Camp Creek

Indian Lookout Country Club, Mariahville, NY

July 8-10, 2016


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I have a lot of great feelings coming off of my first Camp Creek in many moons, and my first return to Mariahville in probably a decade.  Camp Creek is a place for memories to be shared to be made and for me and many of my friends, is our place.  This year was no different.

I arrived on Friday night after a full week of work, with my twin daughter and son, and good buddy in tow.  For her, she’s been to Camp Creek a few times but it’s been a long time too, and with her fourteenth birthday looming she was as interested in making pins to sell and seeing if there were other pre-teens there as she was in anything else.  For my buddy, he’s been seeing Creek for years but he has never been to Camp Creek, and he just needed a weekend away to chill and hang with friends.  Everyone got what they were seeking I think.

We arrived in time only for the end of the Marks Brothers set.  I set up my recorder but alas I got part of Three Little Birds and Hard to Handle.  The band sounded like they were having a blast, and I can see that Mark Paradis has put together a heck of a good band which also features Mark Mercier from Max Creek on keys plus bass and drums.

Up next were Depth Quartet with former Creek drummer Greg Vasso on drums, Scott Murawski on guitar and vocals, Julee Avalone on vocals and sax and flute (from Dr Juice) and Justin Kolack on bass.  The band was quite active for a number of years about 10-15 years ago and have re-emerged of late with a handful of shows since Spring.  They mixed originals with some really interesting covers and spun out a show that was nearly 2 hours straight.  Quite excellent.

Depth Quartet seems really rehearsed and not putting out watered down versions of anything. Murawski is writing songs for the band and they are taking risks. Some time early in the set they were playing a tune and I was pretty sure I heard Murawski yelling in Spanish? (Mas Y Mas by Los Lobos, as it turns out.) There are lots of original vocal tunes and their cover tunes can be quite challenging including the set closer, a Rage Against the Machine cover which took me a little bit by surprise I should say.

To cap Friday night City Hotel came in with some great bluegrass.  I recorded their set but for some reason it just didn’t come out well, too quiet.  They have a good times feel but I wasn’t up close enough to it to really discern their individual style.  When I ran into Mark Mercier later in the weekend, he told me that he and Lori had  hand picked City Hotel to come to Camp Creek along with a couple of the other bands on the bill, and that’s a ringing endorsement in my book.

We slept in the Old 78 vending booth as friends and family were taking up the camper. There was a lot of wind and with the amount of tent and tarp in our vicinity I caught what I call some Wormtown sleep. One minute sleep, wake up, one minute sleep, wake up, repeat. So I got up in the 8 AM hour or so just tied of the battle. I unzipped the front of the booth tent and was hanging out, when a kindly bearded gentlemen came up to me, handed me a flier, and said that his band Creamery Station was playing at 10A, would have free coffee and a creamery station. Brilliant! So I caught my first show with Creamery Station shortly thereafter!

The band is interesting, full six piece with drums, keys, guitars, mandolin, and harmonica with several guys providing vocals. They played crowd friendly covers and some originals. Garcia Band’s My Sisters and My Brothers, Deal, an alternate take on Railroad Blues with which I wasn’t formerly familiar but the band tells me is an original of theirs with a common name, Levon Helm’s Hurricane and others. Interestingly the band is made up of two generations of dudes- three guys who appear to be about 25-30 years old, and three guys who appear to be hovering somewhere around 50 years old. There is no separation necessarily of the old guys are better, or the young guys have more energy- they blend together really well and are a perfect supplement to the Camp Creek vibe- with Max Creek having their own duo-generational reality going.

SET LIST: Corinna (not on the recording), The Shape I’m In (The Band), Sam the clam (original), You Did Me Wrong (original), Walcott Medicine Show (The Band), Railroad Blues (original), Hurricane (Levon Helm), My Sisters & My Brothers (JGB) > Deal (Grateful Dead)

The clouds were moving quickly and the festival battled rain throughout the weekend. But that did not dampen spirits at all and everyone rolled with the punches. Spitune was supposed to be the next band up on the hillside stage but they succumbed to the weather problems. Safety first, after all.

Riders on the Storm took the main stage and the rain drops seemed to pause for a while. You could see appreciative festivarians heading down to the main field to get their music on for the day and appreciating the moments of sunshine as they came and went. The band was a good tribute to the Doors for sure. At times I wasn’t sure if they were emulating the ‘loose’ live style of Jim Morrison and the Doors or if they were just ‘loose.’ They traveled through a wide variety of Doors material and had special guests jumping in and out of the band’s lineup. It was a fun trip in the early afternoon.

Up next was Rev Tor Band on the hill top stage. The band is super tight and has drums, bass and vocals, organ, keyboards (and I mean separate people on keys and organ) and Rev Tor on guitar and vocals. To say that they have improved over the last few years is a gross understatement. The band has really gotten a lot better since the last time I saw them and you can tell that this solid lineup that they’ve had for a few years, even despite having a sub drummer on this day. They are super tight, the instrumentalists are all super amazing, the songs are beautifully realized. The vocals are mainly split between Tor and Dan Broad who is the bassist who is a perfect compliment to tour in the front of the band.

Set List: Sea Sick, Three Way Bus Stop, She Knew My Name (Dan), The One, Althea (Grateful Dead), Got To Get Close, Right Around The Corner (Ben), Free Your Mind (En Vogue), Outside Looking In (Little Anthony), Cissy Strust (The Meters)

I had the pleasure of running into Rev Tor a little while later and we sat and chewed the fat. We talked about family, not festival family but like relations family- his family business, his wife and personal life. It was great and indicative of what Camp Creek is all about, spending time with people about whom you really care. I asked him how it felt to be playing Camp Creek. “It is always an honor and a thrill to play Camp Creek! Always one of my favorite festivals with an awesome vibe!!”

Up next on the main stage was New Riders of the Purple Sage. I stopped by the bus earlier in the day and rapped with Michael Falzarano and he talked about how it’s over ten years since the return of New Riders, and their recent shows. There is clearly a special relationship between the band and their fans, and from the Kirby in Scranton to the Rusty Nail in Stowe Vermont to shows anywhere from coast to coast, they continue to connect with their fans young and old. It was great to see them at Camp Creek, too. David Nelson and the boys brought it, their cowboy folk rock flag waving high and proud. They can spin a song and take a lead with equal verve, and their 90 minute set was just what the doctor ordered for the Creek freaks. The sun came out and the crowd really plumped up in front of the main stage, with people really ready to get down. And just like that, the bus up and got out of town, heading for the next Riders gig down the road. Just like they always have, for decades, now.

This takes about 4 minutes to get going, but stick with it, and the wind noise dies down shortly, too- full show audio. There is definitely crowd noise but the show gets clearer and louder as the recording continues.

Hayley Jane and the Primates took to the hill stage and I caught some of their rain abbreviated set. Ms Jane and her band of musical monkeys have come a long way over the last few years. She has guested with what seems like every band on the festival scene from Roots of Creation to Zach Deputy, but this is clearly her project. She is an extremely emotive performer, and you can see on her face the meaning of the songs and her joy in delivering them. The band is adept and flexible, both supportive and exploratory- and this band is going places. Their set was abbreviated due to the weather, but with promises of a late night return she communed with her fans while everyone waited for Max Creek to hit the main stage for the evening’s featured event.

Haley Jane full show audio-

And then it was Saturday night- and time for Max Creek. As the recording indicates, the reason we were all there. As expected, the Creek unfolded an epic show that stretched into the night for hours and hours. The set list included tons of originals and lots of covers from the expected to the vastly unexpected. Covers by Poco and Tom Petty and Harry Chapin were all likely new ones for me despite seeing the Creek dozens of times before. Max Creek’s released audio of the show:

Set 1: 01 Intro 02 Summer Sun > 03 Stagger Lee 04 You Don’t Know 05 Dance 06 Hard Love 07 You Better Think Twice # 08 Field > 09 Can’t Always Get What You Want ^ 10 GDTRFB Set 2: 11 Intro 12 Orange Sunshine > 13 Said and Done 14 Blood Red Roses >15 Drums (Cricket Jam) 16 Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever $ 17 Emerald Eyes > 18 Jam > 19 Border Song >* 20 Dixie Chicken > & 21 Border Song * 22 Your The Only One 23 It Must Be Nice 24 Same Things 25 Mary Janes Last Dance ! 26 All My Life’s a Circle @ 27 Windows 28 Encore: 29 Lawyers Guns and Money > % 30 Memories Of You > 31 Freeborn Man + Key: # Poco ^ Rolling Stones $ Four Tops * Elton John & Little Feat ! Tom Petty @ Harry Chapin % Warren Zevon + Jimmy Martin

Once the epic Creek set finished, Hayley Jane re-took the hilltop stage and did an acoustic show that stretched into the night til the wee hours. I was already done myself having had a full day that started early with the Creamery Station set, and retired to the camper. Sated from the hours of music I had experienced all day long, Saturday was put to rest.

Sunday dawned and with a better night sleep under my belt, and the weather clearing a little bit, this third day of Camp Creek looked like it was going to be a little easier on everyone. The Hill stage began with Pure Jerry who did not just the Dead and Jerry as you would expect but do I remember correctly a crazy version of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors? The band was tight and the music was great. On the main stage another tribute in that same vein was Gratefully Yours out of the Albany area so somewhat hometown heroes for this crowd. They threw down a full set of Dead tribute material quite well and it was a grand way to kick off that stage.

The real surprise for me for the entire weekend was the next band on the Hill stage, After Funk. Hailing from Toronto Canada this quartet is almost mislabeled as a funk band though they certainly do funk it up. Drums, bass, guitar and keyboards are the instrumental mix, but it is truly the vocals that stand out. Lead singer Yanick Allwood is a singular talent. He has that ability to sing funk, r&b and you expect that he could sing anything set in front of him. He is also a virtuoso on the keyboards, a level of talent that is matched by all other instruments within the band. He has a casual easy going nature which contradicts the amazing difficulty of the vocal skills he exhibits. The band jams and can keep it within the pocket, they were truly impressive. This is a band to watch.

And Sunday afternoon led to another Creek show. First, a group photograph! You can really tell the family vibe as for a good five minutes people from all over the place came down to the stage and we all got a great group photo. After a bit of time, the band fired up for the show.

Sunday is a real family set for Max Creek during Camp Creek. It’s when you get guest sit in opportunities, family members joining the band, and members of other associated bands coming to sit in as well. We got John Rider’s son coming up to do an original song, we got Mark Paradis from the Marks Brothers up to join for Big Boat and someone named the Iceman who joined for Who Do You Love. As I was with a few other people we had to get going around six PM but the event was still in full swing and the sun was shining and you could tell that the band was just in a darned good mood. I was too because I got what I want out of going to most any festival, hours and hours of Max Creek! I regret that I was unable to record anything on Sunday because the four plus hours the night before of Creek filled up my memory card, but I will continue to seek out additional recordings to post here.

To Submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.