When archaeologists dig up the site formerly known as Three Sisters Park in 2000 years they will find cell phones, bottle caps, tent stakes, and much more. It’s the amazing experiences had by thousands on the backdrop of stunning musical collaboration that will be hard to discern from the artifacts they find. Summer Camp in its thirteenth year continues their tradition of having a diverse lineup with wide appeal as well as providing fans with numerous other possibilities for fun and engagement. Thursday has historically been labeled the “Pre-Party” however veterans of this festival know it’s become an essential part of the experience. Primarily they save the heavy hitters for the actual three-day calendar, but Summer Camp stalwarts like Cornmeal and Family Groove Company have gotten the party started for the past few years
Early arrivers rs on Thursday were met with the typical lines and a sporadic drizzle. Weather would play a large part in this year’s Summer Camp, but on Thursday it was barely a side note to the experience. Gates opened around 11 AM and fans hustled in to mark off their territory. The woods filled up quickly as others opted to find their place in the fields that bordered the Sunshine Stage. We found a spot in the woods of VIP. They redesigned the campsite this year, making the old VIP path part of General Admission camping, and clearing more of the woods across from the VIP Lounge for tent construction. All in all it was a good move that made for easier mobility for everyone at the festival.
After setup I wandered up to the Camping Stage for Zeta June who officially opened up Summer Camp 2013. They focused on a heavy, rocking, groove oriented sound that was reminiscent of moe. in their younger days. They managed to inject a little funk and they were a proper way to get the party started.
After meeting up with this year’s crop of CITs and the new Camp Counselor Kyle Hess, I headed over to see Stone Sugar Shakedown. This was my second time on Thursday seeing a band I have never caught live before, and I have to say I was impressed. This is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of going to any festival. If you have an open mind, it’s easy to get turned on to all manner of live music that you may have otherwise never encountered. SSS was a funk party lead by Nick Elwood and Tracy Gladden. They blend blues and jam to round out their sound in a way that is engaging and enjoyable. The dynamic between Nick’s deep vocals and searing guitar work with the delicate approach of Gladden made for a very pleasant set.
Heading over to the Starshine Stage I ran into Family Groove Company bassist Janis Wallin who had nothing but good things to say about Sun Stereo who was up next.
“They are a mix of David Byrne and The Beatles.” – Janis
This is quite the endorsement and I have to say she wasn’t too far off. Sun Stereo is all energy. They are basically a three-piece core band with a sprawling horn section which put a heavy emphasis on adding a jazziness to their straight groove. Sun Stereo is lead by keyboardist and vocalist Kelly McMorris who tosses in a bit of the theatrical to their performance. He is truly a powerhouse of a musician. The horns filled out their sound nicely as Kelly kicked back his stool and let it all out for the crowd. If given the chance check out Sun Stereo, they are one to watch.
Family Groove Company took the stage next and opened with a track from their newest album.
Set 1: The Charmer > Well In Hand, Professionals Here, A Misdemeanor’s Worth, Falling Off the Fence, One Eye Dreaming*, American Girl
*with Allie Kral on fiddle
Playing new material, it really felt like Family Groove Company was truly revitalized and ready to rage. This is their tenth year performing at Summer Camp and they truly looked comfortable up on the stage in front of a large crowd. The highlight of the set was Allie’s sit in which has almost become a ritual for their pre-party set. They closed with Tom Petty’s “American Girl”
Cornmeal took the stage at 8 PM and although the day had blossomed into a beautiful afternoon, we were hit with an unseasonably cold evening. Fans bundled up and put on their dancing shoes for what would be the beginning of Allie’s last run with Cornmeal. With the departure of the Nowaks, Cornmeal now performs with Scott Tipping on guitar and new drummer as well. Their performance on Thursday night would not leave any doubt that even through this transition Cornmeal still has what it takes to melt faces and make the crowd boogie. It was a moving hour long set that really felt like a celebration of how far this jamgrass band has come. Cornmeal also played a stellar version of “Dear Prudence” that seemed highly appropriate.
Caravan Of Thieves was over at the Campfire Stage warming hearts and minds with their brand of gypsy folk. These guys are just incredible, and it blows my mind that they are not getting more traction and playing to larger audiences. Talk about fun in a bottle, Caravan Of Thieves pulls no punches when it comes to their creation of music and sound onstage. With their new album “Bouquet” this band, evocative of the type of swing folk that made Django Reinhardt famous, continues to plow ahead and tour relentlessly. Fuzz, their guitarist, who sort of looks like Harpo Marx on speed, will often drop his instrument, pick up egg beaters, and pound out a rhythm on buckets strategically placed around the stage. This craziness is juxtaposed against the soft beauty of their other guitarist Carrie and her silky voice. Caravan Of Thieves is never dull and always intriguing to say the least.
We ended our Thursday with Cornmeal’s Midnight Ramble in the Soulshine Tent. This show was based on their loosely formatted residencies in Chicago. They would invite friends and basically just have a good time playing music. They invited Al from moe. up to the stage for a few songs and really kicked it up a notch playing well into the darkness. With three days of music ahead of us, I called it a night and hit the hay. As Bayliss has put it many times, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” So with that in mind I crawled into my tent with visions of moe. and Umphrey’s dancing in my head.
After 4 days of some of the best music of my life, it has come to an end. Looking back, I had one of the best times of my life. Sure, the weather was nasty, but there’s nothing you can do to change that. I played football growing up and I learned real quick that you just gotta play through the shitty weather. For Scamp, it was the same mindset. Are you really gonna let the rain ruin your day? I didn’t spend 6 hours in a car to come let my experience get ruined by something out of my control, so hey, I just had a good time. The weather is what it is, so you just gotta embrace it and move on. The rain turned the fields into one large mud puddle, ruining my shoes, socks, and jeans, but I worse things could have happened. For example, the music could have sucked. But the music blew my mind and that’s the only thing that matters. Looking back, here are my Top 5 performances from my weekend:
1. Trey Anastasio Band 2. The Everyone Orchestra 3. Umphrey’s McGee – Saturday 4. Umphrey’s McGee – Friday 5. Umphrey’s McGee – Sunday.
Yeah, I listed all 3 UM shows. That’s because they’re SO great. I also want to shout out Roster McCabe’s Pre-Party show on Thursday night as another great performance.
Looking back, I just wish I saw more concerts! I am bummed to admit I missed out on Sound Tribe, Yonder Mountain, Papdosio, Keller Williams, and EOTO, and also missed portions of a couple moe. and UM sets and Big Gigantic. Just too many overlapping music! Also, the camp grounds were very dark at night. Some areas were lit by hanging neon lights, why can’t they just have that all throughout? I think it’d be better if the camp grounds were also more organized into grids or squares, and section it off a little bit more so they are easier to navigate.
Although Summer Camp has come and gone, the summer is just getting started. I’m looking forward to Roster McCabe swinging through La Crosse, Wisconsin, in a couple weeks, Summerfest next month – lineup includes Tom Petty, Pretty Lights, Umphrey’s, and Dark Star Orchestra, 3 nights of Phish in July, and 2 nights of the Allman Brothers Band in August. Be on the lookout for more blogs from me from all the shows I check out the rest of the summer!
Sunday is finally here after Saturday’s bitter cold rain. A majority of my time was spent inside my tent or the Vibe tent. There is a top layer of slop for about 6 inches on every trail in here but spirits are still high. The more serious of the wookie’s are still rolling with a no shoe policy, which isn’t for the faint of heart.
I was able to catch The Werks on the Campfire stage that brought in a crowd of about 200 people despite the conditions. Around five-thirty I went to the vibe tent to sit down and warm up. It started raining and being stuck there, we waited for the Dopapod show from 5:30 till 8:00 p.m. They did the job and the crowd wanted more so they came back out for a ten-minute encore.
The real experience came later in the Red Barn when STS9, Big Gigantic, Griz, and Gramatik took the stage. The collaboration started off dirty when STS9 brought Dominick Lalli up on stage to jam for the set which was absolutely beautiful. Then Griz, Gramatik, and Big Gigantic hit the stage bringing filthy bass music with jamming overtones of the saxaphone. They did a very unique version of Thrift Shop and I Need a Dolla again but with more variation.
Today I am looking onward to the Avett Brothers, Trey Anastasio, Future Rock, and Moe’s last show for Summer Camp. I will also be interviewing DJ Solo and shooting at all of those shows so be sure to check them out! Thanks Summer Camp for another legit year that bad weather can’t ruin.
Year after year moe. and Umphrey’s McGee have anchored Summer Camp’s schedule, but the addition of Trey Band has made this year’s lineup one of the most scene oriented to date, not to mention Yonder, Keller, STS9, plus Medeski, Martin, and Wood. The only other bands that could possibly fall into this topnotch jamband echelon would be Cheese or Bisco, so the good people at Summer Camp HQ decided that EOTO and Conspirator would have to fill that void. I have seen all these acts multiple times, most of them at Summer Camp, and they are the reason I fell in love with the scene so many years ago.
In case you are living under a rock, Cornmeal’s Saturday show will be one of the most talked about sets of the weekend. Their fiddler, Allie Kral, has announced that this will be her last show as a member of Cornmeal. This band has been a staple at Summer Camp for almost a decade and many Scampers, like myself, have completely fallen in love Allie over the years. Even though this is not the last we will hear from Cornmeal or Allie, for that matter, this set is bound to be a tear jerker for many a fan.
This lineup contains at least a dozen other bands that make me dance, but in all honesty, I return to Summer Camp every year because I’m an Umphreak. Summer Camp provides 6 sets of Umph, a handful of side projects, plus sit-ins that make Memorial Day Weekend UMforgettable. My first Umphrey’s show was at Summer Camp in 2004, so I guess it is only perfect that I will be celebrating my 75th Umph show at Summer Camp 2013. I’m predicting a few new songs, maybe a new cover, and a ridiculous light rig that will bring facemelt to a whole other level. Prepare to get your minds blown people!
Now for my Sunday variety pack…..
Both electronic and jamband fans will enjoy the way DJnoDJ fuses these two genres by layering their talents in order to duplicate our most beloved tracks. If I still have enough fuel left in my tank early Monday morning, this is where you will find me.Needless to say, I can’t wait to experience Summer Camp as a CIT! I guess it’s my job to remind my fellow campers to be safe, stay hydrated, and see as much music as possible because this year’s lineup is INSANE! With that being said, hollar at your CIT if you see me around! I love making new friends, especially at Summer Camp!
Everyone Orchestra travels the country bringing one-time only musical experiences to the masses. They are a tradition at Summer Camp as part of the Make A Difference events at Summer Camp. If you don’t know what that is, look in your program and get involved. or check here.
From the mind of Matt Butler lineups are assembled and during his shows he creates themes and tangents for the band to follow. Everyone Orchestra scheduled a three-night romp through Colorado that included stops in Gunnison as well as Denver, but they began with a night at Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins. The lineup was made up of Matt Butler conducting, Dave Watts on drums, Steve Kimock on guitar, Anders Beck on dobro, Jans Ingber on percussion and vocals, Kai Eckhardt on bass, and for one night only Bridget Law on violin. This power packed group was certainly enough to create an amazing musical experience, but first up was Marcellus Wallace.
Marcellus Wallace is a soul, funk, rock, adventure lead by singer Devon Parker of The Nu Classics. They came out strong mesmerizing the crowd with their blend of brass and soulfunk. It was almost a throw back to an earlier R&B sound, with more than one attendee asking, “What does Marcellus Wallace look like?” With originals like “Lover” their vibe is certainly intriguing if not infectious. The highlight of the show was a sit-in by Jans Ingber on John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” If you dig a retro sound foul of soulful nuance I would recommend checking out Marcellus Wallace and finding out what he looks like for yourself.
Everyone Orchestra took us on a two set journey through rock, jam, jazz, folk, and a little bit of bluegrass thrown in for good measure. With Bridget Law only hopping on for one show of the run she was truly a featured artist. With his small dry erase board Butler wrote down things like “Ya” and “4/4 Rock Beat” during which he took to some improv on the microphone. The first set went quick going just over an hour, but the second set was a 90-minute jam that went almost to bar close. The crowd at Hodi’s again was light making for easy maneuvering but a little disappointment on my part. As I stated in my review from the week prior of Euforquestra, this is a funny time for venues in college towns. The kids are taking finals, graduating, packing up, and moving out. This makes for somewhat spotty attendance for any show. If Everyone Orchestra had scheduled this performance a month ago, I have no doubt that it would have sold out. Jans Ingber alternated between singing a few tunes and ripping it up on the congas. One of the jams featured Kai Eckhardt who I have not had the pleasure of seeing live since his days with Garage Mahal. He is as agile on the bass as ever and his harmonious notes were truly a pleasure. Kimock was great without overpowering the lineup. I’ve seen him with EO before and he honestly knows how to perform in a group dynamic. This night was no exception. Everyone Orchestra is always a treat and if you are truly a fan of the jam they are worth any amount of effort to catch them live. Butler never disappoints when choosing a lineup and they are always unique. With their upcoming show for Make a Difference at Summer Camp it might have been easy to let this one slide by, but I’m so glad I didn’t.
With their first show selling out months in advance, The Meter Men decided to add a second night at The Ogden. By many accounts the second night which coincided with Page McConnell’s birthday, was the show to see. We arrived around 8:15 PM grabbed our passes and headed to Sancho’s for some pre-show libations. As we walked we passed Mike from Euforquestra, he let us know they would take the stage sharply at 9PM. After our drink we walked inside the worn walls of The Ogden to get down to Fort Collins’ Finest Euforquestra. Due to a last minute cancellation from the original openers they were asked to fill the bill just a few days prior to the show. They of course obliged and put on a forty-five minute romp of worldly music that was enough to please all of the early arrivers. At first the room was a loosely cobbled together assortment of patrons, but soon the room swelled to its proper size. They began the night with a tight and focused rendition of their now almost classic “Road Funk.” Matt Pitts from The Motet was sitting in for new father Ryan Jeter on sax. He added his own flair to the Euforquestra sound. Highlights from the set included an amazing “Price Is Right” and a jittery “Instant Coffee.” The crowd was complete as they closed the set with Beck’s “Nicotine and Gravy.”
The Meter Men consisting of The Meters sans Art Neville with Page McConnell took the stage shortly after 10 PM. We were immediately hit with their classic “Fire on the Bayou” which saw some searing guitar work from Leo Nocentelli. He would be on point all night, but with a stage filled with such talent by the end I felt like I had whiplash. During “Funkify Your Life” Ziggy Modeliste took the mic and tossed solos to both Porter and Page.
“George Porter taught me all I know about red beans and rice.” – Modiste
Ziggy was in the funk pocket for the entire two hour set and took several opportunities to tell stories and pump up the crowd. Many in the crowd were there for Page, but left as Meters fans. McConnell himself has strayed away from having The Meter Men perform any Phish tunes, but rather wanted the band to relearn some of their deeper cuts. Those early Meters tunes were the stomping grounds of jam for the Vermont quartet. After a massive “Hey Pocky Way,” that became an invigorating sing-along, they finished their set with the much-anticipated “Cissy Strut.” The Meter Men came back for the encore with a massive “Happy Birthday Jam” for Page, which was yet another high point in a great set of music. Reviews from night one seemed mixed at best. Some felt the energy from both band and crowd may have been lacking. I have to say that was not the case for this show. Seeing so much live music I rarely get totally jazzed up after a show. As I headed out into the crisp night air I was all smiles. The Meter Men are a viable project reminiscent of The Big Easy Blowout project that toured the Front Range back in 2006. The difference is that rather than a random assemblage of awesome musicians playing the music or New Orleans, three fourths of The Meter Men made the music of NOLA what it is today. Plus you know… Page. Here’s to hoping they continue to spread the funk for years to come.
Euforquestra has traveled through the murky waters of change and emerged triumphant and unscathed. Musically, the adversity of loosing a founding member could be enough to rock the very foundation on which any band is built. This is not the case with Euforquestra. They continue to tour relentlessly and are currently celebrating their tenth year on the road. The one two punch of Craig Babineau on drums and Scott Mast on percussion have become the new foundation on which Euforquestra is plowing ahead. Both have rock solid licks reminiscent of the Joimoe/Trucks combo when they push past the Southern Rock and into the World Funk. Matt Wright on keys has truly stepped up and has wholeheartedly embraced playing the front man singing with a silky demeanor that really pleases. With Jeter recently becoming a father, his time on stage has been limited, which means there have been a number of local players who have sat in on second sax. This has allowed for a freshness to seep into their overall sound and it leaves room for the unexpected. One unexpected turn was their headlining set at Hodi’s Half Note.
It has been two years since their last rendezvous at this Fort Collins establishment. With headlining gigs at the Aggie and all around Colorado it was a real treat to see them playing a smaller room. The night began with Rudie Clash, a Dubskin side project featuring lead singer Jamal Skinner and keyboardist Jason Wieseler in a strange amalgamation of roots reggae and dub sonic sounds… but we’ll get to that in a minute. I arrived as Jet Edison was hitting the stage with their original “Gold.”
Set I: Gold, Places, Style Of The Times, Wasted, Simon, Wading Through The Rubble, Burn This Disco Out*, Undercover
*w/ Austin Zaletel on Sax
This tight four-piece from Boulder knows how to rock. Lead by keyboardist Phil Johnson who will occasionally pull out a trumpet too. They are a convincing jam powerhouse to say the least. With a new album due out this year, they have plenty to prove. Touring with enthusiasm, it’s impossible to go more than a couple months without catching them live here in Colorado. These four formed a bond in college through late night jam sessions and lots of time on the road. That bond is evident in their transitions and in songs like “Wading Through The Rubble,” which takes on a driving swing feel as they navigate the debris. They tossed it back with a version of Michael Jackson’s “Burn This Disco Out,” with Austin Zaletel sitting in on sax before ending the show with “Undercover.”
The setbreak was filled in with self-proclaimed “ugly” music producers Rudie Clash consisting of Jamal and Jason from Dubskin. They too are on the cusp of releasing a new album and have developed a wholly unique sound. To say that I enjoyed it as much as seeing Dubskin would be an untruth. Jamal is a true showman and will always engage his audience with his bombastic style. That being said this blend of electronic dub and his vocals was a bit jarring. If you are a fan of roots reggae blend and electronica I would recommend you check them out.
As Euforquestra took the stage I found myself wondering why the room was only half full. With finals approaching and many students getting ready to head home for the summer perhaps they just opted out of going. This was the wrong choice. What followed was a two-hour blast through all the things that make me love this band. Opening with “Backbone” Euforquestra started the night like a freight train.
Set 1: Backbone, Cause A Reaction, Milk & Honey, Obatala, Called You, Yogi’s Day Out, The Events of December 11, Solutions*, Madison Square**, Nausea, 64:18, Price Is Right, Instant Coffee, Dr. Standby
Encore: All Light, Hang Ups
*w/ Jamal Skinner on Vocals
**w/ Phil Johnson on Trumpet and Nick on Saxophone
This was a hometown show with the warm feel of a family throw down. Huge versions of “Cause A Reaction” and “Obatala” got the show moving. They pulled out a classic Euforquestra tune “Called You,” which was originally sung by Matt Grundstad and is now crooned by keyboardist Matt Wright. Wright’s vocals can simply be described as clean. He just nails it. “Yogi’s Day Out” was a blast, but “December 11” really sucked in the crowd. They brought out Jamal to sing on “Solutions” before inviting Phil and Nick to fill out the horn section on the instrumental cover of “Madison Square.” They rounded out an epic set with a 1-2-3 punch or originals culminating with an immense set-closing “Dr. Standby.” This show had everything a music fan could want. Hard hitting percussion backing a world approach to music that has been the hallmark of Euforquestra since the beginning. They closed with a two-song encore that included a great version of “Hang Ups.” Through thick and thin Euforquestra perseveres and continues to create amazing music and incredible live performances across the country. The next time they come to your town get out and make sure you bring your dancing shoes.
Summer Camp Music Festival continues to be one of the most diverse and interesting festivals still operating today. In an era were events come and go Summer Camp has been a constant going strong for their thirteenth year. This year plays host to yet another incredible lineup that is sure to please any music fan. One of the nice things that the organizers of this festival do that is rarely talked about is the way they break up the performances. Any festival is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type experience, but oftentimes fans of specific genres of music are left with tough decisions on whether to see on show or the next. At Summer Camp sure there is some overlap as there are at all music festivals, but for the most part they try to make it easy. By having say a bluegrass band, an electronic act, a jam band, a local group all playing at the same time you can see the show you want without missing too many of your preferred sets. With six stages not to mention the VIP bar stage there is plenty to see and do at any given moment.
Many of the events that have gone on throughout the years are back again with a few new features that are sure to add to the experience. Favorites like The Kid’s Camp, Field Day, and The Make A Difference drives culminating with the Everyone Orchestra Performance are all back. New this year there will be a Masquerade troop featuring hoopers, fire throwers, dancers, and more. The members of the troop will be paired up with specific musicians to add a visual element to their live performances. Also Make A Difference is expanding by including a Live Art Gallery for live painters at the festival. These little touches and that fact that the organizers are always expanding on them are a big part of what makes Summer Camp such an amazing experience. Kyle Hess has been named the 2013 Summer Camp Counselor making him the third ever in a short but prestigious lineage. Both of the previous counselors and several CITs will be making it back along with an entirely new crop of CITs for 2013.
Musically the lineup is top notch. Of course Summer Camp staples moe. and Umphrey’s McGee will headline again this year, but there’s so much more. Fan favorites Family Groove Company, Cornmeal, Floodwood, Brainchild, and The Henhouse Prowlers will all be there to share in the groove again this year. Electronic fans will be happy to know Zed’s Dead, Big Gigantic, STS9, and Thievery Corporation are all on the bill for 2013. Personally I am most excited about the inclusion of Trey Anastasio Band, which continues the SCamp tradition of having a huge Sunday headliner.
Words To The Wise: Make sure you bring all the essentials for proper festival raging. Sunscreen and rubber boots are must haves, but also be sure to bring plenty of water and food. Check your gear before you get to the festival to make sure your tent is in proper festival condition. Get plenty of rest prior to Summer Camp as you will most likely get very little sleep over the four days. Know that you are driving into central Illinois and police presence will be high on the way in. They will have dogs and they will search you if you get pulled over. Illinois 55 was the preferred way in, but it seems that State Patrol is savvy to this and that was where they seem to be focusing their attention. As Bayliss pointed out last year during the UM soundcheck on Thursday, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Know your limits and know when to rest. It’s easy to get caught up the excitement of the weekend and the next thing you know you’re dehydrated and in no condition to continue the party anyway. The residents of Chillicothe love Summer Campers by the way. They know how much money we bring in and tend to want us to come back. I recommend stopping by a local restaurant on Monday on your way out. You’d be surprised at the warm reception you’ll receive. Also there is a shopping center just up the road from the festival grounds, so if you forget something it’s fairly easy to hop in your car and pick up some essentials. Finally be prepared for any an all weather. Anything from rain to a blazing sun is a possibility so being equipped with warm clothes as well as summer attire is smart.
Summer Camp is a chance for all types of music fans to come together and bask and the beauty and wonder of Three Sisters Park. New friendships will be made, amazing collaborations will happen, and music will fill the air. Be safe and enjoy the ride.
Sometimes things happen. To the dismay of fans that traveled over a thousand miles to see their hometown favorites Old Shoe in Colorado, their first show of the run at Hodi’s Halfnote was postponed. A combination of three days of blizzard and cancelled flights contributed to the decision, but people were certainly disappointed. Personally I had been looking forward to the show for months, and given their place as renowned Summer Camp alumni, I was excited to see them live. CIT Dave Weckstein was traveling with the band and I met him early for some dinner and a beer. We were just finishing up when Hodi’s posted that they would not be having the show. I was baffled because the three days of blizzard had finally subsided and the sun was actually out. Understanding that they had many friends in town Old Shoe arranged to play in their hotel lobby at Cambria Suites at 10 PM. Word spread fast and as Dave put it, it was time for a “Party at the Moontower.” So feeling it was appropriate I donned my pajamas and headed down. The 3-piece consisted of Greg Fundis, Joe Day, and Matt Robinson. The lobby was an unassuming place for the random assemblage of Shoe fans that filtered in. They had a nicely stocked bar and I have to believe that the hotel sold more drinks than they ever had with about twenty or so fans refilling regularly. They opened with an acoustic jam on “Loco Motive.”
Acoustic: Loco Motive, Dust Bowl, Take That Road, How Mountain Girls Can Love
Electric: Day Rains Night, Family
For those that are unfamiliar, Old Shoe is an up and coming acoustic tinged jam band. They can pretty much do it all and they are a tight group with lots of talent. After the first song they slid their chairs up to be closer to the fans scattered on couches and chair throughout the lobby. The highlight was their take on The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” The boys moved back to the electric set up and ripped through a couple more originals before we were told it was all over. With the hotel at 95% occupancy the sound had drifted up a couple floors and some of the patrons were none too happy. So after an awesome version of “Night Family.” The hotel asked them to stop. What did we expect really? I think the fact that Old Shoe even attempted this says a lot about their character and their dedication to their fans. I certainly appreciated it and it proves to me how special it is to live in Colorado where music seems to always find a way… for a little while at the least.
Leftover Salmon is a Colorado tradition. They are the source from which so much jam and bluegrass flows. String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, and so many others would not be what they are today if it wasn’t for the trail blazed by Salmon on a cold night in Crested Butte over twenty years ago. After an incredible set at Summer Camp i figured it was time for an update from the mountain state. Leftover has gone through some transitions through the years. The passing of Mark Vann, the departure of Jeff Sipe and Bill McKay, the search for formidable replacement on banjo that ended with Andy Thorn have all had an effect on the band. They have persevered and their music is as vibrant as ever.
Their show at The Aggie Theater in Fort Collins was completely sold out meaning tight quarters were the order of the night. I staked my spot Vince side on the rail. They took the stage just before 10 PM with a quick “Liza.”
Set I: Liza, Gulf Of Mexico, Voodoo Queen Marie, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Gold Hill Line, Sing Up To The Moon, Morning Sun, Highway Song, BooBoo*, You Can Find Some Other Man, Lonesome Johnny Blues**, Danger Man**
Set II: Gonna Have A Party, Here Comes The Night, Walking Shoes, Bend In The River, Light Behind The Rain, Riding On The L & N, The Other Side, Mr. Wrong**, Come On Baby**, Out In The Woods**, Railroad Blues**, River’s Rising
*W/ Friends on Drums
**W/ Johnny Hickman on Guitar, Harmonica, and Vocals
Big thanks to Rob O’Brien for taping and posting on Archive. http://archive.org/details/los2013-04-13.24bit
This show was a non-stop shredfest that showcased the new era of Leftover Salmon. The setlist is a mix of fresh and classic with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. “Gulf Of Mexico,” which is basically an indictment of BP and the devastation they caused to the costal waters, was a nice touch. Their Zydeco was showing with “Voodoo Queen Marie,” but it was “Aquatic Hitchhiker” that made jaws drop. This instrumental song built so beautifully, relying heavily on Andy Thorn’s banjo. Andy really has revitalized this band in a big way and continues to keep the energy at peak level. “Gold Hill Line” was a quick, but passionate version with Drew on vocals before they invited a few friends to help with percussion on “BooBoo. “You Can Find Some Other Man” kept up their breakneck pace before they called their old friend Johnny Hickman to the stage. Hickman is from the alternative rock group Cracker and he along with David Lowery recorded bluegrass versions of their songs with Leftover Salmon performing as the backing band. The result was an album entitled O Cracker Where Art Thou?. Hickman is an accomplished guitarist with a rowdy, bluesy feel to his style. Much like what Bill McKay brought to the table, Hickman transformed Leftover Salmon into a rocking bar band. They blasted through two Cracker tunes, “Lonesome Johnny Blues” and “Danger Man” before taking a short set break.
Thirty minutes later the band and opened up round two with “Gonna Have A Party.” We were treated to a subtly stunning “Here Comes The Night,” before coming back to one of their newer songs, “Walking Shoes.” There seems to be a more tuned in consciousness in their lyrics than some of their early work. There is a maturity that only comes with being on the road for two decades and it is seeping into everything they do. Drew busted out his fiddle for “Bend In The River,” which is always a treat, but the highlight of the show was the Andy Thorn sung “Light Behind The Rain.” They slamgrassed us with “Riding On The L & N,” before Drew’ mandolin took the driver’s seat with the Salmon classic “The Other Side.” They invited Hickman back to the stage for a four-song run of both Cracker and Salmon tunes that left fans happy. The version of “Out In The Woods” was yet another highlight in show filled to the brim with high points. They closed the set with an absolute barnburner rendition of “River’s Rising” that showcased the evocative vocals of Mr. Emmitt. There is something about his voice that stays with you long after the amps have been put away for the night.
Leftover Salmon came back to the stage with a quick “Euphoria” and as quickly as it started it was over. This is the type of show that leaves you all bubbles and sunshine. The rain had begun to drizzle as the capacity crowd filtered out into the night. Exhausted smiles dotted the faces of the people as they wiped the sweat from their brows. It was a good night of Salmon and an energizing way to spend a Saturday evening in Fort Collins. For a band that has been on the road for so long it would be easy for them to become blasé as well. However LoS is always innovating, inviting guests, and generally leaving it all out on every stage they play. This a new dawn for this band and I for one am happy to be witnessing their rebirth.