PROUDLY CELEBRATING 21+ WONDERFUL YEARS OF MUSIC - CULTURE & FAMILY, ALL THANKS TO YOU!

MAY 26 - 28, 2023

THREE SISTERS PARK - CHILLICOTHE, IL

Camp Counselor Sasha Finally Hits Double Digits

Camp Counselor Sasha Finally Hits Double Digits

(cover photo by Emerald Elements)

A wise man with a watermelon on his head once told me “10 SCamps no pants!” It was a bit chilly and wet for me to forego the pants entirely this weekend, but I’m happy to say that I finally hit double digits in my Summer Camp count! My first SCamp happened way back in 2004 when I skipped senior prom to attend. It’s been a wild ride, to say the least! Here’s a quick recap of my 10th trip to the best fest in the Midwest.

Wednesday

For the first time in my illustrious SCamp career, I was able to make it down on Wednesday for the Camp Counselor potluck. Geography and work have kept me from attending this pre-pre-party until this, my 5th year as one of your trusty counselors.

Thanks to some inclement weather, it was more like a slumber party than a cookout this year. Most of us decided not to set up camp in the rain and instead piled into the church with our air mattresses. Thankfully, there was still some delicious BBQ pork courtesy of Camp Counselor Kevin.

red barn
The calm before the storm.

During the weekend, us counselors stay quite busy. We’ve all got things like interviews and photo shoots to tend to and we all have different tastes in music. It’s fun getting to hang out with the whole gang on Wednesday and just have a good time. It really is an honor to be a part of this group, and I’d encourage you to apply next year if you’ve been thinking about it.

Speaking of that, we welcomed three new counselors this year – Cat, Andrew, and Bryce. They all bring some serious skills to the table and we’re happy that they’re here!

At one point in the evening, some of us walked up to the front gate to say hi to the hardcore SCampers that were camping out in line. You people are the real superstars of Summer Camp! We appreciate your dedication and enthusiasm.

After a long day of packing and driving, we settled into our little nook in the church and fell asleep around 1 AM.

thursday crowd
Gates opening up on Thursday!

Thursday

The church was abuzz with activity early on Thursday morning. We all finished loading our stuff in and got golf cart rides to our preferred campsites. For us and a few other counselors, that was up on the hill in the VIP woods.

On a trip out to the car, I managed to catch the countdown to noon at the front gate. Isn’t it cool that we have live bands playing right there at the front these days? I stopped to catch a few songs and snap some shots of the crowd making their way into Three Sisters Park.

We got set up just in time for me to run to my first set of the weekend. Pajamas won the On the Road contest in Ann Arbor so I had to show some love to fellow Michiganders. They had a good turnout and played a fun set complete with some very cool visuals. I even got to interview Nick and Graham from the band and had a nice chat with them, so stay tuned for that!

pajamas
My first show of SCamp ’22!

Unfortunately, the weather turned sour after their set. With grey skies looming and the sound of thunder, I headed back to camp to ensure our EZ up didn’t cave in. There was a bit of a delay in the music, but the show must and did go on. Other counselors would later regale me with tales of some fun Thursday afternoon sets over in the Illumination Woods, so I’m glad to hear people were out having fun in the rain.

As for this old-timer, I was saving my energy for a huge Thursday night. First up was STS9 on the Sunshine Stage. I’ve been seeing them for almost 20 years now and this was an excellent set to get the crowd hyped up for a big evening.

sts9 thursday
Jellyfish love STS9.

I had planned to jet over to Umphrey’s McGee at 11 PM sharp, but Tribe went into “Breathe In” – one of my all-time favorite songs. When they finally wrapped things up, we made the trek over to the Red Barn ready to rock.

Even though it’s nice and warm in the Barn, I had chills seeing Jake Cinninger back on stage. I’m glad he got the rest he needed so he can continue to rage and repeat for us with UM. All the Umphreaks in attendance were beyond thrilled to have him back.

While we missed a few tunes, we caught the massive “Speak Up” > “Ringo” segment. I always love a good “Pay the Snucka” encore as well, especially when they do all three parts and I get to channel my inner Beavis & Butthead while headbanging.

umph red barn
Welcome back Jake!

From there, we stepped outside to the Campfire Stage for Sun Stereo. A bunch of the other counselors love these guys and for good reason. They put on one helluva show! Their website is definitely correct in describing them as a “full sensory explosion.”

It was time to get weird next, as we headed to Starshine for a psychedelic adventure with Shpongle. There were lots of lazers and glow toys. I just love how many different vibes you can experience in one night at SCamp.

Once Mr. Posford finished up by saying “I guess the show is over now… it’s a shame because I had just taken off my trousers!”, we cruised back to the Red Barn for some Doom Flamingo. It’s been a real treat watching the growth of this band over the past few years and the future is very bright for them.

Last but not least, we walked through the good ole’ Wookie Woods to catch the tail end of the Magic Beans in the VIP Tent. We’ve been listening to them for years and that was our first time finally seeing them live. Let’s get them back at SCamp next year, shall we?

crowd at night
Leaving Shpongle and heading into the woods.

Friday

As my mornings tend to go at Summer Camp, I started with my Holy Trinity of Emergen-C, Green Goodness smoothie, and ice coffee. I then tossed a few pre-made breakfast tacos on the grill, splashed some hot sauce on them, and headed off on my morning commute.

The rain boots came in handy as I walked through the woods to our first meeting of the weekend. You have to be prepared for any and all kinds of weather at SCamp!

Our meeting was short and sweet, capped off by getting our SCamp ’22 shirts and a group photo. We then went our separate ways before meeting up backstage at Moonshine. A few of us decided to head to Keller Williams‘ Grateful Grass for some bluegrass versions of the best band to ever do it.

camp counselors
Your ’22 Camp Counselors!
grateful grass
Grateful for some bluegrass Dead tunes!

One of the perks of being a Camp Counselor is getting to introduce moe. on Friday afternoon. While it wasn’t technically my year, I got the nod for my 10th SCamp. Unfortunately, that pesky weather delayed the set a bit. We decided to go for it the following night instead and all the counselors dispersed to do our own thing.

I made my way out into the Moonshine field to catch moe. anyways. After all, they were the first jamband I saw 20 years ago and will always be one of my faves. While we didn’t do our intro just yet, I got to watch part of the show from side-stage and be in awe of Vinnie Amico on the drums.

moe friday
Gimme some moe.
doom flamingo
Queen is Doomed

Next up was the Queen is Doomed set at Sunshine. Kanika Moore does a pretty awesome Freddy Mercury and the band clearly practiced these tunes a lot. Me and Franny the Flamingo had a blast at this set.

Back at Moonshine, we caught the first set of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead then watched some of the undead at Here Come the Mummies. That’s got to be one of the coolest festival segues ever, by the way.

mummies
We love having the Mummies at SCamp.

A much-needed break at camp came next, where we chowed down and filled the cooler with some smooth drinkin’ beers. It was time to put the pedal to the metal from there, with an absolutely stacked Friday night.

We kicked things off with another face-melting set of Umph. While we missed the first set on Friday, we made up for it by raging that massive “Triple Wide” and every single note that followed.

Phil’s Farm” was the perfect anthem for a slightly muddy edition of SCamp – “We don’t shower, we don’t shave. We all live like kings, but we all eat like pigs. We laugh, we joke, we drink, we smoke.”

umph friday
\mm/

It was a nice treat having STS9 back on Moonshine for the first time in many years. They delivered a stellar old-school set, complete with a “Circus” ending that had me grinning from ear to ear. I even got to catch some of the set from side-stage – one of the many perks of Camp Counselor life!

I guess we must have had fun on Thursday because we basically went back for seconds on Friday. After another dose of Umph and Tribe, we went back for a bit more Shpongle. On the way, we made sure to catch a few tunes from Ghost Light.

There was a lot going on late-night this year and we wanted to somehow see it all. First up we hit moe. and Friends at The Campfire Stage. Speaking of the campfire, can we stop to appreciate how epic it is these days? Back in my day, it was just a couple of wooks throwing sticks on a half-assed fire. That thing rages all night every night these days!

campfire
Gather ’round the campfire.

We took the scenic way back to camp, stopping first by Soulshine for the Little Stranger set with members of Doom Flamingo. When we spotted a few open hammocks, we decided to take a load off and enjoy the music from a horizontal position.

To close out the night, we caught the end of Kick the Cat in VIP. Kris Myers is the hardest working man in show business, and his drumsticks are proof. He beat them up so much at SCamp that he caught some shrapnel in his eye and they had to end the set a few minutes early. He was back at it the next day for two more sets of music, though. What a trooper!

kick the cat
Kris Myers is a beast.

As we tend to do, we continued the party at the campsite into the wee hours of the morning. Camp Counselor Nikki almost convinced me to go to sunrise kickball for the first time ever, but I decided in favor of a few hours of sleep. I just can’t win on team no sleep… Maybe next year. But probably not. I’m glad you crazy kids had fun, though!

Saturday

My Saturday started exactly the same way Friday did, except it was much drier and sunnier out. Hooray! Another breakfast taco, another walk through the woods, another meeting. Wash, rinse, repeat. Speaking of washing, I actually took a shower Saturday morning. Yay for VIP perks!

Since I was already over on the other side of the park, I decided to check out Yam Yam. It takes a lot to get me excited at 1 PM on a hot Saturday afternoon at SCamp, and these guys did just that. I even got up front and stayed for the duration of their set. Check ’em out if you haven’t already!

yam yam
These guys sure know how to yam!

From there I high-tailed it back to the VIP Tent to catch the Everyone Orchestra set. This lineup featured members of moe., the Main Squeeze, and Lespecial. They really clicked and it was a super fun set. Matt Butler has this thing down to a science by now and it’s great that we get this at SCamp every year.

I finally grabbed my merch and beer – perk #87 of going VIP. The shirts and posters were absolutely sick this year. Probably my favorite and I have quite a few… Oh and I also got a pic with the legend Watermelon Steve, who I later sat down to interview for the Camp Counselor program, so stay tuned for that!

everyone orchestra
What a great lineup this year!
melon steve
With the legend Watermelon Steve at Everyone Orchestra.

Once again, I was faced with an absolutely stacked day of music. First up was a trip to Sunshine to catch the last few tunes from Magic City Hippies. I finally managed to blow up my Chillbo Baggins (pro tip – use a big hand fan instead of running around like an idiot).

Next up was Aqueous over at Starshine, where I once again plopped down on my inflatable couch. Sometimes you just gotta rest your legs even when the music is raging. And rage these guys did!

During their set, I got a text from Dogs in a Pile‘s manager. I covered their show in Asheville this winter and had been talking with them about doing something cool at SCamp. We decided last minute that I would introduce the band for their set on the Campfire Stage.

dogs in a pile
Introducing my friends sure is fun.

The crowd was pumped and the boys from Asbury Park, NJ delivered a stellar show for their SCamp debut. Get used to seeing these guys as they’re gonna be moving up festival lineups real quick. As Macho Man once said, “The cream rises to the top!”

From there we flocked over to Moonshine for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. We got there right in time for a “Julia” > “Nothing But Flowers” > “Julia” sandwich, and what a tasty sandwich it was! These guys really do put the “Fun in Funk” and we’re happy they’re part of the SCamp fam.

happy scampers
We <3 SCamp!
pigeons
They put the fun in funk.

What came first – the pigeon or the egg? It was the pigeon this time around as we made our way to Soulshine for the Eggy set that followed. I met these guys at a show in Charlotte recently and have been jamming to their live sets on Nugs quite a bit. With my shiny new Eggy hat on, I got right on the rail to see their first note ever at Summer Camp.

They brought a lot of energy to their one-hour set, including a fantastic version of Jerry Garcia’s “Cats Under the Stars.” Let’s get them back next year and give them an extra half hour, shall we?

eggy
These guys are egg-cellent!

Next up, it was finally time for my big moe.ment. The Counselors met behind Moonshine and got our “Chuck Love” and “Chuck Side” signs ready. I was nervous as all hell but the All Day IPA helped calm the nerves a bit.

We walked on stage to see a packed bowl full of wooks and glow toys. I gave my short but sweet intro about my 20 years of seeing moe. and ten years of coming to SCamp and told everyone “Tonight, we are all Chuck Side!” That sure was fun.

That first moe. set on Saturday night was an absolute heater. So was the Umph set that followed. It’s the best one-two punch of improvisational rock out there folks. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, really.

moe lights
Freaking lazer beams.

Towards the end of the moe./Umph sandwich, I got a case of itchy feet and decided to take a stroll through the Illumination Woods. This place looked so freaking cool this year. Props to the team for setting that thing up!

I dropped in the Barn to see what those Pigeons were up to, and they just so happened to bring a friend from TAUK out for a song. It was nice and toasty in the barn, which was welcome as a chilly wind blew across the park.

With the clock approaching 2, I thought I could make it back for the end of Umphrey’s. That was until I got lost in the untz of Malaa on Starshine. Of course, this caused me to miss “Glory” – our wedding song. My wife sent me a text with a sad face. Big sad face, indeed. You can’t win them all…

lespecial
Brain = melted.

My frown got turned upside down real quick. In fact, I’m pretty sure my brains just spilled out of my head entirely as Lespecial gave us two hours of Primus in the wee hours of the morning. They even got hippies to mosh by saying “We asked moe. and Umphrey’s and they said it’s OK for you guys to mosh!” Epic.

Last but not least, we ventured back to the VIP Tent for Neighbor. They were down a guitarist as his wife just had a baby, but Rob from Dopapod sat in and they did a great job for never having played together. These guys are going to blow up soon. I can just feel it.

neighbor
Howdy, Neighbor.

Sunday

Ahhh Sunday at SCamp. No more meetings. Waterlogged food and lukewarm beers in the cooler. It’s go time! Some lovely bluegrass courtesy of Yonder Mountain String Band got our day started over in VIP. What a great way to start a Sunday afternoon!

Next up it was time to go to the church of Jake Cinninger with the final set of Umph. We relaxed in Camp Counselor Niki’s giant unicorn and saved energy for one last push to the finish line.

sc22 scampers robert kjev 46 scaled(photo by Robert K. Multimedia)

Unfortunately, I had to miss a lot of music on Sunday afternoon. It was worth it, though, to catch my old friends Cherub leading a panel discussion with university students in the church. When that wrapped up, I got to interview them. I’ve known these dudes for 15 years now and I’m so proud of them!

After the interview, I walked through the woods headed towards Moonshine. You know I had just had to stop when a photo opp with the one and only Uncle Randy presented itself…

me and randy
Uncle Randy!

I made it back to Moonshine in time to catch the end of moe.’s first set. My friends are always soundboard right and thus easy to find. It’s a beautiful group and this is our family reunion every year. Lots of hugs on this last day of SCamp!

High school me was so excited for the next set as I went over to see Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. I got up to the soundboard and got down to songs like “First of the Month.” While it was fun, I had places to go and bands to see.

btnh
Wake up, wake up.

Admittedly, I haven’t listened to that much Little Feat. I do know their classic album “Waiting for Columbus” quite well, though, as Phish covered it on Halloween one year. It was pretty awesome that the legends themselves showed up at SCamp to play the album in its entirety for us!

Andy Frasco even came out for a tune and we were having a blast, but I had to boogie back to Starshine to introduce my friends… Unfortunately, even us superhuman Camp Counselors can’t see every single note of music at SCamp.

little feat
Moonshine was packed for Little Feat.

Thanks to Jason and Jordan AKA Cherub for having me get up on stage with them. The Rage Champs of Summer Camp, ladies & gentlemen!

Back in the day, these guys used to do pop-up sets at the campsite around 5 AM. It’s so cool seeing them play to a packed house at Summer Camp with their amazing stage production. Long live Cherub!

cherub
On stage with Cherub!

Speaking of legends, we got to see the freaking Smashing Pumpkins next! We got up to the soundboard just in time to hear my favorite tune – “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.” It always is at SCamp!

I know a lot of people were complaining about the sound there and we’re really sorry if you had a bad time. The high winds caused the speakers to be lowered and the big crowd that turned out for this show made it very difficult for people in the back to hear. Unfortunately, this comes with the territory of having big outdoor festivals…

We couldn’t handle the crowd or the faint sound either, so we headed back to Moonshine for one more set of moe. I’m glad they went beyond the 11:30 end time and played an extra half hour or so for us!

backstage lights
Even the lights backstage are awesome.

I had all intentions of going to the Frick Frack Casino, but the late end to moe. ensured that wouldn’t happen this year. It’s fine – I suck at gambling anyways. A surefire bet is going to see Lespecial do a midnight set on the Campfire Stage, so that’s just what we did!

Counselors were alerted that there would be some shenanigans with one Ryan Stasik, but none of us were prepared for the slap heard ’round the world! He better keep an eye over his shoulder at Red Rocks in a few weeks…

Some of my fellow, untz-loving Counselors told me I had to get my Daily Bread this year, so I dragged my old ass over to Starshine and plopped down in my (get off my) lawn chair. Damn that was fun! Thanks for the rec, Ashlee and Niki!

Is there possibly a better person to close out Summer Camp than the one and only Andy Frasco? I sure as hell don’t think so! When I interviewed him a few weeks ago, he promised that every musician left at SCamp would sit in with him, and the MFer actually delivered! What an epic party to close things down on the Campfire.

sasha frasco
We are the champions.

That wasn’t the only thing going on in the witching hour, though. We took the scenic way home to get some more Daily Bread in the Illumination Woods and a bit of Aqueous with the Horn Section doing David Bowie.

That was a great soundtrack to take us all the way back to VIP, where our buddy Jason from Cherub and Maddy O’Neal were dropping some hot beats at the closing party. While the festival officially ended at 4 AM, they kept the party going all the way until sunrise. Have I convinced you to go VIP next year yet?

jason maddy
What a dynamic DJ duo!

And that’s a wrap on my 10th Summer Camp! I know I say this every year, but this was the best Summer Camp ever. Until next year…

Camp Counselor Sasha