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
The final day of the year’s shortest month brought Fort Collins a little treat in form of Greensky Bluegrass performing with Ryan Montbleau Band at The Aggie. Both of these bands have graced the stages at Summer Camp several times over the years. I arrived early just as Montbleau was taking the stage with his eclectic sound brand of swing-infused rock and reggae. In fact RMB wove a rich musical tapestry over numerous genres. They opened with “Chariot.”
Set 1: Chariot (I Know), Hot Coffee In A Paper Cup, Inspired By No One, Dance, Dance, Dance, Songbird, Dead Set, I Can’t Wait
Ryan Montbleau is a name I’ve seen on festival lineups for years, but this was my first chance to see their live show. It was a bouncy fun way to start the night. “Songbird” was a fiery reggae track that blew the roof off the room. It was most definitely the highlight of a tightly packed opening set. My only criticism is that the performance barely reached the forty-five minute mark leaving many fans wanting more. They closed with a massive sign-along entitled “I Can’t Wait.” It was nice to finally see them live in my hometown.
Greensky took the stage shortly after and immediately doused the crowd with powerful string music performed with passion. Several of the fans assembled in the diverse audience informed me that they never miss them when they come to town. Whenever I see Greensky it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a snowy day. There is nothing more comfortable and clean than watching Greensky pick on a tune. Their set at the Aggie was a versatile demonstration of all that they do. Songs like “Cold Feet” found their way in the mix beautifully. They performed a version of the Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere,” that just made sense as a bluegrass number. Anders Beck continues to be a focal point on the stage with his smooth slide work on the Dobro guitar. Mike Bont holds back until the perfect moment to unleash his fury on the banjo. Mike Devol, looking like a bearded Ryan Seacrest, holds down the fort and gives the rest of the band room to solo. They continue to gel musically and play massive shows. They will be back to Colorado twice this summer, once at Telluride Bluegrass, and again at Red Rocks with Railroad Earth and Galactic. In fact their summer is jam-packed with big dates including Delfest, Electric Forest, Camp Euforia, Forecastle Festival, and Northwest String Summit. I think it’s safe to say that the good word of Greensky is spreading far and wide.
Dancin’ In The Streets featured so many Summer Camp bands, that it might has well have been the Denver version of the festival. In actuality SCamp stalwarts Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass, as well as classic veterans like Jerry Garcia Band with Melvin Seals all played this fest on the Lawrence St. After three years in absentia, the Dancin’ In The Streets Music Festival made its triumphant return to Denver. It’s no secret that the high cost of putting on the inaugural festival as well as the low turnout cost Jay dearly. It was the impetus for him to letting go of Cervantes and the downsize to Sancho’s and Quixote’s. Over the past few years Quixote’s has become a hub of live music and is the home of the greatest patio in Denver. It is also the new home of the Dancin’ In The Streets.
The entire scope of the event is more doable and smart. Closing off the 2100 block of Lawrence Street with a nicely equipped stage and an Oskar Blues beer truck bookending the block was the perfect setup. Vendors and Live Painters dotted the sidewalks and both the main stage and patio stage of Quixote’s acted as auxiliary performance spaces for the event. Quite simply it all worked and the masses turned out on both days to show their support.
I arrived, as WhiteWater Ramble was finishing up their opening set on the 3rd. I have to say that after Adam Galblum departed from the band I was left with reservations. However the inclusion of Ben Blechman on fiddle certainly impressed me. As a band they’ve always had it in them to be a powerful bluegrass experience, but honestly they have failed to rise to the top over recent years. Their show at Dancin’ In The Streets showed they are ready for a new chapter and to start playing stellar performances across Colorado.
Up next was Grant Farm on the patio. Under the direction of Tyler Grant, Grant Farm has continued to wow audiences on the Front Range and beyond.
One Set: Green Grant, I Come From The Country, (Ain’t No) Nuthin’ Gonna Stop This Train, High Country Ladies, Engineer (w/Andy Griffith Theme), Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun, The Hippie Guitar, Green Thumb, The Times Have Changed, ?, Tell Me, Tell Me, My Old Engine, San Ber’dino
Gerry Gladu posted the show on Archive.
Their attention to songwriting and detail while playing are the reason why they continue to shine. One of the Highlights from their set included “(Ain’t No) Nothing Gonna Stop This Train,” which is more of an affirmation about the band than a song title. There was also a group whistling of the Andy Griffith Theme Song in honor of the actor’s death that was a nice moment for everyone involved.
There was some overlap with Grant Farm and Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band, but around 6 PM I headed out to the main stage. Melvin Seals is a monster on the keys but during the beginning of his set he felt a little more subdued in the mix. Even during “Johnny Too Bad” he just seemed very light, however during “Sugaree” he exploded on the organ. Dave Hebert on guitar had incredibly accurate tone and was an absolute pleasure to watch play. I was also surprised to see Jimmy Tebeau on bass, I’ve know Jimmy since my freshman year of college as a member of Dead cover band The Schwag. He drives the bus, and it was a great chance to get reconnected with him. The show also featured a massive Deal that was enough to get the crowd dancing in the streets.
Next on the docket was California’s Poor Man’s Whiskey. Famous for covering Pink Floyd with their down home version of Dark Side of The Moon, their original music is a classic blend of rock and bluegrass. Musically they are incredibly talented and the vocals of Josh Brough are tinted with a warm vibrancy that is truly inviting. They were a great touch and I caught them for a while before heading back to the Main Stage for Greensky Bluegrass.
Greensky is one of the premiere young bluegrass acts out there. Along the lines of Head For The Hills, these boys from Michigan bring the heat with every performance. A classic string band lineup with all of the bases covered their inclusion in the festival was a big draw for the crowd, which had swelled to around 1600 people by this point. Their show was a bit laid back, but they busted out some great tunes to keep the audience engaged. “Bottle Dry” and “Broke Mountain Breakdown” were a ton of fun. They ended their set with a bluegrass version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
During Greensky’s set I headed into the patio for a bit to see Todd Shaeffer and Friends. The Friends included Railroad Earth’s Andrew Altman on bass and Great American Taxi’s Chris Sheldon on a banjo drum contraption. This was a folk-infused experience that seemed like a toned down version of RRE. Todd is an impeccable guitarist and gentle vocalist, however this show just seemed very low key. The talent on the stage would seem to lend itself to some serious picking, but what we got was a very chill encounter. They played beautifully, but at this point in the evening I was searching for more energy.
That energy came in the form of Big Wu on the main stage inside. The Big Wu was a band that I first saw in 2000 and noticed enormous potential in their playing. They fell off the map for several years but recently they have been coming back to Colorado and playing really well. Their most recent addition of Mark Joseph on guitar has seemed to reinvigorate this band of twenty plus years. This is the band that opened the first Bonnaroo, so to see them back onstage was a personal highlight for me. They opened with a version of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” that felt like an extension of their sound check and also entirely appropriate.
SET I: Could You Be Loved, House of Wu, Gimme A Raise, Oxygen> Midnight Rudy, Bloodhound, Save Our Ship> Time, Ophelia
Corey and Kind Recordings posted the show on Archive at http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/bigwu2012-07-03.mtx.kindrec
This was a classic Big Wu experience with awesome versions of classic tunes “Gimme A Raise” and “Midnight Rudy.” All in all it was great to see them back at it and really sounding tight.
I hopped outside for a bit to see Conspirator, which is a side project of The Disco Biscuits featuring Mark Brownstein and Aaron Magner. From the first notes of their performance to the end almost two hours later they didn’t stop. They are an electronic dance party powerhouse and it was an interesting catch at this diverse festival.
The late night event had arrived as the crowd moved indoors for Octopus Nebula and the main event, Cornmeal.
Cornmeal never fails to deliver in Colorado. They are incredibly fun and are ridiculous pickers. I was stoked that they were integrated in the lineup not once but twice. Their show on the patio was a solid demonstration of what they are capable of. They went all the way to just before 2 AM on the packed porch. They played a beautiful bluegrass set and it was a great way to close out day one of Dancin’ In The Streets.
I woke up slightly hung over and caught an early cab down to day two at Quixote’s. I arrived early as The Congress was getting the nascent crowd ready. It’s always difficult to be one of the first bands on the bill because only the hardcore will be in attendance. Being a huge fan of this rock outfit and Jonathan Meadows’ vocals, I knew I could miss it. These guys have paired down to a three-piece since the last time I saw them live. Highlights from the show included a rousing “Jonah Gideon” and a powerful “Keep Virginia.” It was an excellent start to my second day on Lawrence Street.
All of the early shows were on the Main Stage outside meaning there was some time allotted to change out equipment. It gave the fans plenty of instance to leisurely melt into the day. Greensky Bluegrass was up next, and their set was just better than the night before. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the energy, but Greensky brought the boil on day two. It was a fun and bouncy set that included an epic version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and a ridiculous “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” They really brought the crowd in as literally hundreds filtered in during their set. I was totally impressed with their daytime performance and they left me wanting more. They invited Jay Bianchi and Vince Herman up to do the chicken dance during their set. My surprise was two-fold given the fact that Vince wasn’t on the bill and I had never seen Jay dance on stage before. It really set the mood.
Next up was an extended version of Todd Sheaffer and Friends from what we saw the day before on the patio. Including both Allie Kral and Vince Herman in addition to Chris and Andrew. It didn’t suck. The show began with a duo between Todd and Allie on “Potter’s Field.” It was a stunning beginning to a string show. The rest of the band returned, and Vince drifted on and off the stage. Martin Sexton joined the group for a patriotic rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” It had the same relaxed feel as the day prior, but musically there was a vibrancy that really pleased the crowd.
Grateful Dead Tribute band Shakedown Street took the indoor stage at Quixote’s around 7PM. Their delivery was solid and obviously totally in check with the Dancin’ In The Streets Festival. In fact they played the only rendition of the song from which the name of the event came from. Vince Herman sat in with them on the majority of their set including a wicked version of “Fire on The Mountain.”
I was drawn outside to the patio by the acoustic rumblings of Duck Pond who proved to be the surprise of the entire festival. These guys were full of life and added an energy that I had been searching for throughout the two-day show. They did a mash up of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” with “Whiskey Before Breakfast” that was as silly as it was well executed.
Donavan Frankenreiter was on the main stage outside by this point so I headed out to catch a glimpse of his show. The nice thing about the fest was how close and maneuverable it all was. You could litteraly bounce from stage to stage with just a whim and grab a beer on the way. In that regard it was really well setup. Donavon was a Brushfire Records performer who along the lines of Jack Johnson hosts more singalong type shows. He had a rockier edge though and he was certainly enjoyable to see live. He was one of many firsts for me at Dancin’ In The Streets. That again was the nice thing about the festival, lots of great music I was wholly familiar with and few bands I had never seen live to keep me engaged.
I went back inside to catch the end of Duck Pond before venturing back into the street for Martin Sexton. He had a small but dedicated crowd assembled for his set. He had a certain animation about his playing that was half flow of consciousness half utter showmanship. He strummed his guitar briskly and softly playing a wide variety of songs.
Big Wu went on late around 8PM and I stayed to see them for a bit. They opened with “Shoot The Moon.”
SET I: Shoot The Moon, Texas Fireball, Tequila, The Hobo Song, Red Sky, U.S. Blues, Mean Spirits> Shantytown, Dixie Chicken, Southern Energy, The Star Spangled Banner> Rhode Island Red, Kangaroo
Corey posted the set on Archive.
I stayed through “Red Sky” and they sounded great, however with three days of String Cheese Incident looming at Red Rocks, I opted to call it an early night. Sadly I missed Cornmeal and JGB’s repeat performances, but from all reports they killed it.
Dancin’ In The Streets came off without a hitch and although the turnout was less on the 4th of July there were still plenty of people who made it down overall. Fans mingled with artists as they strolled about the grounds. The normally laid back vibe of Quixote’s seemed to permeate the entire show. I’m glad this festival has made its glorious return to Denver. The Bianchi’s deserve to have an event that showcases what they bring to scene. Dancin’ In The Streets did just that.
Here’s a little recap of my Sunday at Summer Camp. I began my morning with watching a random dude take a morning streaking run. If you were camped along the tree line across from the Moonshine stage, you probably saw him too at 9am. Nothin’ like making you’re last morning at Scamp more memorable.
Once I felt more wide awake from that sight, I headed to the usual 10am yoga. Like I said before, I LOOOOVE that Summer Camp had yoga at 10am. Because then I was able to make all session except for one. I never made it to the yoga sessions at other festivals since they were at 7 or 8am.
After catching some lunch, I headed over to the Field Day keg party and had a great time celebrating and getting to know all of the other teams and my fellow Yellow Teamers. I also was told that I was named MVP of the females on the Yellow Team, Woo! If you caught dodgeball, I was the last person standing for yellow with 5 men from purple starring me down like a piece of meat. It was a scary moment but fun at the same time. I also found out that my main squeeze Adam got MVP out of the males on the Yellow Team from when he won the only event for the Yellow Team which was arm wrestling. With being a first timer to Scamp, I really enjoyed having the option of participating in field day events, and I met so many great people through it too!
Then I began my afternoon filled with lots of bluegrass by catching some Greensky Bluegrass at the Moonshine stage. I moved on over to the Sunshine stage and caught the Devil Make Three, I’ve never seen them before and they were a fantastic three some! I continued on to get my next bluegrass fix at the Moonshine stage by catching some Yonder. I LOOOOVE me some bluegrass, such a great afternoon. Next I ran over to Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Sunshine stage. He put on an AMAZING show. I nearly cried 3 times because of how sincere he is and with the way that he connects with his fans. There was a young girl who was about 7 years-old who was standing side stage who he brought out on stage and Michael played a song that she requested earlier. The little girl was in complete shock and sang the entire song by his side, it was incredible. Here’s a pic of them singing together.
Then I caught some Victor Wooten. I’ve seen him once before, but man, he really knows how to get a crowd groovin’. Once he was done, I headed straight to the Vibetent to catch the band that I had been waiting all weekend for…Rubblebucket! As I waited for them to set up, I watched as a group of about 10 people came in with decorated white masks that said “Rubblebucket” on them. Then I realized that they had to be awesome since they had their own streetteam/true fans that came to Summer Camp to dance and cheer them on. When Rubblebucket started playing, everyone started dancing and I was amazed to see that they had a total of 8 people playing in their band! Once I danced my booty off at Rubblebucket’s show, I headed over to the Summer Camp Counselor Maria’s camp to catch her private show which included members of moe. and Greensky Bluegrass. It was an amazing show and here’s a picture of it
It was hard to leave all of the amazing friends that I met, but then I headed on to my last show at Summer Camp which was Jane’s Addiction. I’ve seen Perry perform before twice, but to see him with his original band Jane’s Addiction was an amazing experience. They made my night by playing Just Because and ending their set with everyone’s favorite, Jane Says. If you were at their set, one thing is for sure, Perry does NOT like glowsticks. When it was over, my man and I picked up some homemade delicious ice cream and sadly headed out of Summer Camp saying goodbye to Three Sisters Park about 10 times before I made it off the premises.
Love, hugs, and thugs,
Sunday at Summer Camp is always bittersweet. I run around covering my shows and taking pictures, but in the back of my mind I know that it will soon be over. The last two years have seen some incredible Sunday lineups adding that cherry to the sundae in the form of a big act. Last year it was Widespread Panic, this year it was the controversial inclusion of Jane’s Addiction. I for one welcomed their inclusion into the lineup. Having never seen them it was an opportunity to jump outside my comfort zone and experience something different. Sunday began early with my routine and a trip over to see Banyan sound check. I found Willie Waldman, Clint Wagner, Stephen Perkins all up on the stage getting their sound dialed in. I’ve know Willie Waldman for ten years, since I was in college so it was great to see him at Summer Camp 2012. Perkins is a machine and I met him playing in Denver four years ago, he gave me the nod as he got his kit set up. Long time moe. fan and all around nice guy Gary was there hanging with the band. For those that don’t Gary has been a concert institution in the Midwest since I started seeing shows. His long grey beard and tie-dyed socks can be found dancing away any given night from Denver to Chicago. He’s a good man and thorough.
Banyan filled out their lineup with Rob Derhak on bass and famed Sun Records saxophone and flute player Herman Green. For those that don’t know, Banyan is a Free Jazz ensemble that blends all genres of music. Lead by the powerful rhythms of Perkins, who most definitely adds a rock edge to the mix, Banyan in any form is a great way to start the day. Throughout the show Rob built on an amazing dynamic between himself and Perkins absolutely keeping it all in check. Banyan’s rotating lineup often includes Clint Wagner. Clint is an amazing fiddle player and guitarist who adds so much texture to their overall sound. Their set ran the gambit of instrumental jamming anchored by Perkins driving percussion. I stayed until the final song before heading over to Umphey’s last set of the weekend.
The afternoon sun splashed over the crowd as Umphrey’s took the stage with an intense “Domino Theory.”
SET I: Domino Theory, Mail Package> Great American > Jimmy Stewart (w/ lyrics)> Great American, Phil’s Farm> Deeper, Partyin’ Peeps, untitled*, Booth Love> The Fussy Dutchman, Resolution> Phil’s Farm
*First Time Played, Original
You can listen to the set on Archive at http://archive.org/details/um2012-05-27.mk4_24bit – Thanks to tonedeaf for posting.
Umphrey’s sixth set at Summer Camp was a culmination of their entire weekend. It was a celebration of all things Umph and a great way for them the shut down their weekend. I have said it numerous times but this band is just ridiculously tight. Their afternoon set included a beautiful “Great American” bookend with an improvised “Jimmy Stewart” featuring lyrics. They also played a new song that is as of yet doesn’t have a title but features some brightly toned shredding. They end their set with a fifteen-minute plus “Jajunk” encore that really left the crowd satisfied. Performing six excellent sets over the course of one festival is no small feat but Umprhey’s continues to bring the heat every year at Summer Camp. That means if you are a fan you need to be there. I scooted out towards the end of the set to help CIT Jason aka Chickhead Fan with his interview with YMSB. He got a chance to chew the fat with Jeff and Ben for about twenty minutes and really had a great discussion about their origins and their history with Summer Camp.
I headed back to The Church to touch base and was asked to help with filming another interview for CIT Abbey with Michael Franti as well as do my own interview with The Devil Makes Three. This meant I had to get prepared, rework my schedule, and miss the beginning of moe.’s acoustic set at the Starshine Stage. Honestly I was happy to help out the CITs and Summer Camp in anyway I could. They’ve been so great to me and although I would consider myself an alumni of the Camp Counselor program, I would also like to be a bit of a mentor whenever possible. I quickly set off for moe., but stopped by the Field Day celebration, which was just getting started with a couple kegs from 311. And fortunately I made it over to the show for “Time Again into Backwoods.”
SET I: St. Augustine> Spaz Medicine, Tambourine, Chromatic Nightmare, Time Again> Backwoods, Lazarus, New York City> 32 Things, Nebraska
You can listen to the set on Archive at http://archive.org/details/moe2012-05-27.acoustic – Thanks to Travis Souza for posting.
moe. has been playing more and more acoustic shows and even did an all acoustic version of Welcome To The La Las. I for one welcome it as I think many of their songs lend themselves to an incredible acoustic interpretation. Like I said having missed the first half of the set I have to say the most compelling segment I saw was their awesome stripped down version of Lazarus. This song just keeps growing on me and I was truly impressed with this take. Keep doing this moe. it’s always so much fun and it is much appreciated.
Afterwards I quickly headed over to The Devil Makes Three. I was surprised to find only one other photographer in the pit but a massive crowd assembled. This is one of those bands I have been eager to see for quite some time. They have a powerfully rhythmic approach to bluegrass and remind me of bands like Trampled By Turtles or Split Lip Rayfield from a lyrical standpoint. Fresh off their performance at Delfest, The Devil Makes Three brought the heat to an already warm afternoon. Hard drinking songs mixed with a flair for the narrative are the characteristic of this band. I noticed that a tall gentleman behind the standup replaced their regular bassist Lucia Turino. I later found out that Lucia has been off the road with them due to a broken arm. I hope she has a speedy recovery, and this just gives me an excuse to see them with their full lineup when they come back to Denver. Highlights from their set included “Old No. 7” and a plucky version of “Statesboro Blues.” I later got a chance to sit down with the band and you can see my full interview here.
It was time for Summer Camp staples Yonder Mountain String Band; they opened with a scathing “Traffic Jam.”
SET I: Traffic Jam, One More, Loved You Enough, Pockets, Southern Flavor, Don’t Worry Happy Birthday, If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler (Let Him Go)> Shake Me Up> If There’s Time, Snow On The Pines> Follow Me Down To The Riverside> Snow In The Pines
The set is up on Archive at http://archive.org/details/ymsb2012-05-27.aud.flac16 – Thanks to ikepgh for posting.
Again it’s awesome to see Colorado bands so well embraced throughout the country. I get spoiled living on the Front Range, because so many great bluegrass and jam acts call Colorado home. So to see these bands in front of a big audience in Illinois reminds me of how good I have it. Yonder continues to be ambassadors of bluegrass. They are almost a gateway drug to this amazing genre of music. For me they helped to pave the way to my enjoyment of the music and the scene that surrounds it. A bouncy “Pockets” was a nice addition, but my call for the highlight was the enormous “If There’s Still Ramblin’ In The Ramber” which just seemed to go on and on. It showed Jeff’s true prowess on the mandolin and really got the crowd pumped.
“A wise man once said you should drink tequila in the sun once in your life… then he passed out.” – Jeff Austin
I stayed until “Snow On The Pines” before I headed back over to the Sunshine Stage for my interview with The Devil Makes Three. Michael Franti got on the stage just as I finished my interview. Franti is a ball of political angst and positive vibrations. His set at Summer Camp was a perfect blend and a nice way to spend the afternoon.
SET I: Everyone Deserves Music, Yes I Will, All I Want Is You, All I Wanna Do Is Be With You, The Sound of Sunshine, Ganja Babe, Sweet Little Lies> The Joker, Gangsta Girl, Yell Fire!, Hey Hey Hey, Life Is Better With You, I’ll Be Waiting, Say Hey, Long Ride Home
The set is up on Archive at http://archive.org/details/franti2012-05-27.at853_24bit, Thanks to tonedeaf for posting.
Musically they blend rock and reggae with tracks like “All I Want Is You.” Franti relies heavily on crowd interaction at one point getting off the stage and venturing out into the audience with his microphone in hand. I find his fanbase to be perhaps the most energetic crowd in the scene, oftentimes jumping in synch with the bandleader. I get tired just watching the crowd, but there is something to be said for a singer who connects with his audience in this way. The highlight for me was a special request from, “the prettiest girl at the festival,” “Sweet Little Lies” into Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.” It was a fun set and afterwards I met up with CIT Abbey for her interview with the man himself. You can see it here.
I caught a few songs of Sphongle live but I had the Private Camp Counselor show starting soon so I headed over to grab Amy and get posted up for it. We met up with the golf cart caravan and drove our way up into the woods beyond VIP. In many ways it was much like my show last year. Just down the path from where the magic happened. Maria was set up with her friends on the VIP path and ready for the experience. The carts parked and all the members of moe. filed out with a little help from Greensky Bluegrass. It was time for a picking session in the woods for the lucky few who made it. It was an amazing acoustic experience that seemed to strangely have the same amount of people as the year pervious. Highlights of the show include an amazing “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” and a great “Okayalright” requested by the Camp Counselor herself. It was quite the experience, and it stretched on for about five songs before it was over. I was so happy to be there and actually be able to take some pictures and video as opposed to last year where I had to just enjoy it. Graham took us back down to the backstage before giving us a ride directly to Jane’s Addiction. I told him it was much appreciated and I settled in for the headliner of the evening.
The photo pit was close so I was not able to take pictures from the pit so I opted to grab some blanket in the VIP section and relax. The concert was a whole new experience. High production value with elaborate staging and lighting. Perhaps the most disconcerting was an actor on stage who hung himself in mock fashion. Burlesque clad women dancing on the speakers were another element of the show. They played a version of “Three Days” that was simply stunning. They also brought out accompaniment for a stellar version of “Jane Says.” All in all it was something completely different from what I’m used to. I was happy to have experienced it in the comfy confines of Summer Camp.
And like that it was back to see moe. close out the weekend. They opened their final set with a massive “Rebubula.”
SET I: Rebubula, Threw It All Away, Waiting For The Punchline, ATL*, Captain America> Puebla> Tubing The River Styx> The Pit
*New Al song, First Time Played
You can listen to the show on Archive http://archive.org/details/moe2012-05-27.at853_24bit – Thanks to tonedeaf again for posting and taping throughout Summer Camp 2012.
This was arguably their best set of the entire weekend. They brought fluidity to their playing that is simply unparalleled. Opening up with “Rebubula” was mesmerizing, but the new song from Al had me leaning in with focused attention. They ended their set with a massive jam that began with a killer “Captain America.” There is something to be said about a band that can string together four songs and segue flawlessly over the course of thirty-five minutes. “The Pit” was notable for it’s incredible jamming structure. They encored with a solid “Head” to close out their weekend. I left feeling like I had once again accomplished all my goals and was totally content with the overall experience.
We headed back to the Campfire stage to see a bit of Caravan of Thieves and the beginning of Greensky Bluegrass, but given the fact that I had been running around so hard all weekend I was ready for bed. It’s amazing how much you look forward to an event like Summer Camp and as it winds down you are ready to get back to your life. I think that’s the hallmark of any great festival. They give you everything you could possibly want over the course of three or four days and by the end you are completely satisfied. As my head hit the pillow on night four of Summer Camp 2012 I felt totally pleased and amazed with all that I saw and did. Summer Camp is a beautiful thing, like a blank canvas that you can create anything you want out of. There are a million different experiences, and a million different stories that occur every year over the course of the festival. Mine is just one perspective, and I hope you enjoyed my point of view. Until next year, cheers.
Sunday brought with it even hotter temperatures as reluctantly the festival was on its final day. No sooner had I finally settled into camp life suddenly there was a realization to make this last one count. My crew broke out the icy pops and chilled in the shade listening to some Greensky Bluegrass on the Moonshine Stage. This group is in rarified air in the bluegrass community and Sunday they played two scheduled shows.
Keeping it in a bluegrass state of mind I hopped along to Sunshine stage for Devil Makes Three which surprised and impressed me as a first time listener. Then we headed over to Moonshine to catch a few songs off of Yonder Mountain and Tedeschi Trucks Band in the early evening time slots. Loved the power behind TTB’s “Bound For Glory.” I couldn’t stay long as I was hunting around for my Summer Camp artist pals to interview and give a recap of the happenings and memories from their 2012 Summer Camp experience.
Luckily, I was able to snag interviews with a great wealth of Summer Camp talent. Check out each one: Rock the Earth, Chicago Farmer, Matt Robinson and Mike Kaiz from Old Shoe, and an entire trifecta of Jaik Willis (JW part 2, JW part 3).
After a quick stop at the church to download my pictures and video blogs for your viewing pleasure I went back to Maria’s campsite in the woods where moe. and Greensky Bluegrass gathered to play her a special private show. My headlamp came in handy as they positioned me 5 feet in front of the band so they could see their instruments. An acoustic version of The Band classic “Up on Cripple Creek” was the highlight here in my opinion. Or it may have been the intoxicated random walking through “Okay, Alright” and the band mockingly mimicking his movements in jest.
After the woods disbanded I went back for more with a bit of Pretty Lights where a sea of rage sticks and glowing orbs bobbed and danced. A golf cart was taken over by six people who used it as if they were on Soul Train. I managed to squeeze out just in time to hear rumor of something crazy going down with Galactic at the Starshine Stage. Apparently, IndigoSun’s saxophone player threw down a monster solo during the set to thunderous applause. Good coming out party for those guys for sure. I caught up with Jason (aka Chickenheadfan) at Jane’s Addiction in the VIP section. It was great to hear some early 90s classic rock although some in the crowd with glow sticks were perplexed as a playful Perry poked fun at them. The entire band stays in peak physical condition and the stage set up is pretty wild with four 20 ft hight female statues standing back to back while video of ladies writhing about plays on 10 ft video screens. Jason and I shared stories of the weekend and how lucky we were to get the opportunity to meet and experience such a great event together. We both vowed that next year would be even better when we could have more time to party with our Counselor/CIT crew.
As I sat in the grass near Moonshine reflecting on what we had accomplished a magical “moe.ment” happened when my friends Old Shoe had the video for their song “Take that Road” played in front of a few thousand fans as we waited for moe’s last set. Natalie Wade did some great original work HERE and she and the band deserved the recognition for all their effort (check out the guitar solo special trippy effects at 1:39).
After moe. gave real energy to the evening with their performance it seemed everyone made their way over to check out This Must Be the Band at Soulshine Tent. A few thousand people stuffed the tent to the point it was bustng at the seams from the heat that was collectively trapped inside. Talking Heads is the perfect way to unwind and I saw numerous Summer Camp artists wandering about the crowd partying with all the campers. “And She Was” and ”Cities” were highlights that rose the temperature a few degrees.
We met up with FGC’s Janis Wallin to take in some Campfire Greensky Bluegrass to end the evening. Popping into the Pretty Lights late night show it was like someone condensed the golf cart party earlier that evening into a small little ball. Rage sticks must be some sort of dub step mating ritual…you know Darwinism and the boldest marked gents get all the birds. ”How ornate your stick good sir, now let’s raise it up and down in a celebratory motion.”
Earplugs inserted into their proper destinations I omitted from my sleep the sounds of non-stop VIP bar DJ’s spinning to 7am, and the constant brah’s yelling “WOOP, WOOP” from their tents before puking in the forest. I appreciate them not wanting the liquor to go to waste but for the sake of not leaving your 20′ by 10′ canopy behind Monday morning stop the Jameson shots and for that matter DUB STOP. One last post Summer Camp post for me before I must bid you adieu. I’m going to keep Summer Camp fresh in your minds for next year by reporting killer shows I take in up in Chicago. That deserves one of those brah’s “WOOP, WOOP’s!”