In this post-Kickstarter era the individual music fan has a new ability to directly support their favorite musicians. Many bands have taken advantage of this new crowd-sourcing technique that allows them to produce new music as well as facilitate additional concerts. Floodwood is utilizing Kickstarter to reach out to fans for a new album and a touring van. Floodwood features Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico from moe., but they should not be categorized as a side project. They are simply put, an amazing bluegrass experience. They really got a chance to debut at Summer Camp a few years back and I’ve been listening to them ever since. Jason Barady, Nick Piccininni and Zacary Fleitz round out this lineup of real talent.
Musically and stylistically Floodwood is pushing the boundaries while still maintaining a reverence for traditional bluegrass. Their songwriting is top notch. I am incredibly curious to see how they will develop the sequences of tracks on the album and what they will do to further the instrumentation of the individual songs. So much time and energy is put into working on a studio album. Kickstarter has become a real and viable tool to actually make new music happen. In essence a supporter is basically preordering the new album. However most campaigns offer high end off the wall rewards for large pledges. For instance if you donate ten grand Floodwood will make arrangements for a VIP weekend ski trip with the entire band. The van is important as well as I would like to see Floodwood branch out from primarily playing in the Northeast. It’s time to share Floodwood with the world.
Their campaign ends on September 4th so if you have a few bucks or are able to share this link on your various social media sites that is greatly appreciated.
Here is a video of Floodwood at Summer Camp 2013
The breezes bellowed through the hallowed halls of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on our nation’s birthday. Many fans spent most of the day grilling and imbibing in the parking lots that surround the venue in the hours leading up to show time. Blues Traveler’s 4th of July concert has been going on for literally decades and always draws a large audience. This year with moe. supporting I felt sure it would sell out. I was wrong. While the crowd exceeded our original quote from the box office that only 5000 tickets had been sold, it was still not quite to the brim. Storms had threatened all afternoon with only a single drop or two actually hitting me in the Upper North Lot. As we headed inside the winds continued, but it never rained on the parade.
moe. came on right on time around 7:30 PM. Their set at Red Rocks was much more of a crowd pleaser that the previous night’s intrepid journey in Boulder. This was obviously to be expected. They opened with a crunchy “Tailspin.”
Set 1: Tailspin> Captain America> Akimbo, Crackers*, Plane Crash*, Haze> Jazz Wank> Rebubula, New York City
*w/ John Popper and Ben Wilson
You can listen on Archive, thanks to Pat and Corey for posting.
moe. performed a fan favorite rampage through some of their most widely loved songs. Unlike the previous night’s performance in Boulder where they extrapolated and gave the sour with the sweet their Red Rocks show was all sugar. It has been three years since their last tenure on the famed stage, and they seemed truly happy to be back again. Opening with a syrupy segue that included “Tailspin” into a sublime “Captain American” followed by a rowdy “Akimbo.” It was enough to warm the heart of even the most disenfranchised music fan. In fact they whipped the nascent crowd into frenzy as they started their seventy minute set. They invited both John Popper and Ben Wilson out for Rob’s newest homage to his progeny now called “Crackers.” They stayed for the most interesting song of the set, “Plane Crash.” Popper ripped up his harmonica, which seemed to fill any innate gaps in this classic moe. tune. Chuck took the reigns on “Haze” before the band took on the only real extended musical jam with “Jazz Wank.” Looking out across slowly filling audience for “Rebubula” reminded me that many in attendance were there to see moe. The body of people seemed to sway and bob during this incredible rendition.
“How great is this? Are we lucky or what?” – Al Schnier
After a nod and a wink for Al moe. finished their set with another classic “New York City.” All in all their hour plus set went exactly as expected. They refrained from any extended jamming in favor of running the gambit through a collection of songs sure to please. Musically the band was spot on, and given the fact they only had a hair over sixty minutes they performed as expected.
After a fairly long stage change, Blues Traveler made their way out to their instruments. At this point in the evening the sun was hiding behind the Front Range and darkness was the backdrop. Blues Traveler had announced weeks before their show that they would be performing their album Save His Soul in its entirety. Oddly enough they played the entire music video for “Defense and Desire” before they ventured out into the spotlight. Of course they opened with “Trina Magna.”
Set 1: Trina Magna> Love and Greed, Letter From A Friend, Believe Me*, Go Outside and Drive**> Low Rider**> Go Outside and Drive> Blister In the Sun**> Go Outside and Drive**, Defense and Desire> Drums/Bass/Keys, Whoops, Manhattan Bridge, Love of my Life, New York Prophesies, Save His Soul***> Drums/Bass/Keys, Bullshitter’s Lament> Conquer Me, Fledgling
Encore: Star Spangled Banner, Cara Let The Moon, La Grange@, Hook
*w/ 13 year old Caspian from Seattle on guitar
** w/ Jim Loughlin from moe. on xylophone
***w/ Al Schnier from moe. on guitar
@w/ Caspian and Jaden Miller (age 12), both on Guitar, Ben Wilson on lead vocals
I’m sure for true Blues Traveler fans this show was the cat’s pajamas. However for many in attendance this show fell a bit flat. In fact soon after it began a steady trickle of people made their way to the exit until only a few thousand remained prior to the encore. This is understandable as many had to work on the 5th, but it still felt wrong. The rendition of the album lasted well over two hours showcasing some songs that had not been performed by the band in well over five years. The first treat of the show was a version of “Believe Me” with thirteen year old on guitar Caspian. I don’t know if BT put out a craigslist ad, but this kid could shred. They performed a back and forth rendition of “Go Outside and Drive” with Jim Loughlin on xylophone that featured some quick jams on “Low Rider’ and “Blister In The Sun.” They played “Defense and Desire” again, that saw some incredible bass jamming from Tad Kinchla.
There is no question that Blues Traveler can jam, it’s just at times it very much felt like they were going through the motions. It has become all too common for bands to play their previous albums in their entirety live. This is all well and good, but it sort of lacks innovation and reeks of nostalgia. With a new album just out from BT I was hoping to hear some it live and we did during the encore. “NY Prophesies” was a real highlight and immediately after they invited Al from moe. out to jam on the title track of the album. I’m not sure if they planned it this way, but the set stretched on too long leaving them little room for anything else. Towards the end of the show a fireworks display from Bandimere Speedway could be seen and many wandered over to the stairwell to gaze. The encore was stellar including a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as ZZ Top’s “La Grange” with another youngster on guitar in addition to Caspian. We were also treated to a new track “Cara Let The Moon” which saw some very picturesque vocals from Popper.
Musically this set was spot on, featuring some impeccable playing from one of the founding fathers of jam. It being the twentieth anniversary of Save His Soul, it was a highly appropriate choice, however there was something lacking in the rendition. It felt choppy. I think that given the history Blues Traveler has with 4th of July at Red Rocks people were expecting more of a crowd pleaser, and what they got was a trip down memory lane. Again for the hardcore BT fan I’m sure this was an epic show, however for many it was just not what we were craving. I’ve seen this band literally blow the non-existent roof off the Rocks and this just wasn’t that. Oh well, there is always next year. Happy 4th of July
moe. continues to be one of the most prolific jambands ever to take the stage. Their catalog includes hundreds of songs allowing them to weave amazing musical tapestries on any given night. Their touring schedule has receded a bit in recent years, however they never leave fans waiting too long for their return. After an awesome two-night run at the end of November last year at The Ogden, moe. returns to Colorado. They played two more nights that included an opening slot for Blues Traveler’s yearly 4th of July celebration at Red Rocks. However the highlight of their run has to be the two sets of carnage that occurred at The Boulder Theater on the 3rd.
The first set was fairly standard clocking in just over seventy minutes. They opened with “Tubing The River Styx.”
Set 1: Tubing The River Styx> The Pit> CalifornIA> Bring You Down, Paper Dragon, Dr. Graffenberg> Hava Nagila> Long Island Girls Rule
Set 2: meat> Silver Sun> Sensory Deprivation Bank> meat> Recreational Chemistry> meat> Tom Sawyer
You can listen to the show on Archive. Thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting. http://archive.org/details/moe2013-07-03.16bit
They eased into the night with a dark brooding jam that included the 1-2-3 punch of “Tubing The River Styx” into “The Pit” into a bouncier “CaliforniIA.” Chuck and Al continue to be two of the most dynamic guitarists in the business. They seem to have an almost telepathic level of communication when it comes to their live performances. Rob really got a chance to shine both vocally and on bass during “Paper Dragon,” which reaches new levels every time I see it live. The real peak of the first set was the sublime “Dr. Graffenberg” as it saw a return to the dark jam that started the show. It went long and scary giving fans exactly what they were waiting for. Going classic moe. quickly riffed on “Hava Nagila” before they closed with the now rare “Long Island Girls Rule.” They have not performed it since their New Year’s run last year.
The second set was absolute dynamite beginning with the ultimate “meat” fake out. Right as moe. reached the crescendo of “meat” which would normally break into a frenzied homage to all things protein they stopped on a dime and ripped into “Silver Sun.” It was a weird feeling to say the least, but those of us in the know sensed it would return. “Sensory Deprivation Bank” was tight and clean and saw that revisit to a shortened “meat” jam that barely went past the point of tease. However, “Recreational Chemistry” was a thirty-minute plus jaunt into the outermost. Rarely can bands even pontificate on jamming on one tune for over half an hour let alone execute it so effortlessly. This was one for the books in my humble opinion. Directly following moe. went into the extended “meat” we were all craving. Between the two songs they performed almost an hour total. This is some of the most epic jamming I’ve witnessed live this year. As they rounded the bend on their twenty-minute “meat” the tone in the room changed. Jim went to the rarely used microphone for a stunning take on Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” His nasally voice was the perfect substitute for Getty Lee’s and he just nailed it. moe. came back and encored with a huge “Mexico.” This show saw some powerful jamming from a band that still has it. They can go down the road of quick romps through wide swaths of their catalog or meander through the intricacies of a single song. moe.’s show at The Boulder Theater demonstrated both approaches.
It had only been a month since I last saw Moe., but that’s a month too long! This time I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite bands in a venue that I’ve never been too but that has some history too it. The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ is now on top of my list of places to see a show.
The Stone Pony has been around since 1974 and is known as the starting point for Springstein and Jon Bon Jovi. Over the years the Stone Pony has been host to an innumerable number of great bands and musicians. Robert Santelli, the vice-president of the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame has said that the Stone Pony is “one of the greatest rock clubs of all time.” I agree and had a great time.
The Stone Pony is a truly unique spot to see a show. The walls are adorned with SUPERSTARS either in their prime or before they’d hit it big. Van Zandt, Springstein, Bon Jovi, Johnny Lyon, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Cheap Trick, Greg Allman, Skid Row, Blondie, Van Morrison, the list goes on FOREVER.
We all love Moe. You don’t nee me to tell you about Moe. But I really recommend making a point to see a show at the Stone Pony if you ever have even the slightest chance.
Set 1: 32 Things > Bullet, Water > Hector’s Pillow > Bring You Down, Wind it up
As my eyes adjusted to the light the distinct pitter patter of rain could be heard falling on my tent. It was one of those cool mornings that make you want to re-wrap yourself in blankets, roll over, and go back to sleep. I fought that urge knowing that music would be starting soon and it was time to get ready for the last day of Summer Camp. After the deluge on Saturday along with rain overnight the mud had finally reached an unimaginable level. The roads became a sloppy consistency that made it hard to differentiate between what was a puddle and what was solid ground. Again I have to give credit to the organizers for continuing the show even though the weather and washed out roads made that much more difficult. After getting ready I sought refuge in the Church and waited for the Pickin’ Party to begin.
This was a bluegrass clusterpluck that included members of Floodwood, all of The Henhouse Prowlers, as well as Allie Kral. What followed was some of the best bluegrass that occurred at Summer Camp 2013. It was a blend of all the things that make string music so great. Allie took the unofficial lead talking about playing acoustically and not needing a PA. Ben from Henhouse said, “These songs are all the same… but seriously they kind of are.” He wasn’t so much belittling bluegrass as much as he was pointing out a fact. Much of what the genre is built on is tradition and even though the music can be incredibly innovative it never wanders too far from its central principles. They ran through a series of songs that was enough to warm the heart of any bluegrass fan.
Next it was time for Umphrey’s last set, which was already underway.
Set 1: Slacker, White Man’s Moccasins, Tribute to The Spinal Shaft> Wife Soup, Phil’s Farm, She Caught The Katy*, Dear Lord**, Higgins, Smell The Mitten, August> No Comment> August, Miss Tinkle’s Overture
*w/ Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson
**w/ Luther Dickinson
Umphrey’s performs midday on Sundays, which is the cherry on top of their three days at Summer Camp. A two hour set allows them to stretch out a bit before taking their final bow. This show was fairly straight forward with a couple of amazing sit-ins. They opened with Slacker and soon after that the rain again ceased for the remainder for the afternoon. “Tribute To Spinal Shaft,” Umphrey’s prog-funk tune, was pure sickness. The real highlight of the set was the appearance of Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson on “She Caught The Katy.” This song originally performed by Taj has not been played by UM since Summer Camp in 2011. Luther stayed on for a jam on “Dear Lord.” Jake shredded while Luther slid; it was an awesome sight to behold. They finished their set with a crispy “Miss Tinkle’s Overture.”
As soon as their set was over it was time for moe. on the Starshine stage. This has been their acoustic show for the last few years and it allows for a relaxed vibe to flow out over the crowd. It’s yet another favorite set of mine to see at Summer Camp. After they dialed in their sound moe. opened with “All Roads Lead To Home.”
Set 1: All Roads Lead To Home, Sticks and Stones> St. Augustine, Shoot First> Bring You Down, Tambourine, Four
Stretching just over an hour this seven song romp took the audience through some classic moe. The highlight was the “Sticks and Stones” into “St. Augstine” which featured a great back and forth between Chuck and Al. Jim on vibraphone added a nice touch as well. “Tambourine” took on a completely new feel as Vinnie snapped out the beat on the kit and Rob belted it out for the enthusiastic fans. They closed with another crowd-pleaser, “Four.”
After moe. it was time for another class act, Taj Mahal and his trio. Taj Mahal is blues music and has brought this genre to audiences for nearly 50 years. From his early career with the Rising Sons to his solo work, Taj Mahal has remained a major influence to young and old musicians alike. Taj has also stated he prefers playing outdoor festivals, which is why he seemed right at home at Summer Camp. He played a two-hour set with his band that included Kester Smith on drums and Bill Rich on bass. Taj recently celebrated his seventy-first birthday and he is still going strong. His set at Summer Camp was truly a delight.
John Brown’s Body was up next and these guys are insane. Focusing on a more “spaced-out” sound rooted in the reggae tradition, lead singer Elliot Martin has robust approach to his craft. He moonlights as a dubstep DJ, but JBB is all organic. Their inclusion on the Summer Camp lineup was one more feather in the cap of this festival. They are an energetic face slap that soothes the soul. If you enjoy an innovative approach to roots music check these guys out.
As the Avett Brothers took the stage the skies opened and the rain came down. They started their show with a traditional English folk song, “The Cuckoo Song.”
Set 1: The Cuckoo Song, The Fall, Down With The Shine, Will You Return?, Laundry Room, Old Joe Clark, Reno Lament, Distraction #74, Paranoia in B Flat Major, Live and Die, Got To Sleep, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Life, At The Beach, The Prettiest Thing, Gimmeakiss, Die Die Die, Kick Drum Heart, Geraldine, I and Love and You
Encore: Talk of Indolence
Much of the Avett’s studio work is melancholy, however their live shows are jam packed with gusto. The rain slammed on the stage as crew members hurriedly changed out guitars and banjos between songs. Alternating between drum backed songs and acoustic stand alones, they blasted their way through their ninety-minute set. They played some of their better known songs including “Down With The Shine,” “Laundry Room,” and “Live and Die.” They seemed as energized by the music as their audience. Kids danced in the mud with a vigor rarely seen throughout the entire weekend. At one point I saw a young man making mud angels for no apparent reason. They closed their watery set with “I And Love And Home” before encoring with their rapid spit-fire tune “Talk Of Indolence.” They were truly a high point for the entire festival and a surprisingly great live show.
We made our way backstage to meet up for the Private Camp Counselor Show, but due to the weather it had been moved to a small trailer behind Mooneshine. Kyle and three of his friends got a special show from moe. and Victor Wooten, but there just wasn’t any room for anyone else. I totally understood and was happy that despite the weather Kyle still got his show which included an acoustic “Kyle’s Song” and “The Weight.”
Finally it was time for Trey Anastasio Band. As lightening flashed all around the festival grounds Big Red came to the stage with his group. They wasted no time by opening with “First Tube.”
Set 1: First Tube, Cayman Review, Last Tube, Alaska, Pigtail, Dark And Down, Money Love and Change, Drifting, The Land of Nod, Tuesday, Push On Til the Day
Set 2: Mr. Completely*
*Show ended due to severe weather
Trey and his band consisting of Ray Paczkowski, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, Russ Lawton, Tony Markellis, and James Casey seemed undaunted by the rain. They pressed on with a show that features a stunning series of guitar solos from Trey. He simply shredded his way through “Cayman Review” and “Last Tube.” “Alaska was a real crowd-pleaser and gave the rest of the band a chance to breathe. “Dark And Down” seemed incredibly appropriate and was the song that featured some the most intrepid jamming of their first set. As lightening continued to flash all around the rain subsided momentarily. “The Land of Nod” was epic, but the set-closing “Push On Til The Day” sent this show over the top.
The setbreak went for about 45 minutes, during which time I am assuming crew debated whether or not to let the band back on. Finally, probably from Trey’s insistence they did return. Trey uttered, “You guys are amazing,” as he came back, and as he did fat drops rained down from the sky. Trey and company went into “Mr. Completely,” as a small boy danced furiously on the other side of the rail. The crowd went nuts as the weather we had feared all weekend was finally hitting us. The small child waving his arms defiantly danced on until finally they finished what would be their only song of the second set. Trey walked up and gave the kid a fist bump before he was signaled to stop. He went to the microphone and informed the crowd that they were making him quit, but that he would be back. The audience slowly dwindled down to a few hundred as the steadfast fans, including my wife and myself stayed to see if the band would return. After about a half hour of the worst rain and lightening we had seen all weekend, Ian Goldberg appeared on the stage. “We know who the hardcore fans are…” He told us that unfortunately the rest of the show would be cancelled, but that he hoped moe. would still play their final set. At that moment I was completely soaked. I could not have been wetter if I had fallen into a pool with all my clothes on. We luckily snagged a golf cart ride back to our camp and got dry knowing there was little chance that moe. would be able to perform.
We got a good night’s sleep and awoke to the aftermath of the storm. Tents and gear were scattered all around the grounds and people were desperately trying to get their cars out of the now rut ridden lot. We loaded up our gear and got on the road back to Chicago. The festival seemed to just fizzle out rather than end with the bang many of us are used to. That being said with that much rain and lightening there is little that can be done, and ultimately the safety of the patrons is paramount to the music. Like I said before, I give credit to the promoters of Summer Camp that really only two sets of music were cancelled all weekend. The fact that we encountered so much rain, it would be easy to understand more shows getting cut. This was not the case, because of a high level of organization and perseverance by the staff. Sure we got some mud, but that was a minor inconvenience compared to all the amazing music I witnessed over the course of four days. Memorial Day Weekend in central Illinois is a crap shoot weather-wise. This year we got rain, last year we got sun, that is part of the overall experience at Summer Camp. However no one can complain about the musical collaboration that took place and the wonderful experiences shared by thousands at a tiny park in the middle of miles and miles of farmland. Until next year Summer Camp… Cheers.
After a brilliantly beautiful day a Summer Camp we woke up to overcast skies and a light drizzle. That sporadic rain would continue on and off throughout the day culminating with an absolute downpour during Umphrey’s first set. We’ll get to that. I began the day by stopping by the partner-hooping workshop put on by the Masquerade Tribe. This is just one of the many things happening all weekend long. From yoga to music and educational clinics so much is happening. In the nooks and crannies of this festival hides some the most amazing opportunities and experiences. Another such event is Field Day.
Field Day is an all out color war on the grounds of Three Sisters Park. Members of the Purple, Blue, Yellow, and Red team compete in a variety of activities including a Spelling Bee, Tug-O-War, Dodge Ball, a Photo Scavenger Hunt, and a Pizza Eating Contest. It’s a chance to blow off some steam and share some camaraderie with fellow scampers. Field day is competitive to say the least, but it’s all in good fun. This year the Red Team was victorious by one point with the rest of the teams tied in second place. Their name will again grace the Summer Camp Cup and their flag will fly high over the festival.
The bass workshop began in the Church around 12:30 PM featuring Victor Wooten and Reed Mathis. They began with a back and forth jam before answering questions from the attendees. These workshops often take the form dictated by their audience. It’s really a chance to pick the brains of some tremendous artists in a way that both musicians and fans can truly appreciate.
The rain continued to sprinkle so I sought shelter with Floodwood in the VIP Lounge. Last year’s unannounced set in there was a highlight for me, so honestly I wouldn’t have missed it. Floodwood is marketed as a moe. side project, however they are actually an Americana powerhouse in their own right. The band features Vinnie Amico and Al Schnier and truly these guys deserve their own headlining nationwide tour. This was the first of three sets Floodwood performed on Saturday at Summer Camp including a late night show at the Campfire Stage that went until around 5 AM. The most intriguing member is violinist Nick Piccininni who is pretty much self-taught and cleanly rips it up. They opened with “Stomp It,” which as its name would insinuate was a rowdy call to action for the crowd who was just beginning to dry out. They also played a wonderfully Appalachian tinged tune entitled “North Country Wind.” They are one of my favorite new bands and I’m just waiting for them to come west of the Mississippi to my home state Colorado. They played for about an hour in the VIP, which with utter flawlessness.
On the Camping Stage was Chicago’s own Henhouse Prowlers, who have been spreading their variety of string music far and wide. The rain continued on and as this superb quartet played to the rain soaked crowd. The Henhouse Prowlers have toured relentlessly over the past few years and despite some lineup changes they have maintained their high level of performances. They are another not-so hidden gem at Summer Camp; making a strong impression on anyone who catches them live. If you are a fan of real bluegrass I would recommend checking these guys out.
Tea Leaf Green was getting started on the Starshine Stage. I have to give credit to the festival organizers for persevering through the weather and making sure that the music continued. The drizzle is enough to wreak havoc on monitors and the PA, but they pushed ahead skillfully. In fact right after they dialed in the sound, Reed Mathis exclaimed that it had finally stopped raining. The overcast sky loomed, but for the moment the clouds had ceased leaking. They opened with “Germinatin’ Seed.”
Set 1: Germinatin’ Seed, Someday, Penny Saved, Mr. E. and The Cosmic Receptacle, Space Hero pt. 4 (Letters Home), Don’t Go, Space Hero pt. 2, One Reason
Tea Leaf Green is one of the most underrated bands in the scene today. They continue to tour across the country and put on stellar shows, but despite their efforts they seem to only to make a minor splash. They sounded incredibly tight. Reed has now been with TLG for a couple of years and he finally sounds in synch with the rest of the band. They are dialed in and firing on all cylinders. They have a deep understanding of groove-oriented jam and they are worth catching whenever possible. I was able to take a few pictures and catch the beginning of their set however just across the road something very special was happening and I had to ramble.
At Sunshine it was Cornmeal performing their last show with fiddler Allie Kral. It was bittersweet to say the least, and I know she will be sorely missed. She is moving on with her life after touring with Cornmeal for over a decade. The band did little to convey the gravity of the situation other than a distinct heaviness in the air. Fans seemed entranced with the music slurping up each note like a desert flower after a rare storm. Newcomers Scott Tipping and Drew Littell added vibrancy to their sound, but they mostly toed the line during this set. “River Gap” was a definite peak and seemed to reference Allie’s years on the road with Cornmeal. Before their last song band mate Chris Gangi gave a heartfelt goodbye.
“We’ve fought like sisters, but we played music like brothers…”
They closed with another appropriate road song “Hillbilly Ride.” There was many teary eyes in the crowd as Allie made her final bow with a band she has become synonymous with for the last ten years. I wish her the best.
After Cornmeal I raced back to the VIP Lounge to catch Victor Wooten and Friends. Before the set even started Victor addressed the band saying, “We have nothing to prove to each other,” before telling they crowd they were just going to have a jam session. What followed was a musical journey that focused on the funky side. The band consisted of Victor, Jordan Wilkow, Janis Wallin, Roosevelt Collier, Roy Ponce, and more. They just played, passing around solos and generally shared in the musical dance. Victor referred to Janis more than once as the, “Mistress of Groove.” They were impressive and yet another reason why VIP was worth the money this year.
Karl Denson took the same stage after a quick changeover. Few bands have the ability to break out the dirty funk like Mr. Denson and his Tiny Universe. Incorporating tight jazz riffs to fill out their sound, this group is something to behold. A Greyboy Allstars alumnus, Karl Denson leads his own group comprised of powerfully funky musicians. Utilizing elements of afrobeat and rock as well, KDTU is another fully capable band that really pleases the crowd. They played for just over an hour to a packed field.
On my way back to camp I checked out a bit of Thievery Corporation on Moonshine. There is so much going on in their live performance that it is almost difficult to break it all down. Formed by the DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton they have an assemblage of incredible musicians that add an organic flavor to their electronic edge. It’s safe to say there is almost a softness to their sound, which is why I wandered over like a moth to a flame. They integrate elements of Middle Eastern, Indian, acid jazz, reggae, dub, and Brazilian into one substantial melting pot of sound. They are high energy without being abrasive to the ears. I really enjoyed catching part of their set at the festival.
Finally it was time for the moe. and Umphrey’s leap frog extravaganza that has been a tradition on Saturdays at Summer Camp for a number of years now. Let’s begin with the Umphs. They launched off with a colossal “Depth Charge” into “Hurt Bird Bath.”
Set 1: Depth Charge > Hurt Bird Bath, The Linear > Yoga Pants > Rocker Part II, Booth Love1, I Got Love1, Andy’s Last Beer1, Wizard Burial Ground
Set 2: Wappy Sprayberry > Ocean Billy, Utopian Fir1 2 > Debra, Der Bluten Kat > Final Word > Der Bluten Kat
1w/ Mad Dog & His Filthy Little Secret horns
2It’s About That Time jam
“How you doing out there?… Round 2” – Bayliss
Umphrey’s McGee is perhaps the most technical and progressive band in jam today. They are also the last “jam” band. Their live performances are a sensory overload. Jefferson Waful operating the light board paints incredible mosaics of radiance that really boggle the mind. Their output of music over two sets was close to three hours total with lots of twists and turns. They brought out Mad Dog & His Filthy Little Horns for “Booth Love,” “I Got Love,” and “Andy’s Last Beer.” Michael “Mad Dog” Mavridoglou has a history with Umphrey’s having played on their album Local Band Does Ok, and appearing with them onstage numerous times with his full horn section. They sounded incredible and prior to “I Got Love,” Bayliss commented on the fact that they have never played this particular song with a horn section before. It turned out nicely with The Fitly Little Horns accenting the flow well. They closed the first set with a crunchy “Wizard Burial Ground.”
Their second set was equally full of classics and beefy rage rock. They started with a fourteen-minute “Wappy Sprayberry” before segueing into an even bigger “Ocean Billy.” This two-song section saw some of the most extended jamming of the entire weekend. Umphrey’s McGee is so polished that it’s nice to see them actually play for a little while. No band in the scene is tighter so when they go with the flow it can be very impressive. They brought back Mad Dog and His Filthy Little Horns for “Utopian Fir.” However the highlight of the show was their version of Beck’s “Debrah” with Bayliss on vocals. Taking an almost Prince-esque approach, this cover was a lot of fun for the entire crowd. Umphrey’s closed with a very nice “Der Bluten” sandwich. They brought the horns back again for their “Bridgeless” encore. UM just sounds so good, they keep adding to their repertoire and always tightening up. They are vying to become the top band in jam with each show.
moe. played an equally sick concert on Saturday as well. They know that fans travel from across the country to see them throw down a Summer Camp, which is one of three festivals they host throughout the year. They made a statement by opening up with “Bullet” into “Rise.”
Set 1: Bullet> Rise, Blond Hair Blue Eyes*, Crab Eyes, The Faker> Hector’s Pillow> Plane Crash**
Set 2: Rain Shine, Silver Sun> Happy Hour Hero, MacBain> George, Spine Of A Dog> Buster> McBain
Encore: In The Kitchen***
“Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes” is a new song written by Rob about his daughter. Summer Camp has historically been a place for the band to try out new tunes and this one was very sweet. “The Faker” is a favorite of mine and it was executed wonderfully. moe. just does not disappoint at Summer Camp, they have a mission and that mission is to rock. Their set ending “Plane Crash” was one of the most incredible versions I’ve seen them play. They invited Allie out for the violin intro that is featured on Tin Cans and Car Tires. It was absolutely overwhelming and another reminder of how versatile Allie is as a musician.
Their second set on Saturday was just as uncompromising as the first. Although the “Rainshine” opener felt a little strained while “Silver Sun” seemed optimistic given the weather we had already experienced. Of course the band was just playing with their set lists, showing us a little bit of tongue-in-cheek amusement on their part. “Happy Hour Hero” was a nice breather, but what followed was some of the best moe. of the weekend. The massive “McBain” bookend jam featured a sick “Spine Of A Dog” with a “Buster” thrown in for good measure. In refrence to the previous night’s antics with Umphrey’s they performed “In The Kitchen.” It felt a little more drum heavy and had a different flow than the original, but it was a perfect way to end the show.
We called it a night after moe. With one more day of Summer Camp looming on the horizon it was time to rest up and get ready. Sunday is famously jam packed with music for all of the people that opt in for single day tickets and this Sunday would be no different. Well… in retrospect, it would be a little different.
A more perfect day could not have been planned for Summer Camp on Friday. Music lovers arose to the crispy, bluebird sky of central Illinois with a bright beautiful sun shinning down from above. As fans shook off the grogginess of Thursday’s pre-party they found that Summer Camp was beginning in earnest and the weather was perfect. The light rain of the prior day kept down the dust promising that attendees would not be blowing a Rorschach Test into their hankies. A light breeze blew across the fields making for a sweet balance of warm and cool as the day began. Chicago Summer Camp regulars Old Shoe got the music started with an 11 AM shotgun start.
This quintet is quintessential jam with an acoustic sensibility thrown in for good measure. As Matt Robinson donned his “Easy Scampin’” shirt it was clear that not only was Old Shoe ready to have fun, they were ready to play. This band has so much potential as their local fan base already knows, They are a blend of rock, funk, folk, and more, Old Shoe just seems to fit. As their name would insinuate there is a comfortable vibe that emulates from everything they do. Their hour-long set was a perfect way to officially start Friday at Summer Camp.
Just as Old Shoe was finishing up Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn band was getting warmed up on the Starshine Stage. These guys put the power in power trio. Their sound is reminiscent of a revving engine approaching the red line. They have a growl that would make a dire wolf question its masculinity. They opened with a roaring “That Train Song.”
Set 1: That Train Song, Something For Nothing, Easy Come Easy Go, Regular Ole’ Guitar> Peter Gun Theme, Big Blue Chevy ’72, You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover, Worn Out Shoes, Clap Your Hands, Devils Look Like Angels, Some of These Days> When the Saints Go Marching In, Glory Glory
The Rev. is as much of a storyteller as he is a rocker. Joined by his wife Breezy and drummer Ben “Bird Dog” Bussell, Reverend Peyton can rip on anything with a fret board. In fact during “Easy Come, Easy Go” he absolutely shredded on a cigar box guitar. I’ve never seen one let alone heard one sound like a Les Paul. Their hour on the stage went by far to quickly and ended with a rolling version of “Some Of These Days into a raucous version of “When The Saints Go Marching In” followed by a very untraditional take on “Glory, Glory.” Let’s just say it got spiritual.
Next up was Keller Williams in the VIP Lounge. This was the first year with an actual schedule set up for VIP, rather than just a few random sets throughout the weekend. Keller was running late, taking the stage a full twenty minutes after he was scheduled. The set began ceremoniously with an introduction from promoter and festival organizer Ian Goldberg. He is Jay’s son and basically runs the whole show. Keller began by saying, “I have no plan.” He performed an acoustic, loopless show, which is something I haven’t seen since 2005 at Summer Camp. Keller is always a sort of flow of conscience type show, but his loopless shows take it to another level. Strumming away we were treated to a set that was all K-Dub. The highlight was beautiful rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Eyes Of The World.” I would have stayed longer, but it was time for moe.
2013 Camp Counselor Kyle Hess gave the intro, which was short but sweet. Having stood in his shoes, it’s a lot of pressure to announce your heroes to 15,000 or so people. He did so marvelously. moe. opened their festival with a huge “Captain America” into “Recreational Chemistry.” This was the equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet as far as I’m concerned.
Set 1: Captain America> Recreational Chemistry, Deep This Time> Downward Facing Dog, Puebla> Ricky Marten> Seat Of My Pants, Okayalright
moe. is one of the few jambands that has never broken up, never taken an extended hiatus, and never left their fans in the lurch. It absolutely shows in their live performances. They simply grind and for that reason I’ve been a fan for well over a decade. Their guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey are so dialed in, watching them is like witnessing a two-headed shred monster. They toss each other lead and rhythm parts like hot potatoes shot from a grenade launcher. This was a classic jam-filled set with a massive “Okayalright” to close. With five more sets on the horizon they set the bar pretty high with this show filled to the brim with badassery.
The Wailers were up next on the Sunshine Stage. I’ve always been a bit confused by The Wailers , The Original Wailers and were the two diverged. The fact that Bunny Wailer is still alive and not a member of either band is enough to make me question the namesake. Originally The Wailers was comprised of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Livingston. Afterwards the band morphed into Bob Marley and The Wailers with Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Cody Barrett on drums with the I Threes. Both of the Barretts were members of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s studio band The Upsetters. So basically Aston is the only real member of Bob’s band, but they continued performing after Bob’s death. They were lead by Koolant Brown on vocals who was like a bucket of jazzercise. His energy was infectious and his tone was spot on. The other notable member is Keith Sterling on keys who was also a part of The Upsetters among other Jamaican groups. They sounded solid with awesome versions of “Africa Unite” and “Stir It Up.” The highlight of their set was a mashup of “Waiting In Vain” with Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” As I was heading over to MMW I could hear them playing “I Shot The Sheriff” to an enthusiastic crowd.
Medeski, Martin, & Wood plays jazz with a jam mentality. It’s not so much about the groove because at times they go down the trail blazed by greats like Charlie Parker. Utilizing dissonance that to the untrained ear can be unsettling. However the fact is that MMW is capable of absolutely anything. Their most crowd-pleasing shows include funkiness, which was definitely present at points during their set at Summer Camp. They are simply one of the most incredible live acts touring today and it was a pleasure to see them on a beautiful day in central Illinois.
As Keller Williams ages his projects become more and more sophisticated. No longer is he content playing alone. The last few years have seen numerous projects spring from his mind. The latest is Keller Williams and The More Than A Little. This is his most soulful endeavor incorporating two female vocalists and a full band. They started the set with the song from which they take their name. K-Dub hit the stage in a black suit, smacking his talking drum and looking pretty suave. I would have to say the man won best dressed for Friday if not the entire fest. There was smoothness to this group and a focus on the funkier side of Keller. This is probably my favorite band that Keller has formed and I hope this group actually tours rather than being just a flash in the pan. This was also the most painful overlap of the day with Yonder Mountain String Band starting just a half hour after Keller, so shortly after it started, it was time to mosey.
Colorado bluegrass ambassadors Yonder Mountain String Band have been a hallmark of Summer Camp for years now. Their main stage set this year was chocked full of stringy goodness. They started with an energetic “If You’re Ever In Oklahoma” into “East Nashville Easter.”
Set 1: If You’re Ever in Oklahoma> East Nashville Easter> 40 Miles From Denver, 20 Eyes, Irondale, Pretty Daughter, Casualty, Kentucky Mandolin*, Dear Prudence*> Raleigh & Spencer*, Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown*
*w/ Roosevelt Collier on Pedal Steel
This set was a beautiful, rambunctious journey with one of my favorite bands. Jeff Austin’s face contorted as he wore the finish off his mandolin, by straight ripping it up. They invited Lee Boy, Roosevelt Collier to the stage to play the pedal steel with the band. This added a whole new dimension to their group. He wasn’t even on the official lineup, but he ended up being an artist at large of sorts playing around all weekend long. Their take on “Dear Prudence” with him was definitely memorable as was their set closing “Two Hits.”
Finally it was time for the main event with Umphrey’s McGee. Basically Summer Camp has become their home fest as they now share the bill with moe. They have such a dedicated following and are actually from the Midwest so it makes a lot of sense. They eased into a two set extravaganza with “There’s No Crying In Mexico.”
Set 1: There’s No Crying in Mexico > All in Time > Mantis Ghetts, Nothing Too Fancy> Ringo, Eat, Believe the Lie, Conduit, Comma Later > Nothing Too Fancy
Set 2: Puppet String > Plunger > All in Time, Sociable Jimmy, Bright Lights, Big City1, Glory> Plunger > Puppet String
*w/ Dom (Big Gigantic)
Umphrey’s is the most technical band in jam and this show demonstrated just that. The boys let us know that they are still Death Metal with “All In Time.” “Nothing Too Fancy” into “Ringo” was the climax of their first set and again raised the bar from a band that might as well be professional bar raisers. “Eat” actually had me a little frightened as again their Metal was showing, before the progressive “Believe The Lie” eased the tension. Umphrey’s is not an easy band to watch. They don’t just give it to you. They make their fans concentrate in a way that no other member of the jam community does. You have to work to understand what this band is doing. They are the opposite of dubstep in that regard. They ended their first set by going back into “Nothing Too Fancy.”
Their second set was bookended by “Puppet String” and included a sit in from Big Gigantic’s Dominic Lalli. It was a little more reserved than the blowout that was set one. “The Bright Lights, Big City” on which Lalli sat in was a definite highlight of a set full of technical turns and rage heavy jam. Umphrey’s is a big part of what makes Summer Camp so great and this was their night to blow it all out. They did so marvelously. During “Glory” they teased The Smashing Pumpkin’s “Rhinoceros” which got fans hopeful, but I’m glad they stuck to the script. This is one my favorite UM tunes and really demonstrates a different side of their sound. With a little bit of the theatrical moes came to the stage for the encore. The Umph boys gave them a look like, “We got this,” and proceeded to bust out a highly mechanical “Rebubula.” It was a nice touch to show the interconnectivity of these two groups at this particular festival.
After Umphrey’s I opted to nap it out for bit to be ready for the late night in the Red Barn with moe. and YMSB. I arrived at the Barn around 12:45 and made my way inside. The Barn is 400-person shell complete with lasers and a high ceiling. moe. opened with “Mar-Dema.”
Set 1: Mar-Dema > Kyle’s Song > Kids, In a Big Country, Wind it up > Sensory Deprivation Bank, lylelovit. > Waiting For The Punchline
Their hour and fifteen minute set left fans wishing they would play until the sun came up. This was classic moe. with a wonderful “Kyle’s Song” as well as a bust out on “Big Country” which hadn’t been played in 929 shows. Before playing “Sensory Deprivation Bank” Rob said, “This is the most downloaded song in the history of porn… it’s true.” I’m not sure if that’s actually a fact but it was absolutely huge. The set closing “Waiting For The Punchline” whipped the crowd up into a frenzy. This was solid moe. and a fun way to spend a late night.
After a stage swap that went a little too long Yonder took to the boards. They got going with a solid sandwich in the form of “New Horizons“ into “Blue Collar Blues” back into “New Horizons.”
Set 1: New Horizons > Blue Collar Blues > New Horizons, Left Me in a Hole, Fingerprint, My Gal, Steep Grade Sharp Curves > Gut Feeling/Slap your Mammy, New Deal Train, Another Day, Little Lover, Ten
Encore: Southern Flavor
Yonder took us on a late night bluegrass romp that saw classics flirting with a few new tunes. It was simply a great day of music and YMSB was the perfect end to it all playing well into the wee hours of the morning. Additional highlights of their set included “Let Me In A Hole,” “New Deal,” and “Ten.” They encored with an awesome “Southern Flavor.”
As I walked down the trail back to my tent the birds were beginning to chirp and I knew that Saturday would be coming all too soon. Summer Camp is non-stop run and if you do take a break you are going to miss something. That’s just the nature of the beast. It’s always important to pace yourself, but it’s even more important to see as much live music as possible. Two down, two to go.
While at Scamp this year, I brainstormed a few ridiculous questions to shoot by a few of the Umphrey’s McGee members to keep them on their toes and hopefully get some juicy, fun facts from the band. Here’s what I found out for all of you Umfreaks and for you moe-rons, stay tuned for the finale at the bottom! This photo really sums it all up:
So I posed the question to bassist Ryan Stasik of Umphrey’s McGee: “If you had to describe yourself in one song which song would it be and why?” His answer: “Smooth Operator” by Sade along with the quippy remark, “Do I really need to explain why?” Ohhh mister Stasik knows he’s a sexy moustached stallion. Who would have thought?
With a blush and a smirk I rambled off my next question: “If you were invisible and could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” Stasik firmly retorted, “Well how old would I be” to which I replied, “You can be as old as you want.” He grinned and looked up for a minute then shot back at me, “Well I would be 18 years old and I would hang out in a girl’s locker room at the hot yoga studio.” Whew. Well we see where your mind is at buddy. And after walking around to a fan who bought a ticket for the Umphrey’s Picnic and was sitting in the barn enjoying a sandwich out of their newly prized Umphrey’s lunchbox, I saw the photo above. With iphones snapping like an MTV red carpet event, the photo certainly took a few UM fans by surprise. Yes, V is for Vagina. Thanks for that gem
Later on in the VIP tent where Summer Camp so amazingly put together meet and greets with some of the big boys at camp this year, I ran into Rob Derhak, bassist and vocalist for moe. When I asked him where he would go if he were invisible and why, he gave me a much more sophisticated response- “Well I would go to the White House of course and dig around for a bit.”
There you have it friends- the short and skinny on the thoughts of Stasik and Derhak. Whew, now we can all rest easy. More to come. Stay tuned….
Sunday was EASILY the best day of music for me. Also, it was easily the worst day of weather. No way I was gonna let that affect my mood, though, and for many Scampers, it was the same.
I was able to catch Umphrey’s day time show, and they just continue to get better every time I see them, as now this was the 15th show for me. Highlights include a beautiful version of Dear Lord, one of my all time favorites and a rarity, with a sit-in from Luther Dickinson. They closed the set with a rockin’ Miss Tinkle’s Overture. Check out my video of it (right here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0M7GMT3F74&feature=youtu.be
Hands down, the show by The Everyone Orchestra was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Wow. I was just blown away. On stage was Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee on keys, Vinnie Amico, Jim Loughlin, and Al Schnier of moe. on drums, percussion, and guitar, respectively, Victor Wooten on bass, Allie Kral of Cornmeal on violin, Roosevelt Collier on steel guitar, and Alex Steele of Roste McCabe on vocals. There was also another girl on trombone who was just stunningly good, but I am not sure who her name was unfortunately. Of course, it was orchestrated by Matt Butler. For those unfamiliar with The Everyone Orchestra, it is all improv and the jams are literally conducted by Butler as he is leading the artists with the tempos and grooves. Their final jam had some “Love Love Love” lyrics bouncing around that got the crowd going crazy inside the intimate Red Barn.
Finally, there was Trey. Words can’t even begin to describe the musical journey he takes me on every time I see him perform. He came out on stage, did a nice little awkward and goofy half-bow to the crowd, picked up Ocelot (the name of his guitar) and got right into First Tube, a classic song that gets me rocking every time. He didn’t let up from there in his first set got better and better with each song. Unfortunately it was raining for most of the first set, so I didn’t get many pictures or videos, but it let up enough for me to catch the end of “Money, Love, & Change.” Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysUBGexwkKU&feature=youtu.be
His second set was cut short due to the nasty flash flood, which to be honest, came as a sort of relief to me. I found myself at such a predicament because a gust of wind, or Trey’s peak in one of his jams, snapped my umbrella in half. Once that happened I just got SOAKED. I mean soaked. And muddy. But I mean, it’s Trey! During the jam of Push on til The Day, the final song he ended up playing, a small child arose on the shoulders of someone in the front row, and he just danced danced and danced away for all to notice. The crowd cheered him on as he had all the spins and moves, mostly with his arms, and even Trey went up and gave him a high five after the song ended. It reminded me of when Alpine Valley last summer, in which Trey pulled up a bunch of phans on stage during their encore song of Meatstick, showing despite the level of stardom he has reached, he still has the heart and joy of music to share it with others and acknowledge great moments when it happens. By the way, I was one of those guys doing the Meatstick dance on stage. Here’s the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIFwpRxFLA
Well, Summer Camp, it was GREAT. Although the rainstorm cut the night a little young, I had a hell of a time and am already counting down the days til next year.
And just like that, we’re on to the last day of Summer Camp. Last night consisted of another marathon of music and good times while trekking through all the mud throughout the grounds. I saw Victor Wooten, a humbling experience, in the VIP lounge jamming with some special guests. After some dancing at Thievery Corporation, I went to check out both sets of one of my long time favorite bands, Umphrey’s McGee. A rainy first set did nothing to stop the crowd of Umphreaks dancing and raging along on the Sunshine stage. The second set featured one of my all time favorite concert moments: during the buildup of their Der Bluten Kat jam, some fans started blasting off fireworks. The band quickly got on cue and coordinated their jam, and of course Jeff Waful synchronized the lights to create a mesmerizing moment that seemed to last hours. One of the great things I’ve witnessed about Umphrey’s is their uncanny ability to just pull you in, capture your attention and consume you completely in their flow of the jam, and leave you stunned and jaw dropped. Face melting at its finest.
After Umphrey’s I was able to catch most of the second set of moe on the Moonshine stage. During this set I decided the Moonshine is most definitely the coolest stage of the three big ones here at Scamp. The slope incline of the lawn combined with the surrounding trees and hanging canopies create an intimate feeling that connects the crowd more with the band. I’m not all too familiar with many moe. songs at this point, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every moment of the show. For the encore, as a tribute to Umphrey’s covering their Rebubula Friday night, moe. did their own take on UM’s classic tune In the Kitchen. The crowd, as did I, quickly recognized the song and loved the recognition of the co-headliners’ presence of each other. I must admit the end of the song got pretty sloppy with the ending and lyrics, but still another great moment in Summer Camp history.
Thievery Corporation at the Moonshine ^
I also made it to the premiere show of Big Grizmatik, a combination of Big Gigantic, Griz, and Gramatik all playing together in the Red Barn. The intimacy of the Red Barn is great because 1) the band realllly feeds off the crowd’s energy, and 2) it was refreshingly warm in there! Big Grizmatik played a little bit over an hour, with a few Big G songs mixed in with other DJ remixes for a constant dance frenzy.
Video: Big Grizmatik – Fantastic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqnXPapmbck&feature=youtu.be
Looking forward to the last day now here today! Gonna for sure check out Umphrey’s final set, and I heard that guy from Phish is also playing tonight, so I’m sure I’ll see his show
Stay warm and stay dry, Summer Camp!