A week into the new year, it’s time to look ahead to all of the musical excitement that this year has to offer. But first, it’s always fun to reflect back on the year I just had…
After 2012, I had been to 105 total concerts – which isn’t too many, I know – but considering I’ve been an athlete my entire life I have other priorities that take precedence over live music! 2013, however, was a milestone year for me in music as I fortunate enough to attend 45 shows, nearly twice as many as I saw in 2012. A lot of this is due to my first ever attendance of a camping festival (Summer Camp), and then of course my annual celebrations at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Let’s start with…
The Most Frequent Bands I Saw in 2013
Roster McCabe – 9 shows: I’ve written extensively about this band (now known as Night Phoenix) before, so this is nothing new. The Midwest “electro-rock” tours heavily throughout the year and I was able to catch them 9 times, putting my career tally at 20 Roster McCabe shows.
Umphrey’s McGee – 4 shows: No surprise here – my first UM show occurred in 2004 when I was just 12 years old. In 2013 I was at all 3 Scamp shows and also their set at Summerfest, making it 4 on the year. I have seen the improg group at least once every year since ’07.
Michael Franti & Spearhead – 2 shows: My favorite feel good musical choice, Michael Franti & Spearhead rolled through the Midwest in 2013 in support of his latest album, All People. I caught the “rebel rocker” at the Minneapolis State Fair in late August and about a month later in Madison with Moon Taxi.
Nahko & Medicine for the People – 2 shows: I had never heard of this band until about a week before they showed up in La Crosse, WI for a show at my favorite bar The Popcorn Tavern, which was a memory I’ll write about further down the page. A similar sound to Michael Franti and Matisyahu, Nahko just has a radiance of good vibes glowing off him that the rest of the band and crowd feeds off of.
Other notable acts: Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Moon Taxi, moe., Victor Wooten & Friends, Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler, Dark Star Orchestra, 311, EMEFE, Steez, and Dark Star Orchestra covering The Rolling Stones.
My Top 5 Shows of 2013:
Of the 9 shows I saw Roster McCabe perform in 2013, why this one? Perhaps because it was only one set, which means it was a straight up dance party. Also, this was on Thursday at Summer Camp – the pre-party – so it was just a great way to set the tone for the entire weekend. The Camping Stage was a great spot right on the outskirts of the woods to draw in all the campers – and everyone LOVED it! The crowd didn’t stop moving through the entire – most of them unaware of Roster – but loved discovering a new band to get down to. They closed the set with a cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky that turned into a frenzy.
4) Umphrey’s McGee, 2013-07-02 Summerfest – Big Backyard
So many great things about this show. My hometown, in the front row with all my friends, Kevin Sinclair sit-in, Pink Floyd cover, 4 song encore (!!!) that included rarity Dear Lord, this show is a must download!
3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 2013-06-28 Summerfest – Marcus Amphitheater
This was my 6th Tom Petty show, and possibly my last. A sell-out crowd at the Amp sang along with all the hits and had great energy, as always. Petty loves Milwaukee, he makes that very clear every time he comes (all 6 times I’ve seen him came at Summerfest) and even showed a surprising amount of improv jams in a couple songs!
2) Trey Anastasio Band, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Sunshine Stage
This would be #1 if not for the unfortunate fact that the show was cut short. Due to the extreme rainstorm. But wow. This was my most listened to show of the year by far. I can’t imagine a better band to make such miserable weather conditions tolerable.
1) Everyone Orchestra, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Red Barn
The lineup included Victor Wooten, Joel Cummins, Al Schnier, Vinnie Amico, Allie Kral, Alex Steele, Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier and a few other I can’t remember, all conducted my Matt Butler. This show just completely blew my away from start to finish. 100% improv! What else could you ask for from an all-star lineup?!
Conclusion and Looking Towards 2014
The only regret I have from 2013 is that I didn’t get to see my all time favorite band, Phish. I had tickets for all 3 nights in Chicago but unfortunately it didn’t work out with some other things that popped up. I have a good feeling they’ll return to Alpine Valley for 2 nights this summer though!
2014 will be a great year. Of course Summer Camp already has an amazing lineup announced and it will only get better. Particle reunited and is on a heavy tour for 2014 – don’t miss out on these guys! One of the founding bands of the electronic jam scene next to the Disco Biscuits and STS9.
Happy new year, and see ya on the road!
I’m sure by now you have seen the initial line up for Summer Camp 2014 (which, by the way, features just a FRACTION of the over 75 bands that will play). For me, just knowing moe. and Umphrey’s will be there every year is enough, but let’s take a closer look at all of the other awesome artists that will be raging into Three Sisters Park this May!
I will never forget the first time I saw Bassnectar live. It was an experience for sure. The craziest part of seeing him that night; it was right after Furthur played. So after seeing Furthur’s epic performance, going into something like Bassnectar literally blew people away. I remember going into a Porta Potty right next to the stage and it was literally moving with the bass. I have seen Bassnectar (Lorin Ashton ) countless times since and I had a blast every single time.
Lorin’s stage energy is great and his production set up is always top notch. Bassnectar for me is one of those acts that are meant for a festival. Sure, he’s fun in a club setting, but raging with thousands of people at Summer Camp is going to be a night to remember.
Check out when Bassnectar killed it at Summer Camp in 2010:
Bassnectar fun fact: When starting out, Lorin’s stage name was DJ Lorin. He released his first album in 2001, and it wasn’t until 2002 that he founded his stage name, Bassnectar.
Trey Anastasio Band
If you were at Summer Camp 2013, I’m sure Trey Anastasio Band was on your wish list to return this year! I don’t like letting the weather ruin my fun, so I still (along mannnny others) got down to Trey on Sunday of Summer Camp 2013, and i’m sure he’ll pick up right where he left off this last year! I’m so extremely excited! For those that don’t know, Trey Anastasio is Phish’s lead guitarist and vocalist.
Trey Anastasio’s Band is made up of Russ Lawton on drums, Tony Markellis on bass, Cyro Baptista on percussion, Ray Paczkowski on keys, Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet and vocals, Natalie Cressman on trombone and vocals, and of course, Trey Anastasio on guitar and vocals! One of my personal favorite songs is “Architect”. This team of amazing musicians is one not to be missed.
Trey Anastasio Band fun fact: Trey Anastasio Band first made their debut in 1998. What started off with only 3 members has grown into the wide range sounds of what TAB ( Trey Anastasio Band for short ) is today.
Primus is one of the most unique acts of any band I have seen. Part of that for me is the vocals and talent of bassist / vocalist Les Claypool. The rest of Primus is made up of guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander.
Although I have been listening to Primus for a long time, it wasn’t until 2010 that I had my first chance to catch them live. When the lights dimmed and the mysterious intro music started, I grinned a large smile and I knew I was in for a treat. What I actually saw throughout their whole set was something I have never seen before in a live act. Les Claypool is a very interactive vocalist. In between many of their songs, he goes on a hysterical banter with his interesting voice. Normally I can do without artists talking in between songs, but I actually embrace it! Many people that witnessed Primus at Summer Camp in 2012 claim it to be one of the most epic sets. Well, they are ready to party it back up at Summer Camp this year, and I for one am smiling ear to ear once again!
Check out Primus live when Bob Weir sat in from Summer Camp 2012:
Primus fun fact: Primus has a catchphrase, being “Primus sucks!”. When fans say this, it often confuses new listeners. In 2011, Les did say that he got tired of fans saying it.
Yonder Mountain String Band
YEEEEHAAAWWWW! Yonder Mountain String Band. YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND! Seriously, I NEVER get tired of seeing these guys live. They are what got me into bluegrass. It’s hard to explain to people that aren’t familiar with these guys, or bluegrass in general, how hard they rage live. Their foot stomping fun is comprised of Jeff Austin on mandolin and vocals, Ben Kaufmann on bass and vocals, Dave Johnston on banjo and vocals, and Adam Aijala on guitar and vocals. I’m not sure if it’s because of the lack of drums in the band (and I don’t say that in a negative way, I love it), but the way the audience dances at a Yonder show is awesome. It’s almost as if everyone dances as the drummer keeping the beat.
Seeing Yonder this past year at Summer Camp two times was a very cool. My favorite of the two was their barn set. If you were one of the lucky ones to see them perform in the barn Friday night, you know how special it was. Especially late night ( although seeing them around 6 PM with a full sun is awesome ). I can’t wait to see what the guys bring to the stage this year at Summer Camp.
Check out this video of Yonder late night in the Red Barn at Summer Camp 2013:
Yonder Mountain String Band fun fact: When Dave Johnston and Jeff Austin first met, Dave asked Jeff to join and sing in his band, The Bluegrassholes. It was then that Jeff revealed he had a mandolin, and Dave said bring it along; “just play it fast and loud!”
Lotus. LOTUS. LOTTTTUSSSS! I’m pretty sure that’s what muttered out of my mouth when I saw they were on this years line up. Lotus has and always will hold a special place in my heart. I have seen these guys so many times I have lost count, and I have never seen a bad set by them!
Lotus is made up of Mike Rempel on guitar, Jesse Miller on bass and sampler, Mike Greenfield on drums, Luke Miller on guitar and keyboards, and Chuck Morris on percussion.
I think what I love most about Lotus is the way that they build up their sets until your face is officially melted off. I’m not kidding either. When they get into their epic jams, I loose my mind. The whole audience is connected into the band, and the band into the audience and everyone is just feeding off each others energy. Not only are these guys amazing musicians, but if you ever get the chance to speak with these guys, they are very down to earth. For me personally, Lotus at Summer Camp is what’s on my mind. I will be seeing them perform multiple times in between then, but nothing is better then Lotus raging Summer Camp!
Check out this video of Lotus playing “Backlight Sunflare” at Summer Camp 2011:
Lotus fun fact: Jesse and Luke Miller are brothers. Also, Lotus has done many themed shows. On October 31, 2008 at the TLA in Philadelphia the show was billed as “Live Fast Die Young: the 27 Conspiracy”. Each of the 5 members dressed as a rock star who died at the age of 27 (Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Pigpen, and Jim Morrison) and the show featured covers by each of the respective bands.
Comprised of String Cheese Incidents Michael Travis and Jason Hann, these dudes know how to bring the energy! What really sets EOTO apart from other electronic artists is their music is created without prerecorded loops! It’s all improv, and all loops are created right then and there! Onstage, they use Abelton live as their primary software for looping. Every time I have seen EOTO has been a much different.. not in bad way! Their stage set up is called the Lotus Flower and utilized 3D mapping to project really cool art work on to the set up.
EOTO fun fact: EOTO originally started out as End Of Time Observatory, with the members often calling themselves EOTO. Many Japanese fans explained EOTO means “good sound” in Japanese, and the band decided to officially stick with the name EOTO instead.
Keller Williams is a “one man jam band” hailing from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Using loop recording, his live shows mimic a full four piece act on stage. If you close your eyes at one of his shows, you often forget there is only one guy up there making music. It takes a lot of talent to do what he does, and he does it very well at that!
Keller uniquely blends bluegrass, folk, rock, reggae, electronica, jazz, and funk all together into an epic dance party. Keller often plays Grateful Dead songs which is always a plus in my book! I was able to catch a couple songs when he played as Keller Williams with More Than a Little right before Umphrey’s on Friday Night this past Summer Camp. It was so good!
Keller Williams fun fact: Keller Williams never took any lessons. He is a self taught musician!
The funkiest group returns to Summer Camp! If you have seen them perform before, then I know how happy you are that they are returning on the line up! They were so amazing at Summer Camp this past year as they funkified the Moonshine stage! About half way into their set, it started raining pretty good, but it felt so right in that moment and time! Everyone got crazier and really started dancing around like wild animals!
Lettuce is made up of Eric Krasno on guitar, Adam Smirnoff on guitar, Neal Evans on keys, Adam Deitch on drums, Erick Coomes on bass, Sam Kininger on sax, Ryan Zoidis on sax, and Nigel Hall on vocals. All of these guys are so talented! They have all found success in other acts as well, all touring in different groups around the world when not playing with Lettuce. They are an act to NOT miss when Summer Camp arrives!
Lettuce fun fact: In the fall of 1994, the band reconvened as undergrads at Berklee and attempted to play at various Boston jazz clubs, walking in and asking the club owners and other musicians if they would “let us play”, giving birth to the name Lettuce.
Beats Antique is an American experimental world fusion and electronic music group. They were formed in California in 2007. I like to heavily emphasize the world fusion part… If you have seen them or at least even heard their music, you understand what I’m referring to. Their shows are so outrageously unique! Made up of David Satori, Zoe Jakes, and Tommy Cappel, Beats Antique is another act I recommend checking out! Their shows somehow remind me of a Cirque de soleil show. They feature belly dancing and many different characters/costumes dancing about.
Beats Antique fun fact:
Zoe Jakes began belly dancing in 2000, but is a lifelong dancer, having 10 years of jazz and ballet dance experience under her belt. Her belly dancing is a blend of traditional belly dance with tango, popping, and indian dance.
Hailing from Chicago, Future Rock combines elements of Electronica, Progressive House, and dance rock. The band consists of Felix Moreno on bass guitar and synthesizer, Mickey Kellerman on keyboards and synthesizers, and Darren Heitz on drums and synthesizer. Future Rock was so cool in the Red Barn this past year. They brought the heat in there!
Check out this video of Future Rock late night from the Red Barn at Summer Camp 2013:
Future Rock fun fact: They once performed as Aphex Rock, performing a full set of music by Aphex Twin.
Other Summer Camp 2014 Artists
The other acts announced in the first round are Bro Safari, Wick-it the Instigator, Family Groove Company, This Must Be the Band, The Floozies, Henhouse Prowlers, DJ SOLO, Manic Focus, The Delta Saints, IndigoSun, Robotic Pirate Monkey, DUGASMUSIC, Sun Stereo, The Black Cadillacs, Old Shoe, Chicago Farmer’s New Feat with Old Shoe, Positive Vibr8ions, Caroline Rose, Brainchild, and Bone Jugs N Harmony. And there are many more to come – over 75 bands on 7 stages!
All I can say is WOW! Summer Camp always finds a way to keep making adding fun to the party year after year! Get your tickets now! You don’t want to miss this!
If you happened to miss the official video announcing this first round of artits, make sure to check it out below:
Wait, Trey did what?
That’s right, everyone’s favorite red-headed guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote the music for a recent musical, Hands on a Hardbody, based on the 1992 documentary of the same name. The plot of the musical revolves around a contest held in 1960’s Texas in which contestants try to win a truck by keeping their hand on a truck for the longest period. The score of this musical, like Phish in the music industry, is unique to other Broadway musicals. To me this reflects on the musical writing style of Anastasio, which impressively enough got him a Tony nomination for best music (not bad for a first timer).
Unlike most musicals on Broadway, Hands on a Hardbody has a southern feel to it. Most of the songs have a country theme to it, with an influence of blues and rock as well. There is definite variety within the soundtrack, with different musical theme for a song depending on the character singing it. Two other unique rarities in this musical that I attribute to Anastasio, which really separate Hands on a Hardbody from the rest of Broadway, is that a couple songs are actually acapella. Also, three of the songs in the musical, “Alone with Me,” “It’s a Fix,” and “Joy of the Lord,” are reprised again at a later point, instantly reminding me of Tweezer Reprise. Two of the songs, “My Problem Right There,” and “Burn That Bridge,” I already knew quite well, because the Trey Anastasio Band has performed it on their tour in 2011. To have known those two songs for 2 years and hearing them now placed within the context of a musical was probably one of the stranger moments for my song listening history, but in no way is that a bad thing. It’s also worth noting the guitar riff in the opening track, “Human Drama Kind of Thing,” brought me to an urge to groove along as if I was dancing in the rain again at Summer Camp to TAB’s Mr. Completely.
- Human Drama Kind of Thing
- If I Had This Truck
- If She Don’t Sleep
- My Problem Right There
- Alone With Me
- Burn That Bridge
- I’m Gone
- Uncontrollable Laughter
- Joy of the Lord
- Hunt With the Big Dogs
- Hands on a Hardbody
- Born in Laredo
- Alone With Me Reprise
- It’s a Fix
- Used to Be Me
- It’s a Fix Reprise
- God Answered My Prayers
- Joy of the Lord Reprise
- Keep Your Hands on It
- The Tryers (Bonus Track)
This weekend Phish will be taking over Chicago for a three night run at Northerly Island. With Saturday already sold out, Kuroda sporting a new light rig, and a completely revamped venue, this is bound to be a throwdown! But the party doesn’t stop there! Quite a few Summer Camp favorites are playing late night shows all around Chicago this weekend. Here’s a little heads up on some don’t-miss late nights for those of you heading to Phish….
Friday night the funk machine better known as Dumpstaphunk will be playing the House of Blues in Chicago. Their newest album, Dirty Word (available for pre-order), is about to drop at the end of the month, so this late night is guaranteed to get DIRTY!!! ”We are touring in support of the new Album, so people will definitely hear new material,” says drummer Nikki Glaspie. Not to mention that the HOB is one of the few venues in the Midwest to have a spring floor, which means you have no choice but to get down the minute the music starts and getting down is exactly what NOLA’s Dumpstaphunk is known for.
Chicago holds a special place in Dumpsta history. It was at the Mid back in 2011 that drummer, Nikki Glaspie, played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk. In two short years she has brought the band to a whole other level. This late night will be a funky dance party through and through. What a great way to kick off the weekend!
If you are not familiar, Gamehenge was the setting of a musical masterpiece Trey Anastasio developed in college for his senior year project way back in 1987. It is basically the story of a man on a journey to get the goods. I won’t give away too much, but lets just say this album was the platform on which Phish was constructed. So in the same fashion that Phish grew into the beast it is today, Spread throws down some heavy improvisation in every song they play. They are guaranteed to split open the Hard Rock Cafe and we might even get a ”Wiiiillllllsoooon” tease thrown in the mix.
Finally, Summer Camp’s favorite late night act is doing what they do best by providing a Talking Heads dance party until the wee hours of the morning. This Must Be The Band will be playing Martyrs 7/20 and 7/21. Their first set on both Saturday and Sunday will be all request, where the loudest person in the crowd gets to choose what gets played next (so long as it’s Talking Heads music). The second set each night will be Speaking in Tongues, note by note. How neat is that?!
Needless to say, Summertime Chi is in full swing, SCampers! This weekend is going to be the type where the party just doesn’t stop…. So get out there and get your groove on!
As my eyes adjusted to the light the distinct pitter patter of rain could be heard falling on my tent. It was one of those cool mornings that make you want to re-wrap yourself in blankets, roll over, and go back to sleep. I fought that urge knowing that music would be starting soon and it was time to get ready for the last day of Summer Camp. After the deluge on Saturday along with rain overnight the mud had finally reached an unimaginable level. The roads became a sloppy consistency that made it hard to differentiate between what was a puddle and what was solid ground. Again I have to give credit to the organizers for continuing the show even though the weather and washed out roads made that much more difficult. After getting ready I sought refuge in the Church and waited for the Pickin’ Party to begin.
This was a bluegrass clusterpluck that included members of Floodwood, all of The Henhouse Prowlers, as well as Allie Kral. What followed was some of the best bluegrass that occurred at Summer Camp 2013. It was a blend of all the things that make string music so great. Allie took the unofficial lead talking about playing acoustically and not needing a PA. Ben from Henhouse said, “These songs are all the same… but seriously they kind of are.” He wasn’t so much belittling bluegrass as much as he was pointing out a fact. Much of what the genre is built on is tradition and even though the music can be incredibly innovative it never wanders too far from its central principles. They ran through a series of songs that was enough to warm the heart of any bluegrass fan.
Next it was time for Umphrey’s last set, which was already underway.
Set 1: Slacker, White Man’s Moccasins, Tribute to The Spinal Shaft> Wife Soup, Phil’s Farm, She Caught The Katy*, Dear Lord**, Higgins, Smell The Mitten, August> No Comment> August, Miss Tinkle’s Overture
*w/ Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson
**w/ Luther Dickinson
Umphrey’s performs midday on Sundays, which is the cherry on top of their three days at Summer Camp. A two hour set allows them to stretch out a bit before taking their final bow. This show was fairly straight forward with a couple of amazing sit-ins. They opened with Slacker and soon after that the rain again ceased for the remainder for the afternoon. “Tribute To Spinal Shaft,” Umphrey’s prog-funk tune, was pure sickness. The real highlight of the set was the appearance of Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson on “She Caught The Katy.” This song originally performed by Taj has not been played by UM since Summer Camp in 2011. Luther stayed on for a jam on “Dear Lord.” Jake shredded while Luther slid; it was an awesome sight to behold. They finished their set with a crispy “Miss Tinkle’s Overture.”
As soon as their set was over it was time for moe. on the Starshine stage. This has been their acoustic show for the last few years and it allows for a relaxed vibe to flow out over the crowd. It’s yet another favorite set of mine to see at Summer Camp. After they dialed in their sound moe. opened with “All Roads Lead To Home.”
Set 1: All Roads Lead To Home, Sticks and Stones> St. Augustine, Shoot First> Bring You Down, Tambourine, Four
Stretching just over an hour this seven song romp took the audience through some classic moe. The highlight was the “Sticks and Stones” into “St. Augstine” which featured a great back and forth between Chuck and Al. Jim on vibraphone added a nice touch as well. “Tambourine” took on a completely new feel as Vinnie snapped out the beat on the kit and Rob belted it out for the enthusiastic fans. They closed with another crowd-pleaser, “Four.”
After moe. it was time for another class act, Taj Mahal and his trio. Taj Mahal is blues music and has brought this genre to audiences for nearly 50 years. From his early career with the Rising Sons to his solo work, Taj Mahal has remained a major influence to young and old musicians alike. Taj has also stated he prefers playing outdoor festivals, which is why he seemed right at home at Summer Camp. He played a two-hour set with his band that included Kester Smith on drums and Bill Rich on bass. Taj recently celebrated his seventy-first birthday and he is still going strong. His set at Summer Camp was truly a delight.
John Brown’s Body was up next and these guys are insane. Focusing on a more “spaced-out” sound rooted in the reggae tradition, lead singer Elliot Martin has robust approach to his craft. He moonlights as a dubstep DJ, but JBB is all organic. Their inclusion on the Summer Camp lineup was one more feather in the cap of this festival. They are an energetic face slap that soothes the soul. If you enjoy an innovative approach to roots music check these guys out.
As the Avett Brothers took the stage the skies opened and the rain came down. They started their show with a traditional English folk song, “The Cuckoo Song.”
Set 1: The Cuckoo Song, The Fall, Down With The Shine, Will You Return?, Laundry Room, Old Joe Clark, Reno Lament, Distraction #74, Paranoia in B Flat Major, Live and Die, Got To Sleep, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Life, At The Beach, The Prettiest Thing, Gimmeakiss, Die Die Die, Kick Drum Heart, Geraldine, I and Love and You
Encore: Talk of Indolence
Much of the Avett’s studio work is melancholy, however their live shows are jam packed with gusto. The rain slammed on the stage as crew members hurriedly changed out guitars and banjos between songs. Alternating between drum backed songs and acoustic stand alones, they blasted their way through their ninety-minute set. They played some of their better known songs including “Down With The Shine,” “Laundry Room,” and “Live and Die.” They seemed as energized by the music as their audience. Kids danced in the mud with a vigor rarely seen throughout the entire weekend. At one point I saw a young man making mud angels for no apparent reason. They closed their watery set with “I And Love And Home” before encoring with their rapid spit-fire tune “Talk Of Indolence.” They were truly a high point for the entire festival and a surprisingly great live show.
We made our way backstage to meet up for the Private Camp Counselor Show, but due to the weather it had been moved to a small trailer behind Mooneshine. Kyle and three of his friends got a special show from moe. and Victor Wooten, but there just wasn’t any room for anyone else. I totally understood and was happy that despite the weather Kyle still got his show which included an acoustic “Kyle’s Song” and “The Weight.”
Finally it was time for Trey Anastasio Band. As lightening flashed all around the festival grounds Big Red came to the stage with his group. They wasted no time by opening with “First Tube.”
Set 1: First Tube, Cayman Review, Last Tube, Alaska, Pigtail, Dark And Down, Money Love and Change, Drifting, The Land of Nod, Tuesday, Push On Til the Day
Set 2: Mr. Completely*
*Show ended due to severe weather
Trey and his band consisting of Ray Paczkowski, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, Russ Lawton, Tony Markellis, and James Casey seemed undaunted by the rain. They pressed on with a show that features a stunning series of guitar solos from Trey. He simply shredded his way through “Cayman Review” and “Last Tube.” “Alaska was a real crowd-pleaser and gave the rest of the band a chance to breathe. “Dark And Down” seemed incredibly appropriate and was the song that featured some the most intrepid jamming of their first set. As lightening continued to flash all around the rain subsided momentarily. “The Land of Nod” was epic, but the set-closing “Push On Til The Day” sent this show over the top.
The setbreak went for about 45 minutes, during which time I am assuming crew debated whether or not to let the band back on. Finally, probably from Trey’s insistence they did return. Trey uttered, “You guys are amazing,” as he came back, and as he did fat drops rained down from the sky. Trey and company went into “Mr. Completely,” as a small boy danced furiously on the other side of the rail. The crowd went nuts as the weather we had feared all weekend was finally hitting us. The small child waving his arms defiantly danced on until finally they finished what would be their only song of the second set. Trey walked up and gave the kid a fist bump before he was signaled to stop. He went to the microphone and informed the crowd that they were making him quit, but that he would be back. The audience slowly dwindled down to a few hundred as the steadfast fans, including my wife and myself stayed to see if the band would return. After about a half hour of the worst rain and lightening we had seen all weekend, Ian Goldberg appeared on the stage. “We know who the hardcore fans are…” He told us that unfortunately the rest of the show would be cancelled, but that he hoped moe. would still play their final set. At that moment I was completely soaked. I could not have been wetter if I had fallen into a pool with all my clothes on. We luckily snagged a golf cart ride back to our camp and got dry knowing there was little chance that moe. would be able to perform.
We got a good night’s sleep and awoke to the aftermath of the storm. Tents and gear were scattered all around the grounds and people were desperately trying to get their cars out of the now rut ridden lot. We loaded up our gear and got on the road back to Chicago. The festival seemed to just fizzle out rather than end with the bang many of us are used to. That being said with that much rain and lightening there is little that can be done, and ultimately the safety of the patrons is paramount to the music. Like I said before, I give credit to the promoters of Summer Camp that really only two sets of music were cancelled all weekend. The fact that we encountered so much rain, it would be easy to understand more shows getting cut. This was not the case, because of a high level of organization and perseverance by the staff. Sure we got some mud, but that was a minor inconvenience compared to all the amazing music I witnessed over the course of four days. Memorial Day Weekend in central Illinois is a crap shoot weather-wise. This year we got rain, last year we got sun, that is part of the overall experience at Summer Camp. However no one can complain about the musical collaboration that took place and the wonderful experiences shared by thousands at a tiny park in the middle of miles and miles of farmland. Until next year Summer Camp… Cheers.
Sunday was EASILY the best day of music for me. Also, it was easily the worst day of weather. No way I was gonna let that affect my mood, though, and for many Scampers, it was the same.
I was able to catch Umphrey’s day time show, and they just continue to get better every time I see them, as now this was the 15th show for me. Highlights include a beautiful version of Dear Lord, one of my all time favorites and a rarity, with a sit-in from Luther Dickinson. They closed the set with a rockin’ Miss Tinkle’s Overture. Check out my video of it (right here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0M7GMT3F74&feature=youtu.be
Hands down, the show by The Everyone Orchestra was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Wow. I was just blown away. On stage was Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee on keys, Vinnie Amico, Jim Loughlin, and Al Schnier of moe. on drums, percussion, and guitar, respectively, Victor Wooten on bass, Allie Kral of Cornmeal on violin, Roosevelt Collier on steel guitar, and Alex Steele of Roste McCabe on vocals. There was also another girl on trombone who was just stunningly good, but I am not sure who her name was unfortunately. Of course, it was orchestrated by Matt Butler. For those unfamiliar with The Everyone Orchestra, it is all improv and the jams are literally conducted by Butler as he is leading the artists with the tempos and grooves. Their final jam had some “Love Love Love” lyrics bouncing around that got the crowd going crazy inside the intimate Red Barn.
Finally, there was Trey. Words can’t even begin to describe the musical journey he takes me on every time I see him perform. He came out on stage, did a nice little awkward and goofy half-bow to the crowd, picked up Ocelot (the name of his guitar) and got right into First Tube, a classic song that gets me rocking every time. He didn’t let up from there in his first set got better and better with each song. Unfortunately it was raining for most of the first set, so I didn’t get many pictures or videos, but it let up enough for me to catch the end of “Money, Love, & Change.” Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysUBGexwkKU&feature=youtu.be
His second set was cut short due to the nasty flash flood, which to be honest, came as a sort of relief to me. I found myself at such a predicament because a gust of wind, or Trey’s peak in one of his jams, snapped my umbrella in half. Once that happened I just got SOAKED. I mean soaked. And muddy. But I mean, it’s Trey! During the jam of Push on til The Day, the final song he ended up playing, a small child arose on the shoulders of someone in the front row, and he just danced danced and danced away for all to notice. The crowd cheered him on as he had all the spins and moves, mostly with his arms, and even Trey went up and gave him a high five after the song ended. It reminded me of when Alpine Valley last summer, in which Trey pulled up a bunch of phans on stage during their encore song of Meatstick, showing despite the level of stardom he has reached, he still has the heart and joy of music to share it with others and acknowledge great moments when it happens. By the way, I was one of those guys doing the Meatstick dance on stage. Here’s the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIFwpRxFLA
Well, Summer Camp, it was GREAT. Although the rainstorm cut the night a little young, I had a hell of a time and am already counting down the days til next year.
Year after year moe. and Umphrey’s McGee have anchored Summer Camp’s schedule, but the addition of Trey Band has made this year’s lineup one of the most scene oriented to date, not to mention Yonder, Keller, STS9, plus Medeski, Martin, and Wood. The only other bands that could possibly fall into this topnotch jamband echelon would be Cheese or Bisco, so the good people at Summer Camp HQ decided that EOTO and Conspirator would have to fill that void. I have seen all these acts multiple times, most of them at Summer Camp, and they are the reason I fell in love with the scene so many years ago.
In case you are living under a rock, Cornmeal’s Saturday show will be one of the most talked about sets of the weekend. Their fiddler, Allie Kral, has announced that this will be her last show as a member of Cornmeal. This band has been a staple at Summer Camp for almost a decade and many Scampers, like myself, have completely fallen in love Allie over the years. Even though this is not the last we will hear from Cornmeal or Allie, for that matter, this set is bound to be a tear jerker for many a fan.
This lineup contains at least a dozen other bands that make me dance, but in all honesty, I return to Summer Camp every year because I’m an Umphreak. Summer Camp provides 6 sets of Umph, a handful of side projects, plus sit-ins that make Memorial Day Weekend UMforgettable. My first Umphrey’s show was at Summer Camp in 2004, so I guess it is only perfect that I will be celebrating my 75th Umph show at Summer Camp 2013. I’m predicting a few new songs, maybe a new cover, and a ridiculous light rig that will bring facemelt to a whole other level. Prepare to get your minds blown people!
Now for my Sunday variety pack…..
Both electronic and jamband fans will enjoy the way DJnoDJ fuses these two genres by layering their talents in order to duplicate our most beloved tracks. If I still have enough fuel left in my tank early Monday morning, this is where you will find me.Needless to say, I can’t wait to experience Summer Camp as a CIT! I guess it’s my job to remind my fellow campers to be safe, stay hydrated, and see as much music as possible because this year’s lineup is INSANE! With that being said, hollar at your CIT if you see me around! I love making new friends, especially at Summer Camp!