Summer Camp Music Festival: Friday May 26th, 2013
Three Sisters Park
Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn
Friday, Friday, Friday… my personal favorite day of the week, as it usually signifies an opportunity to relax, hang out with friends, and most importantly go and see live music. So what would this amazing of days have in store for us 2013 Summer Campers? After waking up to a nice cloud cover and enjoying the delights of a heady veggie breakfast burrito I gathered my camera gear and began the walk to the Starshine Stage to see one of my more recently found guilty pleasures…The Pimps of Joytime.
The Pimps of Joytime:
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York The Pimps of Joytime are an energetic, funky fresh, good-looking, five piece, genre blending afro beat group who truly knows how to get a crowd dancing from start to finish. I have really become a fan of these guys over the past year or so (as my love for funk music has increased dramatically) and they did not disappoint at this year’s crazy Midwest throwdown. Playing songs from their latest album Janxta Funk!, multiple musical genres came roaring down through the Starshine’s sound system, including what I would call Latin jazz, reggae, and some straight up dirty Brooklyn funk. Brian Jordan, the lead singer of this quintet, is a unique band leader and provides the audience with some smooth vocals, heavy guitar riffs, and a head of hair that would make most middle aged men jealous. Clark Dark, bassist and keyboard player, lays down foundational and groovy bass lines while working with drummer Eric Bolivar to pump up the crowd with their great teamwork. But what really drew me to this daytime set out in the seldom seen Summer Camp sun?
Other than the three funky gentlemen who lead the charge for The Pimps of Joytime, these Brooklyn musicians have a secret weapon that can entice any crowd. Chauncey Yearwood and Mayteana Morales are the two beautiful, talented, and incredibly photogenic members of this group and for most of the SCampers in attendance it was easy to tell who was keeping the party ripping and roaring for their hour long set. I immediately was captivated by these musical ladies and could not have been more impressed by the band as a whole for what they probably considered a small time-slot. All in all I really do think the Pimps of Joytime are on their way to bigger and better things nationwide. They have a great sound, provide a fun dance party, and truly know how to engage an audience and rage for however long they are playing.
moe. (Set One):
Summer Camp in my opinion is full of some of the most musically divided fans I have ever come across. The two annual headliners, Umphrey’s McGee and moe. bring with them two completely different fan bases. On one hand moe. has fans that have been following the band for 20 or so years and are very loyal to their jammy ways. Umphrey’s McGee fans are noticeably younger, heavier partiers, and talk much more shit about whatever music is not Umphrey’s. I went into this festival having seen each of these bands only a few times, so my opinion at this point was very neutral. (Shocking, I know) Joining the thousands of moe. fans waiting in the Summer Camp heat and sun for their favorite jamband act, I took my place in the front row and rested my elbows right in front of bassist Rob Derhak’s microphone.
I admit, the only moe. song I know and love is “Rebubula,” but I was ready and willing to listen to these jamband legends and give them a well-deserved listen. From here on out, I really do not know how to describe this set of moe. favorites. I don’t honestly know if I liked it, or if what I heard was so confusing to the ear that I am still to this day perplexed by what I witnessed. It wasn’t good, but it certainly wasn’t anywhere near bad. Moe.’s first set in my opinion was just “bleh,” as it seemed as much of a warm-up show for the band as it was the fans. But with the great weather, large fan base, and palpable musical energy moe.’s first daytime set was a good start for a newly initiated “moe-ron” like myself. As I returned to my campsite the words “Okayalright” rang through the trees like a bunch of howler monkeys, and the first “moe. vs. Umphrey’s” musical debates heated up campsites everywhere. What would moe. be able to deliver for their other 4 sets of this huge musical adventure?
Set One: Captain America> Recreational Chemistry, Deep This Time> Downward Facing Dog, Puebla> Ricky Marten> Seat Of My Pants, Okayalright
Medeski, Martin, and Wood:
When I saw that MMW was added to the Summer Camp 2013 Music Festival lineup, I was extremely excited. Not only is MMW one of my favorite musical groups, but also John Medeski is a personal hero of mine. As I stood in the photographer pit waiting for these 3 jazz legends to begin their set I didn’t know what to think. I was about to take photos of one of the most heralded and respected jazz pianists on the face of the earth, along with his two compatriots who aren’t too shabby themselves on their respective instruments. Bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin are two perfect fits for Medeski’s style of chaotic piano playing and bring a unique addition to each MMW song.
Loved by music fans worldwide, MMW is not like any band you will ever see. Not only is the level of talent more incredible than most acts on the scene currently, but also the complex way each MMW performance takes form is an incredible thing to watch. John Medeski is the most amazing and unique musician I have had the luck of coming across and was honored to be able to watch his perform up close and personal. Chris Wood, hailing from Boulder and a CU Boulder graduate is a bass virtuoso and he can rip it both on the electric and upright, with a bow and/or harmonica attached. Billy Martin has more bells and whistles on his drum kit than most drummers can imagine, and the sound the three can create is unlike anything I have ever come across on the jamband scene. I highly, highly, highly recommend going to see these 3 insanely talented gentlemen do their thing on their respective instruments because I promise, it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced.
Keller Williams with More Than A Little:
The one-man jamband. That is how I would describe a Keller Williams solo performance, but what would his newly created funk project be like? Let me tell you, it was one hell of a good time and included guest appearances by the likes of Victor Wooten (bass) and Jake Cinninger (guitar) which just added to the great time Keller created for us hardcore music loving SCampers. Backed by two very talented female vocalists, Keller led his funktastic new project through numerous well-known covers such as “West LA Fadeaway”, and provided the audience with one of the better dance parties of the 4-day festival. But the real treat of this sun-setting funk spectacle was the guest sit-in by the one and only Victor Wooten.
Being the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones bassist comes with some huge responsibilities, and Mr. Wooten is completely up for the challenge. Known on the jamband scene as one of the more talented bassists, and a mentor/teacher for many, Victor Wooten has a sound like no other on the 6-string instrument he calls his own. He provided Keller with more than just a guest sit-in, but a completely different sound than Williams ever probably expected to have at this year’s Summer Camp. The crowd was more than appreciative for this unique and definitely special performance, and I hope Keller brings this project somewhere close to Boulder soon. I will 100% be getting funked up with the barefooted one-man jamband and his funky-ass friends.
Rage, rest, repeat. The common theme for many 2013 Summer Camp attendees this year also has taken over as the main motto for the thousands of UMPHreaks across the nation. Umphrey’s McGee has always been an iffy band for me as I have heard good and bad, which always can deter even some of the slightest of music fans. But as I have been told by numerous of my UMPH loving friends, Summer Camp is the place to be if you want to be initiated and devoured by the McGee lifestyle and complete way of thinking. So how would these 5 or so sets of UMPH music go for me I wondered as I walked to the Soulshine Stage with what seemed to be the entire amount of festival attendees. Leading off with one of my favorite tunes “All In Time” I knew this would be an interesting and eye-opening weekend as I stood back and consumed the amount of musical energy and love soaking us festavarians to the bone. The crowd was going nuts, and the band looked just as excited as we were. Songs such as “Nothing Too Fancy” and “Comma Later” were personal highlights of the set and by looking at the faces of the Phreaks I was among, this was going to be a show for the ages.
Set One: There's No Crying In Mexico > All In Time > Preamble > Mantis Ghetts, Nothing Too Fancy > Ringo, Eat, Believe the Lie, Conduit, Comma Later >Nothing Too Fancy
“Puppet String” led the charge for the second-set opener and was joined by the finishing portion of “All In Time” two songs later. Umphrey’s is one of the only bands alive today (at least that I am aware of) who has the ability and skill to pull off such a musical endeavor as jumping back into finishing a song halfway through the set after it was first played. It not only boggles the mind, but for me it provides a special and unique component of a musical performance that many people do not have the pleasure of seeing. The next 4 songs in this set’s rotation were absolutely ridiculous for a new Umphrey’s fan like myself as Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic joined in for “Bright Lights, Big City” (absolutely killing it in the process) and then…it happened. I have three personal favorite Umphrey’s songs: “Ocean Billy, Front Porch, and Glory” and I was lucky enough to get my first live “Glory” during this second set. As Jake Cinninger blasted away on the power chords that make this song what it is, I couldn’t help but smile and scream along with the thousands of UMPhreaks in attendance. The groovy bass lines of “Plunger” came next, and to the delight of many the ending portion of “Puppet String” was brought back into play to close out the set.
WOW! What a set from the hands down most loved band at this festival so far. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to my first time with these Midwest favorites and their festival experience and it was about to get better. As Al Schnier and the rest of the members of moe. walked on and off stage to the sincere confusion and slight applause of some attendees, a mid-stage hug between the two main festival headliners seemed to signal a passing of the torch. Maybe moe. knew what was coming next? As Umphrey’s tuned their instruments to make sure each note for their next song would be right on key, I started questioning what I was hearing. I mean…there was absolutely no way that Umphrey’s would do something like this, especially at Summer Camp…right? And then an explosion of sound, screaming, and downright chaos occurred as the first notes of moe.’s hit song “Rebubula” danced into our ear drums. I was in absolute shock. The one and only moe. song that I knew and loved was being played for the encore of an entirely different band, and one that I would never have thought would have pulled it off. Umphrey’s not only decided to play moe’s hit song, but they played it very well. (In my opinion, and I apologize to moe. fans who do not believe this.)
As the encore wrapped up and we started the walk back to camp, I realized that I was in for a definite treat with each and every Umphrey’s set I would see. They are unlike any band going right now, as they can combine numerous genres, playing styles, and sounds into one giant musical meal unlike any other. I was more than excited for the next 2 days and the Umphrey’s I would experience, as were the thousands of other UMPHreaks around me. What would they bring to the table the next 2 days? Would they continue to kill it? I was continually assured they would by numerous friends as it’s Summer Camp, Umphrey’s home.
Allie Kral & Friends/Wood Brothers:
For those of us who did not attend the late night Yonder and moe. shows on Friday night in the Red Barn were treated to two of my favorite groups of the entire weekend. Allie Kral, one of the more popular artists in the entire lineup led a star-studded group of her best bluegrass friends, which included: members of Floodwood, the Giraffe Dodgers, Cornmeal, Jeremy Salken, and Yonder Mountain String Band’s Jeff Austin. Ms. Kral led the band through numerous bluegrass hits and unique covers such as Radiohead’s “High and Dry.” As the short set winded down many fans escaped to the heat of the nearby campfire or back to the coziness of their tent, but I knew I had to stay to catch the ever-so-talented Wood Brothers.
Chris Wood and his big brother Oliver provide a very interesting take on folk music with their Boulder-based project, The Wood Brothers. With Chris on an upright bass and Oliver on an acoustic electric guitar the brothers smoothly went from song to song with beautiful folksy transitions and a couple of political remarks to boot. Having the opportunity to watch and photograph Chris Wood twice in one day is more than an amazing experience as he is filthy good on whatever type of bass he plays. Adding in vocals, some harmonica, and a few nifty dance moves the younger Wood brother led the rhythm section of this late-night show with great precision.
As I left the Campfire Stage to return to my campsite, the hundreds of Yonder and moe. fans who had just experienced their first late-night red barn set joined me. Stories were exchanged, debates were started, and laughs were had as the night faded away and Saturday approached quickly. A slight rain started to fall as I hit the pillow after night 2, but I was sure it would stop. I mean it was just going to be a small rainstorm and go right over us…right?
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