Inspiration takes many forms. What motivates one musician may tire and bore the next. While Lera Lynn and the Wood Brothers primary motivator surely is bringing heartfelt music to the masses, one thing they also share is a healthy obsession with whiskey. Whether the Lion’s Pride Rye helped whet the whistle of Ms. Lynn, or let’s Chris perform his interpretive dance moves any easier is for the audience to judge. However, a few things were laid on the line the day after Halloween when they played Chicago’s Lincoln Hall. Foremost, these performers formed for a 8 night tour in November a symbiotic relationship nary seen these days on a bill. They seemed to feed off the energy and genuine good nature which made what went down all that more special for those in attendance.
Lera Lynn set list: Happy Ever After, Comin’ Down,I’m Your Fool,Refrain,The Frey,Fly,You & Me Alone, Bobby, Baby, Standing on the Moon
Lera Lynn, the darling from Athens, GA can play her custom converted ’57 Kay acoustic like she sold a piece of her soul to a fiddle playing Beelzebub. Her slender frame hides a powerful voice that carried over the hushed crowd of four hundred respectful Chicagoan’s. There were no catcall’s, only appreciation for a throwback to a different era. One that is undoubtedly popular, but increasing removed from the radio scene which is a shame. June Carter, Patsy Cline, Lera Lynn? She is that talented and at the same time bashfully humble. She jested to the crowd what a treat it was to play with the Brothers Wood due to their unknowing grandeur and renown. Modest to a fault she sings about feelings larger than herself, but that have touched her profoundly in her short time on earth. The good one’s can pull a lyric from a simple chord much like a wizard in a Potter movie pulls a memory from the ear of a student at Hogwart’s.
Rocking back in forth in her high heeled boots and knee length dress she is comfortable engaging people and letting them see a glimpse. It could be the drinks ordered from her adoring fans sent stage side that loosens her lips, but she quickly finds a melody and like her journey to date elevates to echelons normally not expected to be heard from a potty mouthed bourbon drinking southerner. Yes, she curses like a sailor but where it could be thought crass on some for some reason it isn’t this night. The dichotomy in stage presence and song penmanship aside the women has a way about her and captures the ear and eye of all in the room as they gaze at a concoction of sassy sweet and sultry sounds. The name of her recent album “Have You Met Lera Lynn?” begs a worthy question. If not I suspect you will soon. Her cracked rear view mirror isn’t as omnipotent as Hootie’s, but her busted front windshield and tour with the Wood Brothers should make her a household name soon enough.
Wood Brothers set list: Sing About It, Up Above My Head, Atlas, Pay Attention, Twisted, Neon, Postcards From Hell, Spirit, Honey Jar, Fox On The Run, I Got Loaded, Mary Anna, One More Day, Glad, Down, Shoofly Pie. E: Luckiest Man, PYT (w/ Lera Lynn)
The Wood Brothers, Chris and Oliver, brought their soulful sibling harmonization as well as their shiutar player, Jano Rix, to the friendly confines of Lincoln Hall for the night. Although they now call New York and Atlanta their respective home these days their roots as well as instrumentation track back to growing up in Boulder. Bluesy folk goodness emanates from Chris’ upright bass as he tells the crowd that Chicago truly is his favorite town. There is Oliver jesting “there he goes”, but there’s an tone of honesty in his voice just like the music that makes even the most skeptical mind believe.
On “Postcards from Hell” lyrics tell of a bluesman who won’t flinch in the eye of temptation and plays his music for the necessities in life and sheer desire. The song epitomizes what I can only believe was a man the brothers came across in the travels and found in him a kindred spirit to which they could relate.
“You never heard a soul so pure and true
It’s flowin’ right out of his hands
He can sing sweet as a choir girl
Or he can sing a house on fire
I’ve seen him callin’ up the angels
And use a breeze for a telephone wire”
If the brothers are the personification of whiskey drinking angels then its the perfect juxtaposition to the openers “cursory” notes. Although you know its not as easy as it seems the chord progressions and time changes effortlessly synch perfectly like the brothers knew they were meant to travel the land spreading good music throughout.
If your faith is still undetermined then Oliver has some advice for you…give it “One More Day”. It’s during this ditty that he and Chris let loose during a solo portion and let the music take them as they take turns using their bass and guitar respectfully as dance partners. Chris straddles his upright as Oliver takes a solo and crouches down like the music is in his gut trying to get out and find a good home.
It’s clear that this is their congregation. During the encore they bring out a cover of ”Pretty Young Thing” performed aptly with the backing vocals of Lera Lynn complete with whiskey in tow. When these brothers were young they were prodigies in the company of mentors. Now that they are settling into life, but still young at heart, its apparent that like fine whiskey their music is getting better with age.
When the hardest working man in the Jam scene comes to town touting the Jimi Hendrix Experience one tends to tune in and listen. Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule have been doing “Mule-O-Ween” since 2007 and decided 2012 would be time to bust out a legend that wasn’t Mayan related. The Riviera Theater stage was adorned with Jackass-O-lanterns (pumpkins carved with mule designs) and there was that familiar smell of Halloween throughout the venue.
Gourds weren’t the only one’s dressed to impress with a large contingent of the crowd donning their midweek best which included Hans Solo, John Lennon, and Axel Rose as the notables. Some came straight from work with little fanfare for festive pagan rituals. But one thing they did come ready to devour is hearing sweet sounds from one southern gentlemen and his skillful guitar mastery.
The first set was a throwback to Gov’t Mule’s Summer Camp Moonshine stage set as they played “Fallen Down> The Other One Jam” complemented with the lyrics to the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”. “Thorazine Shuffle” off Dose (2001) was also a treat to here for long time Mule fans. Warren spoke to the crowd telling them they’d be right back in the holiday spirit. Time to reload the beverages…
One of the only musicians that could pull off the soulful voice of Hendrix and intricacies of his now groundbreaking style the second set was a collection of rare and famous Jimi classics. On “Little Wing” which Haynes pulled out for the last song of the encore he played a white Fender Strat which was strung upside down in the classic Jimi lefty style. Though the mega classics of “Fire” or “Voodoo Child” were absent, highlights from the evening included “Castles Made Of Sand, Stone Free” as well as the opener of “Are You Experienced” into “Freedom” complete with strobe lighting effects that were timed perfectly to the band coming onstage to a raucous frenzied fanfare. As I made my way to the exit I noticed more than a few Mule aficionados had passed out in their costume on tables. Somehow I feel Warren and Jimi would both approve.
Set One: Blind Man In The Dark, Wold Boss, Larger Than Life, Gameface , Fallen Down > The Other One Jam , Kind Of Bird , Captured, Thorazine Shuffle
Set Two: Hendrix Interview, EXP > Are You Experienced?, Freedom, One Rainy Wish, Up From The Skies, Crosstown Traffic, Bleeding Heart (Peoples, Peoples, Peoples), Angel, And The Gods Made Love, Castles Made Of Sand, Stone Free , Rainy Day, Dream Day/Still Raining, Still Dreaming , 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be) > Machine Gun > 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be), Axis (Bold As Love)
Encore: Happy Birthday Jam, Sco-Mule* , Little Wing
 Mountain Jam Teases
 Gimme Shelter Lyrics
 Get Up Stand Up, Wind Cries Mary Teases
 Third Stone From The Sun Tease
 with Chris Neal
 with Chris Neal, Smoke On The Water, Dance To The Music Lyrics
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.
Monday 10AM - Made it out of the tent graveyard post festival zombieland that was Chillicothe’s Three Sisters Park. Our neighbors must have partied too hard because they left a completely intact upright 15′ X 15′ enclosed canopy at their site. We provided the land with these tiki torches which were nice ambience, but rather unwieldy to transport back home. I heard a ton of stuff gets donated to local charities so i’m hoping they end up on some townies back porch next to a hammock or something.
Monday 3PM - Arrive home, immediately eat a large Chicago Bagel Authority bagel, shower for 40 minutes solid, and begin to sleep a ridiculous amount of time before unpacking the rest of our leftovers from SCamp. Inventory excess was had on tie-dye duct tape, and Armor vienna sausages (which we are planning to give away to some hungry soul at the next festival since they have the half life on par with Twinkies). Pay it forward with the sardines as well! Karma and brownie points or caramel brownie bites are all good.
Tuesday 1AM- My sleep schedule is all wonky so I write a bit about my groups Sunday fest activity and upload video blogs until I get tired again around 4AM. I remove the dirt that somehow escaped the 40 minute soap barrage earlier and it starts to hit me. Another year is in the books for Summer Camp. Some of us go back to the real world. Some of us go on to the next festival. However, for one brief weekend we were together celebrating our veterans as well as the fact we are able to be with dear friends and hear wonderfully crafted music.
As I reflect back on my first Summer Camp as a CIT I am thankful for the camaraderie shown by all my new friends. Maria Iriart, Abby Mager, Jason Harper, Mo Miller, Tiff Narron, and Alex Fornes are some good folk and despite life getting hectic we’ve all said we’re going to try and keep the band together for next year. Holly was a great Camp Director who was a blast to see do her thing flying all over the place. I was able to meet Jay Goldberg the first night on the way in and shake his hand and thank him for keeping such a great festival vibe and not letting it get out of hand. I’ll surely benefit from this experience simply by expanding my group of friends that share the love of Summer Camp.
For the past few years Summer Camp has fostered an amazing opportunity for local bands. It’s a chance to perform at the festival, called the On The Road tour. It’s like the minor league of Summer Camp literally feeding the fest with fresh talent. It’s a prospect for bands who could get overlooked to make a name for themselves and reach a wider audience at a national event. As Summer Camp continues to grow and cultivate a vibrant musical community they continue to be on the lookout for new bands that could be the next headliner. Last year Trichome took the honor and got to play with moe. bassist Rob Derhak at Summer Camp. Local bands perform in cities across the country and are voted on by concert attendees. The band with the most votes at the end of the night gets a set at Summer Camp. When the On The Road tour wound its way through Fort Collins, I headed down to Hodi’s to catch the show and cast my vote.
On the bill were Sun Squabi, Trichome, and The Magic Beans. Up first was Boulder electro-fusion group Sun Squabi. They were a mixture of organic playing and pre-produced electronic tracks, very much in the same vein as bands like Signal Path. They combined the electronic and the rock seamlessly, but I would say that their instrumentation fell into a minimalist realm at times relying heavily on their Macintosh computers to fill out their sound. Given their youth I was impressed with their passion and ability to mix, but the combination of their opening slot with the lack of early arrivers doomed them from the start.
Next up was the aforementioned Summer Camp alums Trichome. Brining a full horn section as well a large group of local followers, they set themselves up for a good show. They opened with a funky Hands Up, here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Hands Up, Down and Dirty, 1999, Sway, Strawberry
Trichome blends elements of funk, rock, jazz, and electronic as they whip their crowd into a frenzy of fun. Having seen them several times since Summer Camp last year, one thing I can say for sure is that they bring the energy every time they play. They tossed in a special version Prince’s 1999 that really set off their performance. They would have to wait until The Magic Beans finished to find out if they had done enough to win the slot at Summer Camp.
The Magic Beans hailing from Nederland, Colorado have been exciting crowds up and down the Front Range for the past couple years. I’ve had the enjoyment of seeing them several times. My main criticism of them is that at times they have failed to play to the crowd. However, everything was fair game tonight considering this was their opportunity to showcase their style of music. The Beans did their best to rally the troops bringing a bus up from Boulder full of fans. This show was by far their best outing I’ve seen. They focused on jamming and playing in sync and showed the crowd that they were in it to win it. Here is their setlist.
SET I: Jam> Zumbai> Lazer Lady, Mountain Sky*> Space Cadet**> Zumbai
**I Got Your Number Jam
The show basically became two long extended jams with them returning to Zumbai to close. I was very impressed and would say they left it all out on the stage and put forth a solid performance to win the spot.
In the end it was announced that Trichome pulled the win for the second year in a row and once again claimed a their place at Summer Camp Music Festival. The On The Road tour is just one more great thing Summer Camp does to spread the love and give nascent bands an opportunity. And I for one fully support it.