Summer Camp 2012: Marketing moe. and McGee
- By Nick Rhodes
- Published on May 07, 2012
|moe. at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Nick Rhodes|
With three days of moe. and three days of Umphrey’s McGee, Summer Camp attendees pretty much always know what they’re in for. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kicking off festival season in the Midwest, Summer Camp has all the makings of the big-time national festival it is, but also prides itself on keeping things feeling intimate and familial.
Besides having two of the biggest names in jam-rock headlining every year, Summer Camp offers numerous super-groups (Big Gigantic and Conspirator will team-up), sit-ins (Warren Haynes is there, so we can expect something crazy) and side-projects (Pink Floyd/Beatles tribute band with members of Umphrey’s and The Disco Biscuits) as well as late-night performances in the storied (and tiny) Red Barn.
[BUY tickets and find more information on Summer Camp 2012 on the festival's website.]
This year’s festival, taking place May 25 to 27 in Chillicothe, Illinois, has an incredibly diverse lineup with Jane’s Addiction, Pretty Lights, Primus, Lotus, Common and Gogol Bordello sharing the bill with SC mainstays like Cornmeal, Keller Williams, Greensky Bluegrass and many more.
|Umphrey's McGee at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Andrew Duch|
Headstash Magazine: As someone who's been with the festival for a few years now, what is it that makes Summer Camp a special event?
Holly Brinkman: Honestly, I would have to say it's the community. Summer Camp is special to me because it's the first festival I ever went to. I went to the first one about eight years ago as a fan and then over the years started working with [Ian and Jay Goldberg].
It feels so different than any other festival because of the community of fans. It's just so accessible. It's the type of place that you're going to be hanging out with some major rock star and you don't even realize it because they're the coolest, most down-to-earth people.
It’s very Midwest – the people are not pretentious and are really friendly. That's very much what this festival is about. People come back year after year and they say it's like coming home.
HM: A lot of that familiarity probably stems from Umphrey’s McGee and moe. coming back every year, right?
HB: That's a big part of it. In addition to moe. and Umphrey's headlining the festival every year, there's so many artists that are a given
When we're doing the lineup announcement a lot of people say, “It wouldn't be Summer Camp without this band.” And in many respects, it wouldn't. We have Family Groove Company and Cornmeal and a lot of the local Chicago bands that sign up every year and are very much a part of our family.
|Cornmeal at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Celeste Valladares|
HB: Absolutely. We started sort of as a jam festival and a lot of people still say that we are and I'm not going to disagree with that. Having the Gigantic Underground - those guys don’t have an album or anything, they just like to get together and collaborate and create great music. And that I think that very much speaks to what we're all about.
HM: What else do you think sets the 2012 festival apart from previous Summer Camps?
HB: Our lineup is a little bit different this year. We have some amazing huge acts that are coming through. We've got Jane's Addiction, we have Primus, we have Common – and I think all three of those were additions that not a lot of people expected. We definitely tried to mix it up a little bit this year.
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Last year we had a really hard year with weather. We're changing the ground layout a little bit to do everything we can from an infrastructure perspective. We've done some work on the grounds so that they'll drain faster and there's actually a lot invested in making sure that what happened last year doesn't happen again. That was sort of a catastrophic situation and we want to do everything in our power to ensure that we put on a great weekend and that the weather doesn't hinder it in any way.
HM: You touched on your perceived identity as a jam festival, so how does that play into creating the lineup? What kind of factors do you take into account when trying to create a dynamic, diverse bill?
HB: It's a constant work in progress. Every year we try something new and a little bit different. I don't know that there's ever a perfect ratio or scenario. The thing that's hard with electronic and jam music is you have your loyal fans on each site that don’t like the middle ground.
|Big Gigantic at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Celeste Valladares|
We're not going as electronic as we have in year’s past, but when we're doing electronic, we're doing it big. We're doing Shpongle Presents: The Masquerade and it's going to be out of control. When we get into the EDM scene, I think those fans are definitely going to be happy.
HM: How about you personally – what kind of music are you most excited about this year?
HB: I'm a Chicago girl so Common is crazy exciting for me. I'm also a really big bluegrass fan so I love Greensky Bluegrass and Elephant Revival. I love Cornmeal and Leftover Salmon.
[FIND complete lineups, ticketing information and analysis of all your favorite festivals via our 2012 Festival Guide.]This year we have some amazing bluegrass. We're doing a lot of really late-night bluegrass. If you've never been to Summer Camp, those are sometimes the best shows. They happen at 2:00 a.m. and everybody is having a great time and there's a bonfire and it’s very much a hootin’ and hollerin’ bluegrass show.
HM: What about the non-music related things you have going on?
HB: That's the other thing that I would say that sets us apart from other festivals. We have so much going on besides music and every year we kick it up a notch. We have a ton of activities planned this year including our team-based field events and the artists are going to be involved. Ryan Stasik from Umphrey’s is going to host sunrise kickball again.
|moe. at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Andrew Duch|
We have a treasure hunt where you can win exclusive access to an Everyone Orchestra show. Matt Butler of Everyone Orchestra is setting up some really amazing musical workshops for us in the church. We're going to get artists involved there and fans will have an opportunity to hang out and meet them and bring their instruments and learn something while having a really amazing time.
HM: One thing I’ve noticed throughout the years is how attentive you guys are to fans via social media. Of coursem those late-night tickets get hotter every year and people are always disappointed when they get shut out.
HB: With any show, it's hard. We were just in the Red Barn yesterday for a walk-through and it's tiny. It's one of those things where it can't be open to everybody, so any artist performing a late-night in the barn is also performing another set at Summer Camp. We also have the campfire jams with bluegrass acts, so it’s not like there won’t be music once the Main Stage is closed down.
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|STS9 at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Celeste Valladares|
Plus, with all of our upgrades and passes, we really try to keep Summer Camp affordable. We want people to be able to come back here year after year and with making the pre-party and late-night tickets separate, we can keep the cost of a GA ticket down.
HM: For someone so intensely involved in the planning and organization of the festival, what’s the best part of the event for you? Is it the minute gates open or when everyone leaves and you can sit back and finally relax?
HB: That's a really great question. I'll say when everybody's there – when the energy peaks. Every year there's that moment where everybody is on site and everybody is having a great time and everyone's energy is quadrupled. Even from our perspective as promoters and production people, we can give ourselves a pat on the back and say, “Okay, we did a good job.” It's a really special experience and we can finally just smile and not relax yet but at least know that our work is almost done.
HM: Appreciate the time, Holly. Looking forward to Summer Camp.
HB: Thanks. I will see you soon – less than a month!
|moe. at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Sean Downey|
|moe. at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Andrew Duch|
Summer Camp takes place May 25 to 27 in Chillicothe, Illinois and features moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Primus, Pretty Lights, Jane’s Addiction, Common and many more. For more information about the festival, check out the event's official website or head over to our 2012 Festival Guide.