For those of you who travel, I’m gonna be starting this Thursday blog with Wednesday. I think we finally got the car packed up and we got on the road around 7:30 mountain time. Coming to Chillicothe from Colorado, well, now that I think of it, coming to Chillicothe from anywhere is not the most scenic of drives. Vast flat expanses, smells of poop, it can get pretty boring. Fortunately Kelly mentioned the “Swift” game…anyone who spots and calls out a Swift truck on the interstates gets a point…ties are half points, like sacks in the NFL. For some reason though, driving through the night, listening to music, we were all a little too excited to sleep and talked through most of the drive. As we approached Chillicothe, the weather went from bad to ok to not so good again, and when we got there, we could see what the weather days before had done. It was gonna be a mudfest…get your boots on.
We arrived around 12:30 and got through the ticket line relatively quickly, I was at my site and set up by about 3. The next couple hours were spent reacquainting myself with the grounds, deciding which food vendors I’d frequent, meeting up with friends as I walked the campsites, and ultimately I met all the other Counselors in Training. What an amazing group of kids. We all come to this festival from different parts of the country and from different occupations; it was no surprise that we had different music tastes. If you are into more of the rock and electronic stuff those are the bands I was seeing and who I’ll mostly be talking about…Anyway, we were debriefed by the amazing Holly Brinkman. If you know her, you know how much she does for Summer Camp and the CIT program. Thanks Holly for making this possible. After getting somewhat of an understanding of what I was supposed to be doing over the weekend (I’ve never “covered” an event before) I set out to see my first show.
Ali Baba’s Tahini was awesome. It was great to see where Jake got his start…well, that’s not true, but to see that band that ended up becoming a big part of Umphrey’s sound was very cool. It was kind of a playful rockabilly vibe to it with a lot of good grooves setting up Jake for some nice guitar work. The guy on keys was slaying and could hang with Jake musically. Overall they were a real fun band who I would definitely go see again. I was lucky enough to walk in on a Got Your Milk (Right Here) which I found to be pretty much the same as Umph plays it. I went back to my site for a minute after that to check in on the rest of my people (wolfpack) who’d be trickling in over the next day and a half. The site was almost ready to go. About 6 of our 13 were there, 3 canopies for the living room/kitchen, about 15 chairs, rope lights (there’s power in the forest…you just gotta find it). I really feel like this was one of our best set ups yet. We didn’t bring so much it was a pain to set up, didn’t bring too much food. Just lots of “soda” and “juice”…
Anyway, we set out to see Brainchild but made a quick stop to see Family Groove Company. Now, I went to the University of Illinois from 02-06 and I remember seeing FGC a lot. Those guys continue to play great show after great show and the stage they were on and the attendance they received was evidence of their continued efforts to be one of the hardest working bands out there. Always upbeat with a great rock feel I love the way FGC jams. If you know ‘em, you know what I know, if you don’t, you should. Down at the campfire stage (where the fire was yet to start, I presume due to the wetness) Roy Ponce, his mustache and Brainchild were destroying. Those guys can really play. And If you are into a sound that changes on a dime with great tension and release build ups, then Brainchild is for you. After Brainchild it was on to a little bit of Cornmeal. Allie is so stunning and such an amazing fiddle player, that, despite my general lack of interest in bluegrass and related genres, I rarely miss Cornmeal play. And you know what, every time I see them I enjoy them a little more. This time was no exception. I love the way they can bring their whole band to this central place that is darker and heavier and then through their jam build it up and out to a twang explosion…like I said, this is my first attempt at blogging to if some of the things I say are weird, well, I don’t know what I’m doing.
By this time, we needed to go back to the site again for one more recharge, we met up with about 5 more of the wolfpack, we drank some more “juice” and “soda” (got to stay hydrated) and we set out for the rest of the night. We made it back to the campfire around 10:15 and saw about 30 minutes of the Pimps of Joytime. Now I have known about these guys for a few years now, maybe 4 or so, and they are awesome. If you like a kind of new school electro funk with a lot of soul then you should have been at this show. Pimps of Joytime are always a fun time and a dance party, which was great to warm up for what we were to experience next.
The first Red Barn “late night” it was only 11:00pm, was one of my favorite bands at the festival, Digital Tape Machine. What an awesome show. I interviewed Marcus Rezak, guitar player for DTM and he was saying that they tried to base a lot of their music on the video games of our youths. Well they did not accomplish that because I felt like I was in the video games of the future. These guys are super talented musicians, with Joel and Kris from UM they pull a lot of attention. But the beats are amazing, super danceable and usually up-tempo and every once in a while they will throw in a neo classical guitar riff or even complete breakdown that makes you remember there’s people up there and they are ROCKING. I hear DTM could be gearing up to tour some in the next year or so, so be on the look out.
After having my hair blown back in the barn I stepped outside for a couple hours of some of the best stage banter you will ever hear, and the music ain’t bad either. 30db is Brendan Bayliss and Jeff Austin’s project that came together at a time that was really difficult for both of them. But from this shared time they created some awesome songs. They play them together like two guys happy to be beyond that stage in their lives often sharing a lot of whiskey as well, only increasing the hilarity of their aforementioned stage banter. What a great way to wind down the first night of the festival. I had been up for about 42 hours at this point and decided to head back to the site to crash. Like any experienced festival goer I brought my landing gear; put my “ear plugs” on and slid gently into sleep. Goodnight Summer Camp.
Counselor In Training
You know I look forward to Summer Camp from the day it ends until the final day it comes. That’s why this year I left home on Wednesday night to cure the anticipation that burned inside me. After a 6 hour drive with my boyfriend and our buddy we finally arrived to the magnificent grounds that host such an amazing experience, Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL. You know it wasn’t the drive that bothered me, or the arriving at about 5 in the morning, it was the getting denied to enter because of the rain flooding the parking lot that made that anticipation just grow. I’m not saying it upset me at all, the upsetting apart was Mother Nature, but hey when have we ever been able to control her. Anyhow, finally entering was awesome. I immediately jumped in line and began the 4 day weekend ahead of me. I got my tickets, found a sweet set up in the woods (when I say sweet I mean sweet, 10 tents filled with people, an upstairs, a downstairs, and a sitting room with 10 tapestries surrounding it and not to mention a sweet little lit up trail that attracted many fairies) and began to plan the excursion that would follow.
It was easy knowing what band I was most excited to see, Family Groove Company. All I can think about is how they threw down last year and how pumped I was too see it again this year, I mean after all it is pre party day so PARTYYYYY!!!!! Family Groove is one of those awesome bands that everyone knows and enjoys to see. I live in the heart of Wisconsin so we see almost no music what so ever, however, Family Groove comes to the not so far away Stevens Point and plays and ya know it just makes me giddy knowing great talent can still come even though we don’t have much to offer. Before I ramble on pointlessly, lets get into 30db. Not much more to say I know. I mean Umphrey’s Bayliss and Yonder’s Austin, whoa. Two of my all-time favorite bands come together and serenade us with their witty lyric and amazing string talents. You really can’t get much better than that. I don’t even think I can justify the amazingness of it all.
With Thursday being Pre Party day and all, you can go all out but take it easy so you survive the rest of the weekend. That’s why we did our shows and went back to camp for some R and R from our long travels and exhausting camp set up. This brings me to fairies. Oh those wonderful fairies started our weekend out just right. Catching fairies came easier to us then we had planned. A few friends were just recapping the day when all of a sudden 3 girls came stumbling in on out lit up path into what they called “fairy land”. You see we had a tarp on the ground at the time and that was covered in glow stick juices and of course looked sweet. Well these fairies were so pumped about it they started rolling around on the tarp caressing each other and in a sensual voice kept saying to each other, “you’re a fairy, now you’re a fairy, oh this is a wonderful fairy land” and on and on and on. The guys are at this point sitting here thinking they are about to get a show (as if this already wasn’t one) but the fairies then turned to the group realizing, hey there are actually people here. So one by one the fairies started to dub everyone present as fairies by rubbing the glows tick juice on the arms of the audience, hahaha but nothing was rubbing off, and proceeded to say “you’re a fairy, now you’re a fairy”. Now comes my favorite part, one of our buddies decided to mess with the fairies by picking up some bugles that fell on the ground and said “you guys want some fairy food?” naturally you would hope they were smarter than that but nope, they moseyed their way over to him, took the floor food and ate it like they were cattle in heaven with the fairy food cupped in their hands. Strolling off the fairies disappeared into the night and that was when everyone realized what a weekend this would be, one of a kind.
Counselor In Training
I flew into Chicago from San Francisco last night. It’s easy to forget how big most major cities are when you live in San Francisco – Chicago is huge! I met up with a gracious fellow activist I know in Chitown and was able to catch a good night’s sleep before being picked up around nine this morning by Summer Camp’s very own Holly Brinkman.
We were about 20 minutes away from entering the pearly gates of Three Sisters Park when a police cruiser pulls up behind us and starts flashing the blues and reds. Before we knew it, there were two cop cars parked behind the car. If you’re not brushed up on how to handle a police encounter, check out this new film by “Flex Your Rights called” 10 Rules for Dealing With Police. Anyway, despite us not having anything illegal in the car, the officers indicated that their dog had signaled for narcotics (either they were lying or their German shepherd needs more training!). They kept us waiting in the cold for about 20 minutes while they ripped the car apart and found nothing. Then they sent us on our way (and accidentally kept Holly’s driver’s license!). It was an interesting way to kick off my adventure. We saw at least five other vehicles pulled over and/or being searched over the next 20-minute ride.
After that, arriving safely at Summer Camp was even more glorious then I could have imagined. I grabbed my gear and after some poking around, found out where to go to get my VIP credentials. While waiting in line, the fun began. About 10 close friends, all traveling in different groups (some I haven’t seen since college in New Hampshire, others I know through work, and some I’ve met on the scene over the years) found me standing here. We talked shop about where we would be camping and who we wanted to see the most tonight. This was proof that I’m in the right place and this was going to be a killer weekend. I already knew what Summer Camp was about: music, friends and family.
After getting my wristband, I lugged my stuff to the VIP area, set up my tent and quickly made my way to the VIP bar. I’ll tell you one thing is for sure, the VIP bar is pimp. You get couches, discounted drinks, and they blasted killer soul and funk music all day and night. After my experience with that K9 unit, a 312 on draft while sitting on a plush couch in the middle of a field in Chillicothe, IL is just what I needed to calm down the nerves. I’m in the party zone now and there is no turning back. Let’s rock!
Counselor In Training
After flying into Chicago Tuesday night and driving down to my old homestead of the Quad Cities, Amy and I were picked up by some very dear friends and escorted the last leg to Chillicothe. We drove down Il 29 past militant looking State Patrol officers and a few unlucky souls who lost on their roll of the dice. We made it to the lot where we quickly parked and assessed the situation. In stark contrast to what we saw on the highway, local law enforcement were spending their off duty hours parking cars and bumming beers. I looked around. It had been 5 years since I was last at Summer Camp and the old girl looked well.
Besides the troves of people who had elected to arrive on Thursday the new layout of the festival was efficient and organized properly. We got into line and I made my way to the window where Arlan Goldberg greeted me. He took the honor of bestowing my wristband upon me rather ceremoniously. It was the first of many, many surreal and humbling moments that occurred throughout the weekend.
We made our way back to the car but because I was informed that I would be interviewing moe. around 2:30 p.m. I was anxious to get inside and get my tent set up. Originally I was going to be camping next the 312 Vibe Tent but because they had recently been granted a permit to have music until 4 a.m. this was not going to be a good option for my busy weekend. So I headed into the VIP entrance around 1 p.m. and found a spot on the trail to general camping. We were also able to procure a spot just down the way for the rest of my friends. I quickly set up the tent and met with Amy before heading backstage to meet moe.
There I met Skip (moe.’s tour manager) who let me know that the band’s flight had been rerouted to St. Louis and they were not expected on site until later in the evening. I thanked him and headed over to my campsite. Everything was well on its way at camp thanks to Amy and my friends. They worked hard to haul all our gear into the fest utilizing the Love Tractor (a giant off-road wagon recently purchased for just this festival.) Meanwhile it was time to meet Holly for the initial press meeting at The Church. I arrived and met various members of the press, many of which were incredibly helpful in my first foray into access and real coverage. Up until now all of my blogging has been totally independent. So I was and am very appreciative of the help I received from the jam press at Summer Camp.
I went out and quickly shot my first standup before heading back to The Church to meet with the rest of the CITs. I will say the initial meeting with my former competition was a little uneasy, but that soon passed and we were all fast friends. We divvied up the various events we wanted to cover over the course of the weekend. Anxious to go catch some music, I said my goodbye and made my way over to camp and before heading directly to Ali Baba’s Tahini. Now, I have wanted to hear these guys ever since I first learned they were regularly playing together again beginning a few years ago. They obviously don’t tour extensively so having them on the bill on Thursday was a real treat for me. And honestly they sounded like a band formed by Jake. It was like his raw gritty guitar times five.
Here is the setlist from their Facebook Page
SET: Strollin, Got Your Milk, Vegetables, Veil, Running Down A Dream*, Aramdillo, Zero, Poster Prose, Carnival Chronicles, Second, Bikes,
*Tom Petty Cover dedicated to Brendan Bayliss
The Got Your Milk along with the Cinninger’s Beatbox vs. Wavy Dave’s Mouth Harp breakdown were the real highlights of the set. Also the Petty cover was spot on. Overall I found the Ali Baba’s Tahini to be a fun way to get my feet wet at Summer Camp. Here is a video I took from the pit. http://youtu.be/7VrKkQI4gMI
I caught a little bit of Family Groove Company before heading back to camp. All along the way a person here or there would recognize me as the Summer Camp Counselor. I would chat randomly with people as I ventured from stage to stage and really this was a huge highlight of my weekend. When I arrived back to camp I took the last bit of daylight as opportunity to blow up the air mattress in my tent. After getting a bite to eat my whole group made our way to the Starshine Stage for some much needed Cornmeal. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Cornmeal grow into the ridiculous bluegrass powerhouse that they are today. Going all the way back to 2002’s performance at the 2nd Summer Camp where I first saw them, up to now where they blow away audiences across the country, Cornmeal has earned every fan. And I have to say Colorado loves them some Cornmeal. They played a great set and really got the crowd energized for the long haul ahead. I am and continue to be impressed with how far they have come as a band.
Last but not least on the agenda was 30db. Now I guess I was spoiled when 30db played The Fox in Boulder because the lineup included Nick Forster, Eric Thorin, and Cody Dickinson. But honestly I could watch Austin and Bayliss go back and forth all day. They are like kindred spirits and they definitely enjoy playing together. That kind of dynamic is infectious. They got the crowd buzzing with a long soundcheck where they basically tried to get the crowd to curse their bandmate. Finally after a short break they came back and acoustically melted faces. The highlight of the set was a cover of Wilico’s Handshake Drugs. It was a totally unexpected and a pretty interesting choice of cover. Here is a video I took from the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSwt33bl9kU&feature=youtu.be
So all in all it was a pretty productive and fun first day. Thanks to Amy and my crew for getting camp set up and schlepping gear. You guys are awesome and you helped me out immensely. Around 2 a.m. at the end of 30db I made my way back to my tent and fell tried to fall asleep. I was pretty excited for what was about to unfold over the course of the next three days so that was a challenge.
I am extremely honored to be a Counselor in Training and I have all of the fans of Summer Camp to thank for that. I am so grateful for all of you and I can’t wait to party down Memorial Day Weekend with some of the coolest people
in the world. For my first blog, I was asked to share what why I am excited for Summer Camp, so I decided to make a top ten list. Here it is!!! Woohoo!
10. It is Courtney’s (my Summer Camp date) birthday on Friday and I’m
excited I get to celebrate with her at Summer Camp!
9. The Thursday night pre-party
8. Participate in some of the workshops and learn something new
7. Late night shows
6. I love meeting new people and making new friends. I know I’ll make some
life time friends with this group
5. Huey Lewis!!! He is one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait to
rock out to the *I Want a New Drug!*
4. To kick butt on the Blue Team for field day
3. The music
2. Learn all about all of the cool things Summer Camp does to be more green
1. I’ve never been to Summer Camp and I can’t wait to experience it
Seriously! How lucky are we to attend the most fabulous, rockin, special camp in the world.
See you there!!!!
Summer Camp Counselor In Training (CIT)