Let me just clear the air, Cornmeal is alive and well and playing at a venue near you soon. Seriously, since the departure of long time fiddler Allie Kral fans have all but written off this once majestic centerpiece to the jamgrass scene. The fact of the matter is people grow and times change. I can say without a doubt this isn’t your mammy’s Cornmeal, but before you run away to a Hot Buttered Rum show take a minute and read on.
Long time Colorado jamgrass stalwart Whiskey Tango took the opening slot at Hodi’s Half Note. For a band who is almost a Denver institution they rarely seem to make it up to Northern Colorado, but maybe I’m not on the proper mailing list. Their set was an energetic romp bound to entice a few new fans to their flock.
Set 1; Annalisa, Brown Eyed> Space> Coal Creak Shakedown, Ear, Bull Dog, Galileo, Thicker, Loving Cup, Star Fucker, Betwixt, Wrong Way
(Great Whiskey Tango made me write Fucker.)
This band is very much like a nascent Cornmeal, but with a bit more of that dirty twang. The juxtaposition of their clean vocals add much to their overall authenticity. Whiskey Tango opened with an original “Annalisa” which was a high gear step on the gas. These guys are truly a product of their youth. They are a bluegrass filter that does not discriminate by genre. We were treated to grass versions of both The Beatles’ “Bull Dog” as well as the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.” However the most poignant song was their original “Betwixt.’ They were a great fit, by the end of their set the room was filled in nicely.
Okay back to the matter at hand… Cornmeal. My love affair with this band began back with the original lineup at the second Summer Camp. I remember seeing them on what would become the Moonshine stage and saying, these guys can pick. Twelve years and one of the most dynamic female fiddlers in the scene later we find ourselves at the precipice of a new era for this highly venerated group. How can a band survive if three fifths of their members leave within a year? The answer is they can, but not without growing pains. Cornmeal is not stranger to transition. So before we get steeped in the past, let’s look at whom Chris Gangi and Wavy Dave brought on the road with them.
Backyard Tire Fire’s Scott Tipping has solidified his spot on lead guitar and vocals. In fact he seems to have blossomed since I last saw him at Summer Camp, but let’s hold back a second. Drew Littell joined the same time as Scott and seems to really be finding his footing in the group. The newest and perhaps most controversial addition is fiddle player Molly Healey. Ms. Healy is all business. These three may feel they need to tip toe, but the fact is we are all happy they are aboard and keeping this band touring. They opened with “Drinking Away.”
Set 1: Drinking Away, Coming Back Home, Feet On The Ground, Rain Your Light, All Things Must Change, That’s That, River Gap, Goodnight My Darling, Dear Prudence, The Road, Long Hard Road
The set list itself seems to be a declaration of sorts. The combination of “All Things Must Change” followed by “That’s That” is especially notable. The “River Gap” had me dancing. Dave and Chris know these songs by heart. So it’s interesting to see how Scott and Molly interpret them with their musical framing. They too played a little Beatles with a perfectly executed “Dear Prudence.” Their closing two songs too seemed to give a nod to the trials that lay ahead.
For a band that had been blasting across the country performing 100 plus shows for the better part of a decade it can be difficult to stop and rebuild. However that is exactly what they are doing. This will be the first time in twelve years that they don’t play at Summer Camp Music Festival. There is just too much history and although all of the personnel departed on good terms, the fan base has not fully healed. In my all my touring it’s hard to think of a group more dedicated than the Corn Stalkers, and with this reinvention, they too must evolve. The road ahead may in fact be long and hard for Cornmeal, but this band is no stranger to adversity. Time will tell how it all plays out. For now I’m just happy to see Cornmeal on the marquee.
When archaeologists dig up the site formerly known as Three Sisters Park in 2000 years they will find cell phones, bottle caps, tent stakes, and much more. It’s the amazing experiences had by thousands on the backdrop of stunning musical collaboration that will be hard to discern from the artifacts they find. Summer Camp in its thirteenth year continues their tradition of having a diverse lineup with wide appeal as well as providing fans with numerous other possibilities for fun and engagement. Thursday has historically been labeled the “Pre-Party” however veterans of this festival know it’s become an essential part of the experience. Primarily they save the heavy hitters for the actual three-day calendar, but Summer Camp stalwarts like Cornmeal and Family Groove Company have gotten the party started for the past few years
Early arrivers rs on Thursday were met with the typical lines and a sporadic drizzle. Weather would play a large part in this year’s Summer Camp, but on Thursday it was barely a side note to the experience. Gates opened around 11 AM and fans hustled in to mark off their territory. The woods filled up quickly as others opted to find their place in the fields that bordered the Sunshine Stage. We found a spot in the woods of VIP. They redesigned the campsite this year, making the old VIP path part of General Admission camping, and clearing more of the woods across from the VIP Lounge for tent construction. All in all it was a good move that made for easier mobility for everyone at the festival.
After setup I wandered up to the Camping Stage for Zeta June who officially opened up Summer Camp 2013. They focused on a heavy, rocking, groove oriented sound that was reminiscent of moe. in their younger days. They managed to inject a little funk and they were a proper way to get the party started.
After meeting up with this year’s crop of CITs and the new Camp Counselor Kyle Hess, I headed over to see Stone Sugar Shakedown. This was my second time on Thursday seeing a band I have never caught live before, and I have to say I was impressed. This is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of going to any festival. If you have an open mind, it’s easy to get turned on to all manner of live music that you may have otherwise never encountered. SSS was a funk party lead by Nick Elwood and Tracy Gladden. They blend blues and jam to round out their sound in a way that is engaging and enjoyable. The dynamic between Nick’s deep vocals and searing guitar work with the delicate approach of Gladden made for a very pleasant set.
Heading over to the Starshine Stage I ran into Family Groove Company bassist Janis Wallin who had nothing but good things to say about Sun Stereo who was up next.
“They are a mix of David Byrne and The Beatles.” – Janis
This is quite the endorsement and I have to say she wasn’t too far off. Sun Stereo is all energy. They are basically a three-piece core band with a sprawling horn section which put a heavy emphasis on adding a jazziness to their straight groove. Sun Stereo is lead by keyboardist and vocalist Kelly McMorris who tosses in a bit of the theatrical to their performance. He is truly a powerhouse of a musician. The horns filled out their sound nicely as Kelly kicked back his stool and let it all out for the crowd. If given the chance check out Sun Stereo, they are one to watch.
Family Groove Company took the stage next and opened with a track from their newest album.
Set 1: The Charmer > Well In Hand, Professionals Here, A Misdemeanor’s Worth, Falling Off the Fence, One Eye Dreaming*, American Girl
*with Allie Kral on fiddle
Playing new material, it really felt like Family Groove Company was truly revitalized and ready to rage. This is their tenth year performing at Summer Camp and they truly looked comfortable up on the stage in front of a large crowd. The highlight of the set was Allie’s sit in which has almost become a ritual for their pre-party set. They closed with Tom Petty’s “American Girl”
Cornmeal took the stage at 8 PM and although the day had blossomed into a beautiful afternoon, we were hit with an unseasonably cold evening. Fans bundled up and put on their dancing shoes for what would be the beginning of Allie’s last run with Cornmeal. With the departure of the Nowaks, Cornmeal now performs with Scott Tipping on guitar and new drummer as well. Their performance on Thursday night would not leave any doubt that even through this transition Cornmeal still has what it takes to melt faces and make the crowd boogie. It was a moving hour long set that really felt like a celebration of how far this jamgrass band has come. Cornmeal also played a stellar version of “Dear Prudence” that seemed highly appropriate.
Caravan Of Thieves was over at the Campfire Stage warming hearts and minds with their brand of gypsy folk. These guys are just incredible, and it blows my mind that they are not getting more traction and playing to larger audiences. Talk about fun in a bottle, Caravan Of Thieves pulls no punches when it comes to their creation of music and sound onstage. With their new album “Bouquet” this band, evocative of the type of swing folk that made Django Reinhardt famous, continues to plow ahead and tour relentlessly. Fuzz, their guitarist, who sort of looks like Harpo Marx on speed, will often drop his instrument, pick up egg beaters, and pound out a rhythm on buckets strategically placed around the stage. This craziness is juxtaposed against the soft beauty of their other guitarist Carrie and her silky voice. Caravan Of Thieves is never dull and always intriguing to say the least.
We ended our Thursday with Cornmeal’s Midnight Ramble in the Soulshine Tent. This show was based on their loosely formatted residencies in Chicago. They would invite friends and basically just have a good time playing music. They invited Al from moe. up to the stage for a few songs and really kicked it up a notch playing well into the darkness. With three days of music ahead of us, I called it a night and hit the hay. As Bayliss has put it many times, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” So with that in mind I crawled into my tent with visions of moe. and Umphrey’s dancing in my head.
Whoa! Thursday truly was a pre-party rager. Getting into Summer Camp was very smooth and everyone was clearly ready to party since the moment their cars entered the grounds. There was a nice mist flowing in when I first arrived in line, and it felt super refreshing and actually got me really pumped up! Every time the sun started peaking, everyone in line started getting rowdy.
My crew set up camp really fast in an awesome spot in the woods, and I was eager to go see some music with some awesome friends! I was able to catch a glimpse of Cosby Sweater on the Campfire stage and they killed it. My main goal Thursday night was to see Cornmeal since it would be my last time to see Allie play on stage and they killed it! Looking around, everyone in the whole crowd was dancing away with nothing but smiles. I was very happy that I was able to see them as that line up one last time. Right when Cornmeal ended, I wondered into the Vibe Tent and caught Positive Vibra8tions, and they killed it. I love being able to catch artists I have never heard of before, and even more so when they kill it!
Digital Tape Machine was up next and they are another act I have been waiting to see for a long time and they truly were awesome. Their set kept evolving and by the end it kept me wanting more. They really got the crowd pumped up for the weekend to come! This is the reason I love music festivals, and especially Summer Camp! You just keep going back and forth between awesome music and the stages are just minutes walk.
I went into the Red Barn at 11 to check it out in there and it was for sure a party. Minnesota killed it! He really had everyone going crazy in there, it was a rager. I love UV Hippo and was so pumped to catch them. The first time I saw them, I was hooked. They really kill it in the festival scene, and was so pumped to see them rage the Vibe Tent.
It was time for bed after that. It was an awesome first day of Summer Camp and I’m so excited for the awesome music to come. Friday is going to be a blast, announcing Moe and the awesome music to come. I’m really looking forward to Yonder, STS9, and Big Gigantic to name a few.
2013 Summer Camp Counselor
We did it! I’m so excited to be here back at Summer Camp, blogging from the back of the church.
The trip down from Chicago was particularly epic, because my crew decided to go all-out this year and rent an RV. It. Is. Awesome. We picked it up from the suburbs of Chicago, loaded our stuff in, and hit the road to Chillicothe. If you have the means to do the RV route, I highly recommend it.
After settling in, we walked over to Starshine to catch Cornmeal tearing it up for a super frisky crowd. We immediately ran into some old friends and started getting our groove on. After a quick break, we were back at it for Digital Tape Machine, and the party was in full-force. What a fantastic way to kick-off the festival… the crowd was huge, the poles were out, and the weather was perfect.
Now it’s time to kick off Friday! Really looking forward to some Brainchild, moe., Medeski and Yonder before kicking it into full gear for some Umphs! Signing off for the morning – see ya’ll out there!
Year after year moe. and Umphrey’s McGee have anchored Summer Camp’s schedule, but the addition of Trey Band has made this year’s lineup one of the most scene oriented to date, not to mention Yonder, Keller, STS9, plus Medeski, Martin, and Wood. The only other bands that could possibly fall into this topnotch jamband echelon would be Cheese or Bisco, so the good people at Summer Camp HQ decided that EOTO and Conspirator would have to fill that void. I have seen all these acts multiple times, most of them at Summer Camp, and they are the reason I fell in love with the scene so many years ago.
In case you are living under a rock, Cornmeal’s Saturday show will be one of the most talked about sets of the weekend. Their fiddler, Allie Kral, has announced that this will be her last show as a member of Cornmeal. This band has been a staple at Summer Camp for almost a decade and many Scampers, like myself, have completely fallen in love Allie over the years. Even though this is not the last we will hear from Cornmeal or Allie, for that matter, this set is bound to be a tear jerker for many a fan.
This lineup contains at least a dozen other bands that make me dance, but in all honesty, I return to Summer Camp every year because I’m an Umphreak. Summer Camp provides 6 sets of Umph, a handful of side projects, plus sit-ins that make Memorial Day Weekend UMforgettable. My first Umphrey’s show was at Summer Camp in 2004, so I guess it is only perfect that I will be celebrating my 75th Umph show at Summer Camp 2013. I’m predicting a few new songs, maybe a new cover, and a ridiculous light rig that will bring facemelt to a whole other level. Prepare to get your minds blown people!
Now for my Sunday variety pack…..
Both electronic and jamband fans will enjoy the way DJnoDJ fuses these two genres by layering their talents in order to duplicate our most beloved tracks. If I still have enough fuel left in my tank early Monday morning, this is where you will find me.Needless to say, I can’t wait to experience Summer Camp as a CIT! I guess it’s my job to remind my fellow campers to be safe, stay hydrated, and see as much music as possible because this year’s lineup is INSANE! With that being said, hollar at your CIT if you see me around! I love making new friends, especially at Summer Camp!
Dancin’ In The Streets featured so many Summer Camp bands, that it might has well have been the Denver version of the festival. In actuality SCamp stalwarts Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass, as well as classic veterans like Jerry Garcia Band with Melvin Seals all played this fest on the Lawrence St. After three years in absentia, the Dancin’ In The Streets Music Festival made its triumphant return to Denver. It’s no secret that the high cost of putting on the inaugural festival as well as the low turnout cost Jay dearly. It was the impetus for him to letting go of Cervantes and the downsize to Sancho’s and Quixote’s. Over the past few years Quixote’s has become a hub of live music and is the home of the greatest patio in Denver. It is also the new home of the Dancin’ In The Streets.
The entire scope of the event is more doable and smart. Closing off the 2100 block of Lawrence Street with a nicely equipped stage and an Oskar Blues beer truck bookending the block was the perfect setup. Vendors and Live Painters dotted the sidewalks and both the main stage and patio stage of Quixote’s acted as auxiliary performance spaces for the event. Quite simply it all worked and the masses turned out on both days to show their support.
I arrived, as WhiteWater Ramble was finishing up their opening set on the 3rd. I have to say that after Adam Galblum departed from the band I was left with reservations. However the inclusion of Ben Blechman on fiddle certainly impressed me. As a band they’ve always had it in them to be a powerful bluegrass experience, but honestly they have failed to rise to the top over recent years. Their show at Dancin’ In The Streets showed they are ready for a new chapter and to start playing stellar performances across Colorado.
Up next was Grant Farm on the patio. Under the direction of Tyler Grant, Grant Farm has continued to wow audiences on the Front Range and beyond.
One Set: Green Grant, I Come From The Country, (Ain’t No) Nuthin’ Gonna Stop This Train, High Country Ladies, Engineer (w/Andy Griffith Theme), Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun, The Hippie Guitar, Green Thumb, The Times Have Changed, ?, Tell Me, Tell Me, My Old Engine, San Ber’dino
Gerry Gladu posted the show on Archive.
Their attention to songwriting and detail while playing are the reason why they continue to shine. One of the Highlights from their set included “(Ain’t No) Nothing Gonna Stop This Train,” which is more of an affirmation about the band than a song title. There was also a group whistling of the Andy Griffith Theme Song in honor of the actor’s death that was a nice moment for everyone involved.
There was some overlap with Grant Farm and Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band, but around 6 PM I headed out to the main stage. Melvin Seals is a monster on the keys but during the beginning of his set he felt a little more subdued in the mix. Even during “Johnny Too Bad” he just seemed very light, however during “Sugaree” he exploded on the organ. Dave Hebert on guitar had incredibly accurate tone and was an absolute pleasure to watch play. I was also surprised to see Jimmy Tebeau on bass, I’ve know Jimmy since my freshman year of college as a member of Dead cover band The Schwag. He drives the bus, and it was a great chance to get reconnected with him. The show also featured a massive Deal that was enough to get the crowd dancing in the streets.
Next on the docket was California’s Poor Man’s Whiskey. Famous for covering Pink Floyd with their down home version of Dark Side of The Moon, their original music is a classic blend of rock and bluegrass. Musically they are incredibly talented and the vocals of Josh Brough are tinted with a warm vibrancy that is truly inviting. They were a great touch and I caught them for a while before heading back to the Main Stage for Greensky Bluegrass.
Greensky is one of the premiere young bluegrass acts out there. Along the lines of Head For The Hills, these boys from Michigan bring the heat with every performance. A classic string band lineup with all of the bases covered their inclusion in the festival was a big draw for the crowd, which had swelled to around 1600 people by this point. Their show was a bit laid back, but they busted out some great tunes to keep the audience engaged. “Bottle Dry” and “Broke Mountain Breakdown” were a ton of fun. They ended their set with a bluegrass version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
During Greensky’s set I headed into the patio for a bit to see Todd Shaeffer and Friends. The Friends included Railroad Earth’s Andrew Altman on bass and Great American Taxi’s Chris Sheldon on a banjo drum contraption. This was a folk-infused experience that seemed like a toned down version of RRE. Todd is an impeccable guitarist and gentle vocalist, however this show just seemed very low key. The talent on the stage would seem to lend itself to some serious picking, but what we got was a very chill encounter. They played beautifully, but at this point in the evening I was searching for more energy.
That energy came in the form of Big Wu on the main stage inside. The Big Wu was a band that I first saw in 2000 and noticed enormous potential in their playing. They fell off the map for several years but recently they have been coming back to Colorado and playing really well. Their most recent addition of Mark Joseph on guitar has seemed to reinvigorate this band of twenty plus years. This is the band that opened the first Bonnaroo, so to see them back onstage was a personal highlight for me. They opened with a version of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” that felt like an extension of their sound check and also entirely appropriate.
SET I: Could You Be Loved, House of Wu, Gimme A Raise, Oxygen> Midnight Rudy, Bloodhound, Save Our Ship> Time, Ophelia
Corey and Kind Recordings posted the show on Archive at http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/bigwu2012-07-03.mtx.kindrec
This was a classic Big Wu experience with awesome versions of classic tunes “Gimme A Raise” and “Midnight Rudy.” All in all it was great to see them back at it and really sounding tight.
I hopped outside for a bit to see Conspirator, which is a side project of The Disco Biscuits featuring Mark Brownstein and Aaron Magner. From the first notes of their performance to the end almost two hours later they didn’t stop. They are an electronic dance party powerhouse and it was an interesting catch at this diverse festival.
The late night event had arrived as the crowd moved indoors for Octopus Nebula and the main event, Cornmeal.
Cornmeal never fails to deliver in Colorado. They are incredibly fun and are ridiculous pickers. I was stoked that they were integrated in the lineup not once but twice. Their show on the patio was a solid demonstration of what they are capable of. They went all the way to just before 2 AM on the packed porch. They played a beautiful bluegrass set and it was a great way to close out day one of Dancin’ In The Streets.
I woke up slightly hung over and caught an early cab down to day two at Quixote’s. I arrived early as The Congress was getting the nascent crowd ready. It’s always difficult to be one of the first bands on the bill because only the hardcore will be in attendance. Being a huge fan of this rock outfit and Jonathan Meadows’ vocals, I knew I could miss it. These guys have paired down to a three-piece since the last time I saw them live. Highlights from the show included a rousing “Jonah Gideon” and a powerful “Keep Virginia.” It was an excellent start to my second day on Lawrence Street.
All of the early shows were on the Main Stage outside meaning there was some time allotted to change out equipment. It gave the fans plenty of instance to leisurely melt into the day. Greensky Bluegrass was up next, and their set was just better than the night before. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the energy, but Greensky brought the boil on day two. It was a fun and bouncy set that included an epic version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and a ridiculous “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” They really brought the crowd in as literally hundreds filtered in during their set. I was totally impressed with their daytime performance and they left me wanting more. They invited Jay Bianchi and Vince Herman up to do the chicken dance during their set. My surprise was two-fold given the fact that Vince wasn’t on the bill and I had never seen Jay dance on stage before. It really set the mood.
Next up was an extended version of Todd Sheaffer and Friends from what we saw the day before on the patio. Including both Allie Kral and Vince Herman in addition to Chris and Andrew. It didn’t suck. The show began with a duo between Todd and Allie on “Potter’s Field.” It was a stunning beginning to a string show. The rest of the band returned, and Vince drifted on and off the stage. Martin Sexton joined the group for a patriotic rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” It had the same relaxed feel as the day prior, but musically there was a vibrancy that really pleased the crowd.
Grateful Dead Tribute band Shakedown Street took the indoor stage at Quixote’s around 7PM. Their delivery was solid and obviously totally in check with the Dancin’ In The Streets Festival. In fact they played the only rendition of the song from which the name of the event came from. Vince Herman sat in with them on the majority of their set including a wicked version of “Fire on The Mountain.”
I was drawn outside to the patio by the acoustic rumblings of Duck Pond who proved to be the surprise of the entire festival. These guys were full of life and added an energy that I had been searching for throughout the two-day show. They did a mash up of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” with “Whiskey Before Breakfast” that was as silly as it was well executed.
Donavan Frankenreiter was on the main stage outside by this point so I headed out to catch a glimpse of his show. The nice thing about the fest was how close and maneuverable it all was. You could litteraly bounce from stage to stage with just a whim and grab a beer on the way. In that regard it was really well setup. Donavon was a Brushfire Records performer who along the lines of Jack Johnson hosts more singalong type shows. He had a rockier edge though and he was certainly enjoyable to see live. He was one of many firsts for me at Dancin’ In The Streets. That again was the nice thing about the festival, lots of great music I was wholly familiar with and few bands I had never seen live to keep me engaged.
I went back inside to catch the end of Duck Pond before venturing back into the street for Martin Sexton. He had a small but dedicated crowd assembled for his set. He had a certain animation about his playing that was half flow of consciousness half utter showmanship. He strummed his guitar briskly and softly playing a wide variety of songs.
Big Wu went on late around 8PM and I stayed to see them for a bit. They opened with “Shoot The Moon.”
SET I: Shoot The Moon, Texas Fireball, Tequila, The Hobo Song, Red Sky, U.S. Blues, Mean Spirits> Shantytown, Dixie Chicken, Southern Energy, The Star Spangled Banner> Rhode Island Red, Kangaroo
Corey posted the set on Archive.
I stayed through “Red Sky” and they sounded great, however with three days of String Cheese Incident looming at Red Rocks, I opted to call it an early night. Sadly I missed Cornmeal and JGB’s repeat performances, but from all reports they killed it.
Dancin’ In The Streets came off without a hitch and although the turnout was less on the 4th of July there were still plenty of people who made it down overall. Fans mingled with artists as they strolled about the grounds. The normally laid back vibe of Quixote’s seemed to permeate the entire show. I’m glad this festival has made its glorious return to Denver. The Bianchi’s deserve to have an event that showcases what they bring to scene. Dancin’ In The Streets did just that.
Summer Camp implemented a lot of new technology this year including RFID chips in the bracelets. This is an entirely current advance that helps with security and well as tracking the crowds. In the future it could aid in finding your friends on your smart phone, but I think we are still a few years away from that. I woke up early as the sun bled into my tent. It was the first time in years that I didn’t camp in the woods, which meant that I was up by 9 AM each day to get going on my coverage. I tossed some fresh ice in the cooler and grabbed a shower all of which were conveniently located in the VIP area. By 11 AM I had eaten and was ready for some fun. I opted to save my strength for moe.’s opening set.
I remember being very nervous last year waiting to introduce moe. Maria was calm and collected as she fired up the crowd for an early set by the boys from New York. It was a great kickoff to the official festival; they opened with a fiery “Not Coming Down.”
SET I: Not Coming Down> Wormwood> Downward Facing Dog, Queen Of Everything> Timmy Tucker, All Roads Lead To Home, Crab Eyes, Spine Of A Dog> Buster, Okayalright
You can listen to the set on Archive at http://archive.org/details/moe2012-05-25.mk41.sonosax.m10.flac16 – Thanks to Bean for posting.
moe. came out of the chute with all guns blazing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when a band has an unbroken streak like they have, there is nothing they can’t accomplish. The three part rhythm section of Vinnie, Jim, and Rob rips like a well-oiled machine giving Al and Chuck plenty of room to soar. I continue to be impressed by them at every turn and they are my main reason for coming to Summer Camp. This set featured a massive “Timmy Tucker” that just seemed to go on and on. Their segues were crispy especially the transition from “Spine Of A Dog” into a rowdy “Buster.” They closed their too quick set with a brief “Okayalright.”
I took the opportunity to go charge my batteries at The Church and check in with the crew. Holly had assembled a great group to help everyone. Matt, Danny, and Graham all pitched in to make the weekend run smoothly and I really appreciated their help. After a few posts online and a bottle of water it was back to the main stage for Keller Williams. He emerged from the backstage already strumming guitar like a rascally bard donning a black handkerchief covering his face ala the cover of Thief. He opened with, “I Feel Love” into “Breathe.”
SET I: I Feel Love> Breathe> Turtle In The Front Row> Acoustic Jam> Looping and Intro> Breathe> Freeker By The Speaker> Dragon Attack, I Told You I Was Freaky> Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, Floatin’ On The Freshies, Doobie In My Pocket, Loop Jam> Born To Be Wild*
*with Al Schnier
You can listen to the show on Archive at – http://archive.org/details/kw2012-05-25.mk4_16bit – thanks to tonedeaf for posting.
Keller is another one of those artists that is an intrinsic part of the lineup. It would feel weird if he wasn’t there. Even though he had to travel across the country for a performance at Delfest the same weekend he made it point to give us a great afternoon set. The massive “Breathe” was simply stunning showcasing everything Keller brings to the table from acoustic picking to his looping. The “Freeker” got the whole audience in synch and segued into Queen’s “Dragon Attack”. And without missing a beat he went into The Flight of The Concords’ “I Told You I Was Freaky.” I mean who on earth but Keller would string those songs together? Seeing him play is like a random flow of consciousness, which is why I love watching him perform so much. My one request this year was to see Leftover Salmon on the bill so I had to leave during “Doobie In My Pocket” so as not to miss a note. Unfortunately that meant I missed Al’s sit-in on a transcendental “Born To Be Wild.” The nice thing is I can always go back and listen to the recording, which you should do too if you didn’t catch it.
Leftover Salmon is fresh off their incredible performance on the streets of Denver, and I have been sharing my excitement about their resurgence with anyone who will listen. You can read about their show on Santa Fe on the Summer Camp Blog.
SET I: Gulf of Mexico, Just Keep Driving, Liza, Midnight Blues, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Sing Up To The Moon, Highway Song, Better, Light Behind The Rain, Bend In The River
They began with a trio of tunes off of their new release Aquatic Hitchhiker, showing they were ready to set the afternoon on fire. Andy Thorn has truly reinvigorated the band in a big way, adding both his banjo and his vocals to the mix. Salmon has come full circle and I foresee big things for them in the near future. The highlight of their set was a Drew Emmitt lead “Highway Song” that basically melted face.
“I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I drink it at Summer Camp.” – Drew Emmitt
Drew was referencing at totem that featured the spokesman from Dos Equ+is hovering about the crowd. I feel it’s moments like this that also show the playful nature they all have onstage now. They closed their hour long set with a classic “Bend In The River.”
After a quick trip to post and grab a battery at The Church I was back in the pit for Weir Robinson Green Acoustic Trio at The Sunshine Stage. As they walked out in front of the crowd I quietly checked photographing Bobby off of my life to-do list. They opened with an audience pleasing “Truckin.”
SET I: Truckin’> New Speedway Boogie, Ain’t Broke, Iko Iko, Deep River Blues, West LA Fadeaway, Deep Elem Blues> Dark Hollow, East Virginia Blues, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Uncle John’s Band, Hey Mona, Not Fade Away
I found their mellow flow and musical camaraderie to be quite inviting. Bobby gave both Jackie and Chris ample opportunities to harmonize as well take a few numbers on their own. “West LA Fadeaway” made everyone stand at attention. The “Deep Elem Blues” into “Dark Hollow” was mesmerizing. Amy and I found a spot in the shade and danced away the afternoon. They ended their set with a perfect, “Not Fade Away.” I was ecstatic as I headed to Cornmeal at The Moonshine stage.
For the second time in two days I was seeing Chicago jamgrass monsters Cornmeal. They have come so far in the last few years, tying up all loose ends musically and coming together as one amazing musical unit. The turnout for this set was a little lax but all those who made it down for the set were dancing up a dust storm. I make it a point to see them whenever they make it to the Front Range and seeing them two days in a row at Summer Camp is just one more cherry on the massive sundae that is this festival. The highlight of the set may have been the down tempo “Old Virginia,” which always seems to melt my heart whenever I get the chance to see it live. We stayed until just after 7:00 PM and skedaddled back Sunshine for the Umph.
Following the same formula as last year, with moe. during the day and Umphrey’s headlining the night, Friday belongs to the McGee.
SET I: Gurgle> 2nd Shelf, Pay The Snucka> Miami Virtue> Glory, 2×2, Ringo, Loose Ends> Puppet String
SET II: Jekyll & Hyde> Ocean Billy> Mulche’s Odyssey, Bright Lights, Big City> Dump City> Ocean Billy, 40’s Theme, Forty Six & 2, Day Nurse> Pay The Snucka
The full show is up on Archive at http://archive.org/details/um2012-05-25.mk4_24bit – Thanks again to tonedeaf for posting.
Now there was a Gogol Bordello show between these two sets, but I’ll get to that. With three full hours of stage time Umphrey’s took us on a musical journey that ran the gambit of what they are capable of. The most striking thing about UM is how incredibly tight they are, they’ve been called an ADD band because of their predilection to stop on a dime and rip off in another direction. I would go so far as to say they can stop on a dime, do a cartwheel, leave seven cents change, pickpocket your sister, and shake your hand at the same time.
Summer Camp, it is so good to be back. Hands down my favorite fuckin’ festival. – Ryan Stasik
Their Friday show as a whole exemplifies why Umphrey’s is perhaps the last great jamband slashing tunes that spanned progressive to death metal and everything in between. The “Pay The Snucka,” which is arguably my favorite song of theirs, went keyboard trance before breaking down into “Miami Virtue.” I cannot stress how good they are, and just when I think they have peaked I see a show like Friday at Summer Camp. They continue to build and build adding new tricks to their repertoire. The “Ringo” was yet another high point in the show before they ended their first set with “Loose Ends” into “Puppet String.”
The second set started on the darkest of tones with “Jekyll & Hyde” and began their back and forth with a massive “Ocean Billy” sandwich. The meat of that sandwich was a brain-shattering “Mulche’s Odyssey” and an 80’s sounding “Bright Lights, Big City” into “Dump City.” They finished their show by going back into “Snucka.” It was simply put a solid outing by the boys from Chicago.
During setbreak I high-tailed it over to see Gogol Bordello. Having never seen them live before I knew they were high energy, but little could have prepared me for the gypsy punk explosion I witnessed. Passing vocals around the stage like a hot potato with members of the band seeming to appear out of nowhere to take a turn at the microphone. The instrumentation alone was enough to make my head spin. They are most definitely a band I will see again.
After UM I ran over to catch Primus. They opened with their standard “Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers.” Primus just sounds amazing right now. They are on point and were a great addition to the Summer Camp lineup. By all accounts they stole the weekend with both a Gogol Bordello sit-in as well a version “The Other One” with Bob Weir. However I have to honestly say I left about halfway through the show in order to regroup at camp before late night in the barn. I’ve always known that you can’t see it all, and with a few overlapping sets, some hard decisions have to be made. It’s that way at every festival and Summer Camp is no exception. An old friend of mine who I reconnected with at SCamp this year said it best.
“A music festival isn’t about who you choose to see, it’s about who you choose to miss.” – Concert Joe
We headed back to camp midway through Primus to recharge and get ready for late night. Suddenly I remembered that Floodwood was playing a midnight set at the VIP bar. We headed over as they were sound checking and getting ready to play. This show ended up being one of my highlights of the entire weekend. It gave me a chance to focus on them with a much smaller audience than the night before. And it also became a big social event with Ian, BC, and Shane from Fort Collins, making it down. It really felt like a family affair. They invited Kris Norwak up on stage to close out their hour and suddenly it was time to head back up to the barn.
As we arrived we saw Cornmeal tuning up on stage. They were joined by all of Elephant Revival for a massive clusterpluck for the lucky crowd. It was yet another gigantic jam breaking out at Summer Camp for anyone who happens to pass by. Are we seeing a theme? We hung out until Elephant Revival left the stage to hit the road that night for another festival, and headed into the Red Barn for a much-anticipated set of Ha Ha The Moose.
Amy and I had been talking about this show since we say that it was on the line up. We knew we would be up late on Friday for the festive occasion. For those that don’t know Ha Ha features Dr. Guano, Jeff Von Kickass, and Sludge from Christmas Island. It was a bizarro show with the three of them donning bright orange prison jumpsuits, luchador masks, and giant moose ears like that of some odd fraternal organization. As they strutted out to the stage, fans began booing and cursing the band. I found myself grinning from ear to ear as I had stumbled upon something utterly silly like a master’s degree art project gone awry. After some back and forth between the audience and the band they opened with Poison’s, “Talk Dirty To Me.”
SET I: Talk Dirty To Me, 20lbs of Shit in a 2lb Bag, Ha Ha The Moose, Sexy And I Know It, Mr. Her, Looking Down The Barrel of A Gun> Apostrophe , 10 Things Vin’s Likely To Say, Thirsty Carbunckle, Rednecks Are Everywhere, In The Name of Freedom, Devil Toad, Fuck This Shit!
You can listen to this show, and you should, on Archive. http://archive.org/details/HHtM2012-05-26 – Thanks to jesse d scott for posting.
“This is the worst crowd I’ve ever seen in my life… I want to thank the Illinois Regional Correctional Facility for letting us out for the night.” – Dr. Guano
This was just a wild ride, and musically as you might expect it was top notch. However, I felt utterly compelled to boo. It was that type of blatantly silly experience and even though the hour was very late, I was dancing wildly. Their version of LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It,” had me in stitches as Guano belted out, “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle.” Commander Nad joined them on “10 Things Vin’s Most Likely To Say.” Perhaps the most hilarious song they preformed was “In The Name Of Freedom,” where Dr. Guano actually got off the stage and asked members of the crowd what they would do in the name of freedom.
Guano -“Barry my friend what would you do for freedom?”
Barry – “Obviously listen to this crap at four o’clock in the morning.”
Guano – “This is a god damn waste of time.”
So to sum it up this was a complete and utter waste of a Red Barn show and I can’t believe I stayed up all night to see this horrible excuse for a band. But seriously go see Ha Ha The Moose if you don’t value your time. We managed to get to bed after the set that stretched to 4 AM, content with the thought that we had two more days of Summer Camp ahead of us, and Ha Ha The Moose behind us.
So yesterday was amazing! I was running around all day trying to catch all the awesome music but there is just too much and I had to miss out on some great sets. However, I did manage to see quite a few; and get some interviews!
Kinetix JAMMED hard; they were so energetic and pulled out some great covers, such as “With a Little Help from My Friends” by the Beatles, and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy. Marcus Rezak from Digital Tape Machine made an appearance and added some killer riffs to the performance. After the show the band was up for an interview and we asked them a few questions - watch the video. They were all really cool people and if you still haven’t checked out their music what are you waiting for?
After that interview I was able to catch the end of Cornmeal and they put on such a great show (as always). The way they play is so alive; it didn’t matter that the sun was mean, every single person was dancing their feet sore. Especially the CornStalkers; a wonderful group of dedicated fans. Afterwards I had a chance to sit down with Wavy Dave and ask him a few questions; check out that video too!
Primus brought they’re usual madness to the stage and had a great light show. Lotus followed suit and put on a great performance, also with some killer lights. They are serioulsy the masters of transitions…they flawlessly flow from one rythm to another and one song to another.and then bring it all together for one final groove down.
As I had mentioned before, Summer Camp isn’t just about the music but also about having fun with your friends and just enjoying the experience of being at camp. This weekend is our yearly reunion with all my friends from college and catching up and story telling at our campsite took us past the late nights, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see Les Claypool and the Dead Kenny G’s or Haha the Moose, but based on the reviews I heard around - both put on great sets.
Can’t wait for tomorrow. As always, this weekend is going by way too fast.
And it begins!!
I just got done announcing moe. a few hours ago…it was amazing! After being here for so many years, getting the opportunity to meet THE band of Summer Camp was a dream come true. I was SO nervous but I didn’t trip or anything and it was so much fun. Everyone from the band was so chill and awesome! It was so hilarioius to have Rob and Vinnie tell me not to be nervous – they’ve only done it a million times =)
So last night was definitely a great start to the weekend. As expected all the groups delivered. Digital Tape Machine played a great set; as did Cornmeal. They’re set had a more of a rock feel and I especially loved it when they performed the Ted Nugent cover “Stranglehold,” it was bad ass. Trichrome brought the camp area to life out at the camping stage, a great one for an intimate, up-close show. They have an upbeat rock sound an The Werks hit the Redbarn hard and and jammed solid until the early morning. Infamous Stringdusters kept the night going with their great sound, a rockin’, bluegrass style.
I am getting ready to go check out the music for today. Tomorrow I cant wait to catch Gov’t Mule, Gigantic Underground Conspiracy, moe., and Umphrey’s McGee. This weekend is only going to keep betting better and it’s only Friday.