For some turning forty is a day for celebration and remembrance, Dave marked his fortieth trip around the sun by lighting the fuse to a powder keg and blasting down the hill in style. Dave arranged for both Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger from Umphrey’s McGee to play a special two-set acoustic show in his living room. With both The Magic Beans and The Drunken Hearts supporting the entire event promised to be one not easily forgotten. I headed up with a few friends from Denver and arrived at Dave’s north of Denver around 7 PM. There was already a decent crowd assembled mingling amongst the massive potluck spread complete with a keg of Ranger. It was obvious that this was going to be a stellar night and it was just starting.
We kicked off our shoes into the massive pile by the door and got to it. So many sock-footed friends and familiar faces dotted the room, as the birthday boy chatted with his guests. Bayliss and Jake were sitting on the couch watching their alma mater Notre Dame square off against USC to complete an unbeaten season. The house was perfectly set up for what was about to occur. The UM Duo would perform in the living room and downstairs there was a literally a stage on the carpeting complete with lights and a soundboard. The basement was basically a large L with plenty of room for everyone.
The Drunken Hearts got started a little after 8 PM and quickly warmed up the crowd. There was a party atmosphere so people seemed to float in and out the basement. They played a sweet variety of Americana cut with a bit of rock and roll. Hailing from Vail, Colorado and labeling themselves Alternative Grass Rock, The Drunken Hearts are a new force on the scene. Andrew McConathy’s deep and colorful voice resonated off the basement walls. His tone has a unique quality to it that makes it very versatile and well suited to the genres of music that they play. Early in their set there was a short power outage when the band blew the breaker. The Drunken Hearts very professionally continued to play in the dark. Towards the end of the song the room was again filled with the iridescent green light from the towers. They played a tight version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and I was told that Bayliss sat in on kit for a song. Honestly they were a lot of fun and a very smooth way to ease into the night. They recently released Live for Today, which was produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, and features sit-ins from both Tim and Scott Law.
Everyone filed upstairs and quietly took their place throughout the kitchen and living room. The stage was simple, two chairs, a couple lights, a small plaque commemorating the life of Sarah Elizabeth Gewald, Brendan, and Jake. Notre Dame had won and it was time to get down. Dave politely told everyone to be respectful and the show was on. They opened up with a fully developed “40’s Theme.”
Set 1: 40′s Theme, In the Kitchen> White Pickle> Den, Rocker Pt 1, Great American> Over the Hills and Far Away> Great American>The Girl is Mine> Jane Says> Great American, Hajimemashite> Glory> Hajimemashite, Dear Prudence, FF> Gulf Stream, Can’t Find My Way Home, 2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills
Set 2: Divisions> No Comment> Soul Food I^> In the Kitchen, Comfortably Numb, August> That’s The Way> August, Bridgeless@, Jake Solo$, Morning Song, Thunderstruck, The Weight Around, Black Water*, Front Porch> Resolution> Goodbye Blue Sky> Divisions
Encore: Porch**, Night Moves^Horse with no Name (America) and Run To You (Bryan Adams) verses @ W/ Don’t Stop Believing fake out $ Dedicated to “all of our fallen friends.” * W/Clayton Halsey on vocals ** Pearl Jam, 1st time played. The audio stream is online to listen to http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/27255821.
The setlist was just stupid good and the acoustic playing along with the myriad of covers set the premise for the night. The crowd would sporadically chime in to sing along with the band. Brendan and Jake are solid players; their acoustic performances really allow the listener to focus on their ability to just pick. The incredible dynamic between Jake and Brendan was as substantial in front of the select gathering in Dave’s Living Room as it is in front of thousands of screaming fans at Red Rocks. They performed “In The Kitchen” to people who were literally in the kitchen. The entire two set show was playful in this way, with gentle ribbing give to Dave by the band between songs. The jam on “White Pickle” was engaging before they segued into a rare “Rocker Pt. 1”, which has only been played once by Umphrey’s in 2009 since it’s debut in 2006. They used their instrumental “Great American” as the double bookend Jam one of the most compelling runs of the night. ”Great American”> ”Over the Hills and Far Away”> ”Great American”> ”The Girl is Mine”> ”Jane Says”> ”Great American”, I mean really? Weaving out of their own musical landscapes into Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, and Jane’s Addiction in a single strand of a performance is downright mystifying and exceptionally entertaining. Going back to the Umphrey’s songbook they played a nice sandwich of “Hajimemashite”> ”Glory”> ”Hajimemashite” before they went into a beautiful cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”
Dear Prudence – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BszbMv_adQ&feature=youtu.be
A favorite moment of mine was the “FF” into “Gulf Stream.” This was just a good combo back to back and seemed to exemplify the feel of the first set; relaxed and celebratory.
FF into Gulf Stream – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa8PTMFqgRs
They again wowed the attentive audience with a rendition of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” before ending the set appropriately with “2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills.” (I had to check that was really the title of the song and not setlist notes for someone.)
Friends mingled about and eagerly awaited the return of Brendan and Jake. If the first set was a straightforward shot with a few surprises, then the second set was a field of land mines being traversed on a unicycle. They came out strong with a huge “Divisions” to start the show. Dave’s friend brought a painting that was a live representation of this song to be signed, so it made sense that they would use it as the bread for the second set sandwich. “No Comment” was a bit abrupt, but the funky “Soul Food I” included “Horse with No Name” and “Run To You” verses. This was when things started getting weirder. From SF1 they launched back into “In The Kitchen” The first of two second set Pink Floyd covers came in the form of an excellently executed “Comfortably Numb.” They performed yet another back and forth with “August” into Led Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” and back again. “Bridgeless” contained a massive Journey tease that made the whole crowd cheer. Jake played a stunning solo dedicated to, “all of our fallen friends.” Brendan and Jake played a dark “Morning Song,” which they followed up with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” They busted out a rare “The Weight Around” and the upped the ante with a version the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.” The playful “Front Porch” is an old track seeing less of the rotation in recent years. “Resolution” disintegrated into an absolutely awesome version of Pink Floyd’s “Good By Blue Sky” before they wrapped it up with the aforementioned “Divisions.” Wow. This was just an unbelievable set of music.
Brendan and Jake encored with a first time ever played “Porch” by Pearl Jam as well as Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” This was such an enjoyable time and a great way to spend a Saturday Night. Magic Beans took the stage downstairs as music fans basked in the afterglow of that acoustic set. The Beans are a talented group who continue to impress audiences all across Colorado and beyond. They played as the people mingled and slowly dribbled away into the darkness. Eventually too my ride indicated that it was time to hit the old dusty trail and we left as the Beans were still shredding. I want to extend a big thanks to Dave for even attempting, let alone pulling off the most incredible birthday party I’ve ever attended. Happy Birthday my friend.
Finally. The moment has arrived. We are all one in the mad land rush that’s eerily akin to the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. Chillicothe’s newly established settlers staked their claim as the gates opened on Summer Camp 2012 and a flood of wagons were corralled up hills and down. Wind swept plains and swaying forests made staking that choice spot extremely important. Those who aren’t adept at knot tying need not apply.
Our CIT group met up Wednesday night to try and snag that premium spot along a tree line. Abby, Jason, Marisa, Maria, and myself all finally had a chance to put a face with a name and figure out logistics. For our blogging services Summer Camp graciously provided 2 Deluxe VIP camping passes so we were headed over yonder to throw down tents, then hopefully to the VIP bar around the corner.
After camp was secure and setup Abby, Mo, Me, and our +1′s (Luke, Adam, Liz) all walked the grounds in their purest state. Lightly touched with just the right amount of food vendors, and visual effects it was a treat to see everything before the gates opened. We could see a spectacular light display from Moonshine as last minute sound checks occurred. Shakedown street was rounding into form, and we met some cool hoop vendors near Vibe Tent. Thursday was Marisa’s 24th birthday so they actually gave her a present in the form of a collapsable hoop! Festival spirit alive and well. We turned in for the evening to prepare for a big morning where we’d meet with Camp Director Holly to talk about coverage, press, and our role as a representative of Summer Camp Music Festival.
Thursday started off with a bluster as tents were tossed like shoes in the laundry and poles were snapped leaving canopies looking like abstract art forms. Abby and myself went around with our +1′s and surveyed the changes to the site on our way to the white Church where our meeting would be. Along the way we checked out Appleseed Collective on the Starshine Stage whose old timey swing with just the right amount of indie flavored bluegrass and was the perfect way to kick off some dust and do some foot stomping hoe down action.
We also saw Zeta June passing back from the Camping Stage and I noticed a Familiar shirt adorning the bass player. What would Janis do (WWJD?) indeed.
Holly then took us around on a tour of the grounds on her golf cart and provided us with our complementary case of 312 beer. Now that was a thoughtful way of reminding us to stay hydrated! Dust and vehicles running about made having a bandana a necessity unless one enjoys a mouthful of dirt. We washed off our wookfoot near the Vibe Tent on a inflatable slip and slide and signed up for Field Day games. These exact bandanas are also available at the merch tent.
We stuck around Starshine for our good friends Family Groove Company and to me that was the first highlight of my evening. Summer Camp veterans Adam, Janis, Mattias, and Jordan put on quite a show. Special guest in Cornmeal’s Allie Kral joined the band for an encore cover of “Benny and the Jet’s.” As Chickenhead and I watched with numerous friends I felt a sense of relaxation and understood why people say this festival is different and special. Janis and Allie showed true camaraderie that was just awesome in a musically sense as they dueled as equals on fiddle and bass respectively.
Family Groove Company with Where’s Ronny! Note: Janis pre hair flip in background.
I headed back for a few hours of “work” and a quick bite to eat at the campsite. It was pretty interesting seeing the woods fill. People were hacking away with saws and weed wackers to clear the undergrowth and make room for their tents.
Chickenhead getting accosted by a pink bird of paradise.
Fully charged on a freeze dried meal of lasagna we made a bee-line for the Soulshine Tent for a epic saga that was the Superjam lead by Zmick with members of Old Shoe, Family, Groove Company, Jaik Willis, Strange Arrangement, and Cornmeal. There were two sets the first with Brad Miller (Zmick), Matt Robinson, Paul Priest, and Joe Day (Old Shoe), Janis Wallin and Mattias Blanck (FGC). They opened fittingly with “Soulshine” by Gov’t Mule with Joe Day saving something special up on vocals and keys. Paul Priest got the crowd whipped into a frenzy with Phish’s “Sand” that psychedelically played with the audience and was complimented greatly by the tent lighting. They broke out a super funky “Ragweed Jones” with Janis laying down a mean low end. Cornmeal’s Wavy Dave Burlingame helped bookend the set on banjo sitting in for the Grateful Dead’s “Big River” and “Up on Cripple Creek” by The Band.
The second set line up included Jaik Willis, Dan Andree (Henhouse Prowlers), Dan Huber and Paul Priest (Old Shoe), Adam Lewis and Jordan Wilkow (FGC), Joel Hettinga (Strange Arrangement). Jordan took us to a beach in Brazil with a rendition of Santana’s “Oye Como Va.” Guitar solo’s by Adam Lewis raged past 1:30am with the band playing “Cissy Strut” by The Meters. Jaik sang a lengthy version of “Stir It Up” by Bob Marley and beat boxed scat rapped battle style with Dan Andree on fiddle of Henhouse Prowlers. It was quite fun to see if Jaik’s vocal prowess could match Dan’s lively bowing. Since both are friends I’ll be Switzerland and say it came out equally righteous.
One nice thing that happened during the Superjam was a brief rain shower around 1am. This made the walk back to the campsite much more enjoyable as the dust settled down considerably. Physically exhausted by 3:30am, and with a long weekend ahead of me, I wanted to grab some shut eye to prepare for a full Friday.