Arriving at my first Red Rocks show of the summer always fills my soul with a sense of elation. Seeing the giant formations of Ship and Creation Rock cradling the most amazing amphitheater on the planet is something I’ll never grow tired of. Parking in Lower South can be a roll of the dice. It’s the area with the most pronounced Shakedown and this show was no different. All manner of wooks, puppy pullers, yuppies, and heads mingled on the red gravel paths formed by the rows of cars. Each year the fan base seems younger and younger particularly at Umphrey’s McGee shows. Dreadlocked boys lacking shirts and sometimes common sense peddle their wares. Items ranging from beer koozies to DMT are all easily available if you know what you are looking for. After meeting a few friends I headed in early to catch Delta Spirit.
I wandered up the ramp and found that the crowd was non-existent. In fact I literally walked all the way to the gate and inside with not so much as a pause. Inside, the first twenty or so rows saw a light scattering of people, which did little to instill my confidence that the show would sell out. Delta Spirit is a five-piece hailing from Brooklyn by way of Long Beach that look like they wandered out of a hipster version of an Abecrombie & Fitch catalog. Their indie sound although energetic felt somewhat misplaced in the lineup. They blend elements of electro-pop, folk, and rock with an almost Lo-Fi sensibility rooted in organic musicianship. Their live show was much heavier and punchier than their studio work. The melodic interplay of their vocals was definitely a highlight of the set. Having performed numerous times on television and at major U.S. festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza there is no question that Delta Spirit will make it to the mainstream. I’m just curious why their first time playing at Red Rocks was opening for prog jammers Umphrey’s McGee.
Dr. Dog took the famed stage playing an extended hour and fifteen minute set to the now substantially larger audience. Their “old-timey” cover photo on Relix a few years back, proclaiming them “America’s Next Great Band” did much to make me excited to see them live. However their performance put my enthusiasm at bay. Dr. Dog’s sound is a combination of rock and indie, but what flows forth from this group left many in the crowd again wondering why they were on the bill. They raged through their time with verocity and power. However by the end it was obvious that the crowd was getting antsy for the main event.
When Umphrey’s finally came out front I would say that anyone in the first fifty rows probably felt like they were in a capacity crowd. However the last third of Red Rocks was left wide open. The 6500 or so Umphreaks were treated to the show that this band has been trying to play at Red Rocks for years. It was a peak performance for a band that has attempted such a feat here for quite some time. The five members drifted out from beyond the smoke and to the stage as “In The Hall Of the Mountain King” (a song I’ve seen them perform live) blasted out of the PA. As the music subsided they opened the show with “Divisions.”
Set 1: Divisions*> The Floor, Loose Ends> 40’s Theme, In The Kitchen, Frankie Zombie, Miss Tinkle’s Overture
Set 2: The Triple Wide> 1348, Push the Pig> Comma Later, Glory> Divisions> Get In The Van, August> Big Heart> August, Thunderstruck**
Encore: Preamble> Mantis
*w/ In The Hall of the Mountain King played along to PA
**w/ Clayton Halsey on vocals
It would be a night where Umphrey’s McGee’s powerful prog rock bounced off the walls as Walful’s lights danced among the boulders. Everything about this show was intensely incredible and far and away the best they’ve played at Red Rocks ever. Save for a couple songs nothing they played was highly unusual or rare. It was just classic Umphrey’s playing at the top of their game. Fresh off performances at Summer Camp and Wakarusa their Colorado run was a destination event with a second night to follow at Chautauqua. The first set was straightforward by song choice, but the technical ferocity with which they executed their performance was enough to make your head spin. “The Floor” stretched on as the lights flickered over the Denver skyline. “In The Kitchen” was the host to a gargantuan jam with a simple visit to the refrain. Their homespun mashup of “Frankie Zombie” which included a nod to White Zombie, Pink Floyd, and Frankie Says was a definite peak for the first set. They closed with a sublime “Miss Tinkle’s” complete with pyrotechnics before adjourning to the backstage.
The second set felt more progressive in nature as the riff heavy jams percolated from the abyss. Myers blasted off on “1348”
“I’d like to dedicate this next song to the lovely the lady in the Axle Rose t-shirt over here… just makes me have faith in the world right there.” – Bayliss
“Push The Pig” saw some of the rowdiest and darkest jamming of the night, which was par for the course at this point. “Glory” was done with a tenderness that allowed everyone to finally catch their breath before they went back into the show opening “Divisions.” “Big Heart” was short, but a bust out of sorts having not been played in 371 shows. They invited Clayton Halsey up for their set closing version of AC/DC’s “Thunderstuck.”
Umphrey’s McGee came back to encore with “Preamble” into “Mantis.” Everything about this show was stellar, from the extensive energy put into the overall production to the musical execution by the band. UM is always good, but when they really focus they have the ability to be out of this world. Their show this year at Red Rocks should be marked as a climax when they finally accomplished something truly spectacular at this the most divine of venues.
I could probably write a book about my 2013 Summer Camp experience. There is a variety pack of blogs I have planned for the future and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite vendors, festy food, and artist interviews with my all my Scamp family.
For now, I want to share a video that pretty much sums up my time at this year’s Scamp. This whole process has been a very different experience than anything I have ever done before. I have never blogged, interviewed artists, shot and edited a video, or documented any part of a music festival before. While I am still learning quite a bit, I feel like I represented my favorite parts of Summer Camp the best I could. My goal from the beginning was to capture my favorite aspects of Camp while still staying true to the scene.
Please enjoy this video recap for Summer Camp 2013 and keep checking back because there is a TON more I want to show you!
Check out my crew’s Summer Camp Review!
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.
After a brilliantly beautiful day a Summer Camp we woke up to overcast skies and a light drizzle. That sporadic rain would continue on and off throughout the day culminating with an absolute downpour during Umphrey’s first set. We’ll get to that. I began the day by stopping by the partner-hooping workshop put on by the Masquerade Tribe. This is just one of the many things happening all weekend long. From yoga to music and educational clinics so much is happening. In the nooks and crannies of this festival hides some the most amazing opportunities and experiences. Another such event is Field Day.
Field Day is an all out color war on the grounds of Three Sisters Park. Members of the Purple, Blue, Yellow, and Red team compete in a variety of activities including a Spelling Bee, Tug-O-War, Dodge Ball, a Photo Scavenger Hunt, and a Pizza Eating Contest. It’s a chance to blow off some steam and share some camaraderie with fellow scampers. Field day is competitive to say the least, but it’s all in good fun. This year the Red Team was victorious by one point with the rest of the teams tied in second place. Their name will again grace the Summer Camp Cup and their flag will fly high over the festival.
The bass workshop began in the Church around 12:30 PM featuring Victor Wooten and Reed Mathis. They began with a back and forth jam before answering questions from the attendees. These workshops often take the form dictated by their audience. It’s really a chance to pick the brains of some tremendous artists in a way that both musicians and fans can truly appreciate.
The rain continued to sprinkle so I sought shelter with Floodwood in the VIP Lounge. Last year’s unannounced set in there was a highlight for me, so honestly I wouldn’t have missed it. Floodwood is marketed as a moe. side project, however they are actually an Americana powerhouse in their own right. The band features Vinnie Amico and Al Schnier and truly these guys deserve their own headlining nationwide tour. This was the first of three sets Floodwood performed on Saturday at Summer Camp including a late night show at the Campfire Stage that went until around 5 AM. The most intriguing member is violinist Nick Piccininni who is pretty much self-taught and cleanly rips it up. They opened with “Stomp It,” which as its name would insinuate was a rowdy call to action for the crowd who was just beginning to dry out. They also played a wonderfully Appalachian tinged tune entitled “North Country Wind.” They are one of my favorite new bands and I’m just waiting for them to come west of the Mississippi to my home state Colorado. They played for about an hour in the VIP, which with utter flawlessness.
On the Camping Stage was Chicago’s own Henhouse Prowlers, who have been spreading their variety of string music far and wide. The rain continued on and as this superb quartet played to the rain soaked crowd. The Henhouse Prowlers have toured relentlessly over the past few years and despite some lineup changes they have maintained their high level of performances. They are another not-so hidden gem at Summer Camp; making a strong impression on anyone who catches them live. If you are a fan of real bluegrass I would recommend checking these guys out.
Tea Leaf Green was getting started on the Starshine Stage. I have to give credit to the festival organizers for persevering through the weather and making sure that the music continued. The drizzle is enough to wreak havoc on monitors and the PA, but they pushed ahead skillfully. In fact right after they dialed in the sound, Reed Mathis exclaimed that it had finally stopped raining. The overcast sky loomed, but for the moment the clouds had ceased leaking. They opened with “Germinatin’ Seed.”
Set 1: Germinatin’ Seed, Someday, Penny Saved, Mr. E. and The Cosmic Receptacle, Space Hero pt. 4 (Letters Home), Don’t Go, Space Hero pt. 2, One Reason
Tea Leaf Green is one of the most underrated bands in the scene today. They continue to tour across the country and put on stellar shows, but despite their efforts they seem to only to make a minor splash. They sounded incredibly tight. Reed has now been with TLG for a couple of years and he finally sounds in synch with the rest of the band. They are dialed in and firing on all cylinders. They have a deep understanding of groove-oriented jam and they are worth catching whenever possible. I was able to take a few pictures and catch the beginning of their set however just across the road something very special was happening and I had to ramble.
At Sunshine it was Cornmeal performing their last show with fiddler Allie Kral. It was bittersweet to say the least, and I know she will be sorely missed. She is moving on with her life after touring with Cornmeal for over a decade. The band did little to convey the gravity of the situation other than a distinct heaviness in the air. Fans seemed entranced with the music slurping up each note like a desert flower after a rare storm. Newcomers Scott Tipping and Drew Littell added vibrancy to their sound, but they mostly toed the line during this set. “River Gap” was a definite peak and seemed to reference Allie’s years on the road with Cornmeal. Before their last song band mate Chris Gangi gave a heartfelt goodbye.
“We’ve fought like sisters, but we played music like brothers…”
They closed with another appropriate road song “Hillbilly Ride.” There was many teary eyes in the crowd as Allie made her final bow with a band she has become synonymous with for the last ten years. I wish her the best.
After Cornmeal I raced back to the VIP Lounge to catch Victor Wooten and Friends. Before the set even started Victor addressed the band saying, “We have nothing to prove to each other,” before telling they crowd they were just going to have a jam session. What followed was a musical journey that focused on the funky side. The band consisted of Victor, Jordan Wilkow, Janis Wallin, Roosevelt Collier, Roy Ponce, and more. They just played, passing around solos and generally shared in the musical dance. Victor referred to Janis more than once as the, “Mistress of Groove.” They were impressive and yet another reason why VIP was worth the money this year.
Karl Denson took the same stage after a quick changeover. Few bands have the ability to break out the dirty funk like Mr. Denson and his Tiny Universe. Incorporating tight jazz riffs to fill out their sound, this group is something to behold. A Greyboy Allstars alumnus, Karl Denson leads his own group comprised of powerfully funky musicians. Utilizing elements of afrobeat and rock as well, KDTU is another fully capable band that really pleases the crowd. They played for just over an hour to a packed field.
On my way back to camp I checked out a bit of Thievery Corporation on Moonshine. There is so much going on in their live performance that it is almost difficult to break it all down. Formed by the DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton they have an assemblage of incredible musicians that add an organic flavor to their electronic edge. It’s safe to say there is almost a softness to their sound, which is why I wandered over like a moth to a flame. They integrate elements of Middle Eastern, Indian, acid jazz, reggae, dub, and Brazilian into one substantial melting pot of sound. They are high energy without being abrasive to the ears. I really enjoyed catching part of their set at the festival.
Finally it was time for the moe. and Umphrey’s leap frog extravaganza that has been a tradition on Saturdays at Summer Camp for a number of years now. Let’s begin with the Umphs. They launched off with a colossal “Depth Charge” into “Hurt Bird Bath.”
Set 1: Depth Charge > Hurt Bird Bath, The Linear > Yoga Pants > Rocker Part II, Booth Love1, I Got Love1, Andy’s Last Beer1, Wizard Burial Ground
Set 2: Wappy Sprayberry > Ocean Billy, Utopian Fir1 2 > Debra, Der Bluten Kat > Final Word > Der Bluten Kat
1w/ Mad Dog & His Filthy Little Secret horns
2It’s About That Time jam
“How you doing out there?… Round 2” – Bayliss
Umphrey’s McGee is perhaps the most technical and progressive band in jam today. They are also the last “jam” band. Their live performances are a sensory overload. Jefferson Waful operating the light board paints incredible mosaics of radiance that really boggle the mind. Their output of music over two sets was close to three hours total with lots of twists and turns. They brought out Mad Dog & His Filthy Little Horns for “Booth Love,” “I Got Love,” and “Andy’s Last Beer.” Michael “Mad Dog” Mavridoglou has a history with Umphrey’s having played on their album Local Band Does Ok, and appearing with them onstage numerous times with his full horn section. They sounded incredible and prior to “I Got Love,” Bayliss commented on the fact that they have never played this particular song with a horn section before. It turned out nicely with The Fitly Little Horns accenting the flow well. They closed the first set with a crunchy “Wizard Burial Ground.”
Their second set was equally full of classics and beefy rage rock. They started with a fourteen-minute “Wappy Sprayberry” before segueing into an even bigger “Ocean Billy.” This two-song section saw some of the most extended jamming of the entire weekend. Umphrey’s McGee is so polished that it’s nice to see them actually play for a little while. No band in the scene is tighter so when they go with the flow it can be very impressive. They brought back Mad Dog and His Filthy Little Horns for “Utopian Fir.” However the highlight of the show was their version of Beck’s “Debrah” with Bayliss on vocals. Taking an almost Prince-esque approach, this cover was a lot of fun for the entire crowd. Umphrey’s closed with a very nice “Der Bluten” sandwich. They brought the horns back again for their “Bridgeless” encore. UM just sounds so good, they keep adding to their repertoire and always tightening up. They are vying to become the top band in jam with each show.
moe. played an equally sick concert on Saturday as well. They know that fans travel from across the country to see them throw down a Summer Camp, which is one of three festivals they host throughout the year. They made a statement by opening up with “Bullet” into “Rise.”
Set 1: Bullet> Rise, Blond Hair Blue Eyes*, Crab Eyes, The Faker> Hector’s Pillow> Plane Crash**
Set 2: Rain Shine, Silver Sun> Happy Hour Hero, MacBain> George, Spine Of A Dog> Buster> McBain
Encore: In The Kitchen***
“Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes” is a new song written by Rob about his daughter. Summer Camp has historically been a place for the band to try out new tunes and this one was very sweet. “The Faker” is a favorite of mine and it was executed wonderfully. moe. just does not disappoint at Summer Camp, they have a mission and that mission is to rock. Their set ending “Plane Crash” was one of the most incredible versions I’ve seen them play. They invited Allie out for the violin intro that is featured on Tin Cans and Car Tires. It was absolutely overwhelming and another reminder of how versatile Allie is as a musician.
Their second set on Saturday was just as uncompromising as the first. Although the “Rainshine” opener felt a little strained while “Silver Sun” seemed optimistic given the weather we had already experienced. Of course the band was just playing with their set lists, showing us a little bit of tongue-in-cheek amusement on their part. “Happy Hour Hero” was a nice breather, but what followed was some of the best moe. of the weekend. The massive “McBain” bookend jam featured a sick “Spine Of A Dog” with a “Buster” thrown in for good measure. In refrence to the previous night’s antics with Umphrey’s they performed “In The Kitchen.” It felt a little more drum heavy and had a different flow than the original, but it was a perfect way to end the show.
We called it a night after moe. With one more day of Summer Camp looming on the horizon it was time to rest up and get ready. Sunday is famously jam packed with music for all of the people that opt in for single day tickets and this Sunday would be no different. Well… in retrospect, it would be a little different.
A more perfect day could not have been planned for Summer Camp on Friday. Music lovers arose to the crispy, bluebird sky of central Illinois with a bright beautiful sun shinning down from above. As fans shook off the grogginess of Thursday’s pre-party they found that Summer Camp was beginning in earnest and the weather was perfect. The light rain of the prior day kept down the dust promising that attendees would not be blowing a Rorschach Test into their hankies. A light breeze blew across the fields making for a sweet balance of warm and cool as the day began. Chicago Summer Camp regulars Old Shoe got the music started with an 11 AM shotgun start.
This quintet is quintessential jam with an acoustic sensibility thrown in for good measure. As Matt Robinson donned his “Easy Scampin’” shirt it was clear that not only was Old Shoe ready to have fun, they were ready to play. This band has so much potential as their local fan base already knows, They are a blend of rock, funk, folk, and more, Old Shoe just seems to fit. As their name would insinuate there is a comfortable vibe that emulates from everything they do. Their hour-long set was a perfect way to officially start Friday at Summer Camp.
Just as Old Shoe was finishing up Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn band was getting warmed up on the Starshine Stage. These guys put the power in power trio. Their sound is reminiscent of a revving engine approaching the red line. They have a growl that would make a dire wolf question its masculinity. They opened with a roaring “That Train Song.”
Set 1: That Train Song, Something For Nothing, Easy Come Easy Go, Regular Ole’ Guitar> Peter Gun Theme, Big Blue Chevy ’72, You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover, Worn Out Shoes, Clap Your Hands, Devils Look Like Angels, Some of These Days> When the Saints Go Marching In, Glory Glory
The Rev. is as much of a storyteller as he is a rocker. Joined by his wife Breezy and drummer Ben “Bird Dog” Bussell, Reverend Peyton can rip on anything with a fret board. In fact during “Easy Come, Easy Go” he absolutely shredded on a cigar box guitar. I’ve never seen one let alone heard one sound like a Les Paul. Their hour on the stage went by far to quickly and ended with a rolling version of “Some Of These Days into a raucous version of “When The Saints Go Marching In” followed by a very untraditional take on “Glory, Glory.” Let’s just say it got spiritual.
Next up was Keller Williams in the VIP Lounge. This was the first year with an actual schedule set up for VIP, rather than just a few random sets throughout the weekend. Keller was running late, taking the stage a full twenty minutes after he was scheduled. The set began ceremoniously with an introduction from promoter and festival organizer Ian Goldberg. He is Jay’s son and basically runs the whole show. Keller began by saying, “I have no plan.” He performed an acoustic, loopless show, which is something I haven’t seen since 2005 at Summer Camp. Keller is always a sort of flow of conscience type show, but his loopless shows take it to another level. Strumming away we were treated to a set that was all K-Dub. The highlight was beautiful rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Eyes Of The World.” I would have stayed longer, but it was time for moe.
2013 Camp Counselor Kyle Hess gave the intro, which was short but sweet. Having stood in his shoes, it’s a lot of pressure to announce your heroes to 15,000 or so people. He did so marvelously. moe. opened their festival with a huge “Captain America” into “Recreational Chemistry.” This was the equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet as far as I’m concerned.
Set 1: Captain America> Recreational Chemistry, Deep This Time> Downward Facing Dog, Puebla> Ricky Marten> Seat Of My Pants, Okayalright
moe. is one of the few jambands that has never broken up, never taken an extended hiatus, and never left their fans in the lurch. It absolutely shows in their live performances. They simply grind and for that reason I’ve been a fan for well over a decade. Their guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey are so dialed in, watching them is like witnessing a two-headed shred monster. They toss each other lead and rhythm parts like hot potatoes shot from a grenade launcher. This was a classic jam-filled set with a massive “Okayalright” to close. With five more sets on the horizon they set the bar pretty high with this show filled to the brim with badassery.
The Wailers were up next on the Sunshine Stage. I’ve always been a bit confused by The Wailers , The Original Wailers and were the two diverged. The fact that Bunny Wailer is still alive and not a member of either band is enough to make me question the namesake. Originally The Wailers was comprised of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Livingston. Afterwards the band morphed into Bob Marley and The Wailers with Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Cody Barrett on drums with the I Threes. Both of the Barretts were members of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s studio band The Upsetters. So basically Aston is the only real member of Bob’s band, but they continued performing after Bob’s death. They were lead by Koolant Brown on vocals who was like a bucket of jazzercise. His energy was infectious and his tone was spot on. The other notable member is Keith Sterling on keys who was also a part of The Upsetters among other Jamaican groups. They sounded solid with awesome versions of “Africa Unite” and “Stir It Up.” The highlight of their set was a mashup of “Waiting In Vain” with Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” As I was heading over to MMW I could hear them playing “I Shot The Sheriff” to an enthusiastic crowd.
Medeski, Martin, & Wood plays jazz with a jam mentality. It’s not so much about the groove because at times they go down the trail blazed by greats like Charlie Parker. Utilizing dissonance that to the untrained ear can be unsettling. However the fact is that MMW is capable of absolutely anything. Their most crowd-pleasing shows include funkiness, which was definitely present at points during their set at Summer Camp. They are simply one of the most incredible live acts touring today and it was a pleasure to see them on a beautiful day in central Illinois.
As Keller Williams ages his projects become more and more sophisticated. No longer is he content playing alone. The last few years have seen numerous projects spring from his mind. The latest is Keller Williams and The More Than A Little. This is his most soulful endeavor incorporating two female vocalists and a full band. They started the set with the song from which they take their name. K-Dub hit the stage in a black suit, smacking his talking drum and looking pretty suave. I would have to say the man won best dressed for Friday if not the entire fest. There was smoothness to this group and a focus on the funkier side of Keller. This is probably my favorite band that Keller has formed and I hope this group actually tours rather than being just a flash in the pan. This was also the most painful overlap of the day with Yonder Mountain String Band starting just a half hour after Keller, so shortly after it started, it was time to mosey.
Colorado bluegrass ambassadors Yonder Mountain String Band have been a hallmark of Summer Camp for years now. Their main stage set this year was chocked full of stringy goodness. They started with an energetic “If You’re Ever In Oklahoma” into “East Nashville Easter.”
Set 1: If You’re Ever in Oklahoma> East Nashville Easter> 40 Miles From Denver, 20 Eyes, Irondale, Pretty Daughter, Casualty, Kentucky Mandolin*, Dear Prudence*> Raleigh & Spencer*, Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown*
*w/ Roosevelt Collier on Pedal Steel
This set was a beautiful, rambunctious journey with one of my favorite bands. Jeff Austin’s face contorted as he wore the finish off his mandolin, by straight ripping it up. They invited Lee Boy, Roosevelt Collier to the stage to play the pedal steel with the band. This added a whole new dimension to their group. He wasn’t even on the official lineup, but he ended up being an artist at large of sorts playing around all weekend long. Their take on “Dear Prudence” with him was definitely memorable as was their set closing “Two Hits.”
Finally it was time for the main event with Umphrey’s McGee. Basically Summer Camp has become their home fest as they now share the bill with moe. They have such a dedicated following and are actually from the Midwest so it makes a lot of sense. They eased into a two set extravaganza with “There’s No Crying In Mexico.”
Set 1: There’s No Crying in Mexico > All in Time > Mantis Ghetts, Nothing Too Fancy> Ringo, Eat, Believe the Lie, Conduit, Comma Later > Nothing Too Fancy
Set 2: Puppet String > Plunger > All in Time, Sociable Jimmy, Bright Lights, Big City1, Glory> Plunger > Puppet String
*w/ Dom (Big Gigantic)
Umphrey’s is the most technical band in jam and this show demonstrated just that. The boys let us know that they are still Death Metal with “All In Time.” “Nothing Too Fancy” into “Ringo” was the climax of their first set and again raised the bar from a band that might as well be professional bar raisers. “Eat” actually had me a little frightened as again their Metal was showing, before the progressive “Believe The Lie” eased the tension. Umphrey’s is not an easy band to watch. They don’t just give it to you. They make their fans concentrate in a way that no other member of the jam community does. You have to work to understand what this band is doing. They are the opposite of dubstep in that regard. They ended their first set by going back into “Nothing Too Fancy.”
Their second set was bookended by “Puppet String” and included a sit in from Big Gigantic’s Dominic Lalli. It was a little more reserved than the blowout that was set one. “The Bright Lights, Big City” on which Lalli sat in was a definite highlight of a set full of technical turns and rage heavy jam. Umphrey’s is a big part of what makes Summer Camp so great and this was their night to blow it all out. They did so marvelously. During “Glory” they teased The Smashing Pumpkin’s “Rhinoceros” which got fans hopeful, but I’m glad they stuck to the script. This is one my favorite UM tunes and really demonstrates a different side of their sound. With a little bit of the theatrical moes came to the stage for the encore. The Umph boys gave them a look like, “We got this,” and proceeded to bust out a highly mechanical “Rebubula.” It was a nice touch to show the interconnectivity of these two groups at this particular festival.
After Umphrey’s I opted to nap it out for bit to be ready for the late night in the Red Barn with moe. and YMSB. I arrived at the Barn around 12:45 and made my way inside. The Barn is 400-person shell complete with lasers and a high ceiling. moe. opened with “Mar-Dema.”
Set 1: Mar-Dema > Kyle’s Song > Kids, In a Big Country, Wind it up > Sensory Deprivation Bank, lylelovit. > Waiting For The Punchline
Their hour and fifteen minute set left fans wishing they would play until the sun came up. This was classic moe. with a wonderful “Kyle’s Song” as well as a bust out on “Big Country” which hadn’t been played in 929 shows. Before playing “Sensory Deprivation Bank” Rob said, “This is the most downloaded song in the history of porn… it’s true.” I’m not sure if that’s actually a fact but it was absolutely huge. The set closing “Waiting For The Punchline” whipped the crowd up into a frenzy. This was solid moe. and a fun way to spend a late night.
After a stage swap that went a little too long Yonder took to the boards. They got going with a solid sandwich in the form of “New Horizons“ into “Blue Collar Blues” back into “New Horizons.”
Set 1: New Horizons > Blue Collar Blues > New Horizons, Left Me in a Hole, Fingerprint, My Gal, Steep Grade Sharp Curves > Gut Feeling/Slap your Mammy, New Deal Train, Another Day, Little Lover, Ten
Encore: Southern Flavor
Yonder took us on a late night bluegrass romp that saw classics flirting with a few new tunes. It was simply a great day of music and YMSB was the perfect end to it all playing well into the wee hours of the morning. Additional highlights of their set included “Let Me In A Hole,” “New Deal,” and “Ten.” They encored with an awesome “Southern Flavor.”
As I walked down the trail back to my tent the birds were beginning to chirp and I knew that Saturday would be coming all too soon. Summer Camp is non-stop run and if you do take a break you are going to miss something. That’s just the nature of the beast. It’s always important to pace yourself, but it’s even more important to see as much live music as possible. Two down, two to go.
Not only was Friday my birthday at Scamp, but it was the day I got to interview on of my favorite bands, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band!
First I caught their set at 12pm at the Starshine stage. They played several of my favorite songs such as “Big Blue ‘72”, “Devils Look Like Angels”, “Sure Feels Like Rain”, “Something for Nothing” and several others off of their new album that came out in 2012, Between the Ditches. Rev who plays guitar in the band demonstrated to the audience the style of music that he plays which is called finger picking style. It’s a style that not that many people play now days and its where you play the bass part of a song while playing the guitar part at the same time on one guitar! His technique is quite a site to see! If you missed their set, they play shows over 250 days out of the year, so I’m sure you’ll catch them in your hometown. Overall, they were a fantastic boot stompin’ good ‘ol time. Since I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to interview them, I decided to go to their autograph signing in the merchandise tent and had a nice conversation with them to show them my appreciation for what they do. Here’s a pic from visiting with them in the merch tent…
Then I headed back to my camp and got a text that they wanted to do an interview! Once I saw them again behind the Starshine stage, I just said “it’s me again!” (since I had just talked to them). We went into one of the backstage trailers for the interview, click here to watch!
And here’s a pic of myself with them pointing at my Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band patch on my vest!
Here’s a lovely pic of my friends in front of someone’s sexy bus/trailer on our way to the Wailers. It really brought out the ANIMAL in them! hah, get it, get it. I’m sure everyone else saw this sexy bus on the way to the Sunshine Stage.
Then we got some dinner and headed out for Umphrey’s, EOTO, STS9 and a little of the red barn set of moe. Friday was the such an AMAZING day, not only was the only beautiful day for weather, but I got to interview one of my favorite band on my birthday!!
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.
And just like that, we’re on to the last day of Summer Camp. Last night consisted of another marathon of music and good times while trekking through all the mud throughout the grounds. I saw Victor Wooten, a humbling experience, in the VIP lounge jamming with some special guests. After some dancing at Thievery Corporation, I went to check out both sets of one of my long time favorite bands, Umphrey’s McGee. A rainy first set did nothing to stop the crowd of Umphreaks dancing and raging along on the Sunshine stage. The second set featured one of my all time favorite concert moments: during the buildup of their Der Bluten Kat jam, some fans started blasting off fireworks. The band quickly got on cue and coordinated their jam, and of course Jeff Waful synchronized the lights to create a mesmerizing moment that seemed to last hours. One of the great things I’ve witnessed about Umphrey’s is their uncanny ability to just pull you in, capture your attention and consume you completely in their flow of the jam, and leave you stunned and jaw dropped. Face melting at its finest.
After Umphrey’s I was able to catch most of the second set of moe on the Moonshine stage. During this set I decided the Moonshine is most definitely the coolest stage of the three big ones here at Scamp. The slope incline of the lawn combined with the surrounding trees and hanging canopies create an intimate feeling that connects the crowd more with the band. I’m not all too familiar with many moe. songs at this point, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every moment of the show. For the encore, as a tribute to Umphrey’s covering their Rebubula Friday night, moe. did their own take on UM’s classic tune In the Kitchen. The crowd, as did I, quickly recognized the song and loved the recognition of the co-headliners’ presence of each other. I must admit the end of the song got pretty sloppy with the ending and lyrics, but still another great moment in Summer Camp history.
Thievery Corporation at the Moonshine ^
I also made it to the premiere show of Big Grizmatik, a combination of Big Gigantic, Griz, and Gramatik all playing together in the Red Barn. The intimacy of the Red Barn is great because 1) the band realllly feeds off the crowd’s energy, and 2) it was refreshingly warm in there! Big Grizmatik played a little bit over an hour, with a few Big G songs mixed in with other DJ remixes for a constant dance frenzy.
Video: Big Grizmatik – Fantastic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqnXPapmbck&feature=youtu.be
Looking forward to the last day now here today! Gonna for sure check out Umphrey’s final set, and I heard that guy from Phish is also playing tonight, so I’m sure I’ll see his show
Stay warm and stay dry, Summer Camp!
So through my first two days here at Summer Camp, I’ve come to realize the culture that exists here. Three Sisters Parks has become its own city, separate from the rest of Chillicothe, as well as the rest of society, where everyone here is here for the same reason – to celebrate life and enjoy the music having a great time. Yesterday I celebrated life with several fantastic concerts, spanning nearly 8 hours of music.
I started out my day waiting in line for Umphrey’s McGee’s Golden Ticket merch event. What this was is they were selling 600 bags of random merchandise, with 24 of those bags luckily including a “Golden Ticket,” redeeming the recipient with random great prizes from winning 2 tickets to every show to a year to an umVIP pass for the rest of the festival for an on-stage viewing experience, among other things. Unfortunately, I did not win a Golden Ticket, but still got a solid bag of merch goodies including a t-shirt and a coozie. Stasik was there taking pics with fans and I was able to snap one.
Medeski, Martin, & Wood was next for me. I’ve never listened to the psychedelic jazz trio before this show, and was blown away by their chemistry and flow in their music. They were all on the same key throughout the show and kept the crowd dancing throughout their set under the beautiful sun.
I took a break after MMW to grab some food and head over to the Sunshine Stage to catch the first set of Umphrey’s McGee. The crowd was raging along in full force as the full moon began to shine in the east as the sun set in the west. Closing the set with a sandwich of one of my all time favorites, Nothing too Fancy, I felt good about stage hopping over to check out Roster McCabe. As always, they did not disappoint as I danced along with the smaller but energetic crowd at the Camping Stage before heading back to catch the latter part of Umphrey’s second set. I’m disappointed to have missed Dominic Lalli sit in with them for Bright Lights, another of my favorite song, but they still killed it the second set, and encored with Rebubula. Yes, you read that right, Rebubla by moe. Truly an epic moment in UM history that will be talked about for years to come of Summer Camp Highlights. – Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hze_chSCO5U&feature=youtu.be
After Umphrey’s I headed to see Nahko & Medicine for the People at the Campfire Stage. Medicine had the vibes with them tonight as they packed in all the love for music in a tight hour long set, but only left us wanting more. For those unfamiliar with this band, they sound a lot like Michael Franti and Matisyahu. Nahko even sang a few verses of Matisyahu’s “One Day,” but instead changed the chorus to “Today,” representing his message of making the world a better place right now.
^Nahko & Medicine for the People
After Medicine, I caught the final half of Big Gigantic’s set over at the Sunshine, a show I’ve been ready for for quite some time. Big Gigantic’s fusion of jazz and dubstep is unlike any other band I’ve heard before, and they truly feed off the crowd’s relentless energy. I am absolutely stoked to see them again tonight for the late night. After Big G, I headed to the Barn to catch moe.’s late night set. The Red Barn is such an intimate venue, I was truly captivated by that feeling of everyone in there just loving the music so much, and could tell that moe. felt the same way; they were relaxed and just having a good time. Unfortunately I couldn’t last long enough to make it through Yonder Mountain, so I called it a night after moe.
Today, as crazy at it seems, looks to be even better than yesterday; the best part I’ve learned about Summer Camp is that the next day is better than the last. I’m looking to check out Victor Wooten & Friends at the VIP Lounge, (a very nice perk of being a CIT!), Thievery Corporation, 2 sets of Umphrey’s then moe., and a late night with STS9 and Big Gigantic.