Off To Summer Camp 2011: Part I
- By Nick Rhodes
- Published on April 14, 2011
|moe. bassist Rob Derhak at Summer Camp - Photo Credit: Will Duff|
Summer Camp Music Festival is like that guy who orders the same thing every time he goes to the local steakhouse. He knows what he wants and loves getting it.
You know you’re going to get your steak – three days of moe., three days of Umphrey’s McGee – but your side dishes are another story.
This year, Summer Camp boasts an impressive supporting lineup including Widespread Panic, STS9, Cypress Hill, Girl Talk, Bassnectar, Lotus, Huey Lewis and Bela Fleck and The Flecktones, just to name a few.
[FIND complete lineup, ticketing information and analysis on our 2011 Festival Guide.]
In its eleventh year at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL, Summer Camp keeps everything fairly consistent – with a few fun surprises like Umphrey’s playng as the backing band for Huey Lewis – and that’s why people keep going back for more.
|Summer Camp - Photo Credit: Will Duff|
The late-night shows in the Red Barn, though exclusive, are often magical and part of the uniqueness of the event.
[BUY tickets to Summer Camp on the festival's website.]
Headstash Magazine sat down with Mike Armintrout, one of the organizers for Summer Camp from Jay Goldberg Events, and asked him about everything from dealing with the goofiness of moe. and Umphrey’s every year, to formulating the impressive lineup to handling the surrounding community.
Here’s Part I of our interview with Armintrout. Read Part II here.
Headstash Magazine: Summer Camp is a really unique event because where some festivals thrive on extreme diversity in their headliners, for the past few years, you’ve had three nights of moe. and three nights of Umphrey’s McGee. How did that come about and why do you stick to that format?
Mike Armintrout: Well, the relationship for moe. goes back to 1997 or 1998 when we did our first club shows with them and Jay [Goldberg] son, Ian Goldberg, who’s really the brains and visionary behind the festival, really hit it off with the band and they’re management. They started talking about what we could be doing together.
Like you said, they’ve been a partner of ours since 2001 – since the we started the festival. The first couple of years they were definitely the biggest name playing the festival. And then as the years have grown, so have the caliber of talent at the festival.
moe. is obviously still excited to be headlining the festival and they’re definitely our partner in making it happen. They are involved in the creative aspect in what bands we go after – who they’re excited about and who we’re excited about. They play an intricate role in what we do.
MA: In 2003, on the third year of the festival, Umphrey’s McGee played for the first time, but our relationship with them dates back to 2000. They were obviously a Midwestern band at the time – still getting their chops on the road and touring. Again, a great group of guys who are really down-to-earth. And we hit it off not just building a business relationship in terms of shows, but a personal relationship as well.
In 2004, when we did late-night shows in the Red Barn for the first time, they wanted to play an integral role in that and play one of those first late-night shows.
[FOLLOW Summer Camp on Facebook.]
As the festival has continued to grow and develop over the years, so has Umphrey’s McGee, and their drawing ability to sell tickets in the area has definitely grown. It just made sense for them to become much more heavily involved in the festival. Hence, we now have three days of Umphrey’s McGee and that’s been the case since 2008.
Of course, what we’re all really excited about this year in particularly is on one of those three days people are going to get a small Umphrey’s set and then their also going to get this set with Huey Lewis where Umphrey’s is going to be playing as their backing band.
HM: Yeah, that’s a wild combination. Is that your doing or the band’s?
MA: It was Umphrey’s idea to bring Huey Lewis this year. Considering that they’ve been such an intricate part of the festival and have really connected themselves with the festival, we want them to do these things. If they want Huey Lewis at the festival, we want them to have Huey Lewis at the festival.
We honestly couldn’t have picked two better groups of guys to be the bands that are really the backbone and the staples of the festival because all the guys in moe. and all the guys in Umphrey’s McGee are just really great guys.
And I don’t think anyone who knows Chuck, Al, Vinnie, Jim, Rob or Kris, Andy, Joel, Jake, Brendan or Ryan, would argue that point. They love to be a part of the festival and we love having them. It all just started from a personal relationship standpoint, and its turned into this event that we’re all really proud of and that we’ve put not only a lot of time into but a lot of heart, soul and passion as well because we love live music.
MA: There are more late night options. In addition to the Red Barn shows, we’re also developing the late-night DJ tent, the campfire acoustic jams that go on and a couple of other late-night things we have planned to keep the party going.
There are just as many people who will go to sleep at 1:00 a.m. as there are who will go to sleep at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m.
We’ve also been trying to get the fans more involved. [We’ve been running] contests on Facebook like the Camp Counselor contest and the bandana design contest. We want to keep the fans feeling – and they are – a part of the family. If it weren’t for the people who came out to the fest every year, we wouldn’t still be doing it.
HM: What’s the toughest part of planning this festival? Is it the balance between being a big-time event with thousands of people and maintaining an intimate atmosphere?
MA: Definitely that. I think we’ve done a good job at it, but only time will tell if we can keep and continue to maintain that family atmosphere, that community feel. But that’s definitely a difficult thing as the festival gets bigger. How do we continue to keep it feeling intimate and small as more people show up?
One of the obvious more difficult things in the planning of the festival is scheduling 80 bands and making a schedule that works for the 400 to 500 artists within those bands. That can cause logistical confusion just trying to put a schedule together and do our best so there’s not a situation where there are three bluegrass bands playing at the same time or two rock bands.
[FIND the Summer Camp schedule on the festival's website when it's released on Thursday, April 21.]
We try not to put Bela Fleck and Cornmeal on at the same time. Or Bassnectar and BoomBox. We try to think about it from the fan’s perspective. Sometimes that’s possible and sometimes that’s not. Is everyone going to be happy? Probably not.
For me personally, I almost love seeing the fans of the festival having a great time and just losing themselves in the moment, in the music, even more so than I love having the experience for myself.
HM: Can you talk about how you go about building that lineup. This year’s bill is amazing but even with two headliners solidified, it must be a difficult endeavor.
MA: As the festival continues to get bigger and has established itself not only in the Midwest but on a national level, it gets a lot more attention from the national talent agencies and management companies and record labels and they all want to have their bands a part of the festival just as often as we find bands who we seek out to play the festival.
It’s based around relationships. We’re promoting events all year long and so we have relationships with all the major agents and we don’t just see the STS9 guys every year at Summer Camp or the moe. or Umphrey’s or Lotus guys. These are bands that we’re working with throughout the year doing club shows and other events.
Widespread Panic is an exciting addition to the lineup.
So we obviously put a good deal of the lineup together just based on the bands that we like, the bands that we enjoy, the bands that we know are selling tickets and doing great things around the country. It’s not the easiest thing to do. There are bands that we want to play the festival and sometimes it takes us a year or two to make it happen.
[FOLLOW Headstash on Facebook.]
Sometimes it’s the Umphrey’s or moe. guys who come to us and say, “Hey these guys are friends of ours. We definitely want them to pay the festival.” They help us. And when they’re excited about something, their fans are going to be excited too.
We’ve been trying to get Widespread Panic for years and it finally worked out. They’re arguably the largest band we’ve ever had. They’re huge. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve sent out information [to artists] and they responded back with “Holy shit! That is an amazing lineup.”
|Wiz Khalifa is another addition to the stacked lineup.|
HM: What are some of the things you love most about putting on Summer Camp?
MA: The festival gives us an opportunity to bring bands we love to the festival. Personally, I love the Avett Brothers so I’m excited we’ll have them for the third year. But I’m also really excited about adding Cypress Hill to the festival this year. That takes me back to cruising in my car when I was 16.
On top of that, offering the opportunity to some Midwestern bands and some smaller bands – I think we have a lot of regional bands at the festival. Whether it’s the different bands that win spots or bands we seek out to put on the festival bill. I think that’s what we love about the festival, too is that we’re able to give some bands some good opportunities to get in front of people and get their names on the bill.
[DISCUSS Summer Camp and other festivals on our message boards.]
I hear people say all the time that they buy their ticket and come to the festival because of moe. or Umphrey’s or this year because of Widespread Panic or Sound Tribe or Girl Talk or Bela Fleck or any of the headliners. But they get to the festival and they see all these bands but they go home and they’re talking about the band Savvy from Chicago or the Steez guys from Madison or any number of the smaller acts at the festival.
And hopefully just by having them at the festival, we can play a small part in pushing them to the next level and playing in front of large audiences.
Part II of our interview with Mike Armintrout can be found here.
Interested in writing for Headstash Magazine? Apply here.