Sometimes getting back to ones roots is a great way to feel re-connected and rejuvenated with the music we love, that which is current in our lives and that which is no more. This past weekend I did a two-night run with Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) and Umphrey’s McGee- two bands that got me started down the path I currently walk today. I love STS9 and always have because they just have that way to get raw and weird with it. On the other hand, Umphrey’s is not my favorite band. They used to be my jam but as years have passed, my interests dwindled to other things. I’ve lost touch with them as a band, but I went into it with a very open mind, wholeheartedly ready to feel what all my UMPHfreak friends go nuts for.
The Louisville Palace, a gem of a venue housed in what used to be an old Broadway theatre, was our destination for the evening and it was beautiful. The inside had vaulting ceilings adorned with carved faces of historical figures. Gold and red paint covered the walls and large staircases took patrons to the upper levels. The traditional theatre even had orchestral seating and a balcony with the ceiling boasting an imitation nighttime sky. Unfortunately, the security was pretty uptight at this show, considering the venue was probably half-full. Ticketholders absolutely had to stay in their exact designated seat.
Umphrey’s opened their tour with an intense “Push The Pig” > “1348”. Their lighting was on point the whole night and the sound was phenomenal. The set’s highlight was the “Triple Wide” they seamlessly blended back into 1348 to end the show. STS9 started on time after setting up their intense lighting arrangement known as The Pyramid by avid fans. They opened with an awesome “Ramone & Emiglio” > “Moonsocket” and kept the heat coming all night long. My favorite moment of this night was the encore when Jake Cinninger came out and sat in for an instrumental version of “Sympathy For The Devil”, after which Tribe killed it with “When The Dust Settles”.
When we awoke the next morning it was time to get the show on the road as we headed back to Indy for our hometown throw down.
I couldn’t have been more excited to reconnect with these bands in the very venue that I first experienced them in years ago. We arrived to STS9 just in time to hear some of my favorite classic Tribe songs. As we got beers and walked to our meeting point, they busted into “Equinox” >” EHM” > “Inspire Strikes Back”, all back-to-back heavy hitters that just make you wanna dance your ass off. Their set felt a lot longer than it was, ending things with “Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist” and “20-12”.
As quickly as STS9 were off, Umphrey’s was setting up against a beautifully backlit Indianapolis skyline. This venue always brings a smile to my face. It’s simple, it’s sweet, they don’t hassle you too much and you literally see every person you know in Indianapolis when you come to a show at WRSP. Umphrey’s closed their set with Dave Murphy sitting in on “Another Brick In The Wall”- the perfect way to end an amazing two-night run.
While many of us attend festivals regularly, not all of us get the chance to sit down, have a drink and just kick it over casual conversation with the bands we pay to see. As a writer I feel that if I have the chance to make that connection for an audience then I should take it, which is exactly what I did at this years Mojostock, held annually at the Sleepybear Campground in Noblesville, IN.
Mojostock provided a nice dark, dank and cool “green room” in the back of an old barn that enabled talent and media to get out of the sun, relax and chat. I took this chance to sit down with the Max Allen Band comprised of Dace Robie (Bass), Max Allen (Guitar, vocals) and Shaan France (Drums, vocals) and ask some raw questions that sometimes people just forget to ask. I invite you to take a look as we discuss their rise in the scene, the future of the band, the influence of EDM music and drug use in the local music community.
CL: As kids how did you first get into music?
Dace: As a kid I started playing saxophone in the school band, and later on I picked up the bass. Then I went to butler for 4 years, studied composition there, played bass in the orchestra and the jazz band there, and was pretty much a school kid.
Shaan: Same thing for me, I played percussion in the middle school band and in high school. I went to college, got a music education degree with an emphasis in percussion. Played in jazz bands, and the drum set has just always been there.
Max: I know it sounds weird to say it but I’ve been playing guitar for 21 years.
CL: And how old are you?
Max: 29, and I have just been playing on the scene for 14 years and it has been my only job since 15. It’s just been a constant, every day just DO SOMETHING, that’s something my father would always tell me, just do something every day. This is some advice I could give any musician trying to make it, which is just do something. Every day do something to try to help benefit your career. Whether it be small or large.
CL: So how did you get started being a touring Midwest band?
Max: I started playing the bar seen about age 15-16 and did a lot of blues stuff. I played a lot, had the whole child prodigy thing going, which helped getting a lot of gigs and press. This helped me get a name for myself, after which I kind of changed and started listening to the jam scene like the Funky Meters, John Scofield, Phish and we started changing the whole band. We picked up Dace about 4 years ago, but Shaan and I have been playing together for about 7 years.
CL: In terms of marketing, have you stayed primarily grassroots, or have you utilized the rise of digital marketing as it has grown around you in the years that you have risen as a recognized band?
Dace: Social media is a means to an end, but it is not THE end, because there is a lot of noise on the Internet. And when everybody is blowing your shit up on Twitter or Facebook, especially about coming to your show you kind of become numb to it all. It is still about what people listen to, what their friends listen too.
Shaan: In the same sense though we still challenge any big band out there, that’s our thing. Yeah this band has that; that band has this; but give us a shot, we will impress you.
Max: We’ve been told we have the sound of a bigger band. For a three piece band we have a BIG sound.
CL: Being a smaller band that’s been around for some time, do peoples perception of you as being small effect how much you get paid in comparison to a larger band that hasn’t been around as long?
Max: sometimes venues are more compassionate towards bigger bands, because it costs more with all those people out on the road. But we can take some lower paying shows that are more for publicity and it doesn’t hurt as hard. Really it’s a numbers game and you get paid more if you bring more people, and it’s just a matter of building your fan base as big as possible.
CL: So Dace and Shaan, you both said you had classical training where as Max it seems like you were already on the scene so to say, were you going to any of these small music festivals or “hippie gatherings” or did you just stumble upon it?
Shaan: I was, I’m a little bit older and I’m not gonna give out my age, but I started doing festivals a long time ago, and drum set was just something that was always there. For me and for what I grew up doing, being an orchestral percussionist, drum set was always there. So when I moved here in 1998 I didn’t know anybody and I was looking for a way to play jazz vibes but everybody was saying they needed a drum set so I started picking that up. Really you just have to sell yourselves. We’re musicians; we’re prostitutes; you just gotta get out there and sell yourself. You have to be your own salesman. You’re the employer, the employee. You gotta push your own self.
Dace: When I started playing bass I wanted to play in a rock band. When I went to college I wanted to write orchestral pieces. By the time I got out of college I was playing in a rock band, so I came full circle.
Max: I did a lot of training with random instructors, and the one instructor I took most of my instructions from was a professor from Butler. I studied classical guitar for 4 years or so and just being in the field playing shows. I’ve been conditioned to get paid with money, food and booze.
CL: Being classical musicians, musicians of rock bands, how do you see electronic music taking over or influencing the scene?
Dace: Everything coexists now. We’ve talked to some booking agents that say rock bands are in limbo, nobody wants to book rock bands. It’s all EDM or its bluegrass. Its like people either want all computers, or they want absolutely nothing to do with computers. I think things never take over completely and things never go away completely its just all a big conversation. I see that computers are going to be more common, it’s going to become an important scene and its good to see Indianapolis catching up with a lot of music scenes. But really it’s all about finding your right demographic, obviously it wont appeal to every band.
Max: I’d like to say that where we’re going with the whole EDM thing, we’re a hybrid, we’re not afraid to use it. And some musicians are very traditional and completely turn their noses up to any sort of electronic or any backing tracks. I think if it makes the song or makes the performance more entertaining, if it fills up the space, I don’t see why you shouldn’t use it. You are only shorting yourself. You want to stay with the times, but you also want to stay true to yourself.
CL: As a band, how do you see yourselves evolving? Do you see yourself changing from where you were a year ago?
Max: Oh yeah, were completely different then where we were a year ago. There were some people that hadn’t seen us in over a year until last week, and they were just completely blown away. They could see all the work we’ve done, and it’s great because we all come from different backgrounds. We’re not afraid to go outside of our comfort zone to find something that sounds good. Regardless of what it is, there is somebody out there that gets in their car on the way to work and it just fucking pumps them up for the day, and it can just totally make their day. So we try to be as best of observers as possible and use it to our advantage.
CL: What is the 6-12 month plan, or direction that you see for the band?
Max: We’ve been talking to some agencies about getting us down south more. Colorado is always on it, and monetarily if makes sense to go out west we will.
Shaan: We actually had an offer to play a gig today down in Chattanooga, that we got today from the guy that is trying to get us down south more. We are definitely trying to pursue that different direction, as many people say that the Midwest is EDM, down south its still a lot of good rock and roll type shit.
Max: Down in Georgia, that whole region, it’s where our bread and butter is.
Shaan: That is where we are trying to get ourselves down this fall and winter, get ourselves a little more established down there.
CL: What do you feel is the importance of music festivals?
Max: That’s an easy question, to play our music for a crowd that might not normally see us. You get a festival like this where people are coming from Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, they are coming to a gathering place. What also helps is with a lot of these music festivals is there are a lot of people that are somewhat like-minded, listen to the same sort of things and have the same mindset.
CL: You come to a music festival, and the idea is the music puts out a vibrational energy that connects and puts everybody in attendance on the same plane in a sense, do you intentionally go out there achieve a goal like this?
Max: This is my spirituality, playing music, and I don’t have anything else that compares to it.
Dace: I definitely think we drive the vibe, and even if we are aren’t talking, the vibe we are putting out is underscoring the conversation. I don’t really think of it as cosmic, but I do think there is a unifying aspect to it all.
CL: Do you see yourselves “vibing” off the crowd as you play?
Max: Fuck yeah
Shaan: Absolutely, I feel that my job as a drummer is that if I’m not making that person shake their ass, then I’m not doing my job. If I cant make anybody shake their ass then I need to think about what I’m doin’.
CL: Do you find yourself wanting to play festivals more than bars?
Max: Oh yeah if I could stop playing bars and just play all festivals, or festivals and theaters, but its hard to do.
Shaan: Sometimes its hard to get into a festival, a lot of times it’s about who you know, not which kind of a band you are in or how talented you are. It’s politics.
Dace: It’s funny about the music industry, because it’s art, and art is so subjective, with music who is going to say this band is better then that band? Musicians want to hire their friends, promoters what to hire their friends, they want their friends to do well in the music industry.
Max: Don’t think it’s NOT a competition because it is. You are competing for the audience, for the crowd, for fans.
CL: There appears to always be a separation from stage and crowd and not many people actually get to hang out with the bands they see and make assumptions or judgments, what are your opinions about drug use, drug use in the scene and even the use of drugs like marijuana, mushrooms or LSD for medial or therapeutic purposes?
Max: F-I-F, I plead the F-I-F
Shaan: I have to concur with my colleagues and plead the fifth. However I will say this, a person can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t mess with me or hurts anybody around me. If people are responsible enough to handle their shit, let them do whatever the hell they want to. I’m not saying I condone it, or that I do it, but if everybody can be happy and live together and nobody is getting hurt then whatever. But I will definitely say I plead the fifth.
Max: I have seen a lot of benefits that marijuana has done to the lives of people, medically, spiritually, mentally and I think as we grow older and as time goes on, the old ways of thinking are going to die out and the new ways are going to come in. I will say be safe and be smart, there are safe drugs and there are dumb drugs, but moderation is key.
CL: What advice would you give to the next up-and-coming regional band that is trying to make music their life?
Dace: Quit now and come to our gigs.
Max: Ya get a real job, something that pays. No but really though, find a team, this shit takes a team of people to make it happen. Indymojo has a team, a team of people all working for the same thing and that’s how a band should be. It shouldn’t just be the band working for the dream, it should be a well thought out plan, practice and make yours hit as good as possible. Practice your instrument, practice your instrument practice your fucking instrument. Go meet as many people as you can and spread the gospel, because it is a religion. Thank you.
Friday was another stellar day and night full of music.
To see more photos, click here
We made the trip back to Thornville, OH for the All Good Music Festival again this year. John Scofield’s Uber Jam, Toubab Krewe, Papadosio, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Beats Antique all graced the stages on Thursday. Unfortunately, we were only allowed one media credential so you’ll just have to check out the photos and make up your own words.
To see more photos from the festival, click here
The Forecastle Festival is located on the Ohio River, in Louisville, Kentucky. Being so close to the river provides an aesthetic that many festivals cannot match. There is a unique sort of charm in having a party by the river. Throughout the day, festivalgoers were sitting by the canal, cooling themselves off and resting their feet in the flowing water. Louisville Waterfront Park was the perfect setting for Saturday night’s festivities – after a brief interruption from the forces of nature.
Upon arriving at the festival, and trying to acclimate myself to unfamiliar surroundings, I was immediately informed by those running the festival that severe weather was in the area. For the safety of the crowd, all patrons were asked to leave the venue and take shelter in their cars. I delayed this process for as long as possible and managed to remain in the venue until everyone was allowed back in.
The weather caused a delay in the set times for the rest of the evening, but the festival organizers did a tremendous job of alleviating any confusion by displaying the adjusted set times on the screens that adorned each stage. The festival even handed out free tickets to people who bought one passes.
Once fans returned to the venue, TOKiMONSTA took the Red Bull Music Academy Ocean Stage, which was located under an overpass, giving the stage a grungy feel. TOKiMONSTA is a female electronic music producer from California. It was evident that festivalgoers were ready for a party. The crowd surged forward as she began playing poppy loops and dancing on stage in front of a checkerboard of LED screens displaying visuals behind her. Overall, the performance was akin to your average EDM DJ, danceable but not overly impressive. The performance peaked when she dropped, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by Kendrick Lamar. Although not my cup of tea, the crowd was quite enthused and it was amusing to watch her sing along to the song.
After losing interest in TOKiMONSTA, I decided to head over to the Mast Stage, Forecastle’s main stage to watch Jim James. Although I have seen My Morning Jacket numerous times, I had yet to see the lead singer perform his solo work. I was not disappointed. Jim James, donning his signature long hair and beard, took the stage looking quite dapper in an open suit jacket and button up shirt. The band played softly as he began, “State of the Art.” The haunting vocals showcased the beauty that is Jim James voice and the crowd was instantly entranced. As the song climaxed, James was twirling around the stage as spikes of light provided visual stimulation behind him.
The second song of the set featured James soloing on a stationary guitar at center stage. While he is best known for his vocal capabilities, he can also play a mean guitar. Next, James sang, “Know til Now,” while dancing around the stage clutching a golden bear. This must have worn him out because he returned for the next song wearing a towel on his head and playing saxophone. The rest of the set felt like a classic rock n’ roll show, drum solos and all. You could sense the hometown love throughout the duration of the set. It became clear that no one loves Jim James as much as Louisville does.
As things were winding down, I decided to head to the Boom Stage to see The Flaming Lips. I had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this year when they came through Indianapolis, and I left quite impressed. The show at Forecastle was nearly identical to the one I had previously seen. Nonetheless, the Flaming Lips’ production quality never ceases to amaze me.
Wayne Coyne seemed to be in good spirits throughout the show, trying to get the crowd to liven up. “During a Flaming Lips show, you are allowed to do what you want to do,” he said. He once again made jokes about smoking pot, shining the light gun into the crowd and encouraging people to smoke. He was infatuated with the fact that there was a highway above the venue and kept imagining a car crashing off of it into the crowd.
One interesting twist that I had not previously seen was the bands cover of, “Gates of Steel,” by DEVO, which began with an extensive drum introduction. Wayne Coyne stood on his pedestal singing lyrics as the entire stage was barraged by lasers.
Finally, it was time to head back to the Mast Stage to see The Black Keys. “Howlin for you,” the band’s first song of the evening started as I was making my way through the crowd. Although the band is comprised of only two members, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, they brought along some touring musicians to add to their sound, giving the band a bass and keyboard when necessary. Although I enjoy most of the Black Keys music, their live performance fell flat. They sounded restrained, playing at a lower volume than the rest of the bands that evening. I overheard people in the crowd yelling for them to, “Turn up the volume,” and I couldn’t help but agree. After a few songs, including an incredible version of, “Gold on the Ceiling,” which sounded better than the studio version, the band said they were going to play some songs as a duo.
The band seemed more comfortable playing as a duo, launching into, “Thickfreakness,” off of the album of the same name, which happens to be my favorite of their albums. After a brief intermission, the band returned for an encore, playing, “I Got Mine,” which featured Auerbach shredding the guitar. Weary from a day of incredible music, I exited the venue as their last song faded off into the distance.
Words by Kenneth Spangler (above) and Chris Lucas (below for SCI late night)
Saturday Late Night: The String Cheese Incident
The best part of the weekend was dancing in the front row at The String Cheese Incident‘s late night set at the Louisville Palace. These boys are definitely my favorite band out there, and there aren’t many opportunities to see them around here, as they don’t make it to the midwest very often. Instead, they perform “Incidents” across the country, but mostly in the western United States.
As we walked into the Palace, I was amazed by how beautiful it was, and just by the fact that I was even there at the show. Nothing all weekend compared to the energy and professionalism that was brought to this show, and it will definitely be something to remember. The crowd, the band, the vibe, and the venue all summed together equated to the best show of the weekend.
To see more photographs from The Forecastle Festival 2013, click here
Forecastle Music Festival has the feel of any other large music festival, except that it is set in an urban environment right on the waterfront of the Ohio River in Louisville, KY. Since it is situated underneath an interstate overpass, it seemed difficult to reach the venue the first time I entered, but the location was worth it. The overpass provided great coverage from the sun and occasional rain. It also provided amazing acoustics for the EDM Red Bull stage set underneath of it. The line-up featured Old Crow Medicine Show, The String Cheese Incident, The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, and many other artists. This festival drew in a very diverse crowd of fans, which made for an interesting weekend as it was completely different than most festivals that we cover here at indymojo.com.
As I arrived Friday afternoon at the media meeting, I learned that Forecastle is positioning itself as the next premiere world music event, partnering with AC Entertainment to make the event as big as it can be. J.K. McKnight and Ashley Capps (AC/Superfly) stressed their focus on bourbon as the 4th headliner of the festival, which was showcased by a bourbon tent where samples from many Kentucky distilleries were available for purchase. The grounds were beautiful. The stages were set within perfect walking distance from each other, although there was a bit of sound bleed from stage to stage. There were plenty of great vendors to provide any number of items from reasonably priced festival merchandise to amazing food. There was an entire section of the festival devoted to concert poster art.
The primary focus of Forecastle is music, art, and activism. They also seemed to focus on keeping a clean festival grounds as we saw very little trash on the grounds all weekend. The festival supports the local musicians and artists as well as brings amazing national acts together all for an affordable price. The highlight for me Friday night was the Old Crow Medicine Show followed by The String Cheese Incident. The lighting was perfect with the stage set right on the water, as the sun set on the Ohio River. These musical geniuses really opened my eyes to what Forecastle has become….a musical mecca for 3 brief days.
After the String Cheese Incident ended, we walked down the shore to the late night set to catch the DJ, Elliot Lipp. The show was set aboard the Belle of Louisville, which is the oldest operating steamboat in the United States. Getting on the Belle was hard due to ticket restrictions, and once on board it was probably the strictest show I have ever been too. There were a large number of uniformed police officers, as well as security staff everywhere.
The most interesting part of my late night adventure wasn’t the music, as good as it was. It was when I got to strike up a conversation with a gentleman by the name of John Grantz who helps put together Forecastle as well as being the owner of Headliner’s Music Hall in Louisville. Eventually, our conversation then included J.K. McKnight, the individual who started Forecastle in 2002. He mentioned how he lost money the first 8 years of the festival’s existence, and has only recently begun seeing a good return on his life investment. When I asked J.K. how he did it, considering it was a flop the first couple of years, his response was simple. “Just keep doing it, over and over again. Because if it’s what you know you want to do, then you have to just do it.”
Words by Chris Lucas
To see more high resolution images from the festival, click here
The circus came to town in the form of “Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus” at The Lawn at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. It was a beautiful night on the lawn, which made a perfect backdrop for the guitar showcase that took place for those in attendance. If Peter Frampton and his many tricks weren’t enough, he brought legendary blues guitarist Robert Cray to open up the festivities. It was a special night that featured new takes on classic hits and some insane covers as well.
Frampton started the show with a psychedelic video intro that played on a huge lcd screen which served as a backdrop for the stage. We saw frogs hopping to and fro, cats jumping back and forth, men with amazing facial hair with fire coming from the tip of their top hats cut in and out of the screen while “Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite” by the Beatles played through the speakers. Peter walked out with the rest of his band and began the show with a crunchy jam that was in your face. This gave me an idea about how memorable evening was going to be. The intro segued into “Magic Moon” and the screen cut into a mythical slide show of astrology signs and tarot cards.
After Peter heard about the 20th woman shout out to him that they loved him in between songs, he encouraged everyone to continue going ape shit, and proclaimed that the geezers rule. He then followed that with his hit “Show me the way”. Anyone who has ever felt heartache cannot help but connect to “Wind of Change” and with the screen behind him showing many never before seen photos of the early days in his career, it was hard not to have a barrage of memories going through your head while he sang those touching lyrics.
Steve Cropper walking on stage was a special surprise. The man who was in the original Blues Brothers Band, and is also a legendary producer who was highly respected by John Lennon and countless other greats. Before busting into the hit “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MG’s, Steve joked about how he never would’ve imagined when the song was created that it would one day be in an adult diapers commercial.
Towards the end of his set, Peter showcased the instrument that truly set him apart from the rest of the classic rock guitarist, the talkbox. He played an epic version of Soundgarden’s “Blackhole Sun” by matching the lyrics coming from his talkbox to those classic guitar riffs. He closed the set with “Do you feel like we do” which had everyone feeling what the man was talking about. After a short break, Peter and the boys came back on stage and broke into a super sick blues jam which lead into “While my guitar gently weeps”. The majority of the households in America have the record “Frampton Comes Alive” making it as American as apple pie. Peter played those songs with this same passion he had when he recorded it over 35 years ago, and him being in Indianapolis was a shining example for the younger generation who were in the crowd to follow your dreams and always do the things you love.
Words by Tyler Muir
To a lot of us Midwesterners Summer Camp Music Festival, held annually on the second to last weekend in May in Chillicothe, IL is like a warm gentle welcome to summer that we all wildly anticipate. And when I mean gentle I mean the chance of knee deep mud, dust bowls, guys walking around in tutus with Donny Darko masks, the sweet sounds of jams going on well till the crack of dawn and the reunion of old friends forgotten in the screen of snow that was winter.
Last years Summer Camp presented me with a great opportunity to get to know a lot of new bands while also allowing me the ability to reacquaint and fall in love with ones I had already been familiar with. There was the scorching sun, dust everywhere, hammocks and tents as far as the eye could see, great people, music and most of all experiences. We were able to see Moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Gogol Bordello late night and Bob Wier take the stage with Les Claypool for the return of Primus to the festival scene. It was hot, it was sweaty, it was glorious and man was it good, which is why we are all going back this year to experience all the glory that is Scamp.
Even more though we are going back for the people, for those freakers by the speaker, those tweekers and geekers, the weird the wet and the wild, the ones that us festy kids just cant live without. It’s life, and once you’ve bought the ticket, you gotta take the ride. This years Summer Camp experience will surely be one to remember with the staple 3 days of Moe. and Umphrey’s McGee, but it’s the addition of the Trey Anastasio Band, STS9 and Thievery Corporation as co-headliners that really have me excited.
Now here’s what you REALLY need to know about this years Summer Camp, again it is set in Chillicothe, IL from May 24th – May 26th. Currently weekend tickets are in the last purchasing tier costing around $218.00. There is also the Thursday night pre-party pass where anybody that is anybody will be in attendance. Thursday allows the regulars a chance to grab the best camping spots, get settled early, avoid super long lines and you get to catch a set of Digital Tape Machine as well as Jaik Willis in the barn, these passes cost an additional $33.00. They have an assortment of VIP upgrades, Primitive RV hook-ups, single day as well as full weekend and pre party passes available on the Summer Camp 2013 website for purchase. Definitely grab yo shit before hitting the road, trust me you do not want to stand in line with all your gear for 3 hours for tickets, only to have to do it for 3 more to get searched and enter the festival.
Summer Camp isn’t just about the music, it’s also about the people, and knowing how to plan ahead can be crucial to a good time. Be sure to check out all the camping rules and info as well as get aquatinted with the schedule and the additional workshops and kids camp if you want a little more out of your experience or are bringing young ones, because if you didn’t know, you need to, and now you can.
Like I said above, ultimately Scamp is about the experience, the people, the conversations and the love. Before you set out for scamp take a second to separate yourself from the greater world that we live in daily, take some deep breathes and prepare and ready yourself for what will be a magical experience, if you make it one. Be open to try new things, meet new people, converse on life, love stress and set backs but also on the positive aspects of life and the NOW, for that’s how you grow, and that is why Scamp is beautiful, because it gives you opportunities to grow and learn and become wiser. Remember, you’re traveling to Edge City, and as it was put to me so concisely by a good friend one of the greatest writing influences I have, “people die out here, it happens every day! It doesn’t take much, but it goes against the grain,” so be safe, be smart but most of all be open and have fun. I’ll see you kids in the campgrounds, come say whattup, you can call me Toph.
Words by Chris Lucas
To view photos from last year’s Summer Camp Music Festival, click here
Bluegrass music is one of our country’s oldest traditions, the pickin’ music of a banjo stirs memories of country livin’, moonshine, driving fast down dirt roads and kickin’ your heels up in a cloud of dust at your favorite summer festival. Though the feelings remain the same, the experience I had at last Wednesday’s An Evening of Bluegrass was quite a different experience. With little to no promotion for the event I was lucky that I happened across the page of the Old National Centre (forever known as the Murat) and a friendly Facebook post informing me of the event. With a little research I realized that this was not a show to miss, as it boasted some of the most sought after acoustic session players in bluegrass, including 2 Grammy award winners and 1 Grammy Nominee. The line-up included Noam Pikelny of the Punch Brothers on banjo, Bryan Sutton, known for his time with Ricky Skaggs, the Dixie Chicks and Doc Watson, on acoustic guitar, Ronnie McCoury, the son of famed Del McCoury, on mandolin, Luke Bulla on fiddle, and Barry Bales of Allison Krauss and Union Station on the upright bass.
The Venue on the tickets and on the Old National Centre’s website was referred to as Deluxe, but talking with some of the people that work there I found out it is actually called Corinthian Hall, a small room in the basement of the Murat. There was the standard marble floors, seen throughout the building, along with a beautifully lit ceiling and walls to boot. Very classy indeed, matched by the atmosphere of a seated event and a much more mature crowd. The one drawback was that we ended up having to sit behind one of the several large pillars in the center of the room, making it hard to see more then half the band at any given time. Obstructed view aside, the show was a wonderful collection of heartwarming bluegrass and folk tunes full of energy and pride. These guys are all very experienced musicians, you don’t win a Grammy otherwise, and they hardly missed a note. This kind of bluegrass was definitely different then the style I have been accustomed too, listening to The New Old Cavalry, Yonder Mountain String Band, and the Rumpke Mountain Boys, but I think seeing this different side to a very wide spanning genre of music was refreshing. It was very hard not being able to jump up and dance around but that was just part of the experience. All in all it was a good show, it wasn’t great because great would have been to see these boys really cut loose with a wild crowd dancing arm in arm into the wee hours of the morning. Regardless, check em out if you see them on your next festival handbill, you wont be disappointed.
To view more photographs from the show, click here.
Words by Chris Lucas
Funk and jazz band Galactic brings the sounds of New Orleans to central Indiana
On Thursday April 4th , I did something I don’t normally do, which is go to a show completely alone. But I did it with good reason, as a rarity to central Indiana graced us with the soulful sounds of New Orleans. Galactic, a staple in the jam band scene revered for their almost telepathic ability to play flawlessly, came to the Vogue on tour with the Nigel Hall Band to share with us some of their musical prowess.
I arrived to the venue around 8:30 p.m., just in time to catch the second half of the Nigel Hall Band. As I walked into the Vogue more ready then ever to experience some new music, the Nigel Hall Band, and to see Galactic in a whole new light from a writer’s perspective, I ran into a fellow writer for the scene. We spoke on life and writing, as this will be my first official Indymojo review. He talked about an experience he had not too long ago writing about the Suwannee Music Festival and gave me some tips and friendly advice, I’m never one to turn that kind of thing down. I proceeded to grab a beer and head to the stage to see what turned out to be a composite of many already well established musicians in the scene. The Nigel Hall Band was comprised of members from Lettuce and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, both excellent funk machines. Nigel was front and center on what I believe was a Rhodes leading the band in what I could only compare to a combination of Motown and Ray Charles with an added funkiness to it. I was only able to catch a couple of their songs, but the Nigel Hall Band will definitely be a new act I will be watching out for as I hit the festival grounds this summer. After they left the stage the standard mulling around during set break commenced as the bar filled up, tables were occupied and cigarettes were smoked. I was able to find a good group of homies to bullshit with and eventually getting to talk to E.D. Coomes, who plays the bass with Lettuce and Nigel Hall. He shared with me some of his story, growing up the son of an already established musician it turns out he was born to play.
As the anticipation grew, I found my way back inside and at the bar grabbing another beer as the lights began to fall and Galactic started to take the stage. They opened their one, very long, set with the energy that any other band would have saved for the encore, setting the stage for what was one of the best shows I have seen this winter. You could feel the drums in your chest as the horn section led the fully instrumental number in a wild and funky direction, then transitioning seamlessly into one of my favorites, the song “Balkan Wedding”. With what seemed like a duel between the horn section and everybody else in the band, “Balkan Wedding” had you jumping back and forth to the eastern European sounds fused with the funk of New Orleans. Next they went into “Hey Na Na”, a fairly new one for Galactic, with Dave Shaw of The Revivalists doing the lead vocals. For the crowd, this radio friendly song was well received but was not one of my favorites. I could feel the energy and definitely caught myself in a little groove, but I like my Galactic as soulful and funky as possible, the old school sounds of New Orleans without the hip hop influence that the last two Galactic albums seemed to exemplify.
I got to talking to some friends about this and it seems that, though they on their trips to New Orleans never experienced this hip hop side of the city, there does seem to be a presence, which is why Galactic chose to call it out on more recent albums. Shaw made it up to me though by following up “Hey Na Na” with “Ain’t No Love”, a very soulful, jazzy number where he took the lead on the guitar and vocals, absolutely killin’ it. They later played to our heartstrings with a cover of the famous Beatles tune, “I Am the Walrus”, which really got the crowd going. The ever presence scent of “Hippie” increased with this song as people carelessly lit up in remembrance of the iconic 60’s pop/rock band, and Galactic added a playful funk undertone to the song, really making it their own while paying tribute to a challenging song I have never seen covered. As I stood there taking notes, a friend of mine was asking me to try to describe how I document a show like this and how does one describe the feel of such a band. I let him take a look through my notes, he nodded in agreement to things I had written, while asking questions about others. I told him that solid research is always helpful in really understanding a band, especially one as dynamic and versed as Galactic. This band is different in that their city is fueled by changing music on a daily basis, and when they do a studio album they bring in many different local and regional musicians, letting them just lay it down as they see fit. They are diverse and different, so where as I may not like the hip hop side of it, it is important in understanding the rich history of a city which is embodied in their music. This was ever more evident in the following song, “Heart of Steel”, another tune lead by Shaw on vocals. While people were rowdy and excited for the cover before, as “Heart of Steel” was played you could literally feel the crowd calm down in respect of the soul Galactic was putting into this number. This is one song that was also featured with hip hop tunes on the album it debuted on; again with the diversity, this band just knows how to do it all, and how to do it right. As I continued to run into more people I knew, I continued to get encouragement for my writing (so I hope you all like it!) making the experience that much more worth it. As it came time for the encore, Galactic came out strong with the number “Does It Really Make a Difference”, and brother I can tell you it DOES make a difference.
A fellow traveler and well respected head saw me taking notes and came over to discuss some of his experiences with Galactic. He told me that, having seen Phish over 150+ times, that more then ever Galactic was there in the small towns back in the day to keep the party alive. But more then that, they would take you to the next level. I believe his exact words were, “They’ll tickle your balls and make you forget that Harry Hood encore” a hard feat for any diehard phish phan. So to the band that was always there to keep the groove goin, it does matter. For the final song, they busted out with a cover of “When The Levee Breaks”, a song that made the crowd go wild. The energy was intense, the love from brother to sister was even more so, and I was left walking away with an ear to ear grin thinking to myself, “damn that just happened”, and on a Thursday! I can only hope that we can get Galactic back to Indy in the near future, and maybe even on a Friday or Saturday where more heads can come out, and the party can go to the break of dawn, as is according to the New Orleans tradition.
Words by Chris Lucas
Photos by Aaron Lingenfelter of Wide Aperture Images