Hello fellow SCampers,
I had a wonderful weekend at Summer Camp this year. My experience as an official Camp Counselor in training was amazing and allowed me to capture many moments I could not have without this sweet title. Having the experience of seeing how everything happens behind the scenes was a really special experience. I was able to meet many of the organizers who work year round to put on this amazing event every year. I was really thrilled to shake so many hands all weekend, as well as interview some of my favorite musicians. I am proud to become such an integral part of the driving force behind promoting such an amazing festival. Here are a few favorite moments from my weekend.
First a foremost, I was very excited to have my camera this year at Summer Camp and see what I could accomplish with it. Last year I shot most content with my Iphone and this year proved to be a good opportunity to vastly improve my photography skills. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the entire weekend.
I shoot a lot of amazing video with my camera as well. I was able to capture some absolutely once in a lifetime collaborations. First I caught was this video of Victor Wooten playing with most of the members of Family Groove company including Janis Wallin. Also seen here is a few members of brainchild and sitting in is also Roosevelt Collier playing slide steel.
Another amazing moment of collaboration I caught during the weekend was Everyone Orchestra. In case you weren’t aware, Everyone Orchestra is a collaboration put on at multiple festivals bringing the best talent together for a once in a lifetime jam session. On the lineup this year at Summer Camp was Victor Wooten, Al Schnier, Joel Cummins, Carly Meyers, Allie Kral, Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier, and Alex Steele. It was my first time catching an Everyone Orchestra set and I was amazed at the artists ability to pick up and jam.
I also had the ability to interview (coming soon) Victor Wooten of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life! It was the first time the two had met and their energy hit it off right away. They did a jam for me after the interview that was just mind blowing. Here is the jam.
I also got to help shoot interviews for other Camp Counselors and managed to meet Jason Hann and Michael Travis of Eoto/String Cheese Incident. With Electric Forest being one of my home festivals, I couldn’t have been more excited to meet them.
Overall I felt like I was running around constantly all weekend trying to get footage of everything possible. Summer Camp did an amazing job giving me more opportunities than I could shake a stick at. I am so grateful I was able to capture this many amazing moments.
With all of the video/pictures I shot I made this short highlight video with some of my best shots. I hope you all enjoy. Stay tuned for more!
BTW I love festy sunsets!
Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” I think what he meant was that when you return to the place of your roots years later the changes in that environment mean that it will never really be the same. My journey to Iowa for Camp Euforia is the epitome of this statement. Ten years ago a then local band bought ten kegs of beer, set up a modest stage, and put on an event forever known as the “Euforquestra Fan Appreciation Party.” For some unknown reason they asked me to be the Master of Ceremony. The concert consisted of a handful of Iowa City acts and around 200 music fans. Everything was free including beer and food. A decade later this event endures having evolved into a full blown two-day festival with both nationally touring and homegrown bands on the bill. Many of these bands have performed as Summer Camp throughout the years as well. They asked me to return this time as the official festival video producer. We culled together a small group of young, passionate videographers to help me with my endeavor and along the way we shot over thirty hours of content. Thusly I didn’t have much time to take stills; nonetheless I managed to snap a few shots on the farm.
I arrived Thursday prior to the start of Camp Euforia 2013 and set up my tent in Robert and Ritaville. Rob and Rita were and continue to be the honorary patriarchs of the musical scene in Iowa City. In college they could be found at most shows mingling with the students, music fans, and bar flies alike. They have always camped in the front lawn of the farm and that corner of the fest has since earned that prestigious moniker. The farm itself is a sprawling space of manicured grass and structures owned by festival promoter/founder Jerry Hotz. Together with Eric Quiner (former Euforquestra keyboardist) they have shepherded this event for ten years. Camp Euforia has resided here since the very beginning. Surrounded three hundred and sixty degrees by corn and soybean fields that stretch to the horizon, this is truly an Iowa landscape. The improvements to the amenities and infrastructure from that first year are immediately apparent. Gone are the truck beds and dilapidated barn that served as the various stages in the beginning and in its place is a professional setup rivaling any festival digs in the Midwest. The second stage has been built in the second barn that ten years ago was a dirt-floored hazard. Now complete with it’s own sound and light rig, it is yet another bastion of music in this palatial panorama. They have a quaint spot set up in front of the barn for late night acoustic jamming. Perhaps the biggest improvement this year is the massive bar they constructed opposite of the shed stage and made from salvaged wood panels giving it that classic Iowa look. The vibe at Camp Euforia is one of an extended family reunion. Everyone looks somewhat familiar. For an ex-Iowa City-ian I had numerous reconnections throughout the fest.
Camp Euforia is a unique experience by any standard. Perhaps the most compelling of which besides the locale is the fact that throughout both days there are no overlapping sets of music. Thursday was full of proficiently frenzied preparations that culminated with an extended sound check by Euforquestra for the crew and festival guests. Their crew is one of the best in the business and includes many who have been working this festival for years. Camp Euforia began in earnest on Friday afternoon with The Candymakers. This band is an uplifting breath of fresh soulful air steeped in quality musicianship and irreverent absurdity. They are a throwback to the days when Motown and R&B ruled the radio waves. Decked out in polyester suits the band played an hour of powerful original tunes. At one point lead singer Al Sweet spouted off about riding a unicorn into the sunset. I found out later this is an improvised segment to one of their original tunes. They have been well regarded in blues circles in the Midwest, but it is their vibrant soul that really got my attention. Their song “I Wanna Dip You In Chocolate” was a true highlight. They rounded out their set with a robust rendition of The Beatles, “Oh Darling.”
An unexpected schedule change put Pert Near Sandstone on the main stage next. They have a solid brand of string music, which they have been diligently spreading across the country for several years now. Hailing from Minneapolis this quintet deserves to be recognized for their contribution to Midwest bluegrass. From their humble beginnings as a boozy pick session, Pert Near Sandstone has blossomed into a full-blown bluegrass experience. Their set at Camp Euforia was truly impressive and a great way to get the fest into full swing.
A blast from the past came in the form of Public Property in the barn. PP came up around the same time as Euforquestra in Iowa City. In fact their festival Exodus was a huge influence on the nascent beginnings of Camp Euforia. They played their harmony-backed brand of Roots Rock Reggae led by singer songwriter Dave Bess. Dave continues to play select Public Property dates, but primarily performs as a solo artist. Their set was jam packed with classic PP with Matt Wright and sitting in on keys and Adam Grosso on bass. They were a lot of fun and another wonderful addition to the hometown lineup.
A funksplosion occurred in the form of Dumpstaphunk. This heavily anticipated act is brimming with talent, which includes Ian and Ivan Neville (heirs to the NOLA funk scene), Tony Hall, Nikki Glaspie, and Nick Daniels III. Nikki who is the most recent addition to the group is a monster on the kit and one who definitely commands attention. They eased into the show building their songs organically with lots of collaboration. It was like entering the Church of Funk and getting an hour and half sermon. They are one of if not the best funk band touring today, and they sounded magnificent live. They primarily performed originals, however they closed out their time at Camp Euforia with an incredible version of “One Nation Under A Groove.”
Dead Larry played an hour and fifteen minute set of vibrant rock before Euforquestra took to the stage with their original lineup. This was a reunion born out of necessity. Their current drummer Craig Babineau hyper extended his shoulder so they have had a rotating cast of percussionists filling in for him in his absence. Original drummer Jos Foley suggested getting Matt Grundstad, Ryan Moris-Jeter, and Eric Quiner back in the mix for a set of classic Euforquestra. What followed was the most heartwarming and compelling Euforquestra show in quite some time. For fans that have witnessed the growth of this group, this lineup was the most cohesive of its versions. The current lineup is solid but there is something utterly nostalgic and touching about seeing these seven back together again. Even many including myself. Their two-hour set was a nod to an earlier time with spectacular renditions of “Sea Miner,” “Penny,” and “Naive Melody.” They even referenced some of their early theme shows with “Life During Wartime” and a “Pure Imagination” jam from their Charlie and The Chocolate Factory show. They encored with a powerful “Tramba.”
Family Groove Company started the late night festivities in the barn immediately following Euforquestra’s encore. They shredded late into the evening eventually wrapping up around 2 AM. They invited Chris and Wavy from Cornmeal to sit in, which was their initial appearance as the festival’s first ever artists at large. They played a stellar version of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” as well. I opted to call it a night as Dave Zollo was starting on the small stage and playing until the wee hours. Dave Bess also played a solo acoustic set.
The sun came up early, immediately turning my once shade covered tent into a burning furnace. I took it as an opportunity to get an early start and continued with my duties as the festival video producer. The music of the day started at 10:30 AM with coffee with the Grosso Family Band. Adam Grosso comes from a musical ilk and his family band included his brother and father on guitar and vocals, his mother on the upright bass, and Adam himself on kit. It really did feel like a spiritual family gathering as the Family Band went through a flurry of covers. Playing everything from The Beatles to traditional bluegrass, this Camp Euforia tradition was a welcomed start to the day. The highlight was a spot on version of “Man Of Constant Sorrow.”
Maximilian Eubank played a solo acoustic set on the main stage. Max has been a member of the Euforia family since the beginning. He played a lot with Mike Tallman in their high school days and continues to perform live, mostly in Des Moines where he currently resides. His sound is a punch you in the face acoustic detonation. Utilizing hip-hop lyrical hooks combined with stunning strum-heavy guitar riffs, Max made for a great live experience. His set included an awesome version of Widespread Panic’s “Climb To Safety” as well as an impeccable mash up of his original “Chemical Imbalances” and Martin Sexton’s “Hallelujah.”
The day was chocked full of local acts including Chasing Shade from Iowa City. The members of the band have headed up the Green Team at Camp Euforia for the last few years. After their dedication they were finally asked to play a set at the festival. Last year they diverted over 800 pounds of compost from landfills and this year they continued their hard work. Their music has a bluesy rock feel and they were definitely entertaining. Next on the main stage was The Breaker Brother Band. Comprised of highly regarded musical educators, many of who gave lessons to the members of Euforquestra in the early days. They are primarily a cover band, but the better description would be that they are paying homage to the music that sparked their passion for teaching and performing. Amazing versions of Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” as well as Eric Clapton’s “White Room.”
Recently off their performance at Summer Camp, Zeta June was on the lineup in the barn. They are a young group of musicians, with a heavy sound, and a commanding stage presence. They did a massive cover of “Comfortably Numb” during their 60-minute slot. Des Moines favorites Mr. Baber’s Neighbors and The Solar String Band, which included Mike Tallman on mandolin, represented the first bluegrass band of the day. Tallman joined the band when he was 19 and continues to play with them from time to time. They focus on a traditional styling, with an original twist. Lead by Jeff Blanchard who looks like a grizzled vet from Ice Road Truckers. He was actually very nice and spoke eloquently about the music scene in Iowa and Camp Euphoria, which they have performed at numerous times. They are absolutely some astonishing homegrown Iowa pickers, so check them out if you find yourself in that neck of the woods.
I spent much of the afternoon wrapping up interviews so I missed Fire Sale and The Uniphonics. I’m almost exaggerating with the term “missing” as the music from all of the stages is completely audible from anywhere onsite. The Pimps of Joytime hit the main stage around 5:30 and annihilated the audience with their funky assault. Blending elements of blues, jazz, rock, soul, and electronic music with their funk-focused sound the Pimps Of Joytime are a sight to see. They emerged from the murky waters of Brooklyn and have bounced around the country and festival circuit spreading their stellar approach to live music. Two incredible female vocalists and percussionists flank Brian J their bandleader; their show was a non-stop blast to the senses.
Finally it was time for the heavily anticipated Greensky Bluegrass. These guys tour relentlessly. They basically made a pit stop at Camp Euforia after playing Red Rocks the previous evening and heading to Forecastle Music Festival in Kentucky for a Sunday night show. What band does that? They wadded into the show with “Double Overtures.” Their set felt like going to an extended picking session around the campfire.
The regaled the audience with an almost silly version of John Hartford‘s “Steam Powered Aeroplane” again with Chris and Wavy from Cornmeal.
“It’s good to find brethren every once in a while… like the good, Midwestern, shit-talking, diesel drinking kind of people that Cornmeal are.” –Anders Beck
Greensky also did a bluegrass breakdown on String Cheese Incident’s “Can’t Stop Now,” before they closed with “Atlantic City.” Greenksky always pleases whenever they play live and I’m happy that they went the extra miles to peform at Camp Euforia.
Michiganders Ultraviolet Hippopotamus stormed the barn stage prior to Euforquestra’s final headlining set. On Saturday they performed with the regular lineup minus Craig who was replaced by Tallgrass’s Adam Morford on kit and Robert Espe on sax. Songs like “Wasted” and “Free” invigorated the crowd who was out in full force for this set. With around 800 people in attendance the farm looked its fullest at this point. Maximilian Eubank and Eric Quiner sat in for one of Max’s originals. The highlight of the show was Kim Dawson’s appearance for most of the second half of the set. She adds a vibrancy and beauty to Euforquestra’s wide-ranging sound. It was a solid show that rounded out the festival nicely.
The late night was filled with some rowdiness from That 1 Guy, Jaik Willis, and Tallgrass. The fans stayed up late and partied hard not wanting this great event to end. There was a combined energy of joy in the air as this special festival came to a close. It was like the end of a family reunion where no one really wants to go back to their day-to-day. Camp Euforia is unique to say the least and deserves to be recognized as such. In an era of cookie-cutter festivals Camp Euforia stands out in the crowd.
Stay tuned for the multitude of video I will be sharing on Camp Euforia’s Facebook page. – https://www.facebook.com/campeuforia
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.
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!
Saturdays are always some of the biggest days at Summer Camp. Almost everyone has had time to get to the festival and is out ready to rage in full force. Saturday was HOT! The mercury hit around 95 degrees but the bands were even hotter. I took the heat with chicken hat on and got to see quite a few bands. Here is a little bit of a preview of my day.
Family Groove Company
Kids These Days
Brain Damaged Eggman
Sun Stereo recreating the Beatles
Like yesterday, I will give you a brief synopsis of what where some of my high points of the day.
The first band that blew me completely away was a band I first heard within the last six months. The band is called Kids These Days and they are out of Chicago. The band is made out of young rockers that are barely out of high school, but don’t let that fool you. They have more talent and soul than people twice their age. Kids these Days has a very original sound I would call a sweet blend of funk, blues, jazz, soul, and hip hop. All 7 members of the band owned the stage the moment they set foot out there bringing an energy level that could boil blood. One of the things that first drew me to the band was the absolutely stunning voice of Macie Stewart who also plays keys, but I also have love for the horn section made up of Nico Segal on trumpet and J.P. Floyd on trombone. The horns provide that jazzy icing on the cake that brings all the parts in sync. They also function as “hype men” pumping up the crown and having a good time on stage. I love rock and roll but my roots are in the blues which is why I love to see Liam Cunningham up there ripping on blues guitar. I hope to see much more of these guys in the future.
The next show will be on the top of many Scampers best of list for 2012. The Brain Damaged Eggmen were formed from Jake, Kris, and Brendan from Umphrey’s, and Marc and Aron from Disco Biscuits. The two groups seamlessly blended their styles to form what 2011 Camp Counselor Nick Stock called Disco McGee. The sound was a dancy blend of Disco Biscuits groove and gut-punching Umphrey’s rock. They played many of my favorite songs including Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.” I was lucky enough to witness Umphrey’s cover this song in Dekalb in 2007 and was excited to see it busted out again.
After the late night in the Red Barn I was wanting to keep the Beatles vibe rolling and also wanted to kick back and relax so I headed towards the Soulshine tent to see Sun Stereo recreating the Beatles. I have never seen these guys before and was glad to see that they are a home grown act hailing from Urbana, IL. They came out in full force complete with British accents that could fool a true Brit.
I also got to take some time between sets to check out the Field Day events and even participate in dodgeball. I regret to inform you that I am not very good at Dodgeball and got out almost immediately, but I had a lot of fun. If you have a competitive spirit the field day events are a great way to meet new people that you will be able to rage with at future festivals. It is also a great way to partake in the childlike fun of Summer Camp.
One more day left Scampers. It is going to be a great one, hold on to it while you can because you are going to miss it Monday. As always Rage Responsibly!
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.
Summer 2012 Festival season in review
So what has ChickenHeadFan been up to since last Summer Camp Music Festival? Well, I was doing my normal thing, going to shows, taking pictures and videos to share with all of you. As we all know Summer Camp Music Festival is ChickenHeadFan’s true home! There is nothing he loves more than the 4 days he spends over Memorial Day weekend with all of you at Camp. This summer I did some branching out and I was lucky enough to go to four other music festivals and each one had many unique things that make them special. I like to keep the Summer Camp Spirit flowing all summer long and I figured trying out some new festivals was a great way to keep that spirit going! In this blog I will give you some highlights of each festival.
Bonnaroo was a great time. It was my first time going so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The experience was a lot different than Summer Camp, but that can be expected as there are as many as 80,000+ people at Bonnaroo. We were lucky and accidentally found a back way in so we were in line for 2 hours instead of 6-8 so that was a positive right off the bat. We got in line around 2am and were not done setting up till 4am so that was an adventure. We had really great neighbors and even made good friends with one group and they are planning to visit in Chicago soon! It was a long walk over 1 mile to get to “Center-Roo,” where all the shows are, so you didn’t want to go back to camp very often. The food selection was amazing with vendors everywhere that were open all day and night. You could eat anything you wanted at anytime and you never had to walk far or wait long for food. We even bought some good ol’ Tennessee moonshine from one vendor! The bathrooms were also pretty awesome. I never once saw a port-a-john that was anywhere close to overflowing and they were always clean.
Musical Highlights: Radiohead, Phish, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Alice Cooper, Umphrey’s McGee. The first band we saw was Mariachi el Bronx. I had been looking forward to seeing them after learning about them a few months before. These punk rockers turned mariachi band (mariachi outfits included) put on a high energy show that was lot of fun. Radiohead and Phish were obvious highlights for me. It was my first time seeing Radiohead and what an epic show it was. They played all my favorite songs and their stage show with the video screens moving all over the stage was a cool touch. Rodrigo y Gabriella’s new record, Area 52, that they recorded with the band C.U.B.A. has been one of my favorite albums this summer. It was amazing to see them play such complex music so perfectly live. Alice Cooper was also awesome, but we were only able to catch the last half of his show. His stage show includes costumes, giant puppets, and a guillotine. I was excited to see more later in the summer when I was going to see him open for Iron Maiden. We caught a surprisingly fun set from Ludacris during the afternoon. The set struck memories of driving to school with my older brother when he played a montage of hits including my favorites “Ho” and “Southern Hospitality.” Umphrey’s also played the best set I have seen from them in 2012. They played from 2-6am with Big Gigantic taking over at set break for a half hour. They were only supposed to play till 4am but put on a full show instead. The set including a rocking version of “Thunderstruck” which was exactly what I needed to keep me going as the sun was rising.
Whippersnap Music Festival is one of the many smaller local festivals that happens in the northern Illinois region. Here you can check out a lot of the great bands you might hear at the Starshine, Camping, or Campfire Stages at Summer Camp. The festival was located in Lyran Park near Rockford, IL. The main stage was set on a hill so there was a “natural amphitheater” with a river as the backdrop. It was beautiful! As for food, my favorite Summer Camp vendor Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was on-site so I was happy. The bathrooms at the festival were clean as well which makes festival life so much easier. Camping was very relaxed. There was plenty of space and there was no rush to find a place to set up camp. It is always a problem at larger festivals and can make the first couple hours a mad dash to get your preferred spot.
Musical Highlights: Family Groove Company, SPREAD, Old Shoe, The Funky Meters, and Digital Tape Machine. I also was only able to attend the Festival for Saturday and Sunday so I missed some great music, but was still able to catch some of my favorites. Family Groove played an awesome set that included a Beck cover and featured Joe Day from Old Shoe on vocals. I also woke up early Saturday to see SPREAD, a Summer Camp Battle-of-the-Bands contest winner the last 3 years, play a rocking set that included a Ween Cover, and some of their staples like “Deep Plunge” and “Feel my Heat.” I also got to catch a late afternoon set from Old Shoe. This was sadly the first time I have been able to catch a full set from these guys, and I was truly blown away! I have seen them twice since then, once at the Abbey Pub and once at Shoe Fest and they never cease to please.
Shoe Fest is put on by Old Shoe, hence the name. This festival was held in Manteno, IL at Camp Shaw-wa-na-see. This is another beautiful setting for a small festival. There were many families and children present and you can bring your furry family members too, pets are just as welcome here as anyone! You could pretty much camp anywhere so there was plenty of space for everyone. They actually had real bathrooms which was nice, but sometimes were out or order with a lot of people using them. Foodwise there were options but since my favorite, Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was at the fest, I had to get my fix of delicious pizza and baked ravioli. They did have two local craft brewers on site which was awesome, but one other bonus was that you could bring your own alcohol anywhere at the festival including the stages, which helped keep the cost of going to a festival down.
Musical Highlights: Keller and the Keels, Ben Miller Band, Old Shoe, Jaik Willis. I missed Friday night because of my day job so, the Ben Miller Band was the first band to rock my world at Shoe Fest. They come from Joplin, MO and have a unique sound that blends bluegrass, blues, and mountain music with an occasional trombone thrown into the mix. Ben Miller provides acoustic guitar and vocals for the band, sometimes singing into a telephone converted into a microphone that gives his voice a distorted 50′s sound. Doug Dicharry plays drums, mandolin, electric washboard, trombone, and electric spoons. His strange mix of talents add to the spice that makes this band so unique. Scott Leeper plays a self-made washtub Bass for the band. This is no easy instrument requiring the player to provide the correct tension on the neck to play the right note, but Scott is an expert at it. The band played mix of covers that included “I wanna be Sedated” and “Helter Skeltar” and some originals like “Meth Mama” and “Get Right Church.” Keller and the Keels put on an amazing show. The talents of Larry and Jenny Keel compliment and add to the talents of one-man-band Keller Williams. They played a few Keller originals like “Goofballs” and “Crater in the Backyard” along with many of their bluegrass covers such as Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” Jaik Willis is the last person I caught at the festival before I left Sunday afternoon. This is sadly one of the first times I have been able to catch Jaik play, and it won’t be my last. This man is über talented. He not only is one of the best guitar players in Chicago, or anywhere for that matter, he has a voice of gold, and he beat boxes! He holds a special connection with the crowd and has the rare qualities that make up a great solo performer. Shoe Fest was a great time and it felt like home. I cannot wait to go back next year!
North Coast Music Festival is practically in my backyard. We probably walked less to get from my house to North Coast than when we walked from our camp to the shows at Bonnaroo. I had a great time at North Coast, but since it is not a camping festival it has a completely different vibe, and the lineup, consisting of mostly DJ’s and electronic groups, draws a younger and slightly different crowd than most festivals I go to. North Coast usually gets a couple big headliners and fills in the line-up with smaller acts. Although it can be a really great place to find a great smaller band, there are a lot of performers there that I’m just not interested in. The late night shows usually make up for the sometimes lackluster line-up.
Musical Higlights: EOTO, STS9, Umphrey’s Mcgee, Papadosio. The first show I saw was EOTO. I always enjoy seeing them because I can hardly believe two guys can make all those weird noises, and with real instruments too. I was able to catch Papadosio for my second time at one of the smaller stages. They put on a good show as always. STS9 is always a highlight anytime I see them, and between their headlining spot at the festival and their after party show at the House of Blues they played every song I wanted to hear including some of my favorites “Unquestionable Supremecy of Nature” “Evasive Maneuvers”, and “Inspire Stikes Back.” Unfortunately, due to restrictions put on the festival, STS9 got their sound cut when their last song went few seconds past the 10pm cutoff. The second day at the festival the weather was unpredictable and I had to miss out on Family Groove Company’s main stage performance because the festival had a no re-entry policy. I saw Strange Arrangement at one of the smaller stages at the festival where I saw some of the best shows. I was able to catch Atmostphere and Future Rock before the nights headliner and one of my favorites, Umphrey’s McGee. This was their second year headlining the festival after playing the inaugural North Coast Fest 2 years ago. I went to the STS9 after party at the House of Blues because STS9 only comes to Chicago so often so you have to see them when you can. Sunday I got a late start but I as able to see Digital Tape Machine and Big Boi from Outkast perform. Big Boi was a fun experience, and someone who I typically might not see, he played “Sorry Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya” , so it was a pretty good time. The real highlight of the night was seeing Umphrey’s play at the Congress Theater, which is the only major theater I have not seen them perform at in Chicago. The show was rocking, and included a cover of Toto’s “Rosanna” and teases of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Bulls on Parade.” North Coast Music Festival always ends up being a great time, but the after party shows always seem to be the best part for me.
So that is pretty much the story of my festival season this year. I had a great time but you know I was busy catching shows in between each music festival as well! What kind of shows you ask? Well to find out you will have to wait for my next blog post that will be Coming Soon!
Photo Credit – Andrew Feigl for both Bonnaroo photos
Photo credit – Adam Alexander for Chickenheadfan North Coast photo
On Friday June 22nd we arrived at the Universal River Assembly for the second half of Family Groove Company, and I’m glad we made it because they eased us into a great night of bumpin’ with their upbeat yet chill jams. The night was warm and pleasant, it was the my first trip to the Peoria Riverfront and I couldn’t have asked for a better setting. The venue is a picturesque park running alongside the river with a large and beautiful fountain spraying dashes of water high in the sky, greeting you as you come in the main entrance. The sun was still barely hanging in the western sky when we were getting in and we could hear Family Groove Company rockin’ it out as we passed the children playing in the fountain.
Once “inside” the atmosphere was nice and relaxed, with the perfect amount of people to space ratio. If you wanted to get up close to the stage, there was no shoving through crowds; or if on the other hand you wanted to hang back, there were plenty of chairs and picnic tables to sit on. DJ Solo made it difficult to stay put though as he brought us some fun and heavy tracks. Among some sweet originals, including a particularly unique song that borrowed a line from an insurance company commercial – of all places – he pumped it up with a sweet cover of my favorite Darude song “Sandstorm,” and got the crowd ready for the headliners.
EOTO is a band that I have seen many, many, many, times. It is amazing that despite these numerous encounters I do not get tired of their shows. The truth is, and I have said this before, that they manage to keep it fresh unlike any other band I’ve seen. With only two members, Jason Hann and Michael Travis, one would think it would be difficult for them to keep up with the current music scene; however they not only keep up, they sail past most acts that may even have bigger lights and performances, bringing forth a percussion-loaded jam unlike any other. Plastic petals lined the stage, flashing colors and images to EOTO’s dub-stepesque beats. It is hard to describe their sound, I would say that they are a jam-band-electronica-bass mix, but it doesn’t matter what “genre” you call your own I am willing to bet you will LOVE this duo. When they’re not jammin’ out as EOTO they’re playing in String Cheese…need I say more?
On behalf of the entire Summer Camp staff and crew, thank you for an amazing 12th year! The weather was perfect, the shows were epic, and all of your smiling faces truly made this year the best one yet!
Want to stay connected and ready for Summer Camp 2013?
1. Connect with us on Facebook. Share your photos, tag your friends, and tell us about your experience at the fest this year!
2. Check out our blog. Our Camp Counselor and CITs will be posting about their experiences at Summer Camp, and at other shows throughout the year with Summer Camp artists.
3. Don’t miss our upcoming shows with Summer Camp artists! In less than 1 month (June 22-23) we have the 6th annual Universal Rhythm Assembly returning to the Peoria Riverfront with EOTO, Bootsy Collins, Family Groove Company, Brainchild, DJ SOLO and more!
We also have Umphrey’s McGee on the Riverfront on 7/5 and moe. on 9/3!!
4. Subscribe to us on YouTube so you can see all of our awesome videos from the weekend as we get them up, follow us on Flickr to check out all of our photos, and follow us on Twitter to stay connected all year long!
5. Relive your experiences by watching all your favorite sets of music in the Summer Camp archives on iClips.net! These are being uploaded now and will be available in the next few days.
Can’t wait to see you all next year!
Your Summer Camp Director
Saturday was stupid hot musically and temperature wise. I now understand why adventurous campers stay in the woods during the day. It was a different world in the trees. One dub step dude was dragging a stone tied to a string and talking to it telling “Stoney” to “watch out” for those behind him. While some people were fried, most slabbed on the 100SPF sunblock so as not to look like Joan Rivers turkey neck by the end of the festival. After lathering myself up I headed out in search of something cool.
I thought Afternoon Moon could help in the coolness area so I headed over to check out their Camping Stage set. The fellas from Chicago delivered in front of their “Mooners” despite the heat. Jordan and his brother Joe promised their fans this was one not to miss and I have to say they threw down. I spent a few songs cooling off under the canopy of the woods before going to check out Family Groove Company, the coolest band since Miles Davis peed his pants over on the Moonshine Stage.
Jordan Wilkow of Family Groove Company told the crowd basking in the sun in front of Moonshine Stage to stay hydrated and held up a beer. Janis “Ice” Wallin and Adam Lewis in unisoned choreography spun their guitars. The family got slightly larger as the band added a horn section for certain songs in the set Set highlights included originals in “White Picket Fence” and “A Misdemeanor’s Worth” and the band covering Wilco’s “I’m the Man Who Love’s You” and Tower of Power’s “Squib Cakes.”
That song must have got my girlfriend Liz and I hungry so after scarfing down some tasty Minglewood Fired Pizza we doused the red pepper flake flames with a few 312 brews and headed to check out ALO. This was my first time checking these guys out and I have to say it was nice to lay back on the lawn and groove to them. Since the “crowd was in the right mind” as ALO lead guitarist explained they played a special song about “Monkeys” dedicated to Phil Lesh. Transitioning into a long fast funky chunky monkey jam the band played a variety of lively classic tunes. The band closed with “Maria” and reminded us that we had a lot of good music coming up.
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy are a combination of musicians from Disco Biscuits and Umphrey’s McGee. I spotted Camp Counselor Maria Iriart taking in one of her three on stage sets as they played Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” This was foreshadowing of what was to come later in the Red Barn set for Brain Damaged Eggmen.
Over at the Soulshine Tent a private little chat with Chuck Garvey from moe. was taking place with Rock the Earth. He brought with him drummer Vinny Amico who talked about a variety of socially conscientious issues they worked on with Dave Matthews. They also talked bout how moe. was actively involved with humanitarian efforts with the Red Cross as well as donating to environmental charities through working with the Rain Forest Network.
Chuck also answered a few questions on song writing and he said at times it could take years to craft one before it was ready to unearth. He explained while it was “fun to play Led Zeppelin it was also nice to write” even though he’s extremely critical of his songs. Chuck and Vinny played a song written on an airplane with an alternate acoustic version of “Summer Women.” Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee came up to answer a few questions as well. The tri-panel each told of their favorite places when not on the road. For most it was home. Chuck said Florida, Vinny the Adirondack Mountains, and Brendan his hometown of Chicago as he could have a zen moment having the city at his back looking out into the nothingness that was Lake Michigan. The best part of it all was that they closed it out with “Bell-Bottom Blues” by Eric Clapton with Chuck on lead vocals and Brendan singing background vocals. Don’t judge a band by its name is something we all remember when it comes to moe. and Umphrey’s McGee.
Next we headed to the Camping Stage and checked out our good friends Old Shoe play their inaugural Summer Camp. “Welcome Home” opened the set and lead into “Let Yourself In” as the sun fell behind the horizon. Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” was sandwiched in between “Joe’s Song” and “Days Rain Night.” Playing mostly original work off the bands last album Let Yourself In and a forthcoming unnamed release the sunset backdrop of the newly renovated stage was just what we needed to properly kick off the evening. We hung around for Midwest Hype who went on right after Old Shoe, and though we’ve seen our friends from Laporte/Muncie area plenty around Chicago were hit with a wonderful surprise when the fellas paid tribute to Adam Yauch aka MCA the recently departed Beastie Boy and musical pioneer.
Laying down on the grass for some Umphrey’s McGee covering Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” around 10:30pm was the perfect way to celebrate a job well done by the Shoe gang. The light show was spectacular but Liz and I had Red Barn late night passes to see Brain Damaged Eggmen. So we split off from the group and decided to meet up later at Hot Buttered Rum playing at the Campfire Stage.
Brain Damaged Eggmen in the Red Barn was epic. It wasn’t too crowded though it got a bit toasty towards the end of it. Giant beach balls were fisted skyward as glow sticks and elaborate light displays enhanced the surreal atmosphere. I love both Pink Floyd and the Beatles and Brendan Bayliss thanked everyone for letting them entertain this side project.
Setlist: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Another Brick in the Wall, Baby, Your a Rich Man >Obscured by Clowns>Tomorrow Never Knows, Have A Cigar> Breathe> Comfortably Numb>I Am the Walrus>Dark Side of the Moon.
We caught up with the Shoe Family for Hot Buttered Rum and were able to take in everything from “Like the French” to covers of the Grateful Dead’s “Round and Round” and Beatles “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Sitting by the Campfire around 4am I decided for the sake of not having too bloody of a Sunday it was probably best to hit the hay.