Summer Camp Music Festival, now in its eighteenth year, is right around the corner once again. Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois has hosted the annual Memorial Day weekend bash since its modest inception in 2001. The festival has steadily grown, from an event featuring a handful of top-flight jam bands, two stages, and 1,000 ticketholders, into a three-day mega-gathering with more than 150 artists, culled from dozens of genres, who will play in front of more than 20,000 festivalgoers on nine stages. As it has since the beginning, the Summer Camp 2018 lineup promises to deliver one of the premier festival experiences of the summer.
This year’s headliners are moe. (pictured above), Umphrey’s McGee, and Phil Lesh & the Terrapin Family Band. moe. has played Summer Camp since the beginning, with this being their eighteenth consecutive Midwest Memorial Day sojourn. 2018 will mark the sixteenth consecutive time Umphrey’s McGee has played the event. Phil Lesh, however, is making the trip to Three Sisters for the first time, bringing with him the Terrapin Family Band, featuring Jason Crosby, Ross James, Alex Koford, and Grahame Lesh. Fans will have the opportunity to see moe. and UM play all three nights, while Phil & Family will play two sets.
Check out Umphrey’s McGee paying homage to fellow headliners moe., covering their classic “Rebubula,” at Summer Camp 2013.
It’s all jamband stalwarts at the top of the bill, but there is absolutely something for every demographic. Cypress Hill, Diplo, Graves, Greensky Bluegrass, RL Grime, Jen Hartswick & Nick Cassarino, Keys n’ Krates, Kung Fu, Nikki Lane, Leftover Salmon, Lettuce, Liquid Stranger, The Main Squeeze, Mike Dillon’s Punk Rock Percussion Consortium, Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, STS9, Tipper, Tycho, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Zomboy are among the many musicians adding to SCamp’s wide array of artists.
New York is well represented from top to bottom at Summer Camp. moe. is the most storied jamband to ever call New York home and will surely add to their legend in the first Summer Camp since bassist Rob Derhak’s bout with cancer and stirring return. Following moe. to SCamp this year are a number of New York’s next generation of improvisational rock bands, including Aqueous, a young Buffalo band with a national following; City of the Sun, the NYC based buskers turned post-rock touring band; Lespecial, a power rock trio based out of New York and Boston; Tauk, the NYC quartet known for their funky fusion instrumentals, Space Carnival, an up-and-coming jamband from Ithaca; and, of course, New York’s youngest rock star, Brandon “Taz” Niederhauer, the fourteen year old guitar sensation who made his name starring in the Tony-nominated School of Rock.
One of the most interesting artists on the bill is Action Bronson, the Queens-born chef turned Billboard top-ten charting rapper and television star, who will bring to the lineup a unique brand of hardcore rap.
Also representing New York are two of the most appreciated electronic artists and two of the most appreciated improvisational artists the world over. Jai Wolf, the Bangladeshi-born, Long Island-raised producer is known for his work with Skrillex and Odesza, and Eliot Lipp is a prolific electro artist who calls Brooklyn home. Marco Benevento is known for his playing in Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Benevento / Russo Duo, Garage a Trois, and his numerous solo projects, and lastly, John Medeski, a legendary keyboard player on the New York jazz scene, also known for his extensive work with Medeski, Martin, and Wood, will bring his gumbo-flavored Mad Skillet band to Three Sisters Park this year.
In addition to the music, Summer Camp also offers several other features over the weekend and beyond. These include an art gallery featuring some of the most talented live painters in America, the Soulpatch, a long-term garden space that will host permaculture and urban gardening workshops, a treasure hunt experience that will culminate with the Everyone Orchestra show. Summer Camp Music Festival also supports a number of charitable organizations, nonprofits, a good causes, including Amnesty International, Conscious Alliance, Headcount, and sustainability efforts.
On top of all the talent and attractions I have mentioned, there are so many other incredible acts I haven’t mentioned. Backup Planet, Big Something, Break Science, Roosevelt Collier, Everyone Orchestra, JJ Grey & Mofro, Leftover Salmon, Los Lobos, Monophonics, the Motet, Mungion, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Pink Talking Fish, the Rumpke Mountain Boys, Spafford, Twiddle, The Werks, and Z-Trip are all among them, but there are so many more. Last but not least, I would be remiss not to mention Keller Williams, who has performed at Summer Camp since the beginning in 2001, who is bringing his infamous one-man show and whatever else he might think up back to the park once again. And like Bob Weir once said of touring with Keller, “it’s more fun than a frog in a glass of milk,” which is exactly how Summer Camp 2018 is shaping up. It’s right around the corner, but it can’t get here soon enough.
Follow NYS Music online and on social media for full coverage of the festival and visit the Summer Camp website here to get last minute packages and to volunteer.