Sunday brought with it even hotter temperatures as reluctantly the festival was on its final day. No sooner had I finally settled into camp life suddenly there was a realization to make this last one count. My crew broke out the icy pops and chilled in the shade listening to some Greensky Bluegrass on the Moonshine Stage. This group is in rarified air in the bluegrass community and Sunday they played two scheduled shows.
Keeping it in a bluegrass state of mind I hopped along to Sunshine stage for Devil Makes Three which surprised and impressed me as a first time listener. Then we headed over to Moonshine to catch a few songs off of Yonder Mountain and Tedeschi Trucks Band in the early evening time slots. Loved the power behind TTB’s “Bound For Glory.” I couldn’t stay long as I was hunting around for my Summer Camp artist pals to interview and give a recap of the happenings and memories from their 2012 Summer Camp experience.
Luckily, I was able to snag interviews with a great wealth of Summer Camp talent. Check out each one: Rock the Earth, Chicago Farmer, Matt Robinson and Mike Kaiz from Old Shoe, and an entire trifecta of Jaik Willis (JW part 2, JW part 3).
After a quick stop at the church to download my pictures and video blogs for your viewing pleasure I went back to Maria’s campsite in the woods where moe. and Greensky Bluegrass gathered to play her a special private show. My headlamp came in handy as they positioned me 5 feet in front of the band so they could see their instruments. An acoustic version of The Band classic “Up on Cripple Creek” was the highlight here in my opinion. Or it may have been the intoxicated random walking through “Okay, Alright” and the band mockingly mimicking his movements in jest.
After the woods disbanded I went back for more with a bit of Pretty Lights where a sea of rage sticks and glowing orbs bobbed and danced. A golf cart was taken over by six people who used it as if they were on Soul Train. I managed to squeeze out just in time to hear rumor of something crazy going down with Galactic at the Starshine Stage. Apparently, IndigoSun’s saxophone player threw down a monster solo during the set to thunderous applause. Good coming out party for those guys for sure. I caught up with Jason (aka Chickenheadfan) at Jane’s Addiction in the VIP section. It was great to hear some early 90s classic rock although some in the crowd with glow sticks were perplexed as a playful Perry poked fun at them. The entire band stays in peak physical condition and the stage set up is pretty wild with four 20 ft hight female statues standing back to back while video of ladies writhing about plays on 10 ft video screens. Jason and I shared stories of the weekend and how lucky we were to get the opportunity to meet and experience such a great event together. We both vowed that next year would be even better when we could have more time to party with our Counselor/CIT crew.
As I sat in the grass near Moonshine reflecting on what we had accomplished a magical “moe.ment” happened when my friends Old Shoe had the video for their song “Take that Road” played in front of a few thousand fans as we waited for moe’s last set. Natalie Wade did some great original work HERE and she and the band deserved the recognition for all their effort (check out the guitar solo special trippy effects at 1:39).
After moe. gave real energy to the evening with their performance it seemed everyone made their way over to check out This Must Be the Band at Soulshine Tent. A few thousand people stuffed the tent to the point it was bustng at the seams from the heat that was collectively trapped inside. Talking Heads is the perfect way to unwind and I saw numerous Summer Camp artists wandering about the crowd partying with all the campers. “And She Was” and ”Cities” were highlights that rose the temperature a few degrees.
We met up with FGC’s Janis Wallin to take in some Campfire Greensky Bluegrass to end the evening. Popping into the Pretty Lights late night show it was like someone condensed the golf cart party earlier that evening into a small little ball. Rage sticks must be some sort of dub step mating ritual…you know Darwinism and the boldest marked gents get all the birds. ”How ornate your stick good sir, now let’s raise it up and down in a celebratory motion.”
Earplugs inserted into their proper destinations I omitted from my sleep the sounds of non-stop VIP bar DJ’s spinning to 7am, and the constant brah’s yelling “WOOP, WOOP” from their tents before puking in the forest. I appreciate them not wanting the liquor to go to waste but for the sake of not leaving your 20′ by 10′ canopy behind Monday morning stop the Jameson shots and for that matter DUB STOP. One last post Summer Camp post for me before I must bid you adieu. I’m going to keep Summer Camp fresh in your minds for next year by reporting killer shows I take in up in Chicago. That deserves one of those brah’s “WOOP, WOOP’s!”
Saturday morning the crowds began to rise, but I’d been up for hours thanks to sunrise kickball (see my other post on that!). I spent the morning writing and posting photos in the Summer Camp offices in the church, and by 1pm I was on my way…
First I headed over to the Starshine stage and stumbled upon a game of capture the flag for Field Day. Being a proud member of team Red and seeing that they were short some players, I jumped in to help. Unfortunately, the Red team was eliminated pretty early on when the Yellow team crept into our home base to get the flag… we’ll get ya next year, Yellow.
A few more steps, and I was at my first show of the day, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. Their bio lists them as a “post-punk soul band”, and I think that’s a really accurate description. JC Brooks himself has stage presence like nothing I’ve ever seen… in 90 degree heat and a full-on suit, he kept the crowds entertained and dancing – it was a great way to start the day!
Next up, I met up with some of my buddies at the VIP bar for burgers, margaritas, and playing some bags.
Gov’t Mule had a really solid set at Moonshine, and the dust was really raging with the dancing. I like Mule, but I love Umphrey’s, so I left a little early to get a good spot and be ready to rage. For me, I actually like the second set of Umphrey’s the most, and they’d pretty much stole my heart when I heard Rush’s Tom Sawyer start pelting through the field.
All day I’d been looking forward to Brain Damaged Eggmen late night in the Red Barn, and boy it did not disappoint. It was a non-stop dance party and such a happy crowd.
Walking home through the darkness, I stumbled upon this artist working on a mural outside of the Soulshine Tent, and was reminded once again why Summer Camp is the happiest place on earth…
After shaking off the night before with some wake and bacon and eggs my Friday opened with Keller Williams on the Moonshine Stage. Front row center I was able to finally witness the extraordinary one man band do his funky bass thang and was not disappointed. I’m not sure if Keller’s facial mannerisms signal anything to the other instruments onstage, but they amused the audience as they baked in the mid-afternoon sun.
Keller came out with a black bandana draped over his mouth and moved between his three guitars and a mixing board as he started looping his masterpiece. His set highlights included a throwback gem in “Freaker by the Speaker” and bass infused covers of Cage The Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and a baritone raspy version of Flight of the Concords “I Told You I was Freaky.” Keller is so tuned into the music he adapted to minor feedback issues in the monitor by simply moving it away from the speaker. Guess that’s what is to be expected considering he’s been working with the same sound guy for 15 years. For the last song special guest Al Schnier joined Keller onstage for Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.”
Our crew stepped on over to Starshine to drop by and investigate the legendary Weir, Robinson, Greene Acoustic Trio. Slinking along the VIP fence I cozied up to a patch of grass just in time to hear “Truckin” which was played beautifully as cloud cover brought a hazy calm over the crowd. “New Speedway Boogie” with Chris Robinson on vocals followed with a nice little harmonization to end the Grateful Dead classic.
The soulful southern Dead classic “Deep Elem Blues” followed with Bob on vocals and transitioned into Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece” with Jackie Greene playing a mean mandolin. I left after “Uncle John’s Band” and headed towards the Campfire Stage which would be my home for the next three shows. I met up with my pals in Family Groove Company for the first course in The New Orleans Suspect. FGC went to school out in Los Angeles with one of their musicians who also plays in The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and it was a nice appetizer funk fest near the Red Barn before the main course in Elephant Revival and Cornmeal later that evening.
I had missed the Thursday sets of Elephant Revival, the five piece folk ensemble out of Colorado, and was not going to let another chance pass me by as the buzz around this band has been high. After fiddling with the sound to get things just perfect they launched into a new tune opening with “Woodstock.” Wearing long white gloves and straddling a stomp box Bonnie Paine’s feathery lilting voice brought back memories of Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’Riordan. She wore a perma-smirk for nearly the entire set as she strummed her washboard to an celtic influenced sea shanty jig with Bridget Law starring on a few timely placed solos. Bridget plugged the bands release of a new song book before Sage Cook and Daniel Rodriguez provided background vocals and plucking prowess on banjo and guitar with Bonnie on lead for the water inspired “Drop.” The energy of the set was felt on a changing tempo “Old Oak River” which was played a cappella style and had a Johnny Cash type feel as the late night revelers swayed and clapped along. I’m very excited that this group is touring the summer festival circuit more extensively and will get a chance to see them again later this year at Shoe Fest.
Cornmeal’s first two sets for the pre-party I also missed out on due to schedule conflicts, but was Allie side for the annual acoustic Campfire Stage set. They brought out Elephant Revival for the first few songs. It was awesome to see Bridget and Allie smitten and smiling and showing their collective fiddle chops in addition to Wavy Dave and Sage keep the time on dueling banjos. Wavy Dave Burlingame once again had his annual Summer Camp birthday and joked around that he forgot his geritol…good thing a handle of Maker’s Mark was present to help him re-remember as he instructed “the cap be left off” to celebrate in fashion. Cornmeal brought out Giving Tree Band violinist Phil Zee for a few songs during the second half of their set. Allie and Phil chased each other taking turns on fiddle solo as Wavy and Kris kept everyone in high spirits with a menagerie of Cornmeal classics. A final special sit in occurred when Floodwood’s Jason Barady got on stage to play on mandolin. I sat there and was amazed as sandwiched between Kris and Wavy he furiously moved his fingers around the frets with ease.
Well i’m currently sitting in the Church listening to Umphrey’s McGee soundcheck for a special off the grid set for rockstar guests. I need to wrap things up so I can set up and experience my third crazy music filled day here at Summer Camp!
More pictures to come later on: