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.
Sometimes things happen. To the dismay of fans that traveled over a thousand miles to see their hometown favorites Old Shoe in Colorado, their first show of the run at Hodi’s Halfnote was postponed. A combination of three days of blizzard and cancelled flights contributed to the decision, but people were certainly disappointed. Personally I had been looking forward to the show for months, and given their place as renowned Summer Camp alumni, I was excited to see them live. CIT Dave Weckstein was traveling with the band and I met him early for some dinner and a beer. We were just finishing up when Hodi’s posted that they would not be having the show. I was baffled because the three days of blizzard had finally subsided and the sun was actually out. Understanding that they had many friends in town Old Shoe arranged to play in their hotel lobby at Cambria Suites at 10 PM. Word spread fast and as Dave put it, it was time for a “Party at the Moontower.” So feeling it was appropriate I donned my pajamas and headed down. The 3-piece consisted of Greg Fundis, Joe Day, and Matt Robinson. The lobby was an unassuming place for the random assemblage of Shoe fans that filtered in. They had a nicely stocked bar and I have to believe that the hotel sold more drinks than they ever had with about twenty or so fans refilling regularly. They opened with an acoustic jam on “Loco Motive.”
Acoustic: Loco Motive, Dust Bowl, Take That Road, How Mountain Girls Can Love
Electric: Day Rains Night, Family
For those that are unfamiliar, Old Shoe is an up and coming acoustic tinged jam band. They can pretty much do it all and they are a tight group with lots of talent. After the first song they slid their chairs up to be closer to the fans scattered on couches and chair throughout the lobby. The highlight was their take on The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” The boys moved back to the electric set up and ripped through a couple more originals before we were told it was all over. With the hotel at 95% occupancy the sound had drifted up a couple floors and some of the patrons were none too happy. So after an awesome version of “Night Family.” The hotel asked them to stop. What did we expect really? I think the fact that Old Shoe even attempted this says a lot about their character and their dedication to their fans. I certainly appreciated it and it proves to me how special it is to live in Colorado where music seems to always find a way… for a little while at the least.
Can you believe Summer Camp 2013 is ONLY 44 days away? What do you think of the lineup the crew put together this year? Pretty amazeballs if you ask me. The festival mainstays of moe. & Umphrey’s are again front and center holding down headlining spots. But they share some pretty rarified company! The Wood Brothers and The Wailers were late adds that pleased many a camper. The only thing left to figure out is where everyone will be slotted with other great acts like Trey, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Avett Brothers, and YMSB.
I caught Thievery’s NYE show out in Vail as the ball dropped and we rang in 2013 at Dobson Ice Arena. Their mix of house electronic beats along side a live band with amazing female and male vocalists has been heard around the DC area for years. I’m thinking that the late night set with ZEDS DEAD is going to easily rival last years by Pretty Lights. Be sure to get your tickets to the RED BARN late nights while you still can. If not don’t worry they’ll have another set placed strategically throughout the awesome weekend at Three Sisters Park.
What sort of collaborations will we see this year at Camp? Will Trey get down with moe.? Will Yonder and Cornmeal team up? These are the questions that get people excited, and with 44 DAYS to go…let your imagination run wild.
Speaking of who is bringing rage sticks or totems this year? Last year saw some pretty unique creations, and I for one am gonna be scouting for the famous “STOP & GET DOWN” sign along with a host of others. I may give out prizes so be on the lookout for me and when you do see me throw up your best “rage face” for the picture.
I’m really thankful that this year i’ll have time in addition to covering the festival to hang with my band pals Family Groove Company, Old Shoe, Henhouse Prowlers, Afternoon Moon, Chicago Farmer, The Giving Tree Band, The Ragbirds, and Zmick. Friends are what makes the festival experience that much more special and its been almost a year since I hung out with my fellow CIT friends and Camp Counselor from last year. That’s a year TOO long for sure.
Let’s see besides seeing Widespread Panic this weekend at UIC. I’m heading out west on tour with Old Shoe as they play a few Colorado dates at the end of April. If you are around Fort Collins (4/17), Steamboat Springs (4/18), Denver (4/19), or Nederland (4/20) make sure you look up where they are playing on that Facebook thing and get on down to check them out pre SC2013! I’ll even share a tasty local beverage with you (if you are of age of course). Until we meet again at Camp keep your eyes peeled for the schedule and when its released start planning your romp through Three Sisters cause a good time starts with a good plan!
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
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!”
Guitarist Matt Robinson from the band Old Shoe and their Manager Mike Kaiz talk Summer Camp Music Festival amidst a fierce backdrop of wolves hunting. Click SHOE to view.
Saturday was stupid hot musically and temperature wise. I now understand why adventurous campers stay in the woods during the day. It was a different world in the trees. One dub step dude was dragging a stone tied to a string and talking to it telling “Stoney” to “watch out” for those behind him. While some people were fried, most slabbed on the 100SPF sunblock so as not to look like Joan Rivers turkey neck by the end of the festival. After lathering myself up I headed out in search of something cool.
I thought Afternoon Moon could help in the coolness area so I headed over to check out their Camping Stage set. The fellas from Chicago delivered in front of their “Mooners” despite the heat. Jordan and his brother Joe promised their fans this was one not to miss and I have to say they threw down. I spent a few songs cooling off under the canopy of the woods before going to check out Family Groove Company, the coolest band since Miles Davis peed his pants over on the Moonshine Stage.
Jordan Wilkow of Family Groove Company told the crowd basking in the sun in front of Moonshine Stage to stay hydrated and held up a beer. Janis “Ice” Wallin and Adam Lewis in unisoned choreography spun their guitars. The family got slightly larger as the band added a horn section for certain songs in the set Set highlights included originals in “White Picket Fence” and “A Misdemeanor’s Worth” and the band covering Wilco’s “I’m the Man Who Love’s You” and Tower of Power’s “Squib Cakes.”
That song must have got my girlfriend Liz and I hungry so after scarfing down some tasty Minglewood Fired Pizza we doused the red pepper flake flames with a few 312 brews and headed to check out ALO. This was my first time checking these guys out and I have to say it was nice to lay back on the lawn and groove to them. Since the “crowd was in the right mind” as ALO lead guitarist explained they played a special song about “Monkeys” dedicated to Phil Lesh. Transitioning into a long fast funky chunky monkey jam the band played a variety of lively classic tunes. The band closed with “Maria” and reminded us that we had a lot of good music coming up.
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy are a combination of musicians from Disco Biscuits and Umphrey’s McGee. I spotted Camp Counselor Maria Iriart taking in one of her three on stage sets as they played Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” This was foreshadowing of what was to come later in the Red Barn set for Brain Damaged Eggmen.
Over at the Soulshine Tent a private little chat with Chuck Garvey from moe. was taking place with Rock the Earth. He brought with him drummer Vinny Amico who talked about a variety of socially conscientious issues they worked on with Dave Matthews. They also talked bout how moe. was actively involved with humanitarian efforts with the Red Cross as well as donating to environmental charities through working with the Rain Forest Network.
Chuck also answered a few questions on song writing and he said at times it could take years to craft one before it was ready to unearth. He explained while it was “fun to play Led Zeppelin it was also nice to write” even though he’s extremely critical of his songs. Chuck and Vinny played a song written on an airplane with an alternate acoustic version of “Summer Women.” Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee came up to answer a few questions as well. The tri-panel each told of their favorite places when not on the road. For most it was home. Chuck said Florida, Vinny the Adirondack Mountains, and Brendan his hometown of Chicago as he could have a zen moment having the city at his back looking out into the nothingness that was Lake Michigan. The best part of it all was that they closed it out with “Bell-Bottom Blues” by Eric Clapton with Chuck on lead vocals and Brendan singing background vocals. Don’t judge a band by its name is something we all remember when it comes to moe. and Umphrey’s McGee.
Next we headed to the Camping Stage and checked out our good friends Old Shoe play their inaugural Summer Camp. “Welcome Home” opened the set and lead into “Let Yourself In” as the sun fell behind the horizon. Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” was sandwiched in between “Joe’s Song” and “Days Rain Night.” Playing mostly original work off the bands last album Let Yourself In and a forthcoming unnamed release the sunset backdrop of the newly renovated stage was just what we needed to properly kick off the evening. We hung around for Midwest Hype who went on right after Old Shoe, and though we’ve seen our friends from Laporte/Muncie area plenty around Chicago were hit with a wonderful surprise when the fellas paid tribute to Adam Yauch aka MCA the recently departed Beastie Boy and musical pioneer.
Laying down on the grass for some Umphrey’s McGee covering Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” around 10:30pm was the perfect way to celebrate a job well done by the Shoe gang. The light show was spectacular but Liz and I had Red Barn late night passes to see Brain Damaged Eggmen. So we split off from the group and decided to meet up later at Hot Buttered Rum playing at the Campfire Stage.
Brain Damaged Eggmen in the Red Barn was epic. It wasn’t too crowded though it got a bit toasty towards the end of it. Giant beach balls were fisted skyward as glow sticks and elaborate light displays enhanced the surreal atmosphere. I love both Pink Floyd and the Beatles and Brendan Bayliss thanked everyone for letting them entertain this side project.
Setlist: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Another Brick in the Wall, Baby, Your a Rich Man >Obscured by Clowns>Tomorrow Never Knows, Have A Cigar> Breathe> Comfortably Numb>I Am the Walrus>Dark Side of the Moon.
We caught up with the Shoe Family for Hot Buttered Rum and were able to take in everything from “Like the French” to covers of the Grateful Dead’s “Round and Round” and Beatles “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Sitting by the Campfire around 4am I decided for the sake of not having too bloody of a Sunday it was probably best to hit the hay.
Here’s a little recap of my Saturday at Summer Camp. I began my day in the Soulshine tent checking out the Food Patriots and the Henhouse Prowlers. The Food Patriots are a movement who are encouraging others to purchase at least 10% of their food from local farmers, or to purchase organic or natural foods. I was able to speak with and interview Jennifer who helped start the Food Patriots movement. She even asked me to walk around while they spoke in the Soulshine tent and ask people if they wanted to sign up for updates and to join the movement. Here’s a glimpse of Jennifer and her partner speaking in Soulshine.
Then I ran over to the field day events and joined up with my fellow Yellow teamers. I watched us get beaten in tug-of-war. Then participated in some dodge ball, Yellow Team won the first round. But in the second round, I was the only Yellow teamer left standing and had to face 5 guys who were looking at me like a piece of meat. It was frightening, but eventually one of the guys caught a ball that I threw, and it was over. Next, we participated in arm wrestling; I was the Yellow Team’s female participant and lost very quickly to the Red team. Here is a great picture of my match and facial expression against the Red Team.
My main squeeze Adam was the Yellow Team’s male participant in arm wrestling, and he was able to give us the only win out of all of the events. Lastly, was the pizza eating contest. At first the purple team was in the lead, but then Blue Team pulled through for the win of the pizza eating contest. After all the events were over, the Purple Team ended up with the final win.
After field day was over, I took a much needed break, rehydrated myself and caught some Rebelution, and Common.
Then I grabbed some food and got ready for a long but amazing night of G. Love (who played songs like My Baby’s Got Sauce and Cold Beverage), Old Shoe, Gov’t Mule, moe., Midwest Hype, Umphrey’s McGee, more moe., and Brain Damaged Eggmen in the Redbarn (who did amazing covers of the Beatles and Pink Floyd). Overall, it was an amazing day with some blues music and LOTS of jam.
Love, hugs, and thugs,