yet! Here are the top 10 things I loved about this year….
1. Nobody’s set got rained out this year. Whew!
2. The collective screams of approval when Umprey’s McGee started playing Tom Sawyer.
3. Moe. and Umphrey’s light shows. Duh. I mean, you can be stone cold sober looking at those things and still be in a total trance.
4. The look of joy on some guy’s face when I told him he could have my extra Saturday late-night wristband for free.
5. The dude taking a dump in a bucket right underneath the Moonshine stage arch. (Hey, I didn’t say these were pleasant memories, but that will surely not be forgotten!)
6. A dog named Akimbo. I have no idea what his owner’s name was, but I ran into Akimbo easily 6 times this festival and he always was having fun!
7. Water guns. Everywhere, all the time, all shapes and sizes.
8. Sunrise kickball with Ryan Stasik.
9. Warren Haynes sit-in with G. Love & Bob Weir sit-in with Primus. Absolutely fantastic.
10. When I got back into Chicago, I saw 3 separate groups of Scampers within 5 blocks of my house. That’s the thing about Summer Camp – you take it home with you.
Until next year, loves.
Sunday was the one of the BEST days of my life. On Friday I heard that I might be able to interview Yonder Mountain String Band and I hoping that it wouldn’t fall through. I got up early on Sunday a little before 10 am, which was hard considering I was at the Soulshine tent seeing Sun Stereo Recreate the Beatles just 6 hours earlier. I went to write my blog from Saturday and prepare for my potential interview with Yonder. After writing my blog I went back to camp for a quick “shower” with a little soap, water, and paper towels. I spent the next hour waiting for my interview. I was nervous that it might not happen, and equally nervous that it actually might happen.
Around 2:00 pm 2011 Summer Camp Counselor Nick Stock, and I set out for the Moonshine stage where Yonder was set to play in a couple hours. Nick was doing me a huge favor and was taking video of the interview. We got there 10 minutes early and milled around backstage for a few minutes. I have spent many shows wondering what backstage looked like and now I was there! I was in complete shock. I could hardly wait to see who in the band I would be interviewing. After another minute or two Nick and I spotted Jeff Austin and Ben Kaufmen the mandolin and bass player from Yonder Mountain String Band.
We went in to a trailer to do the interview and I was getting nervous. As soon as we started I realized all my fears were unfounded. Jeff and Ben are two of the nicest people ever. They made the interview fun and easy. They shared some of their weirdest moments at a show, and talked about how Summer Camp has been good to them. I felt so honored to meet them, it was a dream come true. This was a great experience but my day was not over yet.
I got back to the press area to to offload and was surprised to see Jordan and Janis from Family Groove Company there. I was offered to do an interview with them and I jumped at the opportunity so we made plans to meet up at the Everyone Orchestra Show. I couldn’t believe I was gonna get to interview another one of my favorite bands.
I ran to the main stage so I could catch a little bit of Yonder Mountains’ set before I did my interview with FGC. It was great! I could hardly contain myself knowing that only minutes before I had talk with these guys in person. I took off for the Everyone Orchestra Show and my interview with Janis and Jordan. While seaching for Janis in the Red Barn I got to enjoy some of the show and was impressed at the wonderful music coming from this band made up of many artists from the festival. I then met up with Janis and Jordan and did their interview. They had both participated in workshops this year so we talked about that and about growing with Summer Camp Festival as they have performed at almost every Summer Camp.
My day had been great already, and I had hardly seen any shows because I had been so busy, but now was the time to make up for that. These are the shows that I was able to catch on Sunday.
My favorite show of the day was from Galactic. They got the crowd going and got them involved. We were all singing and waving our hands, just having a good time listening to them perform. These guys hail from New Orleans and got their start playing at Mardi Gras, so they know how to party. There were several guest performers throughout the night and at one point there were 10 people on stage jamming and having a good time.
I had to check out the most controversial band this year at Summer Camp, Janes Addiction. A favorite of Summer Camp Creator Ian Goldberg the announcement was big news and a dream come true for Ian. Unfortunately some fans of the festival did not seem to be happy about the addition. Other than their hits, I do not know much Janes Addiction, but I am always excited to see a new band. I hope the “haters” were as impressed as I was with Janes Addiction’s performance Sunday night. Dave Navarro is a great guitar player and the stage set-up and lights were pretty cool as well. Perry Ferrell was the highlight for me though. He is a great frontman, a little crazy, but great. He talked about his sexual escapades with well-endowed dolphins, how glow sticks remind him of his terrible step mother who would take is temperatur rectally, and threatened to choke someone who was throwing things at him. He was very entertaining and the music was great too, I am certainly glad to add Janes Addiction to the list of bands I have seen.
We finished out the festival with a final set of Moe and headed back to our campsite with the intention to see This Must Be the Band, but after the big day I had, I did not have the energy to leave. It was a great day and I needed to sleep so I could wake up and perform the worst task at Summer Camp, taking down camp and leaving.