Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cheech and Chong with War 6.21.13


Thunder Valley Amphitheater
Loveland, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock


No two names are more synonymous with pot culture than Cheech and Chong. It has been twenty-some years since this comedy duo parted ways following the release of Get Out Of My Room. With sporadic interaction throughout the last decade it wasn’t until 2008 that they finally began to perform together again. Each one is less than the sum of their collaboration. Cheech spent a long time trying to break into the mainstream including his long stint on Nash Bridges and supporting roles in several Hollywood films. Tommy tended to lay lower with reoccurring characters on various sitcoms. That is until he was caught up in the ridiculous sting, which was part of Operation Pipe Dreams. Mr. Chong was the crown jewel of this 12 million dollar government boondoggle that landed him in prison for nine months. Cheech found himself divorced and on the backend of a downward facing run in Los Angeles. They both emerged as funny and talented as they ever were, albeit slightly greyer and possibly a bit wiser.

For many it was a nostalgia trip, but for me it was a chance to see and photograph a couple of the most innovative and approachable heroes ever to play the comedy game. Thunder Mountain Amphitheater is a venue conveniently placed in front of a conglomerate of radio stations. This room holds around 4400 with a nice grassy knoll that frames a cement floor in front of the stage. There were just less than 3000 that made their way out to the show. This meant that there was plenty of room to maneuver, but a nice assemblage nonetheless.

“We humbly request that you don’t yell out any stupid shit…” – Chong





The show began with a quick set from Tommy’s wife Shelby Chong. She played the ditzy MC and she detailed the acid fueled clandestine meeting of her husband in a grocery store. She revved up the audience for the two stars of the show. At one point she reprimanded the drummer for tuning up while she was warming up the crowd. Cheech and Chong came to the stage amidst while cheers and a thick smoke permeating from the spectators. Their introduction took the form of a pre-arranged Q and A where Shelby tossed them both various pre-arranged questions. They talked about their professional history and Chong’s short stint in the big house. They ended by inviting War out and singing a few of their classics with them including “Basketball Jones” and “Save The Whales.”

War performed for about thirty more minutes. Their sound was that smooth California funk that made them famous. They included a version of “Summer” which seemed to energize the crowd. War is currently a seven-piece, however the only original member is Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan on keys and vocals. They closed out the set and everyone took a short break.

The second set began with a series of classic Cheech and Chong sketches. Save for a few modern references it was pretty much the typical shtick that we’ve all grown up with. They riffed on their regular characters such as “Low Riders” and “Dink Winkerson” without missing a beat. The audience roared with laughter as they ran the gambit of all the things that made them famously lovable. After a bit more back and forth War returned for an extended set of their hits. They played “Cisco Kid,” “Spill The Wine,” and the highly anticipated “Lowrider.” I have to say that these guys sounded great. I understand that most of the original members have either passed or moved on, but they are still playing the music that made them a sensation in the 1970’s incredibly well. Their smooth approach continues to be inviting and enjoyable. Towards the end of the show Chong appeared as his blues singing character “Blind Melon Chitlin.” Singing “Ding Dong” with a few fresh twists and turns the show could have easily ended there. However Cheech appeared in his pink tutu and proceeded to shred some face. Chong returned with Cheech and they both sang “Mexican Americans” and “Born In East L.A.” Tommy proceeded to introduce the band only momentarily forgetting the drummer’s name. They closed the show with a massive sing-along on “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” All in all I found their stage show to be both highly nostalgic and utterly pleasurable. The opportunities to see these two performing together are limited so I was thankful that they chose to make a stop in Loveland, Colorado. We can only hope that these two comedic greats continue spreading joy for years to come.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

www.cheechandchong.com

www.war.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

LOHI Music Festival 6.15.13


Highland Tap & Burger
Denver, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Audio By Ed Simon


The LOHI Festival is a musical street fair tucked into the Lower Highlands of Denver, Colorado. Stretching a full city block in front of the Highland Tap and Burger this event is truly a gem in Denver’s summer concert schedule. Featuring two stages, a wide array of food vendors, and a nice selection of beer, LOHI has everything a concertgoer could want. The day began early under a beautiful blue sky with Garrett Sayers Trio. Unfortunately, due to traffic and a late start I was unable to make his set, which began just after noon. However we did make it in plenty of time to see world jam connoisseurs Euforquestra open up the Spring 44 stage.

Euforquestra recently suffered a blow when their drummer Craig Babineau hyper extended his shoulder just before their last jaunt out on the road. While he's healing, Jet Edison’s Alex Johnson has been filling in quite well on the kit. Scott Mast continues to blossom on percussion as Euforquestra also invites various guests to sit in on the second saxophone spot left vacant by new father Ryan Jeter. This time The Motet’s Matt Pitts again took the space helping to fill out their already full sound. Their set consisted of some fun covers and some of their best originals. Beck’s “Nicotine and Gravy” was a real crowd pleaser, but it was “Road Funk” and “Price Is Right” that really demonstrated the legitimacy of this band.



Euforquestra Live at LoHi Music Festival - Spring 44 Stage on June 15, 2013.



Springdale Quartet was up next on the HTB Stage. Each set began as the previous finished so that no one missed a note of music. This primarily instrumental jazz quartet continues to amaze every time they perform. They are a tight musical formation that has the ability to detonate in a way that is jaw dropping. Their set at LoHi was a non-stop forty-five minutes that left fans wanting more. “Drop That Stick” was an explosive jam featuring some stellar drum work from Greg Russell. They entertained with an instrumental version of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” We were told that this version would be included on their upcoming album produced by Alan Evans. Springdale was joined by virtuoso Pete Wall on saxophone for the end of their set. They closed with their original “Charlie Jean.”



Toubab Krewe is a band that defies categorization on many levels. Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, this quintet unifies West African roots music with pure rock and roll. I have wanted to see them for quite some time, but this was my first chance. It was a beautiful set that demonstrated some of the most incredible music being performed live today. After a quick intro by Matt Butler they opened with “Marietou.”

Toubab Krewe Live at LoHi Music Festival - Spring 44 Stage on June 15, 2013.



Set One: Marietou, Maliba, Area Code and Konkoba, Kaira, John Hardy, Cluck Old Hen, Lamine’s, Water Ritual

Blending both time-honored African music as well as riff-heavy rock Toubab Krewe’s set was hypnotic. The highlight was a fifteen-minute traditional version of “Kaira.” They closed by asking for rain by inviting all those present to drink water. It was truly a great musical experience.



Blake’s Tiger Party followed on the Tap Stage. This is a collective of musicians that specializes in funky goodness. The lineup included Pete Wall, Joey Porter, Ryan Burnett, Josh Fairman, and Seth Fankhauser. The Highland Tap and Burger has become a place for bands to develop and grow within the confines of a residency. Tiger Party seems to be the next band that will incubate in this environment and grow into a fully developed project. Their set at LoHi was eye opening to say the least. Matt Butler came to the stage and orchestrated another funk fueled jam. Finally, they invited female vocalist, Ashley Niven, up to end their set. Tiger Party is a versatile and interesting group and I look forward to seeing them reach great heights in the Denver music scene.



The New Mastersounds were given just over ninety minutes to demonstrate their incredible brand of funky UK jazz. They opened with “Soulshine.”

New Mastersounds Live at LoHi Music Festival on June 15, 2013.



Set One: Soulshine, Dusty Groove, The Road to Fuji Rock, Yo Moma, Fast Man, Summercamp, You Mess Me UP, Take What You Need, Carrot Juice, Hole In The Bag, San Frantico, Eazin Down, Pure



The New Mastersounds were a huge draw for LoHi and an amazing addition to the lineup. Their musical output lead by guitarist Eddie Roberts is impeccable. Simon Allen engaged the audience clad in a pair of Speedos as he snapped away on the drums. The set was too much fun as the light grew golden around the buildings that framed the festival.

Poor Man’s Whiskey went on just before 7:00 PM with special guest Allie Kral. Allie’s departure from Cornmeal has already had quite the effect on the jam and bluegrass community. She will persevere as is obvious by her set with Poor Man’s Whiskey. Busting out tunes like “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and their original “Humboldt Hoedown,” Allie’s fiery violin was an impressive addition to the classic tone of Poor Man’s Whiskey. Their set was the longest on the HTB stage and a great close to that side of LoHi.

It was finally time for the main event. Kyle Hollingsworth Band was given a two-hour set on the main stage. Just prior to their start Matt Butler came out and gave the microphone to two young lovers. A man proposed to his girlfriend on the stage and she luckily said, "Yes." Following the very public proposal, Kyle came out with his group consisting of Garrett Sayers, Dave Watts, and Dan Schwindt. Kyle has one the most enjoyable String Cheese side projects currently touring. The exact flair that he adds to SCI is distilled into this multi-talented band. This particular show also included Michael Kang sitting in for the extended set. They began with “Racer X.”





Kyle Hollingsworth Band Live at LoHi Music Festival on June 15, 2013.



This was just a great musical display from KHB. After a song or two Michael Kang came out and remained for the rest of the night on the Spring 44 stage. “Can’t Wait Another Day,” Kyle’s tribute to his daughter was a great early addition. However the “Way That It Goes" into “Slipnot” into “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was the true highlight. Matt Butler joined them for an orchestrated jam. They closed with Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.” As the moon rose over the massive crowd it was clear that LoHi Music Festival was another incredibly successful occasion in Denver. With just over ten hours of continuous live music LoHi proved to be just about all we could handle. Even with a huge late night show looming we decided to call it a night. LoHi Music Festival is quickly becoming a tradition not to be missed in Denver. I look forward to watching it grow and expand as time goes on.

Nicholas Photo Gallery

www.lohimusicfestival.com

Friday, June 21, 2013

Two Nights of Umphrey's McGee in Colorado 6.7 & 6.8


Words By J-man
Photos By Kevin Hahn


At a time of elevated expectations, unchecked judgement and the saturation of many of the country's music scenes, one band continues their climb to the top. A large part of Umphrey's McGee's rise to musical power has included attention to the mountain state of Colorado. Overwhelming passion and repeated showings from their fans in CO have yielded a raised bar and direct criticism of every show that the band performs. To speak bluntly, Umphrey's McGee's last couple of Red Rock shows have fallen short in the minds of many die hard "Umphreaks," creating a notion that their Boulder show that typically follows Red Rocks is the show not to be missed. With a huge announcement in the works, Umphrey's McGee had big plans for their two night Colorado run. Night one would take place at the fabled Red Rocks Amphitheatre, whereas night two would unfold at the almost unfamiliar Chautauqua Auditorium, nestled at the base of the ever-so-epic Flatirons (large flat rock faces in succession that shoot from the ground in an impressive array).

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO


The lot at Red Rocks became the center of the universe for UM fans on Friday evening, with many folks skipping out on work to make it out early for the party. As the lot filled in from south to north, the stage was set for an evening with one of our scene's greatest bands at arguably the country's greatest venue. From all directions people of all ages converged on Red Rocks while openers Delta Spirit and Dr. Dog warmed up the crowd for an action packed evening of ripping virtuosity. As the sun set, the house music transformed into the orchestral "In The Hall of The Mountain King" with the boys from Chicago taking the stage and playing along. They began with the classic song "Divisions," off of their debut album Greatest Hits Vol. III. Wasting no time at all, UM took it from zero to sixty with soaring instrumentation, duel leads and massive solo work that include shredding just a couple of minutes into the set. For any other band, the song could have been an encore, but for those in attendance on that Friday, "Divisions" was just the beginning. The unfinished song seamlessly transitioned into "The Floor," another song that has been in the band's arsenal for years. It built and built with a perfect tempo, laying the foundation for Brendan Bayliss to take over on vocals, before initially taking an intense turn, then resolving to peaking guitar work from Jake Cinninger. Twenty four minutes after the set began, the crowd was given their first breather.

"Loose Ends" followed for the evening's first short song, again featuring Bayliss' vocals. "Loose Ends" transitioned into "40's Theme," a song that the band has been playing for over a decade. As things slowed down in the middle of the song, Jake took the liberty of introducing the band starting with Ryan Stasik. "This is kind of where we start the groove from, you see." Jake said with a smile. "A lot of times it just starts with this," as Stasik thumped away. "Sometimes that's all you need," Jake said as a sort of follow up. Joel Cummins' intro followed, with Andy Farag sliding in on the congas per Jake's request. Kris Myers came next with Bayliss getting his mention before taking over to intro Jake. There was a light breeze in the air as Jake jumped into an airy solo that soared through impressive arpeggios and perfect tone, before the band once again took off returning to the signature lick from "40's Theme!" The crowd erupted with appreciation. It was clear already that the evening was not "just another UM Red Rocks show."

Favorite, "In The Kitchen" triggered the true fans to sing along with Bayliss as they tore through yet another classic Umphrey's original before heading into a spacey realm. The evening's cover/mash-up came in the form of "Frankie Zombie." The debut single "Relax" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood collided with Rob Zombie's "Thunder Kiss 65!" The result was nonsensical yet quite enjoyable. Next up was the first set closer, "Miss Tinkle's Overture," which is also on Anchor Drops alongside "In The Kitchen." The crowd was thrilled as Jefferson Waffle flexed his visual muscles the whole show up to that point, outputting one of the most impressive touring light shows on the scene. Towards the middle of the composition, the band cut loose, featuring some tasty grooves and an impressive sense of direction. Myers lead the charge reflecting epic precision and timing pulling into the closing of the the first set.

The second set began with "Triple Wide," a crunchy favorite that opens up to endless improvisational possibilities. Red Rocks became a dance party! Folks rushed back to their seats as to not miss a minute of the performance. Heavy synth work from Joel took the band straight into "1348" from their 2009 release, Mantis. Distortion built with fury as "1348" kicked into full gear. The venue became a madhouse of people dancing and celebrating what up to that point was an incredible setlist. Atmospheric highs dropped down into the signature lick before one last instrumental burst. The set continued with "Push The Pig," making room for Joel to show what he could do on the synth. Also at the forefront was Stasik, dropping phat baselines that made the crowd wobble with sensual low end delight. "Push The Pig" jumped up a beat and transitioned into the newer, "Comma Later." The song's jam was already well developed with the band diving into an interesting section. Another throwback came in the form of "Glory" with Jake chopping away at his guitar in a percussive fashion. The sweet song built into something powerful and prominent before the band returned to the earlier unfinished "Divisions!" Another transition to another throwback from over a decade ago, came with "Get In The Van."

As the second set wound down the band continued the charge with "August," another song off of their debut album from 1998. After a short couple of minutes, they segued into "Big Heart," for a few minutes returning to "August" with Bayliss' vocals. The middle through to the end of the song was a perfect example of UM's rage and fluid ability. As folks feared the second set was over, it was clear the band intended to continue... and continue they did with AC/DC's hit song "Thunderstruck" off of their 1990 album, Razor's Edge! Long time UM family member, Clayton Halsey, joined the band on vocals. The opening lick sent the crowd into a frenzy and Waffle reaching into his bag of tricks for some raging pyrotechnics! This was a Rock N Roll show and UM had the riffs, rage and fire to prove it. With the conclusion of the second set, the band exited the stage and up on the screen came the announcement of three nights at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, CO for New Years! After letting the crowd soak in the news and text their friends across the country, the band returned for a short "Preamble" that opened up to the title track from their 2009 release, Mantis! One last trip through a handful of peaks and valleys lead to the evening's final notes.

Fans old and new exited the venue in a haze, trying to piece together what they had just experienced. The talk of the lot was Chautauqua and what the following night would bring. For many it was a pipe dream, as the Auditorium only holds 1,300 people, a fraction of what Red Rocks could accommodate. For 1,300 lucky fans, the following night in Boulder would be a very special treat!

Set One: Divisions > The Floor, Loose Ends > 40's Theme, In The Kitchen, Frankie Zombie, Miss Tinkle's Overture

Set Two: The Triple Wide -> 1348, Push the Pig > Comma Later, Glory > Divisions > Get In The Van, August > Big Heart > August, Thunderstruck

Encore: Preamble > Mantis


Chautauqua Auditorium
Boulder, CO


Umphrey's fans shifted their universe to Boulder on Saturday night with just over a thousand lucky fans clutching what felt like a golden ticket. The approach to the auditorium had the feel of a college campus with blankets in the grass and frisbees in the air. Familiar UM fans hugged and celebrated what would be a beautiful night as the line to get in began to build. At the front of the line a friendly police officer watched over a herd of hippies who consumed both alcohol and marijuana openly. "There are no bathrooms inside. Bathrooms are located in the Dining Hall over there and we do allow re-entry," the officer said to the crowd of confused onlookers. Entering the venue the staff and security seemed to be volunteers, creating a very comfortable environment. Light from outside shined through the cracks in the walls further elevating the feeling of an intimate barn show, yet this was no barn. The band took the stage in the small room and began with "Thin Air," off of their long out of print, Songs For Older Women." Once again, by the end of their first song, they were already shredding.

"This place is spectacular, so thanks for inviting us out to your party," Bayliss said with a smile before the band went into "Puppet String." They worked their way into the composition, digging deep sonically, tapping into an array of sounds. With a switch to two acoustic guitars, Umphrey's jumped into "The Linear." The sound of Joel on piano and Brendan and Jake on acoustics was bright and spectacular! The band segued into one of their new originals, "New Diablo," while keeping it acoustic. From their most recent album, Death By Stereo came "Dim Sun," a short instrumental that offered a bit of a reprieve from UM's typical in your face rage. "Dim Sun" went into "The Weight Around" from UM's 2006 release, Safety in Numbers." The final song of the acoustic run came in the form of The Doobie Brothers' "Black Water," which got a warm response from the excited crowd. The vocal work was clean and a lot fun through almost acapella style sections.

"Ladies and gentleman a round of applause for Joel Cummins... The man, the myth, the legend. It's a privilege and an honor to stand next to this man every night. I learn every day from this guy. Not a day goes by where wisdom isn't parted from this man," Brendan said in a humorous manner. "Thank you. Brendan, you're a lucky guy. Sweet Hoodie," Joel fired back. Following some laughter from the crowd, the band closed the first set with "All in Time," setting the stage for one of the evening's clear highlights. The song comes from the band's first album and reflected years of practice and development. For approximately twenty minutes the band explored the full potential of "All In Time," venturing through an array of musical stylings. "Thank you all very much. We're Andy Farag and the Fabric Softeners. We're taking a very short break. We'll see ya in a few minutes for another set, so don't go changin'." Following the first set the typical mad scramble ensued with folks heading outside to smoke, or to the beer garden for a drink, as their was no alcohol allowed inside of the venue.

With Umphrey's fans staring down the barrel of the final set of the two night run, there was a bittersweet excitement in the air. The second set began with "Robot World" off of Anchor Drops, noted on the official setlist as "Jimmy Stewart" with lyrics. "Example 1" followed off of their 2001 release, One Fat Sucka, creating a nice balance in the setlist with a slower, grooving track. Another few throwbacks made the evening's cut as the band kicked into "Nemo," keeping pace with a bit of a chill groove before "Walletsworth." The fury of the track felt like it was going to cause a collapse of the venue, with UM starting and stopping on the drop of a dime before venturing into "Nothing Too Fancy" from Local Band Does O.K.. This point of the show was another of the clear highlights. The duel lead work of Brendan and Jake reinforced why many consider them one of the best guitar duos on the scene. Myers' playing on the kit was mind-blowing, never missing a beat and almost always leading the charge. Through intense as well as soothing transitions, the composition of the extended song was incredible. Eighteen minutes after it began it was assumed that we had reached the conclusion of the second set, but nay. Leave it to UM to "blow their stack" and go back for more.

The second set closed with a sixteen minute "Booth Love" off of Mantis. The song was a great way to wind down the set... then wind it back up. UM exited the stage for a couple of mins only to return to the "We want the UMPH" chant from the capacity crowd. "Thank you Colorado for making this weekend as amazing as it has been! We couldn't do it without you guys," Jake said with a cheers. The first of two encores began with "Syncopated Strangers," another song the has been in the mix for the better part of a decade. The song began sweet and got extremely weird in the middle with soaring synth and almost middle eastern sounding vocals from Bayliss, before returning to normalcy and transitioning into "Dear Prudence" to end the weekend. Though it wasn't ripping, it was a heartfelt way to celebrate a great couple of days together. Folks sang along, smiled and hugged knowing that would be the end. Many took comfort in the fact that UM would be returning to Colorado for their New Years run.

Set One: Thin Air, Puppet String, The Linear > No Diablo, Dim Sun, The Weight Around, Black Water, All In Time

Set Two: Robot World > Example 1, Nemo, Walletsworth > Nothing Too Fancy, Booth Love

Encore: Syncopated Strangers > Dear Prudence

The bar was set high for Umphrey's McGee's two night Colorado run and they themselves raised it further. Two flawless nights of music in addition to some of the best lights on our scene, ensured that no fan left unsatisfied. As Umphrey's fans and popularity continue to grow, I see only greatness for this powerhouse of a band. It may be that there are bands with a bigger following who have been at it longer, but I would argue that UM is one of the best at what they do and on the rise to the top of the musical pyramid. I've said it before and I will say it again: "Ask me who my favorite band is and I will probably say 'Umphrey's McGee!'"

Kevin's Red Rocks Photo Gallery

Kevin's Chautauqua Photo Gallery

www.umphreys.com

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Camp Music Festival: Sunday May 26th, 2013


Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn


I hate mud. Not only does it get everywhere and on everything, but also it makes it much more difficult to maneuver around even in the most desolate of areas. As us 2013 SCampers woke up to a complete weather-affected shitshow, the amount of mud and rain dramatically increased with each passing hour. Numerous SCampers started to pack up their campsites early and prepare themselves for any worsening of this May Midwest storm, but most of my group stayed put and got ready to hit some of the bigger sets on this Sunday afternoon. Many of us wondered if Umphrey’s, moe., and even the Jedi Master would play in this horrific foggy mess, and knew that our festival would not be 100% complete without seeing all three of these acts play their final sets. I sloshed my way through the now almost knee deep mud over to the Sunshine Stage and got a place for the final Umphrey’s set of the weekend.

Umphrey’s McGee:

The Sunshine pit looked as if it was a fucking disaster zone …wooks were covered from head to toe in mud and soaked to the bone with the non-stop downpour of cold rain. Vendor stands became safe havens for those who were not as brave as some, and even I took cover under a heady crystal shop once or twice during the pre-set period. Umphrey’s came on stage to a thunderous applause even with the horrible weather affecting the crowd’s mood terribly. Leading off with “Slacker” and “White Man Moccasins” Umphrey’s looked as if it was not going to change its rocking ways from the previous two night’s performances. With an incredibly loyal crowd backing each and every song choice, Umphrey’s Sunday daytime set was no throwaway or letdown. “Tribute to the Spinal Shaft,” “Wife Soup,” and an all-time classic “Phil’s Farm” came roaring out of the gates next with Jake and Brendan taking turns ripping through guitar solos as if they were bent on catching their strings on fire. And then one of the biggest and most well received surprises of the weekend came on stage.

The legendary Taj Majal with slide-guitar playing wizard, Luther Dickinson, came bouncing onto stage for the Mahal classic “She Caught The Katy.” What a treat this was for all of us UMPhreaks as many people had seen the Mahal trio earlier in the day (I was busy charging batteries and cleaning up my campsite) and knew that this guest sit-in was a special occasion for any music fan. Dickinson, one half of the North Mississippi All-Stars, is one of the most talented slide-guitar players alive today and his slick riffs made “Katy” and the following “Dear Lord” amazing additions to this set. Watching Jake Cinninger go back and forth with Dickinson on competing guitar solos was intense and one of the more exciting musical moments for me personally of the entire weekend. A dub-reggae heavy “Higgins” followed this once-in-a-lifetime guest appearance and the crowd was noticeably stunned from this glorious closing day set. I personally love “Higgins” because it shows a very unique skill Umphrey’s has, which is the ability to change their musical genre within the song multiple times. Reggae, metal, and some straight up dance-like jam music are thrown throughout “Higgins” and make this one of my favorite UMPH songs.

“Smell the Mitten”, an “August > No Comment > August” sandwich, and an incredible “Miss Tinkle’s Overture” closed the Sunday UMPH set out with one of the more thunderous reactions of the weekend. Le UMPH did not disappoint with their final set of the weekend and I was left to stand in a state of shock as the band bowed in front of their thousands of adoring fans. How in the hell have I not been listening to UMPH the entire time I have been on the jamband scene? There is absolutely no band who rocks their songs harder, and no artist who has a more visually pleasing setup. Summer Camp Music Festival should be called “Umphrey’s Rocks/Melts Your Face” because no band is more entertaining, exciting, or fun to watch do their thing on the main festival stage. I was thoroughly impressed with each set of music UMPH performed over the entirety of the weekend and attending Summer Camp was one of the better musical decisions I have made in a very long time. Even though the weather was worsening to horrifying conditions as the band’s last set wrapped up, I knew that no amount of rain/mud would deter me from ever seeing this amazingly talented musical sextet.

Don’t miss this band because they are on the verge of becoming something bigger than just a festival-headlining act...in my humble opinion they are on the very shortlist of best bands going right now. Best lights, best sound, and certainly best live performance. I love Umphrey’s…through and through.

One Set: Slacker, White Man's Moccasins, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft > Wife Soup, Phil's Farm, She Caught The Katy[1], Dear Lord[2], Higgins, Smell the Mitten, August[3] > No Comment > August, Miss Tinkle's Overture

[1] with Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson
[2] with Luther Dickinson
[3] with No Comment tease

Trey Anastasio Band/Cancellation:

When the Jedi himself was added as the Sunday night and closing festival act headliner, Summer Camp took a big step in trying to appeal to a very large group of our current jamband scene fans. These fans, known as “Phish-Heads,” are loyal to the death when it comes to Phish, any member of Phish, and pretty much anything having to do with the Vermont based quartet. So the addition of Anastasio not only lifted the caliber of talent on the Summer Camp roster lineup, but also increased the amount of music loving fans by a decent portion. Before I get to describing the misery that was Trey’s set (not musically, but the weather was fucking horrific) let me explain what went down between Umphrey’s last set and this point:

-The weather got worse and worse with each passing hour and I was lucky enough to have a spot in the Media Church Office along with the other SCamp media patrons.

-Any set on the Campfire Stage or Starshine Stage during the afternoon was miserable to be at and not worth speaking about.

-Vendors closed up shop early, people decided to pack up and leave, and many festival patrons got the feeling that our Sunday night might be cut short due to the ever-increasing horrible weather.

Trey took the stage after a short weather related delay, and from the very beginning of the set it was evident that this would most likely be the last set of music we would experience for the weekend. Thunder and lightning rang down from the heavens as Trey ripped through various Phish covers and numerous songs of his recently released album Traveler. (I reviewed this album when it came out, and was not the biggest of fans…) With Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, and James Casey as his uber-talented horn section songs such as “First Tube,” “Alaska,” “Land of Nod,” and “Last Tube” were crowd favorites and were very pleasing to the hears. But no music could have kept me at that stage for more than one set that evening. The weather turned for the worse as Trey exited the stage after his funky set and I made the mud-soaked walk back to the campsite where the idea of packing my things and leaving was sounding better and better.

Set One: 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 Two: Mr. Completely

Notes: The Trey Anastasio Band performed on the Sunshine Stage at the Summer Camp Music Festival. This show was cut short due to weather.

I returned to the campsite with many of my fellow SCampers and were greeted by a large amount of people walking down the path away from the Moonshine Stage and the recent moe. set. This is when absolute tragedy struck…a large tree came crashing down in front of our campsite and landed on two festival patrons who were innocently walking down the path back to their respective campsites. Chaos ensued as people were screaming for medical help while struggling in the knee deep mud to lift the tree off of these two less fortunate SCampers. I was in a state of absolute shock and could only think about the horrific idea of more trees falling on us while we were toughing out the night in the Chillicothe woods. I quickly made the decision to then pack up what I could salvage (the sheer force of the rain was crazy at this point, and many tents, popups, and other shade structures collapsed due to the weight of the water sitting on top of them) and get the hell out of those woods to the nearest hotel I could find. Along with two of my good buddies, we packed my car and slid our way through the muddy employee parking lot to the festival exits and down to the Red Roof Inn in Peoria, Illinois. I tell you this, McDonald’s never tasted so good.

As the night went on and the rumors of cancelled music turned into reality, my two friends and I discussed what we just had experienced. The weekend was full of amazing highs and intense lows with music leading the charge each and every day. Bands such as Umphrey’s and moe. did their usual Summer Camp thing and killed it with each set they performed, and people like myself were introduced to awesome “small-ish” bands such as UV Hippo and Sun Stereo. I bitched and moaned with the best of them about the chaotic introduction to his festival, but in the end I have to tip my hat to what the Summer Camp Music Festival has to endure while trying to put on this Midwest throw down. Uncontrollable weather, antsy music loving fans, and a whole mess of small problems unseen to the everyday festival patron could drive most festivals to a complete halt, but SCamp lives on year after year. If the weather doesn't look too crazy I will 100% be back next year, as those UMPH shows alone were worth the price of admission. Much love to my Nebraska crew who adopted me for the weekend, as you guys made SCamp what it was for me…an absolutely amazing time with great friends, laughs, and so many smiles. I hope to see everyone I met at this year’s SCamp next year, as this Midwest party is not one to be missed.

Kevin's Sunday Photo Gallery

www.summercampfestival.com

Friday, June 14, 2013

Preview: LOHI Music Festival 6.15.13


Highland Tap & Burger
Denver, Colorado


Denver's premier urban music festival, LOHI Music Festival, returns to Denver's Lower Highlands at 32nd & Vallejo on Saturday June 15th! This year's line-up includes Kyle Hollingsworth Band feat. Michael Kang, The New Mastersounds, Toubab Krewe, Poor Man's Whiskey feat. Allie Kral, Euforquestra, Springdale Quartet, Garrett Sayers Trio, Tiger Party & Special Guest MC Matt Butler (The Everyone Orchestra)! Following the festival, don't miss the official LOHI Late Night Party at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom & Cervantes Other Side! The Late Night line-up includes LOHI Allstars feat. Matt Butler, The New Mastersounds, Toubab Krewe, Poor Man's Whiskey feat. Allie Kral Performing Dark Side of The Moonshine, Euforquestra & more!

Festival & Late Night Tickets are on sale now for only $40.00! To purchase tickets or for more information head over to www.lohimusicfestival.com

www.facebook.com/lohimusicfestival

www.twitter.com/LohiMusicFest

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tiger Party 6.6.13


Armoury
Denver, CO

Words By Brad Yeakel
Photos By J-man


With a few of my best friends, I ventured out for a Thursday evening in Denver. An evening of firsts, we took our first ride on the west line of Denver's light rail, and went to Armoury on Larimer St. for the first time, and we got to see the first installment of a Thursday night Tiger Party residency. Armoury had the feel of a regular downtown pub, but with the advantage of a decent stage. The atmosphere was friendly, the bartenders generous, the specials decent, and the music was great. Blake Mobley's Tiger Party (a rotating cast of musicians) took the stage shortly after 10:30, and played a show of danceable grooves that covered ground from funky to electro with purpose and style.

Featuring a dj (Craig Henevald) and saxophonist (Pete Wall) rather than the typical guitar, the evening's "Party" had a different flavor from the previous incarnations. A slightly jazzier feel crept in, but with DJ Craig Henevald adding samples, there was an element that reminded me of Pete Wall's other project, Textiles. Pete's solos ranged from soulful to psychedelic and occupied the space where a guitar normally took the lead. It was a rare example where I didn't feel the lack of guitar inhibited the music. Drummer Seth Frankhauser laid solid grooves and kept the party moving beneath Fleeb Thomas' bass-lines. One of my favorite parts of the show was the jam on the riff from Chic's "Good Times" (also used in Rapper's Delight).

The band also backed a female vocalist from Florida, Ashley Niven. She added a dimension to the Tigers that I didn't expect. It was a refreshing change of pace from the dance party, and helped to show the versatility of this ensemble. When her piece was done, the dance party resumed, and the night grew late to the sounds of bass, synth, samples, horns, and drums. Blake, a truly talented keyboard player, had organized a virtual Everyone Orchestra of local talent. While this project was certainly an entertaining one, and one I will continue to see regularly, I was left wanting for Blake to organize another project with a permanent lineup, one where they have the opportunity to dig deeper, and explore further. All in all, good things were happening at Armoury, free music from great musicians, a friendly atmosphere, and strong drinks... I had no doubts the same would be true for every Thursday the rest of June, and the best part, it's free.

Don't miss next week's lineup... It looks like a good one!

J-man's Photo Gallery

www.tigerpartyband.bandcamp.com

www.armourydenver.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Delfest 2013: Sunday May 26th


Allegany County Fairgrounds
Cumberland, MD

Words, Photos & Video By Jon Irvin


One final full day of remarkable music lay ahead of me on this Sunday fun-day at the 6th annual Delfest. Day by day the weather has improved and today may just be the best weather in Delfest history. I prepared myself for a long day that would have me running to and from the three stages of music to see action from a total of ten bands. Breaking in today’s action would be Larry Keel and Natural Bridge. I was shocked to see the raspy voiced bluegrass veteran was clean shaved as I was eager to see his well known glorious grey and black beard. Still without the facial hair Keel and the rest of the band treated the crowd to an upbeat affair and even invited friend Jeff Austin who sat in on “Ramblin Rose,” a Grateful Dead song that not only showcased Austin on the mandolin but also Jenny Keel's vocals. As their set was coming to a conclusion I ran over to the Delfest Music Hall to catch the end of The Campbell Brothers set. I missed their early Sunday morning gospel session so I made sure I did not miss their inside set. Though I only caught a few minutes I was impressed with their worship style sacred southern steel.

Larry Keel Live at DelFest - Allegany County Fairgrounds on May 26, 2013.



After taking in the last of the Campbell Brothers set it was time for me to be on the move again. I made a quick side step to the Potomac stage to hear the beautiful voice of Aoife O’Donovan sing a few songs. I first heard of her when she collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Myers, Stuart Duncan, and Chris Thile on the Grammy award winning album The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Here at Delfest she was showcasing songs from her upcoming solo album Fossils though she also covered one of my all time favorite bluegrass numbers “Pretty Polly”. I grabbed some lunch and sat under the shade of the grandstand to hear a few songs from the hardcore Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band. The raw and dirty style bluegrass I heard coming from a backwoods bar was enough to wet my appetite for more. I made note to catch his late night show that evening. After a quick bite to eat it was back to Delfest Music Hall to take in the beginning of the Master of Bluegrass set. Staring host Del McCoury along with Bobby Osborne, J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks, and Jerry McCoury, the Master of Bluegrass sports a Hall of Fame cast with ages of history. A packed crowd had gathered to hear the boy’s storytelling and play some bluegrass standards that have been around for decades. I couldn't stay long for I had to catch some of the Hackensaw Boys set before I took home in the main lawn for the evening. As I approached the Potomac Stage the Hackensaw Boys were in full swing mid-set. Billed as foot stompin’ and soul shakin’, the Boys from Virginia did not disappoint. What caught my eye the most was the homemade percussion instrument coined the “charisma” which was made from a collection of tin, aluminum, and hub caps. Homemade instruments are especially what make bluegrass so special, the ability to play a so called trash and turn it into music that the masses can enjoy. As with many other bands on Sunday, I couldn’t stay for the entire set which left me a little disappointed. I hope the Hackensaw Boys return to Delfest next year for they will surely be a not miss act.

It was a little before 4:00 PM as I settled down in front of the grandstand for the rest of the afternoon. The running back and forth for the last four hours had taken its toll and I was ready to take in several full sets. One of my favorite bands that I look forward to seeing year after year here at Delfest was the first band to take the stage. The Infamous Stringdusters continue to gain momentum and never disappoint. Teamed with bands like Greensky Bluegrass, the Dusters should be headlining festivals for years to come. You can tell the band is having a blast and it resonates through their music and their somewhat battling solos. Yet again they are another great band that mixes both band originals with classic covers which I have always viewed as important to some fans who aren’t familiar with the bands material. Today’s set would be no different as the Stringdusters entertained the crowd with their own songs including “Hitchhiker” and “17 cents” as well as their spot on takes of U2’s “In God’s Country” and Pink Floyd's “Fearless”. You can find their entire Sunday set here on Soundcloud. No doubt the Infamous Stringdusters are here to stay.



I decided to pass on Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys inside set, I saw them last year, so I stayed put and waited for the start of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. A fairly young group on the scene, the Chocolate Drops mix African roots, jug band, and bluegrass with a touch of Scottish flair. Catchy lyrics, kazoos and scatting make this an enjoyable band for all ages especially on songs like “Cornbread and Butterbeans”. After the conclusion of the set I took a quick trip for some dinner and was back to see the last two bands that would grace the Delfest Grandstand; the weekend host Del McCoury Band and perennial favorites Yonder Mountain String Band.

Being his festival and all, Del McCoury can be seen throughout the weekend not only during his set, but sitting in with numerous bands day and night. With a golden voice that is second to none the man does not seem to age a bit. Joining Del on stage are both his boys Rob and Ronnie, bass player Alan Bartram and one of the best fiddlers around, Jason Carter. Del and the boys always seem to leave the best for last and ended their four night stay in Cumberland by treating the record setting crowd to an amazing set. Honestly for me this was the real ending of Delfest even though Yonder Mountain had yet to take the stage. Don’t get me wrong Yonder is a great band but over the years I fear they have lost an edge that upcoming bands like Greensky Bluegrass and Infamous Stringdusters unquestionably posses. I remember years ago they would play with such excitement and watching them Sunday night I couldn't help feeling that the ability is there, but the passion is gone.

Before I wrapped up my stay at this year’s Delfest I saved enough gas in the tank to swing into the Delfest Music Hall to catch some last minute action from Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Peytons hard rock fist pumping style is enough to keep anyone of an adrenaline high and I was glad to catch him one last time before the evening was over.

Overall the 2013 Delfest was one for the record books. Besides a few cold nights the weather was perfect, the crowd was perfect, and the music was second to none. Delfest continues to improve year after year. I want to thank Del McCoury yet again for hosting this amazing weekend and hopefully I’ll be back again for the 7th annual Delfest in 2014.

Jon's Sunday Photo Gallery

www.delfest.com

Summer Camp Music Festival: Sunday May 26th, 2013


Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock


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.

Umphreys McGee Live at Summer Camp on May 26, 2013.



Set One: 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 of 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.”

moe. Live at Summer Camp on May 26, 2013.



Set One: 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 One: 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 You” 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 Moonshine. 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 lightning 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 One: 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 Two: 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 lightning 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 the 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 lightning 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 lightning 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 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 crapshoot 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.

Nicholas' Sunday Photo Gallery

www.summercampfestival.com

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Camp Music Festival: Saturday May 25th, 2013


Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn


No one was expecting what we woke up to on Saturday morning at the amazing-ness that is Summer Camp Music Festival. As I opened my eyes to the sounds of eggs cracking and bacon sizzling I realized what was going on outside was not going to be the most fun of experiences. Rain, rain, and more fucking rain was pounding down on us SCampers and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. Poncho salesmen were sprinting around the campgrounds making bundles of cash and the Coffee Wagon’s waiting line tripled within minutes. Heady pipe/crystal dealers packed up their homemade tables and vending areas while heading for the nearest pop-up tent they could find. I decided to stay in my tent to try and wait out the initial rainstorm, but after a few more hours of half-good sleep I awoke to even more rain, thunder, and now a bit of lightning. What would the staff of Summer Camp do? Would music be cancelled like two years prior? As my group sat at our campsite hoping for the rain to die off a general consensus was decided upon; we were going to have a good time no matter how bad the weather or festival grounds got…and oh my, did they both get pretty bad.

Cornmeal:

Allie Kral is by far the most popular member of the bluegrass/jam act known as Cornmeal and this was going to be her last show after ten years with the group. Emotions were running high as both crowd and band knew this not only was a special show due to Allie leaving, but the weather had cleared just a bit to provide us with a breath of fresh, warm, Midwest air for all of us festavarians to rage in. Ms. Kral and her Cornmeal band mates jumped from one song to the next with fast transitions and precise time changes. Playing with a guest guitarist for the entirety of the festival, Cornmeal didn’t seem to miss a beat at all as the crowd was jumping up and down from start to finish of their hour-long set. Allie ran all around the stage seeming to almost rip the strings off her fiddle at multiple points of the set, and her energy was very well received by the SCamp crowd. So why would Ms. Kral leave a project that she has been with for so long and had a good amount of success with?

In my opinion, it is because Allie has just grown too big for what Cornmeal can challenge and provide her with. Her talent has surpassed the other members of the band, and she needs to find a project where she can not only shine with her present abilities, but also find band mates who want/can teach her new techniques and songs. I fell in love with Allie at Summer Camp and her ability to have a good time no matter what project she is playing with. As this summer moves on be sure to catch Allie with whatever project she has at the time: Giraffe Dodgers, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Hot Buttered Rum, etc…because it truly is a treat to watch her fiddle the night away. Thank you for the ten years of Cornmeal memories Ms. Kral, they were fun and full of raging!

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe:

Funk, Funk, and some funkier Funk! That is what Karl Denson and his backing group of uber-talented musicians brings to the party with whatever time slot they are given. Playing on the Sunshine Stage provided KDTU with a very large audience and you could tell that Karl and his funkified friends were digging the crazy fans in attendance. Leading the charge from the front/center of the stage, Denson played numerous instruments throughout the performance including: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, tambourine and also provided some powerful vocals that had the crowd rocking from the first note he hit. Flanked on both sides by musicians with just as much talent as himself, Denson was able to delegate solo duties and make sure his team stayed with him at all times.

Brian Jordan, the KDTU lead guitarist is a joy to watch as he rips through funky jazz riffs, while also giving us some smooth vocals and groovy dance moves. The other leader of the band (In my opinion) is trumpet player Chris Littlefield, who along with Denson uses his screaming horn playing skills to thrill the crowd and definitely keep everyone paying attention. Along with the leaders of the band KDTU has a very respected rhythm section, which includes a man I met on this year’s past Jam Cruise, bassist Chris Stillwell. Stillwell is a very quiet and at times somewhat unnoticeable addition to any stage, but the funky bass lines he lays down are not at all shy in their nature. I have come to appreciate Stillwell over the many times I have seen KDTU now and his time in the Jam Room on Jam Cruise 11 only made me more fond of his playing style.

As Denson led the crowd with KDTU’s customary closing chant “We are the Tiny Universe” I couldn’t help myself from dancing with each and every beat. Even though the Sunshine Stage pit was getting muddier by the minute, my group of friends powered through with Karl and his funky friends leading the way. I always know that Denson will throw down wherever he goes, as it is becoming more and more evident for me with any project I see him in. I highly recommend you catch him with KDTU, The Greyboy All-stars, or any other project he chooses to sit-in with...it is guaranteed to be an awesome and funky time!

Umphrey’s McGee:

What could Notre Dame’s finest pull-out of their bag of musical magic tricks for night two of the festival (which seems to be becoming more and more of a hometown gig with each passing year)? Well let me tell you…Umphrey’s didn’t just decide to play music for us UMPhreaks of the world, they didn’t just throw a set list together and wing it (or so it seemed), and they most certainly did not let the weather have any affect on their performance. What Umphrey’s did on Saturday night of the 2013 Summer Camp can only be described as a fucking roller coaster ride to amazing-town in my humble opinion. It was out-of-control from start to finish, with each song working perfectly with the next to create a harmonious sound of rock and roll with a side helping of melting faces. It was absolutely ridiculous from song 1 to 17 and to say that this night of Umphrey’s changed my life might just not be enough.

Set one consisted of nine songs with a “Depth Charge” jazz odyssey introduction and a couple of older songs “Hurt Bird Bath” and “Linear” quickly there after. Then two of my favorite UMPH songs “Rocker Part 2” and “ Booth Love” joined the party with the addition of the Mad Dog Filthy Horns on the funkiness of “Booth”. The first cover of the night Nate Dogg’s “I Got Love” was followed by “Andy’s Last Beer” to conclude the horn section of the first set, but both songs seemed to be well received by the crowd and seeing Umphrey’s do a rap cover was an interesting choice for this amazing Saturday night. As first set closer UMPH chose the definite favorite of the first set and crowd pleasing “Wizard Burial Ground,” which in my campsite was one of the favorite songs of the entire weekend.

“Once they start that opening riff it is a straight non-stop metal head-banging rage fest until Joel drops in with an indescribable piano line….And of course it is complimented with a sweet explosion of lights!” This is how my buddy Sean described the closing sounds of the first set of UMPH’s second headlining night of this 2013 Summer Camp Music Festival. What a set! So many good song choices with great jams and it seemed as if the audience in attendance was very pleased with what their boys had just done. Could things get any better for us UMPhreaks?

Set One: Depth Charge > Hurt Bird Bath, The Linear > White Pickle > Rocker Part 2, Booth Love[1], I Got Love[1], Andy's Last Beer[1], Wizard Burial Ground

[1] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns
[2] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns; with It's About That Time (Miles Davis) jam

To say that things got better is a complete understatement. This next set of Umphrey’s McGee was not only my favorite set of music for the entire weekend, but it could be one of the best sets of music I have ever fucking witnessed in the 6 years I have been on the jamband scene. Leading off with an outrageous “Wappy Sprayberry” I could tell that Umphrey’s was going to bring the heat for their last set of SCamp’s Saturday night. “Sprayberry” led into one of my big-three I mentioned in my Friday review, “Ocean Billy,” and Umphrey’s did not disappoint with this rocking guitar shred-fest. During “Billy” my good friend Sean let me try out one of UMPH’s latest crowd-pleasing innovations, their Headphones and Snowcones concept. As I listened to Jake rip through the first few minutes of “Ocean Billy” with noise canceling headphones on I was taken aback by the actual idea of this new addition to the Umphrey’s fan experience. About 20 fans are given the opportunity with each show to have a live soundboard feed which only enhances the sound quality and the actual ability to hear each and every note the members of UMPH play on stage. An incredible use of technology and marketing, this Headphones and Snowcones concept will continue to grow with each and every live UMPH show. I wonder how long until they do an entire show using headphones only…weird!

After my favorite “Billy” got the crowd all in a frenzy, Umphrey’s played “Utopian Fir” with horns for the first time of their history. I can’t believe it took them this long to play “Fir” with horns as the crowd truly appreciated the complexity of the musical arrangement and applauded hugely as the songs final notes were played. As the various musicians flipped through their on-stage sheet music I wondered what could they possibly be going to throw at us now…well, as my knees buckled with the first notes of Beck’s “Debra” I quickly realized that this night was far from over. Using the incredible ability and powerful sound of Brendan Bayliss’ voice UMPH provided us with one of the most amazing and standout cover performances I have had the pleasure of seeing. Each high rising pitch change of Bayliss’ voice was greeted with massive applause and a large amount of stunned faces. As “Debra’s” harmony faded into the background UMPH got right back on the wagon with a very impressive “DBK > Final Word > DBK” sandwich which would make any true Umphrey’s fan cream their pants on most days.

Incredible. That is the only word I believe can be deemed worthy of the performance witnessed by us SCampers on night two of this years 2013 festival. Umphrey’s brought the heat in every way possible, and it seemed as if they were trying to blow our ears out with pure musical perfection song after song. For the encore a full and complete “Bridgeless” again brought the crowd to a rocking fever and was a nice cherry on top of an amazing Umphrey’s sundae experienced by us all at Saturday of Summer Camp 2013. Download this show…immediately! Borrow it from someone, steal it from your neighbor, buy it from the Umphrey’s website. I swear this show is an absolute must for UMPH fans everywhere and thank you Umphrey’s for one hell of a performance!

Set Two: Wappy Sprayberry > Ocean Billy, Utopian Fir[2] > Debra[1], Der Bluten Kat > Final Word > Der Bluten Kat

Encore: Bridgeless[1]

[1] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns
[2] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns; with It's About That Time (Miles Davis) jam

Sun Stereo (Here Comes the Sun, Sgt Pepper Parade):

Late-night performances are usually hit-or-miss for me. They can be very good, or just downright suck some fat wookie foot. For Saturday’s late night in the Soulshine Tent we were treated to the Urbana, Illinois band Sun Stereo and their take on many of the Beatle’s classics. Now before you stop reading this and scream in agony over yet another small time band taking on one of those bands that really shouldn’t be covered in any shape or form…let me explain. Sun Stereo not only had the clothes and look of the Beatles, but they had the feel, the sound, and by god did they have the girls screaming during their two-hour performance. I was thoroughly impressed with each member of the band and the addition of a full horn section halfway through the set made the songs even more glorious.

“Sun Stereo delivers a hybridization of organic and electronic elements with Beatlesque vocal harmonies, electronic soundscapes, new-age story book lyrics, and a funk your face off horn section. In the first year of existence, they have developed a fierce following and are quickly establishing themselves in the Midwest as a must see live show, reminiscent of a wedding reception on acid sans the chicken dance.” -Taken directly from the band’s facebook page (as I could not have described it any better) these Beatlesque gentlemen are truly a great act to have for any time of the day. Playing songs like “All You Need Is Love”, “Hey Jude”, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”, and many more Sun Stereo had the SCamp crowd captivated from the very start and my friend Sean and I couldn’t help ourselves in how much we loved these guys. PLEASE, Sun Stereo come to Colorado and show off your skills to the music loving people I know would love you. And when they do come, do not miss it…it will be a great time.

Closing:

As the night grew darker and more rain fell from the skies, us SCampers had no real idea what was in store for us over the next 24 or so hours. With our clothes wet, bodies cold, and shoes destroyed we knew that this last day (Sunday) would be a struggle no matter what music we were looking forward to seeing. Ankle deep mud was everywhere, and numerous people had already fallen victim to the slippery sludge. As I sat with my Nebraska group discussing the possibilities of cancelled music, we could hear the loud pounding of thunder in the distance. Would this weather hold off so we could see the last of Umphrey’s, moe., and most importantly the Jedi Master himself, Mr. Trey Anastasio? As I climbed into my tent to retire for the evening I had a bad feeling that this weather was not going to leave us anytime soon, but I hoped that I was wrong as I really did not want to deal with anymore mud. I can deal with being wet (to a point), but being wet and muddy is just a miserable experience.

As I shut my eyes and listened to the water outside drenching my tarp I tried to drown out the sounds of dub-step, drunk people, and football talk to no avail. I knew Sunday was going to be a test of my personal festival stamina, and I really thought I was ready for anything. Oh man was I wrong…

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