The 12th annual StrangeCreek Campout took place at their traditional location that is Camp Kee-Wanee in Greenfield, MA over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Hosted by Wormtown Trading Co, this music festival has become a yearly tradition for dedicated fans, also known as “worms” or “creek freaks”, to enjoy a few days of “good times, great music and each other”. The 33 acres of woods and open areas left plenty of room for folks to explore and play for the weekend, while the three stages and cabin sets supplied a never-ending musical soundtrack.
Friday started with Eaturaura kicking off the main stage with their electronic dance music while B.A. Dario got the groove flowing on the River Worm stage with their heavy jams. The River Worm stage was the farthest, but worth the walk for it was located right by the Green River that saw festival goers consistently enjoying the rocky beach throughout the weekend. Wild Adriatic had great stage presence on the main stage as they threw themselves into their set of pure rock and roll and Consider the Source beckoned to the masses with their Middle Eastern hard jams. Turkuaz proved that you can’t stop the funk with the heavy rain that fell that evening as they still blasted apart the main stage, while Upstate’s Eastbound Jesus performed on a soggy Vernville stage with a sincere “North Country Girl” set closer. The Vernville stage was just on the outskirts of the woods in a clearing, in between the main and River Worm Stages, next to a graffiti tent of colorful weekend memories that were drawn. Donna the Buffalo sang out easy-going folk tunes to a sea of fans in rain jackets as Primate Fiasco was sheltered by the trees; their fans were deep into the mud and into their psychedelic Dixieland. The big headliner of the night was Zach Deputy, a one man band of funky soul with loops of spitting beats and contagious rhythm. Deputy recalls the fond memories he’s made at StrangeCreek, reminiscing of his first sets played there and how it “popped his festival cherry”. The late night music was held in the three cabins setup near the community bonfire and in the craft vendor village. Jeff Bujak held his Silent Disco set known as Silent Bujak with dance crazed techno and a stand out remix of Talking Head’s “Naïve Melody”.
Saturday brought sunshine and Hot Day at the Zoo to start the day off with their unique acoustic bluegrass blend that they have named zoograss . Combining progressive folk with rock and roll, the quartet put a new spin on classic favorites as they went from the Grateful Dead’s “Cumberland Blues” into a funky “Foxy Lady”. Domino Theory won hearts with their Americana light rock jams like “Everybody Love My Mary Jane” and guests were treated when Scott Murawski, guitarist from Max Creek, sat in for a few songs. The Lee Boys performed the always needed slide guitar soul saving for the festival. The Jiggle the Handle reunion brought together New England jam band fans for Max Creek drummer, Greg Vasso, and company for a set of improvisational rock and a wicked rendition of Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know”.
The big act of the night, and for who the festival is partly named after, was Max Creek who shared the stage with a large inflatable duck mascot. The set started with some light plucking and bounce from “Windows” followed by Mark Mercier whispering out Paul Simon’s “Diamond’s on the Soles of Her Shoes” as the whole band brought out the upbeat island rhythm. They covered The Beatles “Come Together” with a serious jam that came marching out of it before ending the set with “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” a traditional folk sing-along. As Silent Bujak took over the Holistic Cabin again, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong bounced in your face funk right next door around the Wormtown Cabin.
Sunday’s weather emphasized everyone’s gratitude and love for the StrangeCreek festival. With love in the air, the day started with a wedding on the main stage during the acoustic and adorable duo of Flagship Romance. They have smooth sailing ahead of them with their gentle love ballads as they serenaded the newlyweds and other festival goers who were treated to a full on reception with hot buffet. Plenty of guests were still arriving with day passes still available, and with a blue sky forecast, the last day of StrangeCreek was shaping up to be beautiful. Rev Tor Band filled the air with a light reggae gospel spell with their jazzy guitar riffs as Ryan Montebleau stood tall and solo with “75 and Sunny” being a great representation of the festival itself.
One of the most talked about tribute bands on the scene, Z3 is a Frank Zappa tribute trio and were joined with original Zappa band member, Ed Mann, on the main stage for an extra dose of authenticity. The Juicy Grapes squeezed out some soulful funk and sensual female vocals while Alan Evans Playonbrother rocked out with fresh material and a solid Cream cover of “Sunshine of Your Love”. Be on the lookout for Playonbrother at this year’s Catskill Chill as they will dedicate one of two sets entirely to Cream. The main stage came to an end with an all-out bust out from Rusted Root, as they celebrated their 25th anniversary with a set of world rock and percussion of all shapes. StrangeCreek continues to be a special gathering of first timers and longtime wormers in a family friendly environment full of music and good times. With a successful 12th year under their belt, StrangeCreek only has the best to look forward to.
If you’d like to hear some music from the festival, check out these free downloads from a few sets over the weekend: