moe. - The most amazing thing about this whole experience was getting to meet some of the artists that I so admire. As a fan, one tends to think that there is this detachment between the performers and the audience – that they live in a different world made of stars. The first time I was behind the moe. stage on Friday, waiting for the big moment when I would have to get up on that stage and announce their first set, Rob Derhak came up to me and told me not to be nervous; he talked to me and helped stop my knees from shaking like maracas. Vinnie and Al were also so kind and gave me words of encouragement. Ever since that first time, whenever I saw them I was greeted and treated like any other person. I used to love moe. for their music, but getting to know how kind, sweet and funny they are makes me love them even moe.
Wavy Dave - After their day set on Friday, despite having jammed hard in the blazing heat, Wavy was kind enough to sit down with me and let me ask him a few questions. He is super nice and SO talented, he plays like a million instruments! The next day was his birthday; HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! And I was allowed to tag along to the celebration. It was really cool to be able to see the gathering and sing happy birthday. What was funny was that it was so hot that the icing was melting and the cake was falling apart as he blew out the candles; but it still looked delicious!
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy – I had the awesome opportunity to do an interview with Chris Michetti, Ben Baruch, Dominic Lalli, Jeremy Salken, Marc Brownstein, and Araon Magner, and it was hilarious. Again, that imaginary distance that one imagines exists between the artists and fan disappeared and we spent a great deal of time talking as if they weren’t big stars they are; I mean we discussed socks for like 5 minutes! These guys acted like they were brothers, and they were SO funny. I have no words to express how happy I am that I had the chance to meet them and spend some time with them. Please, check out the interview video and see for yourself!
G-Love - G Love is a very cool, very laid back guy. This was the first year we were able to catch his set so it was a little embarrassing going into the interview with him, since I didn’t know much about him. However, he was super awesome and made it very easy for me to get a great interview. His blue eyes are mesmorizing and he really has a great way with words. The story of how his career started is extremely interesting so don’t miss the video!
Kinetix – I was super excited to catch Kinetix for the first time – and they didn’t let me down; they played a great show and afterwards I went up to them and asked them if they didn’t mind doing an interview (make sure to watch it!) and they were so cool about it. The band consists of Adam Lufkin, Eric Blumfield, George Horn, Jordan Linit, and Josh Fairman. Another great group of guys, they were funny and it was a pleasure to meet them. This was their second year at Summer Camp and I hope they keep coming back.
Sun Stereo – I finally got to meet this band, which I have been interested in for a long time. They are locals from Urbana and have a very distinct sound that you have to hear. The main group consists of Kelly McMorris, Josh Houchin, and Jesse Greenlee but they brought some friends to add to the music with trumpets. They were all very sweet and Kelly has a great smile. Don’t miss out; check them out and the interview too!
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.
I have come to find out that Summer Camp is much much more than just the music, as each day goes by I realize the importance of community and the connection we all have with each other. I woke up in a daze, with only about 2 hrs of sleep and basically stumbled on over to finish up another days worth of blogging. About mid way through I found that Rebelution was playing over at the Sunshine stage. I was only able to catch 20 minutes of them but man, they were great! I really love Rebelution. They have that super catchy sound that can make anyone groove. I spent most of my day just chillin at the campsite playing at my practice pad watching the beautiful people go by. I went and checked out Gigantic Underground Conspiracy and wow, their drummer just tears it up! After that I was able to see both sets of Moe. and Umphrey’s McGee. Umphrey’s played a kickin’ cover of Tom Sawyer. Overall, Saturday was quite relaxing. Summer Camp is really what you make of it. If sitting around and relaxing is your thing, cool. If your really into show hopping, go for it. There are so many things to be doing that there’s no way you can be bored here. There’s just no way! As for Sunday, I think it shall be my day to just live and let go. It’s the last day of Summer Camp. Gonna take it for what it is and live it like there’s nothing else. I hope all you Scampers will do the same!