Summer Camp Music Festival

Three Sisters Park / Chillicothe, IL

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In the minds of most, Memorial Day signifies the official beginning of summer and all of the festivals and festivities that come with the sun. At the 15th Annual Summer Camp Music Festival, it also signified what looks to be The Season of the Grateful Dead.

With the much-hyped Grateful Dead 50th anniversary shows just around the corner, many of the A-List artists at Scamp (as the festival is known to those in the know) tipped their hats to the Dead. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass performances, by virtue of their repertoire, were not surprises. However, it was Floodwood’s set of Workingman’s Dead tunes and (with guest Bruce Hornsby sitting in on keys) moe.’s unforeseen nods to the iconic band made it a lively festival without a day of the Dead.

Its eclectic array of musical genres and artists enables Scamp to draw larger crowds and top-notch musicians, year-after-year. “We try to encompass as many genres as possible,” said Mike Armintrout, talent buyer for Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment, which produces the festival. Armintrout went on to say that the organizers avoid pigeonholing the festival into the jam band scene. “We’re more diverse than that.”

Scamp has a long history of experimenting with the addition of unexpected acts. In 2008, Flaming Lips joined the lineup while in 2009, it was Willie Nelson; Jane’s Addiction was a headliner in 2012 and Primus and Zac Brown Band joined the roster last year.

This year, Scamp’s commitment to diversity was well represented indeed with the inclusion of notable DJs, electronic and livetronica artists, such as Krewella, Big Gigantic, and A-Trak, to name a few. And while these acts did draw very enthusiastic crowds, it was the perennial jam bands that kept the festival’s tempo and the rhythm of the scene. How could they not? With five sets of moe., three sets of Umphrey’s McGee, and two sets of Widespread Panic, and the nearly 20,000 festival attendees who appeared to love every minute of these hours of instrumental exploration, this festival’s jam band roots proved to run deep.

—Mandy Pichler

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