The rain slowly fell, as did expectations of decent weather for another festival weekend at Camp Creek. The bikers who occupy the Indian Lookout Country Club were efficient in their car searches as well as very polite . They were so cordial in fact that when dropping a bag of Cheetos out of a campers car, they gave it back to them, much to the chagrin of the biker who had Chester the Cheetah tattooed on his arms. This vibe was implanted into the overall feeling once campers got inside as well. The mist and drizzle continued, there weren’t any down pours – just enough rain to be a bother. Everyone was helping everyone else get their gear setup, an overly friendly gesture not always seen at festivals, if ever.
The Country Club was extraordinary but this was not your grandparent’s country club – there are no golf courses or swimming pools or croquet court. No, this is a retreat for bikers and a beautiful one at that. Over looking a magnificent array of mountains as far as the eye could see with lakes and a water fountain, this place just seemed like home. Although the weather was a slight detriment there was this calming vibe covering the entire venue so there were little if any worries.
Casey Bloom, a native of Canandaigua, NY, opened the festival up with an acoustic set focusing on many Grateful Dead, Tom Petty and Pink Floyd covers such as “Lady with a Fan,” “Wildflowers” and “Fearless”. This was a fantastic way to kick off the festival as people began to fill up the hill stage and sang along to all their favorites. The table was set for a brilliant weekend of music. As the evening progressed so did the music and positive energy. The staff was delightful as they made the campers comfort their number one priority. Having staff constantly checking on the bathrooms to ensure cleanliness, is a lesson other festivals should learn from. As well as helping disabled festival goers with their wheelchairs or offering to lend a hand if you were carrying too much, their courtesy was above and beyond any call of duty.
The Marks Brothers, led by Max Creek keyboardist Marc Mercier, had fans swarming at the Hill Stage to get a glimpse. Featuring Mark Paradis on guitar, Brian Konopka behind the drum-kit and Dave Stoltz slapping the bass. These four put on a very rocking set putting a different spin on some standards that Marc does while playing with Creek. The once grassy area in front of the stage had now become a muddy disaster but no one was bothered by this, in fact the longer the set went on the more the tent filled and created more mud. The best thing about this band was they played songs that Creek plays but they played them a lot heavier it wasn’t just Marc playing the same songs the same way with different guys, different guys means a different sound and that’s what the Marks Brothers delivered.
The spirit of ’70s southern rock lives on through many bands in the music scene today, however very few emulate it as Eastbound Jesus does. EBJ is a band hailing from Greenwich, NY which embodies everything there is about the that era of music. Weird? Maybe. Does it matter? No. This band rocked hard. Adam Brockway, the bands centerpiece controlled the crowd with his movements and twangy vocal styling. Brockway demands the crowd’s attention and he receives it. Although there are many acoustic bands with similar styles, the electric guitar playing of Dylan Robinson separates EBJ from all the rest. The smooth modern sound over the classic rock backing is a sound untouched by very few if any bands out there today. It catches the ear of not only jam band fans, but that of bluegrass and country as to not pigeon-hole their fan base. The sky is the limit for EBJ, and they will reach it very soon.
After EBJ the floor was completely muddy but that didn’t stop anyone from coming to see the main act Friday night. Beau Sasser, Ed Mann, Bill Carbone and Scott Murawski packed the tent over capacity and out into the surrounding area. This all-star lineup was nothing less than spectacular. Sasser has a knack for the keys possessed by no one. He owned the crowd from the very start with his nonchalant confidence as he smoked his cigarette and talked to the sound guy, never missing a beat. He transmitted very spacey sounds as the rest of the group severed as a backdrop. Murakswi shared some amazing solos, Sasser was right with him, this was his show, and everyone was very ecstatic about the energy. Brett Wilson sat in for a couple of songs as well; Playing Bob Marleys “Hammer” and one of Brett’s Band songs, “Death March”. Wilson closed the evening with a set of his own for the people who weren’t ready to call it a night. With a soothing reggae sound, this set was not like most late night acts. This was the perfect way to wind down after a long wet, muddy day. As the night wound down the bikers kept watch over everything making sure no one got out of hand and that everyone was safe. That was the key to the whole festival, safety.
Saturday morning showed some promise both as far as the weather went and the music, the day started perfectly. Although the sky was overcast the sun was trying to emerge itself through covering clouds. Hot Acoustics opened the morning up with special guests John Rider and Jamerreal Stanley, for a well awaited sit-in by the remaining members of Max Creek . The set featured four people having a good time all had smiles on their faces and the music was spot on. To start a Saturday off this was the right way, as the afternoon rolled on and the sun broke through Matt Zeieer and crew did their things much to the liking of the crowd, but it wasn’t until Ryan Montebleu took that stage that the crowd really got into the vibe. Playing sing along songs, the most catchy was “Eggs” a fun little song about how he likes his eggs. The crowd was inside and outside of the ten and no on he was having a bad time Playing “Sergent peppers Lonely Hearts Club” band was a great addition to the set everyone knew it and everyone loved it. Ryan Montebleu was defiantly an important act on the schedule.
When Max Creek took the stage around 7p.m. the place was ready to get down and so was Creek. Camp Creek is like the Superbowl to Creek, they hold it out all year just for this set, and by hearing it you can tell this was true, “Jones” opened the show and from the first note everyone was dancing, smiling hugging, family. The grooves continued and the crowd continued to eat it up. It wasn’t until “drums>space>drums” that things really hit their peak. With avant-garde sounds reminiscent, almost emulating Pink Floyd, the crowd was entranced, just waiting in awe for what was to come next. There was no telling, even in the 18 plus minute “Who do You love” the aura was still there and it finally dropped into the beautiful “Emerald Eyes”. Everyone was either smiling, crying or screaming. This is what Creek is about no matter what emotion, they are bound to channel at least one every time. And, this time was no exception. “Down with the Jungle” a song wich featured Jammerel Stanley on main vocals was completely off the charts. It showed that after all these years Creek still has the power of diversity. In the middle of the song Jammerall rapped, a rap at Camp creek, with Max Creek, by a Max Creek member.; Awesome.
Long time Creek collaborator Frank Messina came up and delivered an amazing poem about America, although it was a little hard to follow at the time, he always brought it back to “the Soul of America” – it was phenomenal. “Twist and Shout” was the next rocking number to get everyone back in the mood before they were getting ready to wrap up their five-plus hour show. This show was as close to perfect that can be achieved.
There is no cure for the Sunday festival blues like a little early morning smooth jazz. Jammerall, Stanely and the Drummers for Peace and Equality delivered just that. With a nice mellow drum beat under the slow smooth trumpet set the mood right, nothing to fast nothing to crazy, just something to slowly get your groove back after a long weekend. These guys were booked perfectly as a rocking afternoon was soon to take place.
Spitune, playing on the hill stage to a mediocre crowd, was the key to Sunday as a lot of campers packed it up and left that morning, but that wasn’t going to stop the party from continuing. Opening the set with a cover of the band who is hosting the festival has to take a lot of courage and SpiTune did just that. Starting their set with the creek classic “Something is Forming” and putting their own twist on it was a very nice surprise that left the crowd in bewilderment. When Creek plays the song it changes it up but basically in the same structure, SpiTune changed-up some of the vocal arrangements to make it feel more original.
Flipper Dave was ready to party when they took the stage. Playing gongs that were not only jammy, but also personal, it was a nice change of pace, Scott Murawski got brought up several times and helped the boys out that was not needed but it was fun to see these friends play together, this family play together, That was the presence of the whole weekend that this was juts one big family, bands included and they were going to play that they wanted to when they want to, much to the delight of the other bands.This is what a true festival should be like. This has been lost in the festival scene when promoters book bands that have no connection to each other. As soon as you can feel the disconnection from the bands it takes away from the festival as a whole, Camp Creek did it their way, the right way.
Fungus Amungus was the last hill stage act. They tore it down. With a horn section like no other and yet another appearance by, Scott Murasaki. Muraswki sat in for two songs then the best part of the set occurred when the band play homage to some of the greatest groups of the seventies, Pink Floyd and Zeppelin playing Zeppelin “The Ocean” and “Moby Dick” followed Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”.
The final act of the festival, which should’ve been dubbed Max Creek and friends was up on the main stage next. This was a special treat. This is what the festival was all about: Family. Having most of the guys who were playing sit in with them was something special, from festival opener CaseyBloom, To Keyboardist, Beaus Sasser to Murawski’s grandson, this was a very special set. It was more fun than anything and that’s what it’s all about. When Max Creek decided to put this festival on this year they said they wanted to have a party like it used to be. They succeeded, they succeeded with flying colors and this set proved it.