Yesterday was the opening day of the Summer Camp Music Festival. After a great pre-party on Thursday, our expectations were high for the kick-off moe. set at 12:30pm. We were not disappointed, opening up with Not Coming Down into Wormwood. Other highlights were Queen of Everything, Timmy Tucker, All Roads Lead to Home, Mexico and Buster. The weather was hot and sunny, and the crowd was pumped for the start of another great festival.
Next up was Keller Williams, also an institution at Summer Camp. Keller was doing his one man show thing, playing solo, with various instruments and electronics in his quiver. Keller really is Music’s Mad Scientist. So many great shows and activities overlap at Summer Camp, so I had to leave Keller mid-set and head over to the Keyboards Workshop, hosted by Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee. Also present were Jordan Wilkow of Family Groove Co., Eric Blumenfeld of Kinetix, Joe Hettinga of Digital Tape Machine and Jesse Clayton of the Macpodz. They played a little improvisation, discussed their craft and took questions from the audience.
After the Keys Workshop, we headed over to the Starshine Stage to catch the end of The Giving Tree Band’s performance. If you haven’t seen the YouTube video of them doing the Grateful Dead song, Brown Eyed Women, do yourself a favor and check it out right now. It was one of the top selections in the Dead Covers Project, and really a treat. As we were walking up to the stage, they were playing it. So far, The Giving Tree Band is a highlight of the festival.
Right next door to the Starshine Stage is the Sunshine Stage, or more commonly known as the Umphrey’s Stage. Leftover Salmon was performing there, and I was surprised to see a clean-shaven Vince Herman. The crowd was huge and energetic, despite the blazing mid-afternoon sun. As Leftover Salmon was winding down, we headed over to the Moonshine Stage, also referred to as the moe. Stage to see Ozomatli, which was a disappointment. The crowd was light, and the music was a letdown, probably because we were anxious to see Bob Weir, coming up next.
We made our way back over to the Umphrey’s Stage to stake out a good spot for the Weir, Robinson Greene Trio. This was going to be an acoustic set, and I thought back and realized that it had been almost 30 years since I’d last seen Bob Weir. Their set turnout to be a real treat, mostly Grateful Dead songs. Highlights were an opening Truckin’, Aiko Aiko, New Speedway Boogie, West L.A. Fadeaway, Deep Elum Blues and a closing Uncle John’s Band.
We stopped by to catch a few songs by Cornmeal on the way to the VIP tent to relax for a few minutes. Cornmeal, for the time being, had put away their bluegrass licks and were playing some serious jams. Chris Gangi was leading the way on stand-up bass. The VIP tent is an oasis in the hot desert at Summer Camp. With stuffed sofas and ice-cold (and cheap) drinks, it a perfect place to go when you’re parched and needing hydration. We rested here before hitting the first Umphrey’s set of the festival.
Umphrey’s came on with 2nd Self, Pay the Snucka, Miami Virtue, a great Glory, 2X2, Ringo, Loose Ends and then closed the first set with Puppet String. Towards the end of the set, it was getting just dark enough for the Jeff Waful Lightshow, which is almost as much an integral part of the show as the music. We knew we had about a 30 minute set break, so we ran over to see Gogol Bordello at the moe. Stage. Gogol Bordello plays a style of music that’s referred to as Gypsy Punk, and have a huge fan base. I listened for a while and was positively surprised. After a few songs we made our way back to catch the second Umphrey’s set. The setlist: Ocean Billy, Mulche’s Odyssey, Bright Lights > Dump City > Ocean Billy, 40s Theme, Forty Six and 2 (Tool Cover), Day Nurse > Pay the Snucka.
To wrap up the evening we stopped by to listen to a few songs by Primus. Heavily bass driven songs and a passionate group of fans took over the Moonshine Stage area for final set there. I know there was other music going on at the other stages, but I think everyone was watching Les Claypool zigzag through his quirky lyrics and infectious bassline. Although we missed it, rumor has it that Bob Weir came out and sat in for The Other One. You never know what’s going to happen at Summer Camp.