Let’s start at the beginning of this epic night. After a weird Chicago summer of never being really that hot, until one point when it was insanely hot, we finally reached the best-ever-summer-weather. Tribe and Umphrey’s played this Saturday at FirstMerit Pavilion (Northerly Island). Fun fact for non-Chicagoans… Northerly Island is an island that used to be an airport. One day many years ago former Mayor Daley decided to tear it up in the middle of the night – pilots had no idea… one night there were bulldozers tearing up the runway and the next morning there were planes looking for somewhere else to land. God, I love Chicago.
So, the plan started to conceive that there would be a nature park and concert venue on Northerly Island. Now, these are the facts as I assume to be true (you can actually read about this here) – but at some point it was decreed that there couldn’t be any permanent physical structure on the island, so the entire stage and risers are created in compliance with this, and can be taken down any time. This year, what used to be simply the floor area + risers opened up to have an entire lawn area behind it, which wasn’t used for this show but was packed for Phish a few weeks ago. It’s a gorgeous venue, you have the lake behind you and the skyline in front of you, and on this perfectly beautiful night, there was no better place to be.
Enough of the history lesson. STS9 went on at 7:00pm sharp, which for me was a little odd at first… I’d never seen Tribe that early in a night, while it was still light out, and I was still sober. Most of you Scampers must agree that it’s typically more of an “after midnight” experience. I loved experiencing it in this way… as more of an Umph fan myself, it really sold me on wanting to catch more STS9 exclusively. I have to particularly note the lights… of course, we all know that Umph is going to have an insane light show going on, but I must say that Tribe really was the stand-out! Their ability to create such a dynamic experience as the sun was setting was truly one of a kind. Stellar.
Set: This, Us > Squares & Cubes, Golden Gate, One A Day, Abcees, Vibyl, Simulator, Kabuki, Circus, Vapors, Be Nice, King Pharoah’s Tomb, Moon Socket, Scheme (confirmed @ http://www.thebarnpresents.com)
If I had to sum up Umphrey’s, I’d have to use the word “classic”. Not because they played a predictable set, but instead because of their Umph-like choices to mix classics & surprises in the perfect blend of excitement. Hitting the stage at 9:15, we knew they were only going to play one set, and boy did they make it worth it. As we moved from Bridgeless into Plunger the crowd really met that harmonic place of Umphrey’s love.
Speaking of, let’s have a sidebar about the crowd. Now, I had my cousin from Ohio in town, so I brought her and my sister along to the show. They’re great music lovers and were super excited, but probably would never have considered buying tickets on their own if I hadn’t made this the night’s plan. The quotes coming from an Umphrey’s virgin included “I can’t believe how nice this crowd is”, “Everyone is so friendly”, “I’ve never been to a concert this crowded where everyone was so happy!”. Good work, Umph fans… you always show a newcomer what it’s like to be a concert with a collective good vibe.
Let’s flash forward to the encore, because it warrants it’s own focus, particularly “Let’s Dance”. This was the 9th time they’ve played it, beginning with New Years Eve 2011 in St. Louis — it had never been played in Chicago. They brought up the boys from Tribe and kicked off the song, and the crowd went nuts. Everyone loves a good Umphrey’s dance party, and boy did we get one. I can’t imagine a better way to close out that night… Stasik absolutely killed it on that song. You could tell how much fun they were having on stage, so it was easy to mirror the energy. I give this night A+ for both STS9 and Umphrey’s… having a short amount of time to deal with given the 11pm hard stop in Chicago for outdoor venues, they more than made the journey worth our time.
Set: Le Blitz > Bridgeless > Plunger > Dear Lord > Plunger, No Diablo, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft -> Conduit, The Linear -> Bridgeless / Encore: 40′s Theme, Let’s Dance (confirmed @ http://www.thebarnpresents.com)
There’s something special about seeing live music outdoors. There’s something even more special about seeing bluegrass outdoors. One of my favorite bluegrass acts to see is Yonder and they brought their foot stomping sounds to the beautiful outer harbor in downtown Buffalo, NY as part of the free Thursday at the Harbor line up on August 1st!
The downfall of an outdoors show is you can’t count on the weather. Thursday was no exception. I woke up out of bed that day like a little boy on Christmas as I have been looking forward to seeing Yonder since their amazing sets at Summer Camp, only to see rain, rain, and more rain. Hey, it’s summer. That wasn’t going to stop me. But something amazing happened… as the concert got closer and closer, the rain started to disappear and the sun started to shine. I knew Buffalo was in for a treat!
Railroad Earth opened up the show, and they are a band I never really knew much about, but having seen them 2 times in a month’s span, I am a huge fan already. Hailing from Stillwater, NJ, this band really knows how to bring it. Tim Carbone’s violin playing brings out so much emotion on stage and into the crowd. There was more then one time where it actually gave me goosebumps, and that is a great feeling. Railroad Earth also consists of Todd Sheaffer ( guitar, harmonica, vocals ), John Skehan ( mandolin, vocals, bouzouki ), Andy Goessling ( acoustic guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, saxophone, vocals), Carey Harmon ( drums ), Andrew Altman ( bass, vocals ).
Yonder was on pretty quickly after, and boy did they get that party started quickly. The band opened up with Cuckoo’s Nest and it really did put a smile on my face, but I was far from the only one. There is something about a Yonder show that has me people watching more then usual at a show. Seriously, if you are seeing them soon, turn around where ever you are standing. Look at the smiles, because it will be hard to find someone NOT smiling which is amazing!
There’s something else to look for when you see Yonder live, and if you aren’t already smiling, then watch Jeff Austin ( mandolin, vocals ) perform. His body language and facial expressions are so fitting for their music. Watching someone play such a small instrument so fast with those expressions just makes him glow and stand out live. Jeff isn’t the only one however; playing alongside the amazing talented Ben Kaufmann ( bass, vocals ), Dave Johnston ( banjo, vocals ), and Adam Aijala ( guitar, vocals ), these guys know how to play with emotion.
Yonder stormed out with Peace of Mind right after and it got Buffalo stomping around! I went with a group of people in which a specific girl I was with have never seen a bluegrass show before. Watching her dance around was so much fun, it’s always awesome when you expose someone to music like this and it pierces their souls in such a beautiful way.
YMSB has been playing together since 1998 and an included brownie point to them playing since then is there has been no past members. They are the original line up still raging just as hard 15 years later. It’s clear when you watch them communicate on stage while they are playing that they are truly like brothers. What I really like about them live is they are the perfect blend of professional and party mixed together and blasted out in acoustic form.
Yonder’s full set list from Buffalo:
Set 1: Cuckoo’s Nest > Peace Of Mind > Shake Me Up > Peace Of Mind, Catch A Criminal, Jail Song, Belle Parker, Loved You Enough, 40 Miles from Denver, All The Time, East Nashville Easter, Troubled Mind > 20 Eyes > Troubled Mind, Polly Put The Kettle On, New Speedway Boogie**> Traffic Jam** > Little Rabbit** > Traffic Jam**
Encore: Crazy**, Angel**
**Tim Carbone on fiddle
One of my personal favorite songs from the night was their last encore song, Angel. There’s something about Adam’s guitar playing in that song that really goes right through you in the best of all ways. It was a great way to end the perfect Yonder set right next to Buffalo’s water front. Having Tim Carbone out there on fiddle during that was just an extra special treat.
If you have even the slightest doubt of seeing YMSB, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and decide to just go. You will not be disappointed! Remember what I said earlier, you will be smiling and dancing… A combo that every person needs more often in their lives. You can check out their current dates here:
This past Saturday, the boys of Gomez (hailing from the UK) made a stop in Chicago during the US leg of their tour. In case you missed them at Summer Camp in 2009, Gomez is a five-piece British act consisting of Ben Ottewell (vocals, guitar), Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Paul Blackburn (bass, guitar), Olly Peacock (drums), and Ian Ball (vocals, guitar, harmonica). Fun fact: Gomez records most of their music in Chicago.
Now, for non-Chicagoans, this will take a bit of explaining as they were headliners at the annual “Garden Walk” (yes, really).
Here are the basics of the garden walk: All day in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, people open their doors to their homes so you can walk around and see the gardens. It’s adorable. For those who don’t care that much about gardens (myself included) you simply go to the 3 blocks that are roped off for music, food, and booze. It’s a good old-fashioned Chicago street festival, and you get to see pretty amazing bands for 10 bucks.
Gomez went on right at 8pm sharp, and after seeing over 15 Gomez sets in my day, I’m not exaggerating when I say the setlist was the best I’d ever seen. Why? Well, Gomez is hopping on the user-submitted setlist train, and has been letting the fans pick the music all summer long. You can hop on their website before the show, pick 5 songs you want to see played, and submit. It looks like this:
To all those in Chicago who went on and submitted… great job. We were treated to songs I haven’t heard live in years – or ever – packed one after another in a set that truly showed the range of what these guys can do. It was pretty clear who the Gomez fans were in the audience… being a street fest, it was a mix of about 1000 people ranging in age and knowledge or interest in the band. But as the night picked up and the rare songs kept playing, there was a very clear set of 400-ish people that were are sharing the same amazing experience. A particularly heavy round-up of songs off Five Men in a Hut and Split the Difference proved that Chi-town has a strong tie to Gomez and their deep collection of amazing music.
Check ‘em out, Scampers. You have 2 more chances – Buffalo, NY tonight and Indy tomorrow, before they hop back across the pond and we wait for next year.
The past harmonizes. Everyone on Earth has a doppelganger. Both axioms proved to be true upon my second time seeing the Grateful Dead reenactment group, Dark Star Orchestra. As I stared onto the stage at guitarist Rob Eaton’s mouth gaping Bob Weir face, I thought to myself, “how was tonight any different than if i’d been born a child of the 60’s and gotten here through a more natural twist of fate?”
Time is obstinate — it can twist and contort, but ultimately remains constant in a relative state of mind. On this particular hazy post liberty influenced weekend, as the Chicago heat toned down from triple digits outside, inside the Park West Theater Dark Star Orchestra did their best to raise the temperature by recreating one helluva Grateful Dead set whose original audience experienced during a time and space at the Auditorium Theater on 5/13/77.
One could contend the spring of ’77 is arguably one of the best runs to be a Deadhead and if you looked around the venue last Saturday and judged by who was onstage and in the audience you might have surely thought you stepped into a wormhole that transported you back 35 years to that golden era. This particular show saw the band perform the very first “Jack-A-Roe” and had a wonderfully rare first set close with “Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain.”
Those who tell me they don’t like seeing bands that only cover one specific group with no original tunes have their right to an opinion. But imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, why wouldn’t you want to close your eyes and let your mind expand on a cosmic journey from one of the legendary groups that influenced thousands? Oh and who, by the way, changed the course of history along the way creating an entire genre. You’d have to be on a close minded ship of fools to believe you couldn’t enjoy DSO even one tiny iota.
The likeness both in playing style and appearance is palpable. During “Cassidy” the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It didn’t matter that it was Jeff Mattson and not Jerry Garcia to me onstage because this was my reality — not 1977 Dave. Besides I would like to think Jerry would like his music to live on through such a dedicated group of musicians. A Deadhead is the harshest critic when it comes to judging an audible incarnation of a legend. The artistry and skill in one’s craft needed to be able to pull off such a feat is beyond comprehension. Not one person dancing and whirling in the crowd that night knew or cared. Original hippies and neo-hippie clad youth all shouted the chorus to “Goin Down The Road Feeling Bad” with the same exuberance.
Lisa Mackey, who plays the role of Donna Jean Godchaux, returned from a brief hiatus for the bands Colorado stint. She donned her trademark headphones, spun, and whirled, lending vocals to “Stella Blue.” Later as the set closed she provided a treat on harmonica for “Next Time You See Me.”
The highlight of the show, chalked full of classics as it was, however was “The Other One” jam. Coming out of “Drums” people exploded when Rob belted out the first verse nearly 13 minutes after the song began. The past run in Chicago had DSO playing the Vic which while having a larger capacity room diminishes the intimacy factor slightly. Park West was perfectly suited to cater to a crowd that appreciated the musicianship more than the ability to consume. The high domed ceiling where the disco ball hung allowed for those with laser pointers to add to the spacey spectacle. Past and present collided and for one more Saturday night in one of the best Grateful Dead cover bands 1900+ shows it harmonized to perfection.
It was appropriate given it was Father’s Day this past Sunday that Bruce Hornsby was playing Park West. After all he’s a father of two and one of the guiding patriarchal figures of modern classical piano. The intimate venue located a stones throw from Lake Michigan created the perfect environment for he and the Noisemakers to collectively strut their stuff along side special guest Van Ghost whose been opening during this leg of the tour. Van Ghost, who hail from Chicago boasts a lively horn section with Jennifer Hartswick (vocals, trumpet) being featured prominently on most songs. “Simplify”, a new song, was a synch based ballad with a nicely positioned guitar solo to which the talented Trey Anastasio Band female vocalist enhanced a wonderfully composed piece. Van Ghost plays North Coast Music Festival later this summer.
SETLIST: Great Divide, Stander on the Mountain, Circus on the Moon, This Too Shall Pass, Across the River, The Good Life*, Prairie Dog Town*, Jack Of Diamonds* > Valley Road*, Pete and Manny > Scarlet Begonias, Mandolin Rain > That Would Be Something, (Time Machine Sounds) > The Way It Is, Tango King, Big Rock Candy Mountain Run > Candy Mountain Run. Encore: Swan Song
* denotes on dulcimer.
Bruce started the evening with a quiet melodic freestyle piece that burst into “Great Divide” with the pianist trading solo’s with drummer Sonny Emory. Effortlessly in between songs Hornsby mused to the crowd about the Captain Beefheart tour days of keyboardist JT Thomas, as well as stories of songs he penned about his son’s youth. He is quite the weaver of words these days. He’ll scat warming up his vocal chords stretching to stand and admire a crowd that spans generations. In addition to touring life with the Noisemaker’s he’s involved with a number of projects including writing music for an upcoming Spike Lee movie Red Hook Summer, writing a theatrical soundtrack for a performance called Sick Bastard, and playing with old Grateful Dead friend Bob Weir at the All Good Music Festival. Bruce appears at ease on stage and like any good storyteller from those days takes the scenic route in explaining himself and giving the fans a unique listening experience. Reminiscing about the Grammy he won with Branford Marsalis for “Barcelona Mona” he jokes about how he won by default due to the powers that be “not wanting Kenny G to win.” He took turns on piano, dulcimer, and accordion at many points sitting just a nose away from the audience. He has mentioned he prefers venues with 1000-3000 seats as oppose to larger arenas on account the acoustics can be heard by all listeners instead of sound being lost to those in the back. Performance is paramount to Hornsby and though he is relaxed during his performance does not discount him being one of the best at performing razor sharp musicianship and playing to those present. He responds to fans in the audience with the coolness of a stand up comedian fielding a heckler. He spins one fans shout into every fans moment in a way some cannot achieve.
Hola fellow SCampers!!!
As we approach the weekend we have all been anxiously waiting for, I wanted to take a minute and give you guys a better idea of who I am and what I am going to bring to Summer Camp this year. First and foremost I want to introduce you to the people I am coming to SC with; two of the main people who you will see in my vblogs are dear, close friends of mine who actually introduced me to Summer Camp six years ago and have been there with me every year since, Derrick Lawless and Steve Bannister. Two super chill, awesome people who I met in college and am proud to say will be a part of my life for the rest of it. Come Summer Camp 2050 we will be there rockin’ it out like ever before. There are other friends of mine who are coming, Matt Weiler, Brian Buss, Christina Fountain, and Jake Kuykendall, (if you meet anyone of them, buy them a drink!) most of them are also friends from college who share the love for good music and good times.
One of the reasons that Summer Camp is the ULTIMATE most AMAZING festival is the line up. Every year I think to myself “man there’s no way this year’s line up is going to be as killer as last year’s” and every time I am proven wrong. I not only get to see the bands I already love and follow throughout the year; but there are always so many new bands that I fall in love with.
Some of this year the sets that I am looking forward to seeing for the first time are Gigantic Underground Conspiracy; an awesome compilation of artists from several bands who are sure to put on some jams you most certainly don’t want to miss. Tedeschi Trucks Band, I have always wanted to check them out and for some reason or another have never gotten the chance, with that kind of talent I know it’ll be an amazing show. Sun Stereo a sweet local Champaign-Urbana band with a distinct and fresh jazzy-rock feel, check them out in advance on facebook.
The bands that I have seen many a time before but cannot wait to check out are Lotus, went to their Halloween weekend show in Pittsburgh, PA this past year and it was out of this world good, if you haven’t checked them out – seriously it’s a show you don’t want to miss. Eoto is probably one of the bands I enjoy seeing live the most – they NEVER disappoint and manage to keep every show super fresh. Lastly can we say Talking Heads cover band? This Must be the Band is definitely one of those I gotta check out, can I put a request in? Let’s hear the Talking Heads song your band is named after =)
Alright so I have limited space and limited time and there are tons of bands I am dying to check out (like two bands not mentioned above who are among my all time favorite bands and who I get to see every year 3 days in a row ONLY at Summer Camp? that’s right…moe. and Umphrey’s), but I can’t talk about them all. So to let you know more about myself, I grew up on the Beatles, it led the way to harder rock and then jazz, such as Zeppelin and Dave Brubeck, and from there evolved further to include jam and electronic rock. I appreciate all artistry and talent, but I have a soft heart for drummers as I like to pretend I know how to jam on my used Evans drum set. I love Summer Camp for various reasons, but one of the main ones is that it was the first music festival of my life. Music has always had such an influential role in the essence of my being and there is no other festival that I feel as in touch with the tunes I love as SC. This is not your impersonal mob fest, you come to Summer Camp once and you feel like part of an extremely, extremely, large family forever.
On that note, for you first timers let me tell you some of the things I make sure to pack. For all you ladies, TP is a MUST. As glorious an experience as port-a-potties are, most of them run out of toilet paper and the best thing to do is be prepared, bring some and put a few squares (can you spare a square?) in your pocket. Next bring some trash bags, it is a privilege to use Three Sisters Park and we need to be responsible, have plenty of trash bags not just for garbage, but you never know what the weather could bring and you’d be surprised how dry one of those can keep you. Glow sticks are essential, not only do they add to the beautiful sea of lights at night on the main stage but they provide a great atmosphere for campsite hangouts. With all the great shows playing all the time, you are destined to catch some day shows and when the sun is strong some sun screen is essential! I have seen way too many people painfully red from neglecting to get their rub down, so SPF 50 it is! Finally, make sure to bring your crazy. This is a once in a lifetime experience to let go of everything that ties you down and let your true inner-self soar, so bring a happy spirit and leave your worries at home!
As your Summer Camp counselor I want you all to seek me out, let me make this your best Summer Camp yet. I want encompass the sweetness that is Summer Camp, and the only way I can do that is with your help. You fans are what keep SC alive and I want to show how we bridge the gap between the fans and the bands. Summer Camp is so much more that just music. It is about you living life; lets celebrate it.
I am going to promote some special Summer Camp spirit; my fellow moe.rons and I will be awarding fellow scampers that show special spirit throughout the festival. For example we will award the sweetest campsite, the person with the wildest outfit, the dude/dudette with the most innovative accessory or the neatest jam shout, and many many more; so let us join together and make this year the best Summer Camp EVER woop woop!!
SCampers for life!
Summer Camp Counselor Maria
Hey! It’s your Summer Camp CIT Taraleigh here and I had a blast at Moe. in Burlington, VT. Check out some of the photos my good friend Josh Talbert captured of the band. They are sick! I also caught some video of the band rocking out and my reaction to the show at set break. Check it out:)
Here are some quotes from some huge Moe.rons about the show.
“Those dudes are nasty. That is all I can ever say about Moe.” Jaq
“Vermont is normally cold, but tonight it’s hot.” Me:)
“Hit after hit after hit and old school jams. I can’t wait for the second set.” Russ Mead
“Are they going to play Timmy Tucker with Al on Mandolin?”
“Um yeah. It’s Moe. They can do whatever they want except that Al just switched to guitar. That Moe. is full of surprises.”
“The show was sold out yet everyone who wanted to be here is. We are all lucky to be treated such excellence.” Me:)
Although Railroad Earth has only graced the Summer Camp bill in 2010 they are still part of the family. They have a dedicated fanbase and are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the scene. For the second time in two years, I headed down to the Ogden to catch Railroad Earth for a night of their New Year’s run. Last year I saw them with Great American Taxi on NYE. This year I headed down on the 30th mainly because the show included a sit-in with Kyle Hollingsworth, another Summer Camp alumni. Including my trip to Chicago, this would be the fifth time in a month seeing Kyle live. Amy picked me up from work and we headed out to a nice sushi dinner before heading over to the box office. We hit up Pete’s Monkey Bar to catch a bit of the Phish live stream from MSG before walking back to The Ogden to see the opening act.
Railroad Earth came onto the stage around 9:30 PM. Kyle’s keys were set up but he waited a few numbers before making his way to his rig. They opened with a funky Walk Beside Me, led by Andrew Altman on electric bass. Here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: Walk Beside Me, Lordy, Lordy, Bread and Water, Little Bit O’ Me, Stillwater Getaway, The Hunting Song, Mourning Flies, Said What You Mean, Long Way To Go
SET II: Old Man and the Land, Head> Will it Go Round in Circles, Bringin’ My Baby Back Home, The Forecast> The Man Who Invented Sin> Mighty River> Like a Buddha, Elko
Encore: I’ve Just Seen a Face, Bird in a House
Note: Kyle joined on The Hunting Song and stayed for the remainder of the show.
The audience recording is available on ARCHIVE, thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting.
The first stet ebbed and flowed as far as the energy level was concerned. The 16 and up age limit made for an interesting mix in the crowd. From screaming x-handed noobs to old deadheads, the fanbase was as diverse as the music performed. The rolling and tumbling Lordy, Lordy got everyone’s juices flowing. The Bread and Water succeeded keeping the vibe at a fever pitch before the Little Bit O’ Me deflated the room a bit. Musically, Railroad Earth sounded as tight as I’ve seen them, but without the urgency of their opening set at Red Rocks this summer. They meandered into the show with a confidence and comfort often reserved for night two of three-night runs. Carbone played the fiddle beautifully on Stillwater Getaway, jumping back and forth between an almost symphonic presentation and an outright hoedown. Kyle Hollingsworth took his place at the keys on The Hunting Song. Kyle added the ragtime feel of an old-timey saloon. Inherently there are certain gaps in RRE’s sound; them being a Newgrass band, Kyle’s keys filled them in nicely. It was great to see Andrew Altman really stepping it up on bass. He alternated between electric and standup and really seemed to be finding his footing in the band. I was also truly impressed with Sheaffer’s vocals, which went from clean and crisp to almost Dylanesque as in Said What You Mean. They closed the set with a raucous sing-along on Long Way To Go.
The second set overall had a much more consistent flow and vibe. Railroad eased into set two with a bouncy and scenic Old Man and the Land before ripping into a massive 18 minute Head. The jamming showed some serious tightness and ability from all of the members including Kyle. Everyone was ready to lock in and take the ride. They ripped into a Kyle-led version of Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round in Circles. The haunting melody of The Forecast segued into the instrumental The Man Who Invented Sin. The Mighty River went quickly before RRE exploded into a powerful Like A Buddha. Againg clocking in at over 18 minutes this was by far the highlight of the entire show. They closed the second set with an equally strong Elko. It was like the band just turned on the turbo boosters on the last four songs of the show.
They encored with a quick I’ve Just Seen a Face and fun Bird in a House. The crowd left happy and energized from this stellar show. While the first set came on slower, the second set, particularly the end, more than made up for it. As we exited into the cold night of Denver we were stoked on the whole experience. Railroad Earth has a habit of performing remarkably. They have such a strong fanbase and have continued to play exceptional shows out on the Front Range, that I see nothing but good things for them. I was happy to catch a night of RRE’s New Year’s run and would recommend that everyone do the same. However, it was time to head home because I opted to see The Motet and Euforquestra for New Year’s Eve in Fort Collins. That would prove to be another solid choice.
Cornmeal decided to make yet another pilgrimage to the great state of Colorado before 2011 wound its way down the drain of life. They were doing a two night run hitting The Aggie and The Fox before gearing up for their December run on the east coast. I got a chance to sit down with Wavy Dave and Chris Gangi from Cornmeal before the show. It was a great conversation about everything from their new release of Live In Chicago Volume 2 and their upcoming studio album to Summer Camp and New Year’s runs. It was an enlightening talk and we will be featuring some our conversation in video form as well as on our MusicMarauders Live podcast next month.
Magic Beans, who currently call Boulder their home, are an eclectic mix of all things jam. I listened to some of their tracks online before the show and I was struck by their prowess with acoustic songs. At the Aggie, it was immediately apparent that they were young. They had solid musicianship, but other than their Rocky Top opener, they seemed to stray away from the sound that had drawn me to them in the first place. I will say that their second song, Band Camp, was like a washing machine full of jam on the spin cycle. It was a fifteen-minute opus that showed the wide variety of their skills. They ended their set with some Bisco sounding playing that, given the fact that they were opening for Cornmeal, seemed a bit out of place. Given the fact of their age, I was impressed with their musicianship and I look forward to seeing them evolve as a group. With a little more focus, they could powerful force on the jam circuit.
Cornmeal took the Aggie stage around 10:45 PM and jumped into a high-energy hoedown that was like watching a bluegrass volcano erupt before my eyes. Cornmeal always brings the heat in Colorado. Something about the altitude or the water out here just inspires them musically. They have become so well known out here as a band that always delivers live that they usually draw quite the crowd. A decent audience was in attendance for a Thursday night show in Fort Collins. They opted for one long set playing almost two and a half hours rather than breaking it up. Allie shredded the violin like a female bluegrass version of Hendrix. Wavy Davy showed some of his skills on the banjo and he nailed some back and fort between himself and Kris. Highlights from the show included a very nice Out Here On My Own and a Magic Stone Mountain that would get even the most jaded fan dancing in the aisle. As they were about to wrap up the set they surprised the crowd with a beautiful version of John Lennon’s Watching The Wheels.
They encored with a huge This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by the Talking Heads and Townes Van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues. It was a great close to an amazing show from Cornmeal. They bring so much to their live shows by creating a palpable energy in any room they play, and upping the ante for any other jamgrass band touring today. They are a fearless group that, through their twelve plus years of playing together, have become so comfortable in that they are willing to take chances and push it to the limit. Their show at the Aggie was no exception and I will continue to look forward to their regular visits to Colorado.
Kyle Hollingsworth has a great relationship with Summer Camp. He came this year and along with Adam from Family Groove Company hosted a home brewing class on site. So it was interesting to have both on hand for this event. Having been to the first two Brew Fests hosted by Kyle Hollingsworth I knew I couldn’t miss the third in Chicago. Family Groove Company has played a total of 8 Summer Camps slowly working their way up the lineup.
This was the finale to Kyle’s Hop On Tour, which began at the pair of KHB shows out on the Front Range. It all benefitted Boulder based nonprofit Conscious Alliance. He had been giving out golden tickets in posters throughout the tour for an opportunity to share a beer with Kyle at setbreak. As well as hosting meet and greets at breweries around the country. This was a chance for everyone to get in on the fun. We arrived and took in the layout. It was a decent sized room and the fest featured twelve craft breweries including Stone, Magic Hat, and my old hometown microbrewer Bent River.
The afternoon also included a two set show by local jam powerhouse Family Groove Company. FGC started the first with their classic brand of Janis fueled funk. They have an interesting integration of both instrumental songs and Jordan Wilkow lead jazzy numbers. I was impressed with their musicianship all around. I had seen them several times back in my college days but due to the fact that they rarely make it out to Colorado now it has been a while since I’ve caught them live so I’m a little rusty on their solo setlist. I can tell you that they straight jammed and brought a power and dynamic that turned the heads of the boozy patrons and quickly transformed the room into an all out dance party.
Kyle came to the keys as Jordan stepped down. Taking the lead Kyle opened up his portion of the show with a Taxman jam. Kyle is pretty much always in a good mood at his beer fests and today was no exception. He busted out his now classic Song In The Key of Beer and segued nicely into a rocked out version of Way That It Goes. It was an interesting change up from not only the KHB version but also what SCI has been doing with this song on the Roots Run Deep tour. Additional highlights included a funky version of Let’s Go Outside and a set-closing take on Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round In Circles. Kyle bid adieu as he obviously had places to be.
At setbreak I wandered over to check out Conscious Alliance’s silent auction. They had a ton of awesome gear on hand including signed posters, a Summer Camp running jacket, and an autographed copy of moe.’s Smash Hits CD.
Family Groove Company came out for another set as the room slowly cleared with kids that had gotten warmly drunk on the high ABV beer selections. They closed their show with a funked out Subterranean Homesick Blues. It was truly a fun afternoon, which again reaffirmed my belief that this is a not to be missed event. Whenever they offer up a chance at a Kyle’s Brew Fest I just jump on it because they are always such a blast. I would suggest that if one comes to venue near you, go. As we headed home to get ready for one more night of String Cheese we were left with warm feelings and happy thoughts. Thanks for yet another great event Kyle and Family Groove Company.