By Brad Yeakel
Like cracking open an ice cold beer on a hot, sunny day, Campout for the Cause marked the refreshing first sip of summer. State Bridge, an outdoor venue 25 minutes from nowhere, provided a beautiful backdrop of mountains as many of Colorado’s local favorites played music to a colorful (and partially sun burnt) crowd. The weather straddled comfort as the sun scorched during the day and the night air dipped into the 40’s, but it was worth it.
After working until evening Friday, we packed up and prepared to make an early trek Saturday morning. Upon arrival at the venue, we were directed to our campsite, Rancho Del Rio. The campground was about four miles away and sat directly on the Colorado River. The variety of watercraft available for rent was impressive, and several of the campers were brave enough to take advantage of the river’s two-hour float down to the shows. Rancho Del Rio was the largest campsite in the area and aside from the visiting music fans, hosted a population of semi-permanent campers. These people seemed to have a subculture thriving within the whole, and the only word I felt was justified to describe it was peculiar.
Once we were settled, we hopped on the shuttle to the venue and arrived just in time to see Springdale Quartet. Predictably, the high-energy fusion jams were plentiful. The Recovery Act’s Lindsay French and Adam Segalis sat in and brought their soulful sounds to the funky jazz quartet’s grooves. Once again, I found myself dancing to the grooves and contemplated which parts were composed, and which were improvisational.
Tyler Grant’s band, Grant Farm, mellowed the vibrations with the Americana-based rock songs laden with blues licks and rock riffs. Grant picked clear, logical, beautiful guitar lines, and cultivated an organic sounding rock and roll with elements of mountainous, woodsy, farmy, country living. Colorado music to be sure.
We decided to return to the campsite and gear up for the temperature shift as the sun sank over the western ridge and black blanketed the sky. In a place that remote, the stars had a special brilliance, and once we grabbed a few layers, we returned to see Zion-I, and the headliner Yamn.
Zion-I was made up of three guys, one on turntable and two sharing reggae-rap vocal duties. The crowd seemed to be into it as they bounced and their glow stick accessories bounced with them.
When Yamn took the stage, their giant LED “Y” and heavy fog was like Pink Floyd in the fens of Ireland – a cloudy, neon, wall of color. Their blend of electronica, funk and jam-rock was really fun to listen to, and I realized that Yamn was at a critical point in their career. Poised to break onto the national scene, Yamn has built a fiercely loyal Colorado fan base, and worked hard to grow that crowd with each show. I have enjoyed them every time I’ve seen them.
The rest of the night featured DJ’s and we decided to return to “Rancho.” The bus ride back was entertaining as I queued up Outkast’s “Rosa Parks.” The intoxicated masses laughed, slept, danced and sang as we returned up the road to our temporary homes.
I woke early on Sunday and wandered around the campground looking for breakfast and sunshine. When the sun finally shown over the peaks, the day heated up quickly and by 11am, most people were heading to the river or looking for shade. We headed back to the venue to see the Magic (String) Beans, an acoustic performance by area favorites the Magic Beans. It was my first Beans show, and I truly enjoyed it. Great music, great energy and a great vibe.
The next act was 12 year old Jaden Carlson. This little girl had the style, finesse and chops of a seasoned veteran. Her lead guitar playing was highly energetic, clean and impressive all around. Her original work was good, but her covers of fan favorites like “Crossroads” and “We Want the Funk” had smiles plastered on every face. Quite the impressive 12 year old.
Another band I was excited to see was Gipsy Moon – the bluegrass band, which featured Silas Herman (Vince Herman’s son) on mandolin. While his playing was probably the fastest, most inspired and technical, the other band members created the sounds that defined their style. With shared vocal duties and special guests, the stage was filled with pickers, grinners, lovers and sinners. The crowd kicked-up dust as they danced to the new-grass set. When their set was over, I was done.
Too much sun, not enough sleep and all that dancing wiped me out. Like the first sports practice of the year, it was great to stretch my party muscles a bit and shake off winter’s malaise, but it left me stiff, achy and tired. We decided to pack it in and head back down the hill to Denver. While I regretted missing the last bands of the festival, I was happy to be headed back to a real bed and a good night’s sleep.
Overall, Campout for the Cause was a success. Some money was raised to benefit victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and some great music and energy were shared by all. State Bridge was a great venue for the show as it offered scenic views, multiple stages and lots of Colorado’s friendly faces. All was as it should have been deep in the Rockies. Until next time.