So one band that I didn’t get to catch this year at Summer Camp was Peoria natives and 7 time festival alumni Brainchild. I heard they were making their way to Fort Collins as part of a three-night Colorado run. So on a crispy Saturday night in the Fort I headed down with Amy and on old friend to Road 34. As we entered more than one person in the Lot out back commented on the fact that I was the Summer Camp Counselor. Road 34 is a bar / bike shop and a great place to see live music in an intimate setting. The opening band was the local group, Twine! They have been working their way around the scene and playing some strong performances on the Front Range. They are certainly young but I was fairly impressed with how far they’ve come in just a couple short years. Sure they are loose and they missed a few cues but to be honest they have a ton of potential. Mainly playing instrumental tunes they broke into some solid jamming heavily anchored by their rhythm section of Michael Vargas and Sam Mitchell. Ben White took on a silly front man role with the irreverent Skate Legs. However, they actually reached a serious high with Paradox, which included a nice Zeppelin nod. I see them making waves as long as they can hold it together for a few more years.
For more info and some streaming music check out their Reverb Nation page at,
The main event of Brainchild took the stage and they blasted through their almost two-hour set with an alarmingly powerful musical prowess. I had heard good things about them but little could prepare me for the talent they brought to what was essentially a bar stage. They literally audibly assaulted the crowd of thirty or so with strong jamming and interesting lyric. Everyone that had come to Road 34 that night could not help but be impressed for the amount of musicianship they received for the five-dollar cover. They played classic Brainchild songs like Follow The Mornin’ Sun which lasted almost 17 Minutes and saw a wide variety of sonic transitions in the form of epic jamming. They also busted out an instrumental version of Billie Jean into Smooth Criminal, which was certainly a crowd pleaser. I don’t get out to the bar shows that often as my music schedule is jam packed but this was one night I was very happy that I made it. Elements of funk, jazz, and jam all made their way into this eclectic show. Probably the most interesting pieces of the puzzle were the vocal inter-layering between Ponce and Mooberry. The crowd began as a sort of loose affiliation of kids out enjoying a drink and broke into an all out dance party. They encored with a stunning version of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name Of. There were maybe 20 people left at this point and the front of the stage became a borderline mosh pit. Most bands try to leave the audience mellow, as they finish, not Brainchild. They tore it and worked the attendees into a frenzy before bidding them goodnight. I grabbed a quick photo with Roy and he kicked me down a couple of CDs so that I could dive a little deeper into their repertoire before Summer Camp next year. I can honestly say that if they are on the bill next year, and I hope they are, I will not be missing them. Thanks for an awesome night of music Brainchild; you killed it.
Summer Camp Counselor
Keller and The Keels at The Mishawaka
So my good friends Sean and Cristi raced to get into town early for Phish so they could meet us before heading up to The Mishawaka. It was time for some old fashioned K-Dub goodness up the canyon. The second of his two-night stand featured not only Keller’s looped set but also The Keels to open. The four of us hopped the shuttle and took the drive up arriving at the venue just before 8 PM. It was relatively empty so I got ready to take some photos while the rest of my gang got food and drinks for the festivities. The Mishawaka is a gem in the Poudre Canyon, it is located right on the river and it has an ambiance that is hard to match by any standards. Needless to say but I love seeing live music here.
Keller came on stage a little after 8:30 PM with Jenny and Larry Keel in tow. It was time for a bluegrass extravaganza at The Mish. I tried to keep track of the setlist but this is most definitely incomplete so if anyone has it shoot it over. They opened with a bouncy version of Rehab; here is the rest of what I was able to get from the show.
SET I: Rehab, Pepper, Don’t Cuss The Fiddle, Another Brick In The Wall, Play This, Local Outdoor Organic, New Horizons, Mountain Song, Connie Chung, Loser, Climb, Uncle Disney> Goofballs>?
SET II: The Shape of M&M’s, California, Birds of a Feather, Convertible, Moon Dance, Kidney in a Cooler, Vacate The Premises, Gate Crashers, Scarlet, Freeker, Star Trek, Dupree’s Diamond Blues, Port-a-Potty, Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown
ENCORE: Boob Job
The Keels set was everything you’d expect with most of the Grass album seeing rotation. J-man and I took our photos for the first three songs and ventured away from the front of the stage. We had all access but respected the wishes of the band and also did not want to get in people’s way. The crowd was fairly full but not so packed that you couldn’t move around. It was the perfect size in my opinion. The Play This was strong and the back and forth guitar work between Keller and Larry was mesmerizing. They play so well together it becomes a beautiful musical tapestry with Jenny holding down the edges. Keller is a guitar virtuoso but he is also a strong bandleader. I love seeing him in the different roles, which has been much more frequent in the last couple years. The Connie Chung was truly energetic and throughout the set I wandered around seeing old friends and watching people dance. Everyone just seems to really enjoy themselves at Keller shows. To me Keller equals fun and it was apparent that those in attendance felt the same way. I took a moment to stop by the Conscious Alliance tent in the back and thank them for all their hard work. For those that don’t know Conscious Alliance runs food drives at concerts and in exchange for donations they give out show posters. They do amazing work and are truly a Colorado tradition.
The second set was Keller doing his looped performance and he opened with his instrumental M&M’s, which was a lot like eating some musical candy. He busted into California, which easily became, “I love Colorado,” during the course of the song. The crowd was going nuts after the first song as they tried to jump into the pit but the fans were quickly ushered back onto the floor by security. This is the sort of infectious energy that is so prevalent at his live shows. There is truly a buzz in the air and everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. The Birds of a Feather gave me chills, while so many other jam bands will step back from covering songs by Phish or The Grateful Dead, Keller is not afraid. I’ve always seen his solo performances as a live musical flow of consciousness, and he isn’t shy about playing songs by bands that have been an influence to him. His version was crisp, clean, and out of control. I loved it. He invited The Motet’s Pete Wall out for his classic take on Van Morrison’s Moondance and I hoped up to grab some video of this live collaboration. That’s one more thing I love about Keller he is so willing to play with anyone. He sees value in the skills of other players and he is always ready to jam. The Moondance stretched on well over the fifteen-minute mark with Pete was blasting away on his flute like Ian Anderson on speed. Just when I thought it was over Pete walked off stage and grabbed his baritone sax to jam on Kidney in a Cooler. This has always been one of my favorite Keller tunes and to hear Wall nailing the bottom end gave me a whole new reason to love it. The Gate Crashers broke down into an R-Rated sing-along, which brought a smile to K-Dub’s face. He invited the Keels back onstage to close out the rest of his set, and continued to play crowd-pleasers until the very end. Dupree’s saw some sick flat-picking from Larry and Port-a-Potty was completely appropriate given the bathroom situation at The Mish. The Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown is like a bluegrass mashup of two Petty covers and it just works. I was totally stoked with the entire performance. Keller encored with his crass but true Boob Job.
Keller Williams and The Mishawaka are a winning combination. Whenever he makes the trip up the Poudre, which as of late has been a yearly tradition, he just slays the Colorado crowd. I’m glad that Keller continues to tour frequently because I know that at least a couple times a year I’ll be able to just go to a show and enjoy myself. When I was first coming up in the scene Keller was a festival whore, and I say that in the nicest way possible. The ultimate result is that I’ve seen him live over thirty times and every time I leave with a huge smile on my face. Last Saturday night at The Mishawaka was no exception.
The date was Saturday, August 10th. The place was Fort Collins, CO. And the show was the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Dear lord. If anyone can show me a better husband and wife guitar duo, I’ll buy you a late night ticket to SCAMP 2012…While Tedeschi Trucks was not the only act to play that night, they were certainly the headliners of the Bohemian Nights Music Festival held for FREE by the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. What a beautiful thing. Probably the best slide guitar player in the world and its free. Just sayin, all other cities out there…
Anyway, I was there not only for Tedeschi Trucks, but also for my buddies, the Fox Street Allstars who had the opportunity to open for the big guns. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Fox Street before, but if I haven’t go check them out here: www.foxstreetallstars.com Rumor has it they’ll be touring this winter with another SCAMP artist that I can’t really talk about so if you see their name on a bill make sure you get a ticket. If you need any convincing I’m pretty sure Derek Trucks was on the side of the stage for the performance and I’m pretty sure I saw his mouth move in the shape of “Holy shit, these guys are good, we better bring the thunder…” I could easily be mistaken.
Whether or not I was, bringing the thunder is exactly what the Tedeschi Trucks Band did. I’m not sure, but I think there were 11 people on stage playing and it was awesome. Derek, as I mentioned, is probably the best slide guitar player in the world…so much control and such an interesting right hand technique…I hear he just kind of picked up the guitar at 5 and just knew how to play it…probably why he was touring with and opening for the Allman Brothers at age 14. If you don’t listen to Derek Trucks, check him out. His wife, Susan Tedeschi is no guitar slouch herself, mostly strumming and singing with the voice of an angel who loves to drink, she has the ability and often does rip great blues guitar solos. Together these two make some amazing music and I for one am super jealous of the musical opportunities that will no doubt be available to any and all of their children they may have or will have…but I digress. In addition to an amazing show, the technical side of it was super cool as well. With a great light rig, and the sun setting just before they took the stage, we were all treated to a wonderful visual display, I’ve included a pic…I especially liked the hanging LED strips…
The show was amazing; the horn players each had their time to shine, each back up vocalist got an opportunity to sing lead, a very democratic band if I’ve ever seen one. Most of the songs they played came off their new album, Revelator, which I’ve had stuck in my CD player for a few months straight now…If you ever get the chance to see Derek Trucks, even if you aren’t into his music, go see him play. In my opinion, it’s just phenomenal to watch anyone who is great at whatever it is they are doing, and as one of the greatest guitar players of our generation, I’d have to say Derek Trucks falls into that category.
Once again Summer Camp came through with yet another photo pass to Red Rocks. This time for the bluegrass extravaganza headlined by Scamp veterans Yonder Mountain String Band. They did an amazing job putting together a stellar supporting lineup with Railroad Earth and The Infamous Stringdusters filling out the bill. I have been waiting for this show for months and was totally stoked when I went to grab my pass at the booth. There was a rumor floating around online that Red Rocks would be releasing an additional 500 tickets. With the show selling out just the day prior there were literally hundreds of kids out roaming the lot with their respective fingers in the air. So by the time I got back down to will call around 5 PM there was a huge line of eager fans, but as I got to the window a representative came out stood on a boulder and let everyone know that the show was officially sold out. I found out from her that they only released 50 tickets rather than the bruited 500.
I quickly headed back up the hill because the doors were already open and I didn’t want to miss my chance to shoot The Infamous Stringdusters who were up first. J-Man and I made our way down to the pit and I was immediately struck by how many dear friends I was surrounded by. I noticed local videographer and documentarian Eric Abramson on stage with his trusty camera. He is my personal hero and everything I aspire to be, look out for his upcoming doc on Scramble Campbell entitled ScrambleVision. I looked up into the quickly forming crowd to see Roach, Wildo with the Team Shit Show Crew, and a ton of pink vests in honor of far too young fallen Yonder fan Lilli Trippe who recently lost her battle with a rare form of childhood leukemia. Her story is truly heartbreaking but the show of support from not only YMSB but also their fanbase is very inspiring. RIP Lilli. You can read more about her story and also make a tribute to Lilli at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/lilli.
So as the Stringusters made their way a call of “Let the fun and games begin,” was belted through the PA. They opened with a searing version of Fork In The Road; here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: Fork In The Road, Black Rock, Get It While You Can, Ain’t No Way Of Knowing, Hitchhiker, Walking On The Moon, It Don’t Mean Nothing, How Far I’d Fall For You, In God’s Country, Can’t Put Out The Fire, Steam Powered Aereo Plane, Rain
You can download the audience recording on ARCHIVE. (Hyperlink – http://www.archive.org/details/isd2011-08-20) Thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting and posting quickly I might add. (Hyperlink – http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=taper%3A%22gerry+gladu%22)
When you are in the pit at Red Rocks it is very much a dance with the other photogs. You grab you shot and move on and try not to get in each other’s way. It was a lot of fun working with J-man and some of the other unbelievable local shooters Tobin Voggesser and Rob Tobin (no relation.) The Infamous Stringdusters seem to give a sense of real authenticity in their picking. They were steeped in the old-timey goodness that defines what real bluegrass is all about. They floated around each other in a fluid dance as each took their turn for solos while really listening to what the others were playing. They maintained a certain reverence for this genre’s true aspirations. The early arrivers were treated to a cavalcade of pure bluegrass. Songs like their version of the Police’s Walking On The Moon, In God’s Country, John Hartford’s Steam Powered Aereo Plane, and the show closing Rain were amazing to watch. I was very happy with their set and will definitely be on the lookout for their next journey to Colorado.
Railroad Earth is quickly becoming one of the most dynamic bluegrass acts on the circuit today. They are simply mesmerizing and they have the ability to basically stun their audience. They were certainly in contention for MVPs of the night and I would go so far as to say that they stole the show. YMSB has been playing this yearly pilgrimage to Red Rocks for quite some time now, but the supporting lineup this time around went a long way in helping them sell out their home venue. While J-man and I were in the Lot I asked him to hit up Tim Carbone and ask if they were planning on playing Like A Buddha mainly because I’ve geeking out on it recently, he texted him back with a, “We’ll see,” type answer. As we settled in the pit for our shots that is exactly what they decided to open their set with. I couldn’t help but give J-man a quick fist bump between photos. Here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: Like a Buddha> The Jupiter and The 119, Potter’s Field, Warhead Boogie> Head, Black Elk Speaks, Bird in a House, 1759
You can listen to Gerry Gladu’s Recording on Archive. Thanks Gerry. (http://www.archive.org/details/rre2011-08-20)
The crowd was going absolutely nuts as I spent the first couple songs taking my pictures. RRE has a very distinct sound and twang to their style, it’s almost hypnotic and while you are dancing to it, it’s so easy to get swept up into the emotion of the song. They know how to bring dynamism to their songs erupting into a cacophony of sound before ripping out the bottom for some minimalist jams. There is no question this is by far the best Railroad Earth set that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing from the folk rock of The Jupiter and The 119 to the almost Celtic styling on Potter’s Field, they started very strong. The Warhead Boogie into Head was in one word powerful. Tim Carbone’s violin adds a level of elegance and beauty to their songs and shows his versatility with each new number. The vocals of Todd Sheaffer are definitely distinctive, he does such a good job of annunciating and really pushing out each lyric, however the most impressive player of the night may have been Andy Goessling who is such a talented multi-instrumentalists that he can singlehandedly shift RRE’s sound depending on what he plays. They closed with a barn burning 1759. It was just a jaw-dropping set from start to finish, I was filled with a level of admiration and excitement for Railroad Earth that I have been missing when I saw them previously. They are certainly on fire and have just announced a three-night stand at The Ogden for New Year’s. Denver very much appreciates this RRE.
“… And now it’s our turn to get to play the family picnic.” – Jeff Austin
The only word to describe Yonder Mountain String Band’s performance at Red Rocks this year is energetic. From start to finish they came out with the fire in their fingers and created a set to please. People have complained that the last few years have seen lackluster performances from YMSB; this was not the case on this particular evening at The Edge. They opened with a scorching What The Night Brings; again here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: What The Night Brings, Night Out, Criminal, Easy As Pie, Pretty Daughter, Complicated, Ten> Shake Me Up> Ten, Town, Spanish Harlem, Little Lover, Little Rabbit, Sideshow Blues
SET II: East Nashville Easter, Finally Saw The Light, All The Time, Just The Same, Too Late Now, Pockets, Lord Only Knows, On The Run, Rain Still Falls, 40 Miles From Denver, Keep On Going, Dawns Early Light> Robots> Two Hits And The Joint Turned Brown> Keep On Going [reprise]
ENCORE: Southern Flavor, Shady Grove
You can stream or download the Gerry’s recording on Archive. (http://www.archive.org/details/ymsb2011-08-20)
Yonder passes around vocal duties like Germans pass around a boot of beer. They are like the power trio of bluegrass except that there are four of them, which is certainly a minimal lineup by any the genre’s standards. The crowd was packed and definitely a little wasted from what I could tell. After I took my photos I saw a girl b-line it over the rail by the stairs to let her dinner go, and truthfully I was a little taken aback. I guess in my 17 YMSB shows I never noticed how wasted some of the fans get. There was more than one story that floated through the ether about uncouth behavior from kids at the show. Other than that one incident I didn’t really see much else out of line but seriously guys be safe and take care of each other. Despite a few rumblings from the crowd the majority were there to have a great time with their favorite Colorado band. Yonder kept the energy level high with classic renditions of Criminal and Danny Barnes’ Pretty Daughter but the highlight of set one was the Ten sandwich with Shake Me Up as the meat of the hoagie.
At setbreak I went backstage, which was a surreal experience to say the least. I didn’t get down into the tunnel, but I did get up into the VIP lounge area. I took the opportunity to tell Todd and Tim from Railroad Earth that they played an incredible show and that I was very happy they were on a part of this stellar lineup. I settled down in the back corner and while the rest of the VIPs were ushered out I got ready to take some video, because when am I going to get this chance again? The bass rumblings of Kaufman got East Nashiville Easter started before they tore into the song. The sound was boomy backstage so as soon as I got my video I slipped up behind the main speakers for a few shots, before heading back out into the sea of people. All in all it was probably one of my best setbreaks at Red Rocks.
The set started a little slower than the first and saw Yonder sticking to more docile tunes. Although numbers like Too Late Now and Pockets showed glimpses of what was to come it wasn’t until On The Run literally erupted into a bluegrass volcano from which the rest of the set flowed like an ooze of magma-infused goodness. When the boys really kicked on the afterburners the rest of the set was remarkable. The Dawns Early Light into Robots into Two Hits into Keep On Going was the reason I continue coming back to see these guys. It was just a good time. They encored with punchy Southern Flavor before a beautiful Shady Grove. And just like that the 6 plus hours of bluegrass on the Rocks was over. As the kids shuffled out of the venue I couldn’t help but have a warm feeling in my stomach happy and full of pride for this great state I call home. Thanks again to Summer Camp for arranging my pass and giving me yet another astonishing opportunity to capture what I love for everyone out there. With summer coming to a close being at Red Rocks affirms everything I love about live music and I was happy to make the trip one more time.
The year after I moved to the great state of Colorado one of our treasured
refuges of music burnt to the ground. The main lodge of the famed State Bridge,
home of Yarmony and countless concerts over the years, suffered an awful fate. A
beautiful locale right on the Colorado River was the type of awe-inspiring spot that
people keep coming back to. I unfortunately never made it out before the fire but
like a Phoenix rising from the ashes State Bridge reopened this year. Renovated and
ready to host music again the new venue still retained the luster of its former glory.
Summer Camp arranged for me to make the trip out so Amy and I hopped in the car
and made the long trek to the outskirts of Bond, Colorado.
We camped at Rancho Del Rio just up the road and after we got settled we
grabbed the shuttle down the road. We got our first glimpse of the venue and took a
moment to thank Kris and Chris for putting us on the guest list. They were definitely
ready to rock and after a long tour and traveling 9,000 miles who could blame them.
It was their tour closer. I know for a fact that they always bring the heat when they
play Colorado and our surroundings would only add to that energy. When we went
inside, the venue was just gorgeous with a multi-tiered layout and plenty of room.
To the left of the stage as you entered a massive fire pit greeted you. As we roamed
around I noticed Wavy Dave chatting with some fans. That’s the type of place State
Bridge is; it was most definitely homey. It’s a place where friendships are made and
everyone is family. I was immediately struck by the warmth of all of those in
attendance at this hallowed venue. Allie came out as well and spoke with the
members of the audience before the show. I took the opportunity to thank her again
for taking part in my Private Camp Counselor set and tell her that Rex sent his love.
The ironic thing is that I actually ran into a couple people who I had the
pleasure of meeting at Summer Camp. Matt and some of the Cornstalker crew had
made it out to see their favorite band. I also saw Marc from Rock the Earth who we
stood next during our onstage set for moe. It was obvious that as Cornmeal took the
stage good people surrounded us at State Bridge. Cornmeal’s first set was pretty
straightforward and full of bluegrass goodness. Allie’s violin soared over the crowd
as the full moon illuminated State Bridge. It gave an added level of intensity to the
overall vibe. JP’s picking mesmerized me as he belted out some signature tunes.
Highlights from the first set included Calling Me Back Home, Shelter, and an
absolutely sweet Old Virginia. After a great set Cornmeal retired backstage and the
fans continued to mingle and make friends.
The second set took us to places that Cornmeal is not really known for. With
strong elements of jam and spacey psychedelic it was just an insane musical
journey. I love seeing a well-rehearsed band playing at their peak. It is something to
behold to see players at Cornmeal’s caliber playing at the top of their game. This is exactly what everyone was witnessing that night deep in the mountains of Colorado.
Cornmeal was firing on all cylinders and they just shredded the night away. For a
band to hold it together for 10 years is a testament to their belief in the goodness
that they produce. That massive range of experience definitely came into play at this
show. With incredible versions of When The World’s Got You Down and a smoking
Girl I Left Behind the second set played on until late in the evening. It was just
perfect. Cornmeal showed us why they are one of the premiere bluegrass outfits
Cornmeal has become a Summer Camp stalwart and seeing them out in my
home state is just another reason why I love that festival. Like moe. and Umphrey’s
McGee, Cornmeal has become a partner at Camp. They are another reason to make
the trip out to Chillecothe for Memorial Day Weekend. I feel blessed to be able to see
such great music on a regular basis. Thanks again to Summer Camp for getting me
out to this show, and thank you to Cornmeal for always bringing the heat in
Colorado. State Bridge was the icing on the cake of an unforgettable night in the
Summer Camp Counselor
The great thing about the Summer Camp Music Festival is that even if you don’t catch a band while you are at the show you can still take note and see them back home. This year Trichome killed it and got the opportunity to jam with Rob Derhak. I was busy running around with my Camp Counselor duties so I unfortunately was unable to make it over for that set. However, them being local to Fort Collins I had seen them about a year and half ago. They were jammers, but nothing struck me as too incredible about their sound at the time. Well times change and bands transform. This is certainly true for Trichome. It’s a good thing these are Colorado boys because it wasn’t long before I got a chance to catch them, and not just anywhere I saw them at the famed venue in the Poudre Canyon, The Mishawaka.
Trichome began as a bunch of white boys playing reggae. What I witnessed at the Mishwaka was truly a band evolved. They opened with O Fortuna, here is the rest of the setlist from saxophonist Michael Windham.
SET I: O Fortuna> Boogie Shoes> All the Love, Strawberry, Mighty Impil, Sway, Koolie High> Latino Embrolo> Another Day> Latino Embrollo, Farside (w/Da Funk Jam), Alright, Chant Up, Music Goes On, Let Go> Koolie High
ENCORE: Squirt (w/ Jungle Boogie Tease)
The way they have reformatted their sound is truly staggering. One thing that was most present in their playing was their dynamic layering. Trichome has a core group of 6 musically masterful members, but for this show they added a couple of extra horns for good measure. It was a journey through world, jam, reggae, and funk, which ultimately peaked with the huge Da Funk Jam, tucked into Farside. It was a stellar show that made me reevaluate my first impression of these guys. That’s one more reason to go and check out local bands that perhaps you’ve even seen before. The younger bands have the fire in their bellies to constantly improve. And in the short year or so since I had seen them last they were completely new to me. I was totally impressed where at first glance I could take or leave their sound. Now I will continue to follow them as they progress and look forward to my next encounter with Trichome.
Summer Camp Counselor
So, it was getting close to crunch time for Umphrey’s McGee’s Red Rocks and
Blue show. I had a request in with Summer Camp but it wasn’t until the Wednesday
before the show that they finally got approval for my photo pass. I was stoked. It
was the first time I had gotten photo access at the famed venue that I call my
summer home, The Edge.
So when the day finally arrived I grabbed a ride with my buddy Jeremy and
we hit the Lower South Lot around 3:30 p.m. I immediately met up with J-Man from
MusicMarauders and we took a minute to catch up. It was amazing how many
people recognized me as the Summer Camp Counselor. No less than 10 people
asking if I was the CC stopped me as I wandered around the Lot. It was kind of eye
opening in the sense that I realized how widely my work as the CC had spread my
image. J-Man and I walked back down to Will Call to get our credentials. Amy came down with some other friends so I headed to Upper South Lot to meet them before going inside.
We got in just as The New Mastersounds were starting their set. I quickly
made my way to the photo pit while the rest of my friends found a spot around row
15. The place was still fairly empty which meant there was plenty of room to move
around. I took photos for the first three songs as I was instructed was the protocol.
NMS riveted the audience early and blew away the crowd. Hailing all the way from
the United Kingdom they came to Red Rocks to play. I got a chance to chat with
bassist Pete Shand at setbreak who informed me they were used to playing 3 hour
shows with a half hour encore. This fact didn’t stop them from delivering the greasy
funk for just under an hour at Red Rocks. The New Mastersounds are an all-
instrumental funk based band. They stayed true to their nature by just playing a
jam-tastic set. I was very impressed with The Mastersounds at Red Rocks.
The Easy Star All Stars were up next with their mix of reggae and classic
covers. Overall it was a fun show with selections from Radiohead, the Beatles, and
Pink Floyd. Everyone has heard Dub Side of the Moon but to hear them play live
was actually a really interesting experience. I thought their originals were a nice
way to mix it up and they truly did energize the crowd. As they finished there was a
hiccup and before they could go into Time they were cut off.
No matter I was there for the main even and that was definitely Umphrey’s
McGee. They opened their set with a solid Jazz Odyssey. Here is the rest of the
setlist from PT.
SET I: Jazz Odyssey>, Bridgeless, Professor Wormbog, Puppet String, Hurt Bird
Bath, Deeper, Plunger, No Comment, Plunger
SET II: Nipple Trix, Divisions, Forks, Sledgehammer, Red Tape, Jimmy Stewart,
Red Tape, Day Nurse, Hajimemashite
ENCORE: Release, Bridgeless
The set was one of peaks and valleys, at times making the audience really work a
bit. I felt there was a bit of a disconnect with the crowd. A possibility is some level
of disappointment with attendance. At this point there was only about 4500 people
in the 9000-seat venue. Either way there was some real highlights from the show.
The open was solid coming out very strong. I was down in the pit for the first fifteen
minutes of the set and got a chance to snap some solid pictures. As I learned at
Summer Camp being that close to the powerful playing of Umphrey’s can be intense Surrounded by a cavalry of professional photogs I focused on getting my photos so I could enjoy the rest of the show. Plunger to close the first set was awesome and typical of UM’s back and forth song setlist writing.
The second set was definitely better and focused on the sublime jamming
Umphrey’s McGee is known for. Jake Cinniger was the VIP of the evening with his
pinpoint accurate guitar work. His progressive licks and ability to segue on a dime
was definitely a highpoint of the show. UM’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer was a surprise and a nice way to jump off the path for a minute. The Red Tape, Jimmy Stewart sandwich saw the most interesting playing of Red Rocks and Blue. Hajimenmashite was a solid close to the show before UM disappeared from the stage.
Umphrey’s came back for their encore with a beautiful rendition of Eddie
Vedder’s Release and closed the show with their previously unfinished Bridgeless.
All in all I thought it was a good show with a few rocky points. I hope that the lack of
attendance is not a reason to deter this event from happening next year. A full show
from Umphrey’s at Red Rocks is always something I will look forward to.
A big thanks to Summer Camp for getting my pass and giving another unforgettable
Video From Red Rocks
The New Mastersounds
Summer Camp Counselor
Cervantes Summer Celebration June 10th (Ape Tit feat. Members of the Big Motif)
For those of you who live in Colorado, you know how fun a place Cervantes can be. And when they decided to have their Summer Celebration party this year featuring a bunch of local bands, I was ready to go…plus I just moved 3 blocks from the venue, both awesome and dangerous. Anyway, The Summer Celebration party featured a bunch of local bands. The first band I saw was Big Wheel Electrosoul. Awesome live hip hop featuring my good friend Mr. Charles Parker Mertens on the bass. Normally I don’t get into the hip hop too much, but whenever there is a live backing band I’ll give it a chance. I was glad I did. Holding down great beats with socially conscious lyrics, Big Wheel Electrosoul is one not to miss.
The last band I saw, yes I’m skipping to the end because my personal highlight came mid-show, was Whiskey Tango. I guess you’d call the grass rock or something as they have a traditional bluegrass lineup with the addition of a synth and drummer with full kit. These guys rock and for sure know how to hold it down. Once again, I don’t normally get into the bluegrass but these guys were really good. I’ve seen them before and I’d see them again. With driving beats supporting a twangy vibe of excellent songwriting, this band will be doing their thing in Denver for years to come.
The highlight of the evening, however, was a band called Ape Tit. Yes, as in the breast of a gorilla. I thought it was a play on words of “appetite” but I was wrong. This band features a local Denver guitar player paired up with the drummer from the Big Motif. If you know the Big Motif or saw them at Summer Camp, you know these kids, and I mean kids, are super young. It’s always a treat to see the entertainment on stage have big black “X”s on their hands, always wondering, where is this kid gonna be in 10 years when he’s had an opportunity to be exposed to all the music scene has to offer? Some people don’t make it, but if this performance was any indication, the kids from the Big Motif have their heads on straight and will be around for a while. Ape Tit was great. Hip Hop and break beats with layers of delayed guitar put over it. All fine in it of itself, the show really took off when Big Motif’s bass player joined in and took the event to another level. If you get the chance to see Ape Tit in Denver, do it, if not, catch the Big Motif and see these young kids before they are a ticket to tough to get.
Counselor In Training
It’s been a little over two weeks since I got back home from Summer Camp
and I’m still buzzing from the experience. Everything about the Summer Camp
Counselor position from being selected by the people all the way to my private
Cornmoe. show was truly mind-blowing. Even now, I have a hard putting the entire festival into words. Having been to literally hundreds of shows and dozens of festivals in my 30 years on this planet, I have never lived through something like what I experienced at Summer Camp 2011. Never have I been so warmly received at a festival. From the moment Arlan put on my wristband and gave my backstage pass until the very end, it was like one long hug. I’m being a little warm and fuzzy now, but in retrospect, that’s exactly how I felt the entire time.
The four days of the festival were a blur of activity. I can tell any future Camp
Counselors, be prepared to do the work. If you do it correctly you will be left with an incredibly gratifying feeling. There were some hard decisions, but the nice thing about being Camp Counselor was that I got to handpick what I wanted to cover. At times it felt like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel of festivals; if you would like to see Bruce Hornsby turn to page 36. Other times I took the opportunity to decompress and enjoy the company of my friends. Those times were short in comparison though. From the time I got to Chillecothe until Monday morning, I was constantly on the move. And honestly, that’s how I am at every festival I attend. It’s all about consuming as much music as possible, and seeing all my favorites in one place.
For me, one of the highlights of being Camp Counselor was having total
access. I was able to float in and out of the various venues with relative ease. In fact, I could pretty much come and go any way I pleased. The security folks knew Amy and I by about the second day, so after that, it was clear sailing. For me, it wasn’t about being a fanboy backstage either. Sure I got to talk to Kris Myers, Ryan Stasik, all the members of moe., Jimmy Herring, and Kyle Hollingsworth but it was very casual. I tried not to bother them too much because I recognized that with access comes responsibility. The backstage area is a refuge for the artists and I never wanted to take advantage of my awesome situation.
Another huge highlight was being onstage for moe., Widespread Panic, and
Umphrey’s McGee. Being so close to your heroes as they do what you love is an amazing thing. In fact, the one set onstage with UM may have turned Amy into a legitimate Umphreak. Watching moe. play from the side of the Moonshine stage was just epic. This was perhaps the most powerful part of my prize package. I could not fathom the intensity of being so close as the music was created right before our eyes.
And finally, the icing on the cake for the Summer Camp Counselor position
was all of the wonderful people I met. On Thursday, a few people saw me and either asked if was the Camp Counselor or congratulated me on winning. After I introduced moe. on Friday it was like I was a rock star wondering through the
crowd. People were stopping me, taking pictures, and just talking about their
experience at Summer Camp. I found this aspect to be both wonderful and
enlightening. Summer Camp, as I originally stated in my video, is a melting pot. I met people from all over the country who were all there for a single purpose, the music. Whether they were there to see Bassnectar or moe. or any of the many bands on the side stages this was the unifying factor. We were a community that almost tripled the population of Chillecothe for a weekend. It was great meeting so many of you wonderful people at Summer Camp.
And there you have it. As the first ever Summer Camp Counselor I worked
hard to document and contribute to this amazing community. I tried to be proper with the access that was bestowed up me, and I tried to meet as many people as possible. My time at the festival went by like a flash but it is an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Before I finish I would like to take one last opportunity to thank my crew; Amy, Sean, Cristi, Anna, and Pete for being my shelter from the action as well as Jay, Ian, Holly, Arlan, and moe. for making dreams come true. Keep an eye on the blog and on the Summer Camp Music Festival website in the coming months as my job did not end the Monday after the fest. I will continue to cover some of the many great musicians and bands that have graced the stages of Summer Camp out here in Colorado. I look forward to contributing some great content over the next year until we meet again at Summer Camp 2012.
Counselor In Training
Sunday, the saddest day of the festival…the last one. Back to the real world, I suppose. But this Sunday would be a great one. It started off with a little breakfast, I think I got the vegan breakfast in a cup which had yogurt and granola and juice all blended together. Very good, very refreshing. Due to the Umphrey’s and Cornmeal set time flip flop, I had an opportunity to catch one of my favorite bands, The New Mastersounds. Super tight British Funk that we are lucky to have. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the guys in New Mastersounds and they are super nice and fun to party with. If you live in CO come out and see them open for Umphrey’s at Red Rocks on the 3rd of July.
After the New Mastersounds we got to see Huey Lewis and the rUMors. The set was awesome. Some Huey tunes, some Umph tunes, some covers. A great time was had by all and it was really cool to get to see someone like Huey Lewis take the stage. We stuck around to see some Bruce Hornsby. A real treat there included seeing Bruce, Bela Fleck, and Jimmy Herring all play together. I’ve never seen those guys on stage together and I feel like that won’t happen too often. If you saw it, sweet. If not, check out my video of it on the Summer Camp page.
After a little moe. and some dinner we headed out to see Widespread Panic. What an awesome show! Amazing background with the LED walls interspersed with bright white lights. They played for 2 straight hours and the entire time the intensity only increased. After Widespread it was on to see Karl Denson. I know most of you went to see Bassnectar on the big stage, but I could just not pass up the chance to see one of the best musicians at the festival do his thing. Super upbeat and funky, Karl Denson always delivers no matter which of his many projects he is playing in.
With a late night ticket, I made my way to see EOTO and STS9…it was SO HOT in the barn on Sunday night I couldn’t bare it…the wolfpack was to retire to the den. When we got there everyone was pretty ravaged from the last 4 days. Most kids went to sleep but I tried to tell them to stay up and come out. The last night is the weirdest, and the best. I grabbed a carton of goldfish and set out with my buddy, Zemel…we encountered a 30 foot long hopscotch game made of glowsticks, we fed people goldfish, saw some band just set up and raging it in the forest, Indigo Sun, I believe was there name. Looks like they were really determined to play Summer Camp. We walked around the grounds and stopped at the general store where a quick game of baseball was taken up. A girl behind the counter had a waffle bat so I tried to throw goldfish past her swing and into her friend’s mouth. With a full count, I wound up and faked the pitch drawing her swing, I threw the goldfish behind my back, and right into the guy’s
mouth…the no hitter was kept in tact.
As the sun started to come up, I realized that I had to drive back to Colorado. So instead of getting some sleep, I broke down my site and packed up my car, just to be prepared in case my CO crew was gonna bounce by 6am as we had discussed. Let’s just say we ended up getting a late start. I decided to head over to the VIP tent, which, upon sunrise was still RAGING. Members of UM, The New Mastersounds and more were still partying hard. With all the booze basically being up for grabs I had a couple shots and beers and just really enjoyed the morning sunrise. I met (finally) Allie Komessar. If you don’t know who she is, you should. She works for 312 and basically ran the Field Day events. She is a great person to have be a part of our festival and I look forward to an encounter next Scamp.
After one last session of partying I got in touch with my peeps and we hit the road. Finally leaving Chillicothe at 10 am, we drove real hard and made it back to Denver around midnight. The journey was complete. I was exhausted when I finally pulled up to my place but it was the good kind of exhaustion that makes me say, damn, I can’t wait to go back. Only 361 more days til Summer Camp 2012…see you there.
Counselor In Training