All Summer Camp VIP Upgrades include exclusive access to the ever-exciting VIP Lounge, where you can kick back and hang with band members and enjoy special VIP Lounge Sets open exclusively to our VIP Patrons!
Summer Camp 2014 VIP Lounge Sets will feature Keller Williams, Victor Wooten, Floodwood (featuring AL Schnier & Vinnie Amico), Cherub, Break Science, Mike Dillon Band, The Floozies, Cosby Sweater, Groundation, and Sun Stereo!
The VIP Lounge will also including our EPIC SUMMER CAMP 2014 CLOSING PARTY hosted by WYLLYS!
VIP Upgrades for Summer Camp 2014 are ON SALE NOW.
Keller Williams played two very different sets of music at the Park West in Chicago on Friday, January 17th. The first was a familiar, one man band version of the multifaceted performer, but for the second set Keller lead an extremely entertaining funk band that appropriately calls themselves More Than a Little.
The first set presented a comfortable side of Keller with a mix of newer originals along with some old favorites. “Doobie in my Pocket”, “Best Feeling”, and “Floating on Freshies” showcased Keller’s knack for layering sounds with multiple instruments and looping them all into one gumbo of goodness. But by the time Keller arrived at “Porta Potty”, he decided to simplify. There is something to be said for a man who can hold a room’s attention with just his lyrics and a guitar. The half filled room was enamored by his presence. Looking around, I could see jaws ajar as we watched this man do what he does best.
Keller’s one man band show always has an element of simplicity to it. He executes his unique style with such ease that it seems like there is little to no effort whatsoever put into his work. But don’t let his laid back vibe and shit eating grin fool you. This guy’s timing is more on point than a metronome and his ability to layer melodies, basslines, and vocals is unlike anyone else out there.
Williams peaked his first set with the ever entertaining story of how “Gate Crashers Suck” that segued into “Scarlet Begonias”. This classic Grateful Dead cover included a blazing vocal trumpet solo that somehow fit the song perfectly. The jam eventually started to tease “Fire on the Mountain” only to break into the circus performance that is “Freak Show”. Everyone in the room finally seemed ready to let loose as they joined along with Keller as he closed out the set by journeying back into “Fire on the Mountain”.
As I mentioned earlier, second set felt like a completely different show. When the lights turned low, Keller danced his way to the middle of the stage. He was predictably barefoot, yet looking sharper than ever in an exquisitely tailored grey suite. His back up band, More Than a Little, wore all black as followed him out onto the Park West’s sage.
Keller’s band that night consisted of Gerard Johnson on keyboards, EJ Shaw on bass, and Toby Fairchild holding down the drums. These three shiny headed hairless men probably had the best view in the house since they spent all night posted up behind vocalists Sugar Davis and Tonya Jackson. The unity from each member donning all black made Keller stand out like a preacher in front of a choir.
The music of the second set kicked off with a full band jam that set a precedent for the rest of the night. Williams’ backup singers called out to to their leader, “Hey Keller,” demanding his attention as he showed off his best dance moves “…shut the FUNK up!” Keller froze as if this caught him by surprise.
Needless to say, it was hysterically funny to watch Keller Williams mesh his laid-back, don’t-take-yourselves-too-seriously vibe with a sophisticated five piece ensemble. But right from the first song you could tell everyone was on the same page in Keller’s Book of Funk. This comical juxtaposition continued until the end of the show.
There is something about “Kidney in a Cooler” that regresses Keller fans to a younger state. Yet, to hear it performed by a funk band was wildly entertaining. I can’t imagine what was like for a soul/gospel singer Sugar Davis to learn this tune and then deliver it every night with such conviction. It almost makes want to buy this tall glass of chocolate milk a double decker, double wide trailer.
Part of the reason Keller was touring with More Than a Little was to support his recently released live album, Funk. The Talking Heads’ cover “Once in a Life Time” seemed much less beatnik than the album’s version. Its strong bassline forced me to move my hips, but by this time the Park West was packed, almost to the point where it was uncomfortable. Trying to roam around the venue was virtually impossible without making others inhospitable, so I decided to watch the rest of the show from the venue’s horseshoe balcony. From this vantage point I couldn’t help noticed a neglected disco ball that quietly spun above the center of the room, yet the show was hitting full force.
Sugar Davis and Tonya Jackson kicked off their high heeled shoes to get themselves on Keller’s level during “Sampsons Wine”. This mashup of two delicious songs had Keller calling the shots as they flowed from one song to the other. One of the strongest jams of the set was “I Told You I Was Freaky”. This Flight of the Conchords’ cover captured the weird side of Keller, an element that has never faltered over the years. More Than a Little somehow understands Keller’s freaky vibe and together the group worked their way into Keller’s “Let’s Jam”, just before they slammed into a heady version of Rick Jame’s “Mary Jane”.
The night finally came to a close with a one song encore. Fan favorite, “Freaker by the Speaker” almost felt like a moment the whole room was waiting for. The group’s reggae rendition of this tune helped raise everyone’s freak flag high just before they were pushed out into the cold Chicago night.
Overall, this show’s second set put the fun back in funk. More Than a Little is a perfect name for the energy this group adds to Keller’s already entertaining live shows.
Colorado at times can seem like a parade of yearly musical traditions. Denver, being a massive music hub, is a place where many performers pass through around the same time each year. One nascent tradition is the Keller and His Compadres shows in Keystone, Colorado. Last year’s shows originally marked the end of the world according to the Mayan Calendar. Well fortunately for K-Dub the world continued and so do these concerts. It’s a chance for the normally solo performer Keller Williams to grab a few friends and just jam. This year he got a chance to playe with Michael Kang and Michael Travis from String Cheese Incident on Friday and Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon on Saturday. I opted to catch Saturday’s show, which turned out to be a wise decision.
I found out that Friday included a very young crowd and they pushed it to the limit. Saturday was a fairly casual affair with a slightly older audience. The show was completely sold out, meaning more than a few fans were turned away at the door. Unless the gig is billed as one of Keller’s official band projects, the format is always one set solo and one set with the guests. This night was no different. K-Dub’s first set started just after 9 PM. In his true entertainer style he began strumming his guitar backstage before emerging from the darkness. The Warren Station Center For The Arts was a square room with a bar in the back. It was cozy and by the time Keller actually started playing it was most definitely full. Classics from Keller like “Cadillac” and “Freaker By The Speaker” were sprinkled throughout the first set. Perhaps the most oddly satisfying song of the first set was an extended jam into the custom built version of Lorde’s “Royals.” Covers like this again reiterate Keller’s addiction to pop music. He rounded his solo set with a sing-along on “Gate Crashers.”
The main event could have easily been dubbed Keller Salmon or Leftover Williams. The inclusion of Vince and Drew meant there would be no shortage of bluegrass or extended musical interplay. I for one am a fan of Keller’s solo work, but for some reason I find his style so much more rewarding when juxtaposed against other musicians. They opened the set with an instrumental before going into a bouncy “Portpapotty.” Keller was playing the electric bass, with Drew on mandolin and Vince on guitar. We were treated to an incredible Drew-sung version of Dylan’s “Tangled Up And Blue.” The additional strings did a lot to fill out “What The World Needs Now,” before they went into a stellar version of Salmon’s “Troubled Times.” Keller was sure to keep it balanced with the occasional original, insert “Broken Convertible” here. The rendition of “Dixie Chicken” was the highlight of the entire night. It came in reference to their recent performances with Little Feat’s Bill Payne. Again I reiterate the need for Mr. Payne to join Leftover Salmon full time. The moment is now Bill. Vince got a chance to sing his rowdy but timeless “Fuzzy Little Hippie Girl.” The trio went into a bluegrass-tinged duo from Tom Petty with “You Got Lucky” into a set-closing “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” The crowd kind of went off the chain at this point. Keller Williams and his Compadres came out for a quick “Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie” to encore before the lights came on and it was all over.
The show just seemed to speed on by. Keller is many things, but he is always fun. His shows display a vibrancy and passion for music in all its forms. His performances become random drive through his musical consciousness. His concerts with other musicians push back his urge to just unleash whatever comes into his head, which at times gives us the more interesting outcome. Instead in these sets he plays his part, which is interesting to see from a man who built his career on going it alone.
As we left I said to my wife, “Keller Williams must be a huge Tom Petty fan,” to which she replied, “Who isn’t?”
Additional Video by Steve Wilner
I’m sure by now you have seen the initial line up for Summer Camp 2014 (which, by the way, features just a FRACTION of the over 75 bands that will play). For me, just knowing moe. and Umphrey’s will be there every year is enough, but let’s take a closer look at all of the other awesome artists that will be raging into Three Sisters Park this May!
I will never forget the first time I saw Bassnectar live. It was an experience for sure. The craziest part of seeing him that night; it was right after Furthur played. So after seeing Furthur’s epic performance, going into something like Bassnectar literally blew people away. I remember going into a Porta Potty right next to the stage and it was literally moving with the bass. I have seen Bassnectar (Lorin Ashton ) countless times since and I had a blast every single time.
Lorin’s stage energy is great and his production set up is always top notch. Bassnectar for me is one of those acts that are meant for a festival. Sure, he’s fun in a club setting, but raging with thousands of people at Summer Camp is going to be a night to remember.
Check out when Bassnectar killed it at Summer Camp in 2010:
Bassnectar fun fact: When starting out, Lorin’s stage name was DJ Lorin. He released his first album in 2001, and it wasn’t until 2002 that he founded his stage name, Bassnectar.
Trey Anastasio Band
If you were at Summer Camp 2013, I’m sure Trey Anastasio Band was on your wish list to return this year! I don’t like letting the weather ruin my fun, so I still (along mannnny others) got down to Trey on Sunday of Summer Camp 2013, and i’m sure he’ll pick up right where he left off this last year! I’m so extremely excited! For those that don’t know, Trey Anastasio is Phish’s lead guitarist and vocalist.
Trey Anastasio’s Band is made up of Russ Lawton on drums, Tony Markellis on bass, Cyro Baptista on percussion, Ray Paczkowski on keys, Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet and vocals, Natalie Cressman on trombone and vocals, and of course, Trey Anastasio on guitar and vocals! One of my personal favorite songs is “Architect”. This team of amazing musicians is one not to be missed.
Trey Anastasio Band fun fact: Trey Anastasio Band first made their debut in 1998. What started off with only 3 members has grown into the wide range sounds of what TAB ( Trey Anastasio Band for short ) is today.
Primus is one of the most unique acts of any band I have seen. Part of that for me is the vocals and talent of bassist / vocalist Les Claypool. The rest of Primus is made up of guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander.
Although I have been listening to Primus for a long time, it wasn’t until 2010 that I had my first chance to catch them live. When the lights dimmed and the mysterious intro music started, I grinned a large smile and I knew I was in for a treat. What I actually saw throughout their whole set was something I have never seen before in a live act. Les Claypool is a very interactive vocalist. In between many of their songs, he goes on a hysterical banter with his interesting voice. Normally I can do without artists talking in between songs, but I actually embrace it! Many people that witnessed Primus at Summer Camp in 2012 claim it to be one of the most epic sets. Well, they are ready to party it back up at Summer Camp this year, and I for one am smiling ear to ear once again!
Check out Primus live when Bob Weir sat in from Summer Camp 2012:
Primus fun fact: Primus has a catchphrase, being “Primus sucks!”. When fans say this, it often confuses new listeners. In 2011, Les did say that he got tired of fans saying it.
Yonder Mountain String Band
YEEEEHAAAWWWW! Yonder Mountain String Band. YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND! Seriously, I NEVER get tired of seeing these guys live. They are what got me into bluegrass. It’s hard to explain to people that aren’t familiar with these guys, or bluegrass in general, how hard they rage live. Their foot stomping fun is comprised of Jeff Austin on mandolin and vocals, Ben Kaufmann on bass and vocals, Dave Johnston on banjo and vocals, and Adam Aijala on guitar and vocals. I’m not sure if it’s because of the lack of drums in the band (and I don’t say that in a negative way, I love it), but the way the audience dances at a Yonder show is awesome. It’s almost as if everyone dances as the drummer keeping the beat.
Seeing Yonder this past year at Summer Camp two times was a very cool. My favorite of the two was their barn set. If you were one of the lucky ones to see them perform in the barn Friday night, you know how special it was. Especially late night ( although seeing them around 6 PM with a full sun is awesome ). I can’t wait to see what the guys bring to the stage this year at Summer Camp.
Check out this video of Yonder late night in the Red Barn at Summer Camp 2013:
Yonder Mountain String Band fun fact: When Dave Johnston and Jeff Austin first met, Dave asked Jeff to join and sing in his band, The Bluegrassholes. It was then that Jeff revealed he had a mandolin, and Dave said bring it along; “just play it fast and loud!”
Lotus. LOTUS. LOTTTTUSSSS! I’m pretty sure that’s what muttered out of my mouth when I saw they were on this years line up. Lotus has and always will hold a special place in my heart. I have seen these guys so many times I have lost count, and I have never seen a bad set by them!
Lotus is made up of Mike Rempel on guitar, Jesse Miller on bass and sampler, Mike Greenfield on drums, Luke Miller on guitar and keyboards, and Chuck Morris on percussion.
I think what I love most about Lotus is the way that they build up their sets until your face is officially melted off. I’m not kidding either. When they get into their epic jams, I loose my mind. The whole audience is connected into the band, and the band into the audience and everyone is just feeding off each others energy. Not only are these guys amazing musicians, but if you ever get the chance to speak with these guys, they are very down to earth. For me personally, Lotus at Summer Camp is what’s on my mind. I will be seeing them perform multiple times in between then, but nothing is better then Lotus raging Summer Camp!
Check out this video of Lotus playing “Backlight Sunflare” at Summer Camp 2011:
Lotus fun fact: Jesse and Luke Miller are brothers. Also, Lotus has done many themed shows. On October 31, 2008 at the TLA in Philadelphia the show was billed as “Live Fast Die Young: the 27 Conspiracy”. Each of the 5 members dressed as a rock star who died at the age of 27 (Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Pigpen, and Jim Morrison) and the show featured covers by each of the respective bands.
Comprised of String Cheese Incidents Michael Travis and Jason Hann, these dudes know how to bring the energy! What really sets EOTO apart from other electronic artists is their music is created without prerecorded loops! It’s all improv, and all loops are created right then and there! Onstage, they use Abelton live as their primary software for looping. Every time I have seen EOTO has been a much different.. not in bad way! Their stage set up is called the Lotus Flower and utilized 3D mapping to project really cool art work on to the set up.
EOTO fun fact: EOTO originally started out as End Of Time Observatory, with the members often calling themselves EOTO. Many Japanese fans explained EOTO means “good sound” in Japanese, and the band decided to officially stick with the name EOTO instead.
Keller Williams is a “one man jam band” hailing from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Using loop recording, his live shows mimic a full four piece act on stage. If you close your eyes at one of his shows, you often forget there is only one guy up there making music. It takes a lot of talent to do what he does, and he does it very well at that!
Keller uniquely blends bluegrass, folk, rock, reggae, electronica, jazz, and funk all together into an epic dance party. Keller often plays Grateful Dead songs which is always a plus in my book! I was able to catch a couple songs when he played as Keller Williams with More Than a Little right before Umphrey’s on Friday Night this past Summer Camp. It was so good!
Keller Williams fun fact: Keller Williams never took any lessons. He is a self taught musician!
The funkiest group returns to Summer Camp! If you have seen them perform before, then I know how happy you are that they are returning on the line up! They were so amazing at Summer Camp this past year as they funkified the Moonshine stage! About half way into their set, it started raining pretty good, but it felt so right in that moment and time! Everyone got crazier and really started dancing around like wild animals!
Lettuce is made up of Eric Krasno on guitar, Adam Smirnoff on guitar, Neal Evans on keys, Adam Deitch on drums, Erick Coomes on bass, Sam Kininger on sax, Ryan Zoidis on sax, and Nigel Hall on vocals. All of these guys are so talented! They have all found success in other acts as well, all touring in different groups around the world when not playing with Lettuce. They are an act to NOT miss when Summer Camp arrives!
Lettuce fun fact: In the fall of 1994, the band reconvened as undergrads at Berklee and attempted to play at various Boston jazz clubs, walking in and asking the club owners and other musicians if they would “let us play”, giving birth to the name Lettuce.
Beats Antique is an American experimental world fusion and electronic music group. They were formed in California in 2007. I like to heavily emphasize the world fusion part… If you have seen them or at least even heard their music, you understand what I’m referring to. Their shows are so outrageously unique! Made up of David Satori, Zoe Jakes, and Tommy Cappel, Beats Antique is another act I recommend checking out! Their shows somehow remind me of a Cirque de soleil show. They feature belly dancing and many different characters/costumes dancing about.
Beats Antique fun fact:
Zoe Jakes began belly dancing in 2000, but is a lifelong dancer, having 10 years of jazz and ballet dance experience under her belt. Her belly dancing is a blend of traditional belly dance with tango, popping, and indian dance.
Hailing from Chicago, Future Rock combines elements of Electronica, Progressive House, and dance rock. The band consists of Felix Moreno on bass guitar and synthesizer, Mickey Kellerman on keyboards and synthesizers, and Darren Heitz on drums and synthesizer. Future Rock was so cool in the Red Barn this past year. They brought the heat in there!
Check out this video of Future Rock late night from the Red Barn at Summer Camp 2013:
Future Rock fun fact: They once performed as Aphex Rock, performing a full set of music by Aphex Twin.
Other Summer Camp 2014 Artists
The other acts announced in the first round are Bro Safari, Wick-it the Instigator, Family Groove Company, This Must Be the Band, The Floozies, Henhouse Prowlers, DJ SOLO, Manic Focus, The Delta Saints, IndigoSun, Robotic Pirate Monkey, DUGASMUSIC, Sun Stereo, The Black Cadillacs, Old Shoe, Chicago Farmer’s New Feat with Old Shoe, Positive Vibr8ions, Caroline Rose, Brainchild, and Bone Jugs N Harmony. And there are many more to come – over 75 bands on 7 stages!
All I can say is WOW! Summer Camp always finds a way to keep making adding fun to the party year after year! Get your tickets now! You don’t want to miss this!
If you happened to miss the official video announcing this first round of artits, make sure to check it out below:
For many jamband fans, Keller Williams was like a gateway drug and over the years we have watched him solidify his place in the scene. These days Keller is throwing down with a full funky band that calls themselves More Than a Little after a classic Keller tune. Their recently collaborative release, conveniently titled Funk, is made up of ten live recordings that display exactly what this project is all about. The four piece band, along with some sassy female vocals, showcases a side of Keller that many fans have been waiting to hear.
The album Funk kicks off with a vocal bass line that gets everyone on Keller’s level. It is followed up by backup singers, keys, an actual bass and live drums that hit you upside the head right from the get go. The first tune of the album is a comical Flight of the Conchords cover, “I Told You I Was Freaky”. As the first track continues, shit gets weird, and you are taken into the crazy domain of freak funk. It serves as a warning to all that this album is going to be filthy nasty, so be prepared to get weird.
The second tune rolls out of the first with a jazzy jam thick with keys and drum breaks. The Keller classic “More Than a Little” is true to its title. This tune is the definition of what this project is all about. Keller leads the group as they slink from one verse to the next, eventually agreeing in unison: “Now that’s funky!”
Keller’s band taps into the roots of funk and the album captures the energy of their live performance perfectly. ”I Feel Love” starts with a disco tease of Madonna’s ”Vogue”. Keller then takes the lead, calling the shots as the soulful vocalists follow suit. The tune continues to hopscotch between disco and soul before it finally lands in an era of disco funk and settles in for a nice long jam.
Overall, the album’s cover songs prove Keller Williams has mastered the art of reinterpretation. He already has his own special way of putting a spin on things and the addition of the funk band brings this experience to a whole other level. A jazzy version of the Talking Heads’, ”Once in a Lifetime” includes reverb vocals that complement Keller’s beatnik delivery of the song’s lyrics. The album also contains a tribute to Rick Jame’s “Mary Jane”, a metaphorically iconic tune that is the funkiest of the funk. If you still need convincing, check out “West LA Fadeaway” as it was performed at Summer Camp Music Festival in 2013. Keller puts his own funky spin on this Dead tune and has a few special guests to help seal the deal….
Needless to say, the soulfulness of these performances shines through every track of Funk. Better yet, funky could be the most sustainable version of Keller to date!
As your CIT, I highly recommend checking out Funk. Then go see Keller Williams with More Than a Little perform live while you still have the chance! The most recent tour is being billed as “What the Funk” and Keller will be playing two sets of music at every show. The first set will be a solo one-man-band performance and the second set will be the full band experience with More Than a Little.
This year I ended my festival season with a bang by making the trek from MI all the way to Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA for the first ever Lockn’ Music Festival. What I found special about this particular event was the stacked line-up of epic jam mixed in with the idea of making the music never end in a seamless fashion. I was determined to not miss this one.
Luckily I got hooked up with a photo pass and had the time of my life shooting some of the most amazing artists all weekend long. In case you weren’t aware, Lockn’ featured three sets from both Furthur and The String Cheese Incident including special guest appearances and collaborations all weekend long. Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes, Trey Anastasio Band, Zac Brown, John Foggerty, The Black Crowes, and Tedeschi Trucks give you a good sense of what the festival entailed.
What made the festival so amazing for me was the fact that it was the first opportunity I have had to photograph many of these legendary artists. I was definitely one of the happiest souls in the photo pits all weekend long.
My favorite moment of the weekend was when Trey Anastasio came out and performed with Furthur for the first time ever. He helped finish out Casey Jones of Furthur’s rendition of Workingman’s Dead (the entire album) and played other favorites including Scarlet Begonias and Truckin’
I managed to snap some of the best pictures I’ve ever shot. Have a look and get a feel for what Lockn’ was like.
Your CIT Eric here, and I must say we had one very perfect day to officially begin the festival! I have been having a blast running all over capturing many great moments for all of you to check out. I had a great time catching a few bands including Keller William’s new project.
The sunset was beautiful and the moon came out to light everyone’s way late into the night!
I took many amazing photos of the day so check out my official Summercamp CIT Photo set!
Summer Camp just keeps getting better and better! Yesterday was truly unbelievable! To start my day off, I had the amazing opportunity of announcing Moe’s first set of the weekend. It was such an honor to do it, and it was such an adrenaline rush. Moe killed it of course, that goes without saying. The set was crowded with scampers pumped up for Moe, and they sure delivered!!
The food at Summer Camp is great! Walking around, every 10 feet you smell different foods while walking around the vendors. Some of my personal favorites are the tacos, they freaking delicious. The subs are also bomb. I personally had the buffalo chicken sub more then once, and every person that sees me eating it asks what it is. Yum yum yum! I love festival food!
A highlight set yesterday was STS9. It was AWESOME! I don’t use this word often, but the set was ” epic “. I was blown away, and it’s getting me pumped for round 2 tonight in the barn. However, the other music I saw was nothing short of amazing. Yonder Mountain both day time and late night sets were sick. The Yonder barn set was extremely intimate, and even at 3 am, everyone had nothing but smiles.
I was also able to go on stage for Umphrey’s first set and it was a real cool experience. Scampers were eager to rage Umph, and their set was glorious! The sun was shining and it was a perfect time for their first set. To me, Umphrey’s is one of those bands that never lets me down. I have never seen a bad set by them, and they are truly all stars in the scene.
Some other honorable mentions that I got to see were Zoogma, Keller Williams, Big Gigantic, and Papadosio.
There’s still so much awesome music coming our way this weekend. It’s only Saturday, and there’s no stopping the Summer Camp party!
Camp Counselor Kyle
Summer 2012 Festival season in review
So what has ChickenHeadFan been up to since last Summer Camp Music Festival? Well, I was doing my normal thing, going to shows, taking pictures and videos to share with all of you. As we all know Summer Camp Music Festival is ChickenHeadFan’s true home! There is nothing he loves more than the 4 days he spends over Memorial Day weekend with all of you at Camp. This summer I did some branching out and I was lucky enough to go to four other music festivals and each one had many unique things that make them special. I like to keep the Summer Camp Spirit flowing all summer long and I figured trying out some new festivals was a great way to keep that spirit going! In this blog I will give you some highlights of each festival.
Bonnaroo was a great time. It was my first time going so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The experience was a lot different than Summer Camp, but that can be expected as there are as many as 80,000+ people at Bonnaroo. We were lucky and accidentally found a back way in so we were in line for 2 hours instead of 6-8 so that was a positive right off the bat. We got in line around 2am and were not done setting up till 4am so that was an adventure. We had really great neighbors and even made good friends with one group and they are planning to visit in Chicago soon! It was a long walk over 1 mile to get to “Center-Roo,” where all the shows are, so you didn’t want to go back to camp very often. The food selection was amazing with vendors everywhere that were open all day and night. You could eat anything you wanted at anytime and you never had to walk far or wait long for food. We even bought some good ol’ Tennessee moonshine from one vendor! The bathrooms were also pretty awesome. I never once saw a port-a-john that was anywhere close to overflowing and they were always clean.
Musical Highlights: Radiohead, Phish, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Alice Cooper, Umphrey’s McGee. The first band we saw was Mariachi el Bronx. I had been looking forward to seeing them after learning about them a few months before. These punk rockers turned mariachi band (mariachi outfits included) put on a high energy show that was lot of fun. Radiohead and Phish were obvious highlights for me. It was my first time seeing Radiohead and what an epic show it was. They played all my favorite songs and their stage show with the video screens moving all over the stage was a cool touch. Rodrigo y Gabriella’s new record, Area 52, that they recorded with the band C.U.B.A. has been one of my favorite albums this summer. It was amazing to see them play such complex music so perfectly live. Alice Cooper was also awesome, but we were only able to catch the last half of his show. His stage show includes costumes, giant puppets, and a guillotine. I was excited to see more later in the summer when I was going to see him open for Iron Maiden. We caught a surprisingly fun set from Ludacris during the afternoon. The set struck memories of driving to school with my older brother when he played a montage of hits including my favorites “Ho” and “Southern Hospitality.” Umphrey’s also played the best set I have seen from them in 2012. They played from 2-6am with Big Gigantic taking over at set break for a half hour. They were only supposed to play till 4am but put on a full show instead. The set including a rocking version of “Thunderstruck” which was exactly what I needed to keep me going as the sun was rising.
Whippersnap Music Festival is one of the many smaller local festivals that happens in the northern Illinois region. Here you can check out a lot of the great bands you might hear at the Starshine, Camping, or Campfire Stages at Summer Camp. The festival was located in Lyran Park near Rockford, IL. The main stage was set on a hill so there was a “natural amphitheater” with a river as the backdrop. It was beautiful! As for food, my favorite Summer Camp vendor Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was on-site so I was happy. The bathrooms at the festival were clean as well which makes festival life so much easier. Camping was very relaxed. There was plenty of space and there was no rush to find a place to set up camp. It is always a problem at larger festivals and can make the first couple hours a mad dash to get your preferred spot.
Musical Highlights: Family Groove Company, SPREAD, Old Shoe, The Funky Meters, and Digital Tape Machine. I also was only able to attend the Festival for Saturday and Sunday so I missed some great music, but was still able to catch some of my favorites. Family Groove played an awesome set that included a Beck cover and featured Joe Day from Old Shoe on vocals. I also woke up early Saturday to see SPREAD, a Summer Camp Battle-of-the-Bands contest winner the last 3 years, play a rocking set that included a Ween Cover, and some of their staples like “Deep Plunge” and “Feel my Heat.” I also got to catch a late afternoon set from Old Shoe. This was sadly the first time I have been able to catch a full set from these guys, and I was truly blown away! I have seen them twice since then, once at the Abbey Pub and once at Shoe Fest and they never cease to please.
Shoe Fest is put on by Old Shoe, hence the name. This festival was held in Manteno, IL at Camp Shaw-wa-na-see. This is another beautiful setting for a small festival. There were many families and children present and you can bring your furry family members too, pets are just as welcome here as anyone! You could pretty much camp anywhere so there was plenty of space for everyone. They actually had real bathrooms which was nice, but sometimes were out or order with a lot of people using them. Foodwise there were options but since my favorite, Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was at the fest, I had to get my fix of delicious pizza and baked ravioli. They did have two local craft brewers on site which was awesome, but one other bonus was that you could bring your own alcohol anywhere at the festival including the stages, which helped keep the cost of going to a festival down.
Musical Highlights: Keller and the Keels, Ben Miller Band, Old Shoe, Jaik Willis. I missed Friday night because of my day job so, the Ben Miller Band was the first band to rock my world at Shoe Fest. They come from Joplin, MO and have a unique sound that blends bluegrass, blues, and mountain music with an occasional trombone thrown into the mix. Ben Miller provides acoustic guitar and vocals for the band, sometimes singing into a telephone converted into a microphone that gives his voice a distorted 50′s sound. Doug Dicharry plays drums, mandolin, electric washboard, trombone, and electric spoons. His strange mix of talents add to the spice that makes this band so unique. Scott Leeper plays a self-made washtub Bass for the band. This is no easy instrument requiring the player to provide the correct tension on the neck to play the right note, but Scott is an expert at it. The band played mix of covers that included “I wanna be Sedated” and “Helter Skeltar” and some originals like “Meth Mama” and “Get Right Church.” Keller and the Keels put on an amazing show. The talents of Larry and Jenny Keel compliment and add to the talents of one-man-band Keller Williams. They played a few Keller originals like “Goofballs” and “Crater in the Backyard” along with many of their bluegrass covers such as Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” Jaik Willis is the last person I caught at the festival before I left Sunday afternoon. This is sadly one of the first times I have been able to catch Jaik play, and it won’t be my last. This man is über talented. He not only is one of the best guitar players in Chicago, or anywhere for that matter, he has a voice of gold, and he beat boxes! He holds a special connection with the crowd and has the rare qualities that make up a great solo performer. Shoe Fest was a great time and it felt like home. I cannot wait to go back next year!
North Coast Music Festival is practically in my backyard. We probably walked less to get from my house to North Coast than when we walked from our camp to the shows at Bonnaroo. I had a great time at North Coast, but since it is not a camping festival it has a completely different vibe, and the lineup, consisting of mostly DJ’s and electronic groups, draws a younger and slightly different crowd than most festivals I go to. North Coast usually gets a couple big headliners and fills in the line-up with smaller acts. Although it can be a really great place to find a great smaller band, there are a lot of performers there that I’m just not interested in. The late night shows usually make up for the sometimes lackluster line-up.
Musical Higlights: EOTO, STS9, Umphrey’s Mcgee, Papadosio. The first show I saw was EOTO. I always enjoy seeing them because I can hardly believe two guys can make all those weird noises, and with real instruments too. I was able to catch Papadosio for my second time at one of the smaller stages. They put on a good show as always. STS9 is always a highlight anytime I see them, and between their headlining spot at the festival and their after party show at the House of Blues they played every song I wanted to hear including some of my favorites “Unquestionable Supremecy of Nature” “Evasive Maneuvers”, and “Inspire Stikes Back.” Unfortunately, due to restrictions put on the festival, STS9 got their sound cut when their last song went few seconds past the 10pm cutoff. The second day at the festival the weather was unpredictable and I had to miss out on Family Groove Company’s main stage performance because the festival had a no re-entry policy. I saw Strange Arrangement at one of the smaller stages at the festival where I saw some of the best shows. I was able to catch Atmostphere and Future Rock before the nights headliner and one of my favorites, Umphrey’s McGee. This was their second year headlining the festival after playing the inaugural North Coast Fest 2 years ago. I went to the STS9 after party at the House of Blues because STS9 only comes to Chicago so often so you have to see them when you can. Sunday I got a late start but I as able to see Digital Tape Machine and Big Boi from Outkast perform. Big Boi was a fun experience, and someone who I typically might not see, he played “Sorry Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya” , so it was a pretty good time. The real highlight of the night was seeing Umphrey’s play at the Congress Theater, which is the only major theater I have not seen them perform at in Chicago. The show was rocking, and included a cover of Toto’s “Rosanna” and teases of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Bulls on Parade.” North Coast Music Festival always ends up being a great time, but the after party shows always seem to be the best part for me.
So that is pretty much the story of my festival season this year. I had a great time but you know I was busy catching shows in between each music festival as well! What kind of shows you ask? Well to find out you will have to wait for my next blog post that will be Coming Soon!
Photo Credit – Andrew Feigl for both Bonnaroo photos
Photo credit – Adam Alexander for Chickenheadfan North Coast photo
One story I have is from last year when they gave us the raffle tickets to give away. I made people do some ridiculous things for those tickets. I asked one guy bring to me 30 cigarette butts for one another girl that was camped close by I asked her to clean all the trash off the ground around her camp for a ticket. She did and brought back WAY more trash than I expected. I also gave away a winning ticket! The girl I gave it to even came back and found me to thank me and let me know how grateful she was. Also I some how always find amazing interesting things in the trash when I do my sorting shift. The first year I volunteered I found $19 and some Summer Camp shirts! And last year I found some moe. CDs and posters! I kindly gave away one of the CD and posters to this guy I was working with (cant remember his name).
Overall I have had some AMAZING experiences volunteering and I plan on doing it again this year because its just so much fun. Thank you for giving all the people who cant really afford to go a chance to be there and have so much fun at the greatest music festival around! O! And thank you for the Everyone Orchestra! That was the highlight of my first year at Summer Camp! I do plan on coming back as a volunteer again this year in full force. I have been extra green lately and I’m looking forward to giving back to the people and keeping Summer Camp clean so we can do it again next year. I don’t have many pictures of me while I was working. But I do have one picture of me in a “photo booth”. It was right next to me while I was working and the guy running it kept giving me free things because he liked what I was doing for the festival. Once again thank you SO much for giving me and other people like me the chance to go and experience Summer Camp. It is a truly magical place filled with joy and excitement. And last year KELLER WILLIAMS came up to me and told me I was doing a good job! That completely blew my mind!
But once again thank you very much. I have had amazing experiences and made some life long friends at Summer Camp and I hope I can do it all again this year. I’m planning on putting down my deposit as soon as I get my next paycheck.
Thank you! From your friend and loyal volunteer
p.s. virtual hugs!