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  • Tough Calls in Funk City

    2011 - 11.16

    As I mentioned in my first post about Bear Creek, the Purple Hat stage was outdoors instead of inside the giant tent like it was last year. This resulted in the nice side effect that we were able to hear that stage loud and clear from our campsite, as it was pointed almost straight at us. Being able to sit down and chill out at the camp for a bit, while still being able to enjoy the music was definitely a nice thing. The schedule for Bear Creek being as relentless as it is, sitting down and resting for a while isn’t something that can happen all that much! From the campsite we listened in as Ivan’ Neville’s Dumpstajam threw down a tasty version of the Sly and the Family Stone classic “Take You Higher” as well as Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?” featuring the horns from Lettuce. Those were both great picks for covers.

    Continuing on the topic of relentless schedules: in order to catch Snarky Puppy, we had to skip out on the Lee Boys, which was one tough decision to have to make. Likewise Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe was performing at the same time as Medeski, Martin, and Wood! We started out listening to Medeski and the band was heating up the place with a groovin set (Medeski can get overly avant/abstract when they want to). When the time came for KDTU we had to tear ourselves away from some awfully sick jams, with Bill commenting, “man, I really didn’t want to walk away from that!”

    I’ve seen Karl Denson in many formats, including his trio, the Greyboy Allstars, with a version of the Headhunters, and sitting in with many other groups, but I’d never seen KDTU before, so I was anxious to check them out. Maybe we missed the badass opening number, or maybe they had worn themselves out performing on Thursday evening, but we stayed for about three songs before tossing up our hands and giving a collective “…eeeeeehhhh” So far the set was all slower numbers with no real moving solos or hot horn section passages. I was colored shockingly ambivalent, especially considering what a complete badass Karl Denson is. At any point he could explode the scene into masterful sax utopia if he wanted to, but he just… wasn’t doing it. At that point we marched back over to Medeski–who was still raging it!

    That’s just the thing at Bear Creek: you gotta bring your A game at this fest. There’s no time for muckin around with slow folk tunes. Someone else next door is bringing the noise on another level at any given moment. It’s kind of almost silly that as a fan you start getting hypercritical, thinking that hey, I don’t have to sit here and listen to something that I think is only okay; I can shoot over to the next stage and they might be melting people’s faces off. It’s almost like you get musical ADD after a while. That’s both a blessing and a curse! There’s a blatant overabundance of sweet jams going down, but at the same time it almost makes it tough to be present where you are because you’re worried about all the other stuff you’re missing. Such are the internal conflicts of a groove junkie in funktopia.

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