Summer Camp Music Festival - Chillicothe, IL (May 27, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

It started with an innocent post to my Facebook wall: "Scamp Sunday????  Only $65."  Rick's one little post got the ball rolling, and before the night was through, we had decided that yes, we would be at Summer Camp on Sunday.  Colin and I went to Summer Camp each Memorial Day weekend from 2003 - 2010.  Last year we decided that it wasn't worth the scalding Midwest heat, lack of shade, and the trouble of hauling everything in and out.  It was weird watching the shows on iClips, but we were glad we had stayed home.  This year, the decision wasn't so hard - we see a lot of great shows and go to a lot of festivals that are overall a better choice than Summer Camp; we didn't even really discuss it, we just figured we would skip it again.  However, going for just one day was a completely different story.  

We drove to Peoria the night before, and on Sunday morning we showered and headed to the festival.  We felt so nice and clean as we pulled into the employee parking and got our kick-ass spot, but as soon as we got out of the car and covered in sunscreen, we were also already covered in dust.  We were still some of the cleanest people there, though.  We ran into Eric almost immediately, and after he ran off in search of food, we saw Rick, Melissa, Kristin, and their friend Matt walk through the gates.  We found a spot to set up their tent, and got our music-filled day started.

We watched a little bit of Umphrey's set, but the sun was brutal and I had to find some shade if I was going to make it through Yonder.  Colin and I wandered a little, and sat in the shade of the vibe tent before heading down to the moonshine stage. We were really early - Greensky Bluegrass was setting up and there was almost no one around.  After just a couple hours with people packed all around me, it felt good to walk into a giant open space.  We got some of Uncle Bob's famous home made ice cream, and grabbed our rail spots before the crowd washed down the hill.  We were soon joined by Marci, Frank, Carin, Chelsea, Eric, and Jordan as Greensky played a relaxed set in the sun.  

Finally, it was Yonder time.  The rest of our Kinfolk made it down front before the music started, and that warm and fuzzy Kinfolk feeling spread through the rail-riding crowd.  The pit was packed full of photographers as the Yonder boys hit the stage, and although I was already feeling the effects of the sun, I was more than ready to get this show started.

"We're a few minutes early, but we figured, f*ck it, we wanna play music for you people."  Jeff was obviously excited and ready to get this show started, as well.  I couldn't believe he was wearing a black shirt, but when I looked over at Dave, I was shocked that he was wearing a long sleeve and jeans.  Adam didn't even wear his trademark black shirt, saying "You guys are hard core, to be standing out in the sun."  

"Traffic Jam" started this festival set, and forced the overheated crowd to start getting their boogie on.  Sometimes with festival sets, you find the band plays a little faster - maybe to squeeze in a tiny bit more music - and this was no exception. This "Traffic Jam" was nice and fast, with Dave taking off with that first solo, mimicking the vocal line and putting a huge smile on my face.  As they broke it down, I found myself in front of Jeff, where I could feel it coming - a little "Muppet Show Theme" sent the audience to another level before the song rounded out and came to an end.  

"One More" was our second tune of the set, and Jeff gave us a crapload of funky pedal right from the beginning.  In my opinion, this song can never have too much pedal.  "This thing's being broadcast on the internet.  I'm not sure you can say 'f*uck' on the internet, or show my boobs, but this is happening, either way."  Ben's fan was on full blast, and as he stepped aside from his bass, his shirt was blown up.  "Good thing I wore my Calvin Kleins, put em on three days ago, and they're HOT!"  Ben was having a good time goofing around, but it was time to get on with the music, with Dave's "Loved You Enough".  They raced through this bluegrass number, and the crowd couldn't help but jump around and send clouds of dust through the air.  

In true festival fashion, their first four songs showcased each band member, with Adam's "Pockets" coming up next.  Adam had started this set looking pretty miserable, but by now, he had a cold wet towel on his neck and looked like he was feeling much better.  You gotta do what you gotta do in this kind of heat.  Did I mention that it was hot out?  Ben gave a public service announcement before the next song, informing us that "You might find yourself with a tendency to pass out at the end of this number... it goes really really fast!"  He was right, because the next song was "Southern Flavor".  I was standing with Rick and Melissa during this one, and completely forgot where I was (or how hot I was) and started to boogie really hard.  Thankfully I remembered that I would die if I got too overheated, and slowed it down a little before passing out.  Thank God Ben gave us that PSA.  

"I wrote this song about a White Hen Pantry in North Aurora, whereupon I stole some Raspberry Zingies."  "Did you get caught?" Adam asked Dave.  "Yes."  The song was "Don't Worry Happy Birthday", making us all a bunch of happy scampers. "A wise man once said that you should drink tequila in the sun at least once in your life... then he passed out."  Jeff's intro could only be for one song, and as the mandolin roared to life, bringing a roar from the crowd, "Ramblin' in the Rambler" kicked off and sent a whole new dust cloud into the air.  "Shake Me Up" was the meat in the "Rambler" sandwich, making a lot of ladies quite happy. I had made my way back to Colin at the middle of the rail by this time, and as Yonder started going back into "Rambler", they did a really cool jam that started off sounding like "It Takes a Lot to Laugh...", but turned into some cool new Jeff scat.  The "Rambler" reprise had even more energy than the first half, if you can believe that, and left us all hot, sweaty, and breathless.  

"This next song's a newer song, but it's only a song, doesn't go on very long.  So if you don't like it, it's kinda cool, you don't have to wait that long."  Ben sang "Straight Line" to a whole lot of folks that seemed to like it, especially since it slowed things down, allowing us to slow our heart rates a little.  A fast and bouncy "All the Time" came next.  This was one of the songs Colin and I really hoped to hear, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Especially the very end, when Adam thrashed his guitar strings.  Holy hell, that was good.  

Then it happened.  "Snow on the Pines"> "Follow Me Down to the Riverside"> "Snow on the Pines".  The last time I heard this sandwich was from up in Ted's light booth in San Francisco - with a horrifying migraine.  I was more than ready for it this time.  My favorite little mandolin riff, that perfect driving bass line, when Jeff sings "you can f-f-f-feel it in the breeze", Dave ripping through his banjo solo, Adam soloing over Jeff's funky pedal action... I soaked it all in.  Suddenly the song changed and Jeff started chanting "I will take you, I will break you, I will make you mine."  We found ourselves pushed right into "Riverside", where we had to let go and follow the music wherever it wanted to take us.  It was a short but dirty ride, and we were dropped right back into "Snow on the Pines".  Damn, that felt good.  

Although we only got just over an hour of Yonder, it was just what we needed.  We originally thought we would have to wait until July 1st for some Yonder, but here we were, getting our fix a full month early.  We enjoyed the rest of the night with our Kinfolk, catching pieces of Michael Franti and Spearhead, Jane's Addiction, Moe., This Must Be the Band, and finishing the night with some extremely late Greensky Bluegrass.  Overall, it was one hell of a day.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
5/27/12 Summer Camp, Chillicothe, IL

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