BIG Summer Conclusions
Last night the BIG Summer Classic came to a close at Danbury, CTs Ives Concert Park. After two busy weeks of collaboration, each of the traveling festivals performers proved extra friendly, resulting in several notable sit-ins. Umphreys McGees Brendan Bayliss, Jake Cinninger and Joel Cummins, as well as Keller Williams, helped New Monsoon close out its festival opening set, which included a particularly ripe version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Next up, Umphreys McGee took the stage inviting Keller Williams out for a version of Women Wine and Song.
While roadies prepared for Yonder Mountain String Bands performance, Bill Nershi offered a surprise tweener set, entertaining a crowd already lost in a maze of stilt dancers, hula-hoop performers and other costume-clad artists. An acoustic band, Yonder Mountain took advantage of the festivals assortment of drummers by inviting every BIG Summer Classic percussionist onstage for an extended jam during Jerry Garcias They Love Each Other. For his part, Williams also joined in on beat-box. Williams returned during Michael Franti and Spearheads set, singing a few verses of Stay Human. After sparring with New Monsoons Bo Carper, Franti brought Umphreys McGees Andy Farag, Michael Travis and most of New Monsoon onstage, before parading his band offstage and through the crowd. As his set time drew near, Franti could also be seen conducting a yoga session with several fans in a field behind his performance space. During his show, the energetic entertainer also remarked that BIG Summer Classic was the most fun he had on tour in ten years. Franti returned during Williams set for another rap during Swing before jumping in a small pond separating fans from the Ives Concert Paks stage. Kang joined Williams for a few songs during his performance, including Breathe and Pal, with Michael Travis and Jason Hann joining in on the later number. Williams also offered his final interlocking set with String Cheese Incident inviting the entire band onstage during Fuel for the Road. Quickly drying off, Franti jumped onstage once during String Cheese Incidents festival closing set for Desert Dawn. For String Cheeses encore, each of the festivals bassists emerged for Spinal Taps Big Bottoms, with Kang and Bayliss wearing the festivals trademark sumo wrestling costumes. The entire BIG Summer Classic lineup returned one final time for a group jam based around Bob Marleys Could You Be Loved.
Notable collaborations also marked BIG Summer Classics Friday and Saturday evening stops as well. Friday night at Philadelphias Penns Landing String Cheese Incident invited many of the festivals cast of characters, including Spearheads Carl Young and Michael Franti, Keller Williams and Umphreys McGees Brendan Bayliss, Jake Cinninger, Kris Myers and Joel Cummins onstage during its encore. Though Cinningers amp blew out during Best Feeling the jam session came to an rousing end. Earlier in the evening Dave aided Williams on Mary Jane while Cinninger supplied guitar duties during Yonder Mountains version of the Stooges Death Trip.
Saturday evening the BIG Summer Classic rolled in Mansfield, MAs Tweeter Center. Carl Young kicked off the days collaborations, joining New Monsoon for a version of Cypress early in the afternoon. During Keller Williams set, Umphreys McGees Kris Myers and New Monsoons Jeff Miller helped the one-man band cover the Grateful Deads Fire on the Mountain. Surprise guest Martin Sexton also emerged for a version of Hallelujah. Williams stuck around for String Cheese Incidents headliner set performing with the group on his own Freaker by the Speaker during its encore. The entire cast of BIG Summer Classic then took the stage for a cover of Bob Dylans Quinn the Eskimo. Additional reporting by Cole Boyle