- JamCam Chronicles: Season 2: Set 1 Summer Camp 2005
Its festival season!!! Oh wait, were not there yet, but all of a sudden I have that damned itch and nowhere to go such a cruel world!
Luckily, JamCam Chronicles is now into its second season and Im sitting here watching the first DVD of this round. Focusing on Summer Camp in Chillicothe, Illinois (May 27-29, 2005) for the first issue of season two is a great way to showcase some of the scenes heavyweights (moe., Particle, Keller Williams, Umphreys) before releasing the remainder of JamCams treasure thats sitting around just seething to be seen and heard.
Let me step back for a minute and talk about why I think this subscription DVD project is worth joining. Although I dont want you to stop reading print reviews (no, no), they have flaws in that youre going to be given mine or some other critics unquestioning opinion that, honestly, could have been swayed by personal energy at the time (imagine day three of a festival), substance consumption (whatever is your kick), distracting neighbors, or just issues of personal musical taste (I dont honestly like every style, worthy or not). JamCam Chronicles offers what its creative team decides are some of the better moments at each of the festival spots it covers throughout the summer; all you have to do is listen and watch. Theyre saying, heres what we liked, we hope you enjoy and then they step back, letting you soak. No one is going to ruin your listening experience or memories of the festival with opinions. None of the usual critical, so and so was AMAZING, but None of that! JamCam Chronicles only mission is to bring the music and views of the scene into your home so that you can catch some of the festivals you just couldnt make, and to help you relive those nights you may have forgotten or missed while touring the festival grounds.
JamCams creators have undertaken a pretty lofty goal of presenting a subscription package of DVDs every year, hoping that, after all the footage has already been shot the summer before and production has begun, enough people will subscribe to have made last summers efforts fruitful. Its not even close to a sure thing no other music scene would have a chance at making this work but damn if it isnt a great idea and one I wholeheartedly support! Subscribing is certainly worth consideration, as youll not waste any money here. If the early Grateful Dead tapers knew what they started, I know theyd be proud.
From a technical standpoint, the actual hard product (the DVD) this season is of a better quality than last years first steps. They are being released on dual-layer DVD9s. What? It means they can be longer (2.5 to 3 hours each) without sacrificing quality no faulting that! The video is crisp.
The first track, Smokestacks Dreams We Dream, is a little off in the audio department (audio for each artist was recorded by different teams each time). The mix just sounds odd, and theres some hiss from the drummers high hat and cymbals, but the sound is fine on the rest of the footage throughout the DVD and certainly not enough to doom this project. Otherwise, Smokestack (a band I hadnt heard of) is a tight unit and a nice warm up for the remainder.
Batter number two, moe., follows with Seat of my Pants, rocketing one out of the park early. Obviously JamCam Chronicles isnt going to put a flawed moe. track up, so Ill just stick with an obvious Hilton reaction thats hot!
Ive held out on this, partly because I didnt know how to take it. But, just as Im starting to develop an affinity for Particles sound, they cut guitarist Charlie Hitchcock loose after closed-door decisions (closed both to the public and Hitchcock) at least I caught one of their last shows. I just dont get the decision. You may not have liked Particle, but for the masses who did, we really, really liked them. Why would a working band that was only growing in popularity decide to drop its guitarist, a guitarist that separated the band from the rest of those bands out there jumping into the format? Hitchcock was able to interweave rock textures through the steady trance backbeat in a style that was his own and really made Particle sound uniquely like Particle, rather than just another trance group. If you never saw Particle, heres a reason to grab up this DVD, just to see what you missed (Ed and Molly).
Next is an introduction to the Summer Camp family, meaning a compilation of dyed crowd video, as the fans are truly the family. Throw in a few howdys from some of the valiant workers making things tick, a shot of Oteil Burbridge getting his eat on, and were properly introducedtime to dance!
Burbridges belly full, his Blue-Eyed Savior, with the Peacemakers, trickles smooth like the rain falling into the long hairs and ex-long hairs in front of him. If youve not heard the vocal harmonies he welds to his basslines, Ive found another reason for you to get this DVD.
True to the festival spirit, there will be some bands youve not heard and some youve not heard of. I hadnt heard of Groovatron, but thanks JamCam for the introduction, through Outcome SOS. It was my pleasure. I wont miss them when the opportunity presents With their eclectic sound (mixing disparate styles like jazz, head-bashable rock and a touch of beat box), they would be a perfect Umphreys McGee opening band Im just saying…
One of Jamgrass heavy hitters, Hot Buttered Rum String Band, plays an energetic Firefly for ya, talks about the need to stay true to and to study the roots of your music, and then introduces us to their Veggie Bus, which runs off of vegetable oil and, when necessary, diesel. Renewable resources hell yeah! A slower Well Oiled Machine caps the skillful HBRSB set as the headliner sets get ready.
Donna the Buffalos Killing a Man is darkly soulful, bluesy and a great brain massage. Ahhhhhsmooth sippin. Let that organ whine! Nothing extra showy here, just good music and song.
Michael Franti and Spearheads Sometimes was a daylight crowd magnet, because the people love to groove. Franti is truly a fan of the fans, often leaving the stage at festivals to hand out trash bags and collect garbage with the people. Much love flows from Frantis camp, a consistently irie sound and action. When he sings, Im so alive, you know he lives that mindset.
RAQ transitions Shirley be a Drooler > The Anthem of Beauregard. I havent listened to these guys much, but believe me, I will! Heres a contender for a festival like Jam in the Dam, where a room full of people with heads full of nugs need ears full of choice and funky bass-dependent grooves to keep those brains feeling swollen. RAQ has a new fan in me!
Keller Williams is the spotlight artist on this issue of JamCam Chronicles. Hes interviewed and lands a lengthy set near the end of the DVD, playing in his standard stream-of-thought: Inhale to the Chief > Hypnotize > Jack-a-Roe > Hypnotize > Inhale to the Chief > Day That Never Was. During the inserted interview block, hes asked about Writing vs. Recording (writes when the mood hits records when the song is ready to be finalized and has been played for a while), Stage vs. Studio (What do you think he prefers?) Plane vs. Train and Automobile (getting comfortable with planes allows him to tour like he does), Bowling vs. Golf (tough one for Keller connects with both goes with choice C, Swimming), Dogs vs. Cats (Dog fan, but appreciates cats), The Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote (Goes with the Coyote for not giving up), Britney vs. Christina (Christina, of course can sing and has Whitney moves), Organized Religion vs. Personal Spirituality (less likely to push your own personal spirituality on him), Martin vs. Fender and Gibson (Martin, Martin, Martin), Indoor vs. Outdoor shows (Outdoor) and Is one really the loneliest number? (Youre never alone on stage, with friends watching you).
The Summer Camp 2005 edition of JamCam Chronicles closes out with Umphreys McGee and another moe. performance. Umphreys McGee rages In the Kitchen. Need I say more on this one, really? These guys dont disappoint raged it! The final track is moe.s The Ghost of Ralphs Mom. Heres another need I say more. Of course youre not going to see a bunk performance on a compilation DVD, so no worries kids!
Oh its not done! You might as well read the credits, since you also get to watch and hear Keller Williams as he plays Sing for my Dinner, recorded during the interview session.
Finally, how about a couple suggestions from ol Jeremy Sanchez? Subscribe to and read Relix (now it includes a dank compilation CD!) and Jambands.com for the critical opinions and inside scene scoops you really wont find anywhere else. Subscribe, listen to, and watch JamCam Chronicles for a wonderful time, more accurately reliving festivals past, the ones you were at (you werent allowed to take a video camera in anyhow, and the audio bootleg you have is shitty) and those you couldnt make. Go see live music whenever you can (especially festivals) and youll be happier for it! Im anxiously awaiting the next issue of JamCam Chroniclesluckily I have a mailboxdont you? Visit www.JamCamDVD.com if youre interested.