Camp Keewanee Greenfield MA welcomed home the annual festival May 28 2022May.

Saturday morning came and we arose ready to great the musical marathon of the day. This was our first Strangecreek with our bus, and the benefits of a real bed and the noise dampening quality led to us being truly well rested. This is a huge plus, and we got right to it, got breakfast going in our shared kitchen- years of camping and vending together has us combining resources and setting up a great camp together.

We wandered over to Vernville to catch the morning set by The Medicinal Purpose. Brother Sal was in fine form, bending strings and growling out his world view. I recognized Kade Parkin on drums and Chris Ball on bass; and there was a new keyboard player, in Parker McQueeney. Despite the early set Worms were already gathering and ready to rock. We caught a few tunes before going back and getting the booth really set up for the day’s sales to come.

Frank Viele brought his brand of blue collar tri-state Rock to the main stage. He had assembled a pretty big band replete with two keyboards, guitars, percussion and Frank up front delivering his songs with gusto. The set included some tasty covers including Free’s “Feelin Alright” that had the Joe Cocker version vibe for sure, Tom Petty’s “Runnin Down a Dream” and Seger’s “Against the Wind.” But the vast majority of the set featured Frank’s originals which combine elements of working man’s rock and Muscle Shoal’s soul. The set included a preview of a whole slate of new Viele songs and his joy at playing the main stage was palpable.

Whole show audio, use the arrows to toggle between songs.

  • Someday I’m Gonna Make You Mine
  • Hearts We Left Behind*
  • The Trouble With Desire*
  • Turn Around
  • Feelin’ Allright (Joe Cocker)
  • Broken Love Song
  • Neon Lights
  • Trainwreck*
  • LoFi Goodbye*
  • Love You Enough/The Vultures
  • Mountains We Can Climb*
  • Runnin Down A Dream (Tom Petty)
  • Against The Wind (Bob Seger)^
  • Putting Out Fires*

^ – Signifies Frank performing solo

  • – Signifies new unreleased song
Photo by Vinny Natale

Up next were the Commonwealths’ purveyors of southern rock jams, Way up South. I caught up with band leader Charley Carrozo and he expressed pure joy at returning to Strangecreek and the festival season in general. I had seen Charley play a couple of times during the pandemic, usually at private backyard parties- and he easily recognized the difference between that and playing on a festival main stage mid afternoon on a Saturday. The set included Carrozo’s original music, paired with covers of southern and jam rock bands like the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead. The band is tight and moves with a unified deftness that illustrates every player’s high quality. Any time you see Way up South performing near you and you want a great time of good tunes and high vibes, do not hesitate.

The set’s finale was a song “The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends.” This may has well have been the sound track of the festival, a three day four night affair that tests your stamina for joy and good times!

Full show audio:

From the video channel of gerryjdvideo

Adam Ezra Group was next and brought their feel good acoustic rock quartet to the main stage.  Adam Ezra helms the ensemble on guitar and vocals while occasionally bringing a banjo or keyboard to his performance.  Corina Smith shines on vocals and fiddle with Poche Ponce on bass and vocals.  The show started with drummer Alex Martin establishing a strong drum beat bringing his band mates out on stage. 

AEG is a familiar act for the Worm crowd who sang along to originals like “Let Your Hair Fall Down” or the crowd pleasing “Devil Came up to Boston” replete with a stellar solo by Smith.  New originals aplenty, with so many writers finding extra time for creative output the last two years the festival included a lot of “We wrote this during the pandemic..”- were mixed with covers including new to me “Love the One Your With” and “Drift Away” and old staples like  the set closing “Free Fallin.”  The band’s feel good nature and gentle vibe were an easy sell to an audience craving inclusion, community, and just a break from a never ending cycle of challenging times.  Ezra knows this, and it is his specialty to reach out and establish connections, and he gave heaping portions through his band’s ninety minute set.

Full show audio:

The campfire folk vibe gave way to rock festival mayhem when New England’s national purveyors of Sublime took the stage. Badfish showed that they can rule this crowd, bringing together the biggest crowd of the day to the concert field. Over the next ninety minutes they unfurled twenty songs from the opener “Smoke Two Joints” to the closer “What I Got.” In between the band deftly cruised through the majority of the Sublime catalog from well known tunes to obscurities. The entire time the crowd was singing along and getting down and dirty. This became all the more true when the skies opened up and the pouring rain commenced. Neither band nor audience were deterred, in fact almost everyone was gleeful. While some bands or fans my shrink from a sudden downpour, on this day with this band, it became a feature of the party.

Occasional horns were mixed in with the reggae rock vibes. Precision isn’t necessarily the hope of the day when it comes to a Badfish show, rather the highest levels of energy and a complete devotion to the catalog and cultural vibes of Sublime. I must say that it was not predictable nearly thirty years ago when Sublime’s sound overtook the nation that it would spawn such a huge live music subculture. The land is dotted with bands effected and influenced by Sublime, with Cali-Reggae itself seeming to blossom into a whole musical genre. It’s almost Grateful Dead-like in its ubiquitousness and influence, from clothing to lifestyle to fans using lyrics as their own personal gospel. Badfish has been around for the last twenty years keeping those vibes alive and bathing the masses. Rain or no rain, Badifsh shone a bright sunny light on Strangecreek.

Full show audio:

From the video channel of Opethianlynn

Circus punk stylists Bella’s Bartok took the main stage next. Filled with vim and vigor, this Pioneer Valley turned national band has made Wormtown and Strangecreek their festival homes. The band took the stage wearing giant puppet heads. The audience was filled with pool noodles by which the band and fans kept time and celebrated their joy. Bella’s has more than a bit of a ragtag vibe, and I didn’t recognize every member of the band as their lineup shuffles from year to year. Asher Putnam however remains the consistent front man at times celebrating the show, at times reflecting on the tough times of the last few years, and at times chiding the audience into political action. This is a familiar mix for fans, and Putnam and the rest of the Bella’s crew represent the uniquely anarchistic, colorful, emotionally promiscuous and musically celebratory music community of western Mass.

There was a bit more ska in their goulash on this day, interspersed between the punky balkan rock elements that are the foundation of the Bella’s sound. There were new tunes aplenty and I recognized some Bartok classics like “The Fiddler and the Devil” or the crowd pleasing “Ramona.” There was what I assume was a cover by System of a Down which feels like a total no brainer for this band. The band seems to have a new member on vocals and percussion whose vocals blended in perfect harmony with Putnam on that SoaD cover.

From the video channel of gerryjdvideo

There are few certain things in life: death, taxes, and a Max Creek Saturday night headliner at Strangecreek Campout.

After a few technical challenges with the keys, Max Creek served up a set that was over three hours and included some twenty songs.

Four different band members took a turn on lead vocals over the course of the show. From the John Rider “Wild Side” opener to the Scott Murawski “Just a Rose” which spanned the end of the second set into the end of the encore to Mark Mercier’s honky tonk “See Things My Way” to drummer Bill Carbone’s “The Bees” the band stretched out vocally and instrumentally throughout the night. West End Blend’s Michael Bafundo was on stage to supply extra percussion at points, trumpet at other points, and after some technical challenge, vocals for “Scarlet Begonias.”

Let’s not leave out percussionist Jamemurrell Stanley. His chance to shine was during a nearly twenty minute drums that bisected the set. Things were loose, friendly, and the vibes were just great as is right for both a Max Creek show and for a Saturday night at Strangecreek. The encore saw festival promoter Mark Blanchette take the stage for announcements and to entire a nearly thirty minute encore out of the band. The “I’ve Got a Feeling” had a great vocal interplay between Murawski and Carbone. The “Just a Rose” reprise saw Murawski getting playful and enouraging a call and response of “Strangecreek” which the crowd enthusiastically enjoyed.

Max Creek Saturday, May 28, 2022
StrangeCreek, Camp Keewanee, Greenfield, MA
One Set 803pm
Wild Side > jam* > Don’t Do It, “We’re Max Creek, a Something is Forming cover band” banter, Jones > JAM > The Bees, Peaceful Warrior > For What it’s Worth > Heartbeat > It Must Be Nice > Drumz#+, Scarlet Begonias@, See Things My Way > Only One, Creatures of the Night, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Just a Rose% > GDTRFB 1102pm
Wormtown Mark’s encore: Lawyers Guns and Money, I’ve Got a Feeling > Just a Rose^ 1125pm

  • piano equipment issues
  • w/Scott filming the drummers
  • @ w/Michael Bafundo on trumpet
  • % Mark says this is the pause before the storm…don’t worry we got this.
  • ^ w/StrangeCreek chanting
  • Michael Bafundo from West End Blend on add’l percussion

From the video channel of gerryjdvideo

Overall, this was a perfect capper to a great day. Late night cabins fired up with an all star Alchemystics set in one of the cabins that saw special guests from all over the festival joining New England’s favorite reggae and hip hop band. Like the night prior, I didn’t really get too far into the cabins after a fun filled day, and decided instead to preserve my energies for the next day’s festivities.

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