A veritable buffet of music descended upon the Front Range for the five days leading up to 2014. The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, Tea Leaf Green, the massive EDM spectacle known as Decadence among many, many others were all set to perform within a twenty-five mile radius. Given my own predilection for several of the groups I opted to sample a little bit of everything.
Yonder Mountain String Band has consistently made the Boulder Theater their home for a New Year’s Run since the early years. This time around they took the opportunity to announce four nights and subsequently a fifth night to benefit Planet Bluegrass after the recent flooding. With so much going on the Saturday show for YMSB was a bit undersold. To entice fans, they announced a Cosmic Bowling League opening set. This is an exceptionally rare event that features the full Yonder lineup dressed in bowling shirts and ill-fitting mustaches. CBL claims to lean traditional and they certainly held that line by opening with the Flatt & Scruggs penned “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.”
Cosmic Bowling League
Set 1: The Ballad of Jed Clampett, Sophronie, Fox On The Run, Blue Ridge Mountain Girl, It’s Raining Here This Morning, All About You, Lost and I’ll Never Find My Way, Are You Tired My Darling, Some Things Does, Pig In A Pen
“None of you better tell nobody nothing about what you seen here tonight” – Ben Kaufmann
The lightly packed crowd was an equal mix of utter delight and mild confusion. For those in the back or perhaps not in the know, they were witnessing an odd mix of bowling, redneck, bluegrass, and shame. Their performance lasted all of forty-five minutes and included both a Jimmy Martin original and Jeff Austin’s alter ego ‘Wookie’ spitting out Doritos™ on the stage. A bluegrass version of glam rockers Sweet’s “Fox On The Run” was a treat, while Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Blue Ridge Mountain Girl” was a bit more reserved. Rolling Stones’ bittersweet homage to broken relationships “All About You” made it into the mix. CBL went back to their roots with “Lost And I’ll Never Find My Way” before a debut of The Carter Family’s “Are You Tired My Darling.” They closed the set with a snappy rendition of the bluegrass traditional “Pig In A Pen.” As fans wandered outside for fresh air I heard one girl say, “Who were those guys, I didn’t get it.” One kinfolk gingerly explained the significance of what she had just witnessed. The show continued after a short break with Yonder Mountain String Band in their usual garb.
Yonder Mountain String Band
Set 1: Troubled Mind> 20 Eyes> Troubled Mind> Elzic’s Farewell> Sideshow Blues, Illinois Rain, Just Like Old Times*, Catch A Criminal*, Lonesome Letter*, Fingerprint*, Kentucky Mandolin*> Death Trip*
Set 2: What The Night Brings, 40 Miles from Denver, You’re No Good, Honestly, If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler (let him go)> Mother’s Only Son> If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler (let him go), Rag Doll*, Don’t Worry Happy Birthday*, Pockets*, Straight Line*, Robot Jam*> Whipping Post*
Encore: Steep Grades Sharp Curves*, 2 Hits And The Joint Turned Brown*
*w/ Roy Wilfred Wooten aka Future Man
They basically designed both sets to be the same. Beginning with just the string band and then about half way through inviting out Future Man who was playing on a regular kit. This as opposed to his usually performance with the Drumitar. The boys launched into the main event with the Kaufmann sung “Troubled Mind,” which segued nicely into “20 Eyes” before going back to where it began. Yonder didn’t miss a beat as they blasted into the traditional “Elzic’s Farewell,” a song thought to be played first by a French carpenter as he went off to fight in the Civil War. Mr. Austin led the boys on an intense ”Sideshow Blues,” but “Illinois Rain” was a bit of a lull in the action.
YMSB brought out Future Man for “Just Like Old Times.” Whenever Yonder adds a drummer they are immediately transformed from a string band into a bombastic jamgrass group. It gives them a wider range and the ability to shake up their normal dynamic. I’ve seen them with Jon Fishman as well as Future Man previously and the addition of percussion always makes for an entirely different musical result. Ben again took the microphone on “Catch A Criminal,” but it was Dave Johnston that absolutely shredded the banjo on this track. Future Man held it all in place, as he and Kaufmann truly gelled on stage. The set closing “Kentucky Mandolin” into “Death Trip” was absolutely jaw dropping.
The snow began to lightly fall outside dusting the roads nicely. The temperature had dropped significantly, but it was still a very pleasant December evening. Yonder came out for their third set just after midnight, meaning this one was going to go late. They opened with a beautifully constructed “What The Night Brings.” We were treated to some classic YMSB with “40 Miles From Denver” and “You’re No Good.” “Honestly” was Adam Aijala’s best performance of the night. The category of facial hair notwithstanding; Adam was the only one during the CBL set to show up with some real some authentic Joe Dirt style red neck chin curtain. “If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler (let him go)” into Mother’s Only Son” into “If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler (let him go)” is as epic to write as it was to see live. This was a nonstop rip through all the things that make bluegrass good.
They again invited Future Man out for the remainder of the set, which continued delicately with an intricate Austin led “Rag Doll.” They slowed it down with the Dave Johnston sung “Don’t Worry Happy Birthday” before Adam regaled us with their pop bluegrass original “Pockets.” They ended the second set with a transcendental Robot Jam into a perfect rendition of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post.”
Future Man really added an extra bit of zing to a stellar performance. Yonder Mountain String Bands is a group that can take on many forms within the realm of bluegrass. The fact that they opened for themselves as a bunch of burnt out bowling leaguers fixated on privacy and snacking proves that much. They encored with “Steep Grades Sharp Curves” before giving a little nod to the impending recreational sales with “2 Hits And The Joint Turned Brown.” As usual YMSB out did themselves as they continue to push their craft to the next level. The lackluster turnout on Saturday would be followed by two sold out shows including a star-studded fundraiser that demonstrates Yonder’s dedication to this community. This show felt like the sleeper of the run and it was only Saturday.
Night two would take us downtown to the Fillmore for Umphrey’s McGee. Review coming soon!
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:
There’s something special about seeing live music outdoors. There’s something even more special about seeing bluegrass outdoors. One of my favorite bluegrass acts to see is Yonder and they brought their foot stomping sounds to the beautiful outer harbor in downtown Buffalo, NY as part of the free Thursday at the Harbor line up on August 1st!
The downfall of an outdoors show is you can’t count on the weather. Thursday was no exception. I woke up out of bed that day like a little boy on Christmas as I have been looking forward to seeing Yonder since their amazing sets at Summer Camp, only to see rain, rain, and more rain. Hey, it’s summer. That wasn’t going to stop me. But something amazing happened… as the concert got closer and closer, the rain started to disappear and the sun started to shine. I knew Buffalo was in for a treat!
Railroad Earth opened up the show, and they are a band I never really knew much about, but having seen them 2 times in a month’s span, I am a huge fan already. Hailing from Stillwater, NJ, this band really knows how to bring it. Tim Carbone’s violin playing brings out so much emotion on stage and into the crowd. There was more then one time where it actually gave me goosebumps, and that is a great feeling. Railroad Earth also consists of Todd Sheaffer ( guitar, harmonica, vocals ), John Skehan ( mandolin, vocals, bouzouki ), Andy Goessling ( acoustic guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, saxophone, vocals), Carey Harmon ( drums ), Andrew Altman ( bass, vocals ).
Yonder was on pretty quickly after, and boy did they get that party started quickly. The band opened up with Cuckoo’s Nest and it really did put a smile on my face, but I was far from the only one. There is something about a Yonder show that has me people watching more then usual at a show. Seriously, if you are seeing them soon, turn around where ever you are standing. Look at the smiles, because it will be hard to find someone NOT smiling which is amazing!
There’s something else to look for when you see Yonder live, and if you aren’t already smiling, then watch Jeff Austin ( mandolin, vocals ) perform. His body language and facial expressions are so fitting for their music. Watching someone play such a small instrument so fast with those expressions just makes him glow and stand out live. Jeff isn’t the only one however; playing alongside the amazing talented Ben Kaufmann ( bass, vocals ), Dave Johnston ( banjo, vocals ), and Adam Aijala ( guitar, vocals ), these guys know how to play with emotion.
Yonder stormed out with Peace of Mind right after and it got Buffalo stomping around! I went with a group of people in which a specific girl I was with have never seen a bluegrass show before. Watching her dance around was so much fun, it’s always awesome when you expose someone to music like this and it pierces their souls in such a beautiful way.
YMSB has been playing together since 1998 and an included brownie point to them playing since then is there has been no past members. They are the original line up still raging just as hard 15 years later. It’s clear when you watch them communicate on stage while they are playing that they are truly like brothers. What I really like about them live is they are the perfect blend of professional and party mixed together and blasted out in acoustic form.
Yonder’s full set list from Buffalo:
Set 1: Cuckoo’s Nest > Peace Of Mind > Shake Me Up > Peace Of Mind, Catch A Criminal, Jail Song, Belle Parker, Loved You Enough, 40 Miles from Denver, All The Time, East Nashville Easter, Troubled Mind > 20 Eyes > Troubled Mind, Polly Put The Kettle On, New Speedway Boogie**> Traffic Jam** > Little Rabbit** > Traffic Jam**
Encore: Crazy**, Angel**
**Tim Carbone on fiddle
One of my personal favorite songs from the night was their last encore song, Angel. There’s something about Adam’s guitar playing in that song that really goes right through you in the best of all ways. It was a great way to end the perfect Yonder set right next to Buffalo’s water front. Having Tim Carbone out there on fiddle during that was just an extra special treat.
If you have even the slightest doubt of seeing YMSB, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and decide to just go. You will not be disappointed! Remember what I said earlier, you will be smiling and dancing… A combo that every person needs more often in their lives. You can check out their current dates here:
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.
Friday is now in the books. The weather was sunny, the night was cold, and the people were alive on the first official day of Summer Camp. Overnight it seemed there was a spontaneous combustion of tents filling every single inch of real estate in the woods. Hippie traps were plentiful.
Seeing a band you like for the first time is always exciting, especially when you see three or four big acts in the same day. For Friday’s list of sets I got to see STS9, Paper Diamond, and Yonder Mountain String Band. Sound Tribe threw in a nice variation of Scheme, my favorite song off their newest album, on their Friday Set. Paper Diamond has been an artist on my musical hit list ever since his album Levitate.
After the late night show things got interesting. A random encounter brought by a group of people introducing their “pet cooler” and they tried to convince the group the cooler was well behaved, potty-trained, and definitely a people-dog (cooler). This has happened to me three years in a row right by the campfire stage and it is funny every time. After meeting a few family “pets” we walked through the woods where suddenly tug of war competitions would come out of nowhere within a sea of people.
Lastly I just wanted to say that this year’s scheduling has the least amount of conflict I have seen through my festival experience. Last year it happened often with artists like Primus and Zeds Dead so it is nice when you don’t have to sacrifice experience.
Whoa! Thursday truly was a pre-party rager. Getting into Summer Camp was very smooth and everyone was clearly ready to party since the moment their cars entered the grounds. There was a nice mist flowing in when I first arrived in line, and it felt super refreshing and actually got me really pumped up! Every time the sun started peaking, everyone in line started getting rowdy.
My crew set up camp really fast in an awesome spot in the woods, and I was eager to go see some music with some awesome friends! I was able to catch a glimpse of Cosby Sweater on the Campfire stage and they killed it. My main goal Thursday night was to see Cornmeal since it would be my last time to see Allie play on stage and they killed it! Looking around, everyone in the whole crowd was dancing away with nothing but smiles. I was very happy that I was able to see them as that line up one last time. Right when Cornmeal ended, I wondered into the Vibe Tent and caught Positive Vibra8tions, and they killed it. I love being able to catch artists I have never heard of before, and even more so when they kill it!
Digital Tape Machine was up next and they are another act I have been waiting to see for a long time and they truly were awesome. Their set kept evolving and by the end it kept me wanting more. They really got the crowd pumped up for the weekend to come! This is the reason I love music festivals, and especially Summer Camp! You just keep going back and forth between awesome music and the stages are just minutes walk.
I went into the Red Barn at 11 to check it out in there and it was for sure a party. Minnesota killed it! He really had everyone going crazy in there, it was a rager. I love UV Hippo and was so pumped to catch them. The first time I saw them, I was hooked. They really kill it in the festival scene, and was so pumped to see them rage the Vibe Tent.
It was time for bed after that. It was an awesome first day of Summer Camp and I’m so excited for the awesome music to come. Friday is going to be a blast, announcing Moe and the awesome music to come. I’m really looking forward to Yonder, STS9, and Big Gigantic to name a few.
2013 Summer Camp Counselor
Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/0XuoazFvcJs
Can you believe Summer Camp 2013 is ONLY 44 days away? What do you think of the lineup the crew put together this year? Pretty amazeballs if you ask me. The festival mainstays of moe. & Umphrey’s are again front and center holding down headlining spots. But they share some pretty rarified company! The Wood Brothers and The Wailers were late adds that pleased many a camper. The only thing left to figure out is where everyone will be slotted with other great acts like Trey, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Avett Brothers, and YMSB.
I caught Thievery’s NYE show out in Vail as the ball dropped and we rang in 2013 at Dobson Ice Arena. Their mix of house electronic beats along side a live band with amazing female and male vocalists has been heard around the DC area for years. I’m thinking that the late night set with ZEDS DEAD is going to easily rival last years by Pretty Lights. Be sure to get your tickets to the RED BARN late nights while you still can. If not don’t worry they’ll have another set placed strategically throughout the awesome weekend at Three Sisters Park.
What sort of collaborations will we see this year at Camp? Will Trey get down with moe.? Will Yonder and Cornmeal team up? These are the questions that get people excited, and with 44 DAYS to go…let your imagination run wild.
Speaking of who is bringing rage sticks or totems this year? Last year saw some pretty unique creations, and I for one am gonna be scouting for the famous “STOP & GET DOWN” sign along with a host of others. I may give out prizes so be on the lookout for me and when you do see me throw up your best “rage face” for the picture.
I’m really thankful that this year i’ll have time in addition to covering the festival to hang with my band pals Family Groove Company, Old Shoe, Henhouse Prowlers, Afternoon Moon, Chicago Farmer, The Giving Tree Band, The Ragbirds, and Zmick. Friends are what makes the festival experience that much more special and its been almost a year since I hung out with my fellow CIT friends and Camp Counselor from last year. That’s a year TOO long for sure.
Let’s see besides seeing Widespread Panic this weekend at UIC. I’m heading out west on tour with Old Shoe as they play a few Colorado dates at the end of April. If you are around Fort Collins (4/17), Steamboat Springs (4/18), Denver (4/19), or Nederland (4/20) make sure you look up where they are playing on that Facebook thing and get on down to check them out pre SC2013! I’ll even share a tasty local beverage with you (if you are of age of course). Until we meet again at Camp keep your eyes peeled for the schedule and when its released start planning your romp through Three Sisters cause a good time starts with a good plan!
Mountain Standard Time a band that immediately rose to Front Range fame, as a stalwart jamgrass group seemed to disappear almost as quickly. Over just a few years MST performed on some of the biggest stages in Colorado as well as festivals across the country. They left the scene amid rumors, but now MST emerges after all the speculation with a new lineup and a three-night Mardi Gras run with Jeff Austin. The first stop on that run was Fort Collins.
Continuing my streak of Thursdays at the Aggie, I headed down early to catch the opening set from North Lake Tahoe exports Dead Winter Carpenters. This five piece Americana, rock group has continued to endear audiences across the country. They performed a classic DWC set opening the night with “Making A Living 101.”
Set 1: Making A Living 101, San Antoine, Nothing At All, Bootleg Jack, One Foot In The Gutter, Whiskey Ain’t My Wife, Levi, Nobody’s Fault, Walkin’ Shoes, I Shot Him, Holy Moses
Jenni Charles made her fiddle purr throughout their hour-long opening set, with a special kind of veracity that made every note seem special. Song titles like “Bootleg Jack” and “Whiskey Ain’t My Wife” hint at a simpler time in music, but there is absolutely nothing simple about their performance. Blending styles of country, folk, Americana, rock, roots, and so much more; the Dead Winter Carpenters are truly worth showing up early for. Sharing vocal duties with Jenni, bassist Dave Lockhart and duel guitarists Jesse Dunn and Bryan Daines add so much versatility to what this band can do in a live setting. They finished their set by inviting Nick Dunbar to jam on the last couple songs. In all honesty with shows like this one at the Aggie, it won’t be long before they are headlining the evening.
Finally after much anticipation, Mountain Standard Time took the stage sans Jeff Austin. By this point in the evening the room had filled in with eager college students. I talked to two who seemed slightly annoyed that more people hadn’t turned out.
“Don’t people know who Jeff Austin is?”- Bleary Eyed College Student
Actually the room was fairly full compared to what I have seen on Thursdays at this venue over the last month. And for the record I’m pretty sure people know who Jeff Austin is. Mountain Standard Time opened with “Door Jamb.”
Set 1: Door Jamb> Lioness, Behind The Bar, EMS, Daises, Moon Rocks, Picture, Annabelle, Wandering, No Expectations, Tear It Down
Set 2: Oxytocin, Fairy Meadows, Katy Anne, Guitar Playin’ Man, Speckley Boy, Mamow, Kentucky Mandolin, No One Sees, Boatman, PS
Encore: Rollin, Solace
Out of the gate Mountain Standard Time ripped through their classic repertoire with a tenacity that one would expect from a band hungry to tour. The first look at the group revealed two new members including Otis Lande on bass and former Yamn! keyboardist Ryan Ebarb. Ryan’s departure from Yamn sidelined them for a bit as well, so it’s great to see both of the local jam monsters out playing again. They delivered a searing set before suddenly inviting Mr. Austin to the stage. Starting in the MST catalog they segued nicely into Yonder Mountain String Band’s “No Expectations.” This song featured some sweet back and forth between Jeff and Nick Dunbar. They closed the first set with a massive “Tear It Down.”
The second set turned it up a notch with MST coming back strong. Opening with “Oxytocin” and stepping it up a bit Mountain Standard Time was definitely up to some of their old tricks. Stanton Sutton stood like a young John Oates on the stage, shredding the guitar for the crowd. The highlight of the show was another Jeff lead Bill Monroe instrumental, “Kentucky Mandolin.” They closed their set with a fiery “PS.” Mountain Standard Time is on the cusp of coming back in a big way in Colorado. With younger and younger bands flooding the airwaves, it’s good to see MST back in business. They are a refreshing band to watch and I’m glad they decided to return to their seat at the jamgrass table.
Here’s a little recap of my Sunday at Summer Camp. I began my morning with watching a random dude take a morning streaking run. If you were camped along the tree line across from the Moonshine stage, you probably saw him too at 9am. Nothin’ like making you’re last morning at Scamp more memorable.
Once I felt more wide awake from that sight, I headed to the usual 10am yoga. Like I said before, I LOOOOVE that Summer Camp had yoga at 10am. Because then I was able to make all session except for one. I never made it to the yoga sessions at other festivals since they were at 7 or 8am.
After catching some lunch, I headed over to the Field Day keg party and had a great time celebrating and getting to know all of the other teams and my fellow Yellow Teamers. I also was told that I was named MVP of the females on the Yellow Team, Woo! If you caught dodgeball, I was the last person standing for yellow with 5 men from purple starring me down like a piece of meat. It was a scary moment but fun at the same time. I also found out that my main squeeze Adam got MVP out of the males on the Yellow Team from when he won the only event for the Yellow Team which was arm wrestling. With being a first timer to Scamp, I really enjoyed having the option of participating in field day events, and I met so many great people through it too!
Then I began my afternoon filled with lots of bluegrass by catching some Greensky Bluegrass at the Moonshine stage. I moved on over to the Sunshine stage and caught the Devil Make Three, I’ve never seen them before and they were a fantastic three some! I continued on to get my next bluegrass fix at the Moonshine stage by catching some Yonder. I LOOOOVE me some bluegrass, such a great afternoon. Next I ran over to Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Sunshine stage. He put on an AMAZING show. I nearly cried 3 times because of how sincere he is and with the way that he connects with his fans. There was a young girl who was about 7 years-old who was standing side stage who he brought out on stage and Michael played a song that she requested earlier. The little girl was in complete shock and sang the entire song by his side, it was incredible. Here’s a pic of them singing together.
Then I caught some Victor Wooten. I’ve seen him once before, but man, he really knows how to get a crowd groovin’. Once he was done, I headed straight to the Vibetent to catch the band that I had been waiting all weekend for…Rubblebucket! As I waited for them to set up, I watched as a group of about 10 people came in with decorated white masks that said “Rubblebucket” on them. Then I realized that they had to be awesome since they had their own streetteam/true fans that came to Summer Camp to dance and cheer them on. When Rubblebucket started playing, everyone started dancing and I was amazed to see that they had a total of 8 people playing in their band! Once I danced my booty off at Rubblebucket’s show, I headed over to the Summer Camp Counselor Maria’s camp to catch her private show which included members of moe. and Greensky Bluegrass. It was an amazing show and here’s a picture of it
It was hard to leave all of the amazing friends that I met, but then I headed on to my last show at Summer Camp which was Jane’s Addiction. I’ve seen Perry perform before twice, but to see him with his original band Jane’s Addiction was an amazing experience. They made my night by playing Just Because and ending their set with everyone’s favorite, Jane Says. If you were at their set, one thing is for sure, Perry does NOT like glowsticks. When it was over, my man and I picked up some homemade delicious ice cream and sadly headed out of Summer Camp saying goodbye to Three Sisters Park about 10 times before I made it off the premises.
Love, hugs, and thugs,