Words by: Patrick Knibbs & Brian Heisler :: Images by: Tobin Voggesser
10,000 Lakes Festival :: 07.18.07 – 07.21.07 :: Soo Pass Ranch :: Detroit Lakes, MN
Tucked away in Northwestern Minnesota's serene woodlands, the small town of Detroit Lakes hosted the fifth annual 10,000 Lakes Festival on a beautiful late July weekend. The Soo Pass Ranch, which has been throwing massive summer gatherings for years now (10KLF and the WE Fest), welcomed 20,000 music fans and nearly 40 bands over the four-day span. Festival headliners Umphrey's McGee, String Cheese Incident and Ratdog shared the stage with a handful of quality regional and touring juggernauts like Gov't Mule, moe., as well as a special performance by Zappa Plays Zappa featuring Dweezil Zappa. -PK
Zappa Plays Zappa :: 10KLF
In the second year of the festival's new midweek schedule, the sounds kicked off Wednesday rather than Thursday allowing the early arrivals to feast on a slew of striking performances. With the Main Stage yet to be lit up for the festival, the other three stages took precedent, filtering crowds to such christeners as New Primitives, Family Groove Company, and Gypsyfoot. That 1 Guy took his unique, avant-garde sound to the Barn Stage, making use of saws and whatever else was in sight. Wookiefoot captured the Minnesota contingency at the Field Stage with costumes, fire dancers and a combination of funk and hip-hop. The best treat of the night came at the Barn Stage with Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. The soulful New Orleans singer and keys player graced the night with an all-star cast of musicians on bass, drums, and guitar, keeping a very tight sound with smooth melodies throughout. -BH
As would soon become the daily custom, those close enough to the stages to hear music were awakened to the great practical joke (or so we hope) of Seal's 1991 pop hit "Crazy." The first full day of music was packed with new bands as well as heavy hitters. Super American Happy Fun Good-Time Jamband piqued the interest of many people scouring the daily schedule with by far the longest, most obscure name on the bill. It turned out the boys from the South Side of Chicago did not stray too far from the band's descriptive name. The happy, full sound of "The Super" boasted great instrumentation, percussion and good overall stage presence, receiving great praise from a packed Saloon Stage in response to an accurate cover of the Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime." -BH
Dubconscious :: 10KLF
Green Lemon cut some of the first electronica sounds of the weekend at the Barn Stage. For the first time, the sun reared its head, threatening to sweat out the crowd, which took refuge under the shade of the Barn Stage. Drummer, Chris Cox, shed his shirt, pumping in a trance to thumping bass and bouncing bodies in the sizeable crowd. Particle continued the electronica theme with the heaviest crowd yet. Despite the upbeat nature of Particle's sound, the band found a range of music to share. Ben Combe strung out electric guitar jams pushing the band to an emotional peak as Steve Molitz added funky, distorted key fronts, giving things a breath of fresh air. -BH
Speaking of which, the hippest part of 10KLF, the Saloon Stage, was off and running in great fashion with St. Louis surprise Fresh Heir. While the majority of the music seekers flocked to the big names of Particle and Galactic, the little-known Fresh Heir brought energy and a fresh sound to the Saloon. For my money, this young group was the best catch of the three bands mentioned, led by drummer Nick Savage fusing jazz, funk, salsa and a little bit of playfulness with Skee Lo's one-hit-wonder "I Wish." Galactic was awaiting a start at the Field Stage, which came 15 minutes late due to Zappa Plays Zappa's conflicting soundcheck on the Main Stage. Few surprises came from Galactic, but the seamless closing cover of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" certainly capped off the set in style. -BH
Stanton Moore - Galactic :: 10KLF
Finally the opening of the Main Stage brought none other than the offspring of the great Frank Zappa in Zappa Plays Zappa. The band brought special guest Ray White, an original singer and guitarist from Frank Zappa's ensemble. It was impressive to see not only how well Dweezil has adapted to his father's style but also how flawlessly the band recreates Frank's original music. Maybe less of a tyrant than his father and yet to be much of a composer, Dweezil's understanding and command seemed to reflect that of his legendary father. "Willie the Pimp" rang through the grounds with its harsh, unconventional and sometimes offensive tones just as it would have almost 40 years ago. -BH
While clearly there was much more to come of the festival, for many, the highlight came in the first headliner slot. Umphrey's McGee blew the doors off on the Midwest crowd in a way no one else could quite replicate all weekend. It was perhaps the largest headlining audience the band had ever played in front of. Like the rock stars they have become, the Umph came out without a word, firing on all cylinders. The band opened with nearly 35-minutes of the jamming instrumental "Utopian Fir" into "40's Theme." A set-encompassing version of fan favorite "Divisions" provided highlights within highlights. Drummer Kris Myers took a solo into "Plunger" that included the more recent "woo" crowd cheers and a ripping Jake Cinninger guitar solo accompanied by Brendan Bayliss' finger tapping. "Jajunk" was tucked into one of the best Umphrey's jams in recent memory, which is certainly saying something.
Umphrey's McGee :: 10KLF
At the point of the Umph's set when the darkness gave way to the densest glow stick war since Phish toured, the idea that the torch had been passed was impossible to ignore. Over the years, as powerhouse acts like the Grateful Dead and Phish stepped down, we've witnessed a plethora of bands claiming "next in line status." As the Umph took control of their headlining slot and moved the masses in a manner we've only seen bands like Phish, Widespread Panic, moe., and String Cheese do, it appeared that perhaps the Umph really is the new king of the jam scene. It was all the more euphoric from here on out. "You guys look damn sexy from right here. I wish you could see yourselves," Bayliss complimented. But all eyes were on the stage. "Intentions Clear" into a "Jimmy Stewart" jam brought about the Talking Heads' "Making Flippy Floppy" into the special Cinninger work in "Glory" and back into "Divisions" to sandwiching the set. The encore kept the bookend feeling alive with "Wizard Burial Ground" slammed between an opening and closing "Nemo." With that, everyone else was playing for second best at 10KLF.
Jon Gutwillig - Disco Biscuits :: 10KLF
As suggested by Bayliss, the majority of those still up for more tunes after UM's set filtered over to The Disco Biscuits. Swirling purple lights engulfed the crowd lost in the Bisco trance-dance. Highlights included "Home Again," "Caterpillar," a closing "Story of the World" and a much-deserved encore of "Highwire." -BH
For those looking for a lil' late night foot stompin', Chicago's new-grass pickers Cornmeal performed at the Barn. Cornmeal's intense energetic stage presence, dominated by fiddle player Allie Kral, was infectious. Whether frantically shuffling to the beat, jumping around the stage or sawing her fiddle like a lumberjack, Kral was a firecracker. Their set focused on material from their most recent release Feet First but the highlight was a Bluegrass-y rendition of Pink Floyd's epic "Dogs."
Continue reading for Friday and Saturday at 10KLF...
As a special treat to festivalgoers, art enthusiasts and longtime Phish fans, the man behind the art of so many Phish events, Jim Pollock, was on hand, printing unique 10KLF posters. On Wednesday, fans lined up at 6 a.m. to buy the rights to a poster to be made during the weekend. Fans sang happy birthday to the 43-year-old Pollock and presented him with a fish-shaped cake. We caught up with Pollock Friday before the music started. "This is my first festival in 10 years [since Phish's "The Great Went"]. This is the best festival! Today there are a lot more bands and a lot more live music, so there's more work to choose from. I've made my first Aragon Ballroom and Fillmore posters, I was never able to do that before," said Pollock. -BH
Jim Pollock :: 10KLF
Outformation took the Barn Stage with guitarist Sam Holt front and center. While much of the day's early crowd battled the heat at the Field Stage with Everyone Orchestra, Outformation played some of the best straight rock of the fest. Holt's Georgia influence from the late Michael Houser of Widespread Panic shines through in the band's general feel. While the band rocked they retained a laid-back vibe and easy stage presence that fit perfectly with the shade of the Barn Stage. -BH
Matt Butler - Everyone Orchestra
Relying on cues and working under the direction of maestro Matt Butler, The Everyone Orchestra - dubbed the 10K Ensemble - ripped through several impressive improv-heavy jams. The opening "Hello" groove was a funky upbeat jam that worked around the solid in-the-pocket bass work of Janis Wallin (Family Groove Co.), and percussionist Brian Riordan (the Super American Happy Fun Good-Time Jamband). Other note-worthy moments included a "Rex" jam, dedicated to the Rex Foundation, a nearly flawless take on Phish's "Stash" and an inspired go at Aretha Franklin's "Think" featuring the sultry vocals of Madahoochi's Shawn Hartung. -PK
Perhaps the oldest group of the weekend, New Riders of the Purple Sage, turned back the clock to the days of the Grateful Dead. The tarnished voices and faces of the band have had plenty of time perfecting the art of festival play over the years. The New Riders were certainly legit, very Dead-like, but ironically full of life. And true to form, the band leaned on its old friends to close with the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" in one of very few daylight encores. -BH
D. Nelson - NRPS :: 10KLF
moe.'s Main Stage set on Friday was a no-holds-barred throwdown. A monster "The Road" > "Lazarus" > "Skrunk" > "The Road" marathon was tight and rhythm-focused. Rob Derhak's finger-slapping bass work blended seamlessly with the pulsing percussion of Vinnie Amico and Jim Loughlin. After the massive jam, the band jumped head first into a somber version of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." The set was concise and delivered the goods, but it would have been nice to hear them play longer. -PK
Following moe. on the Main Stage was The String Cheese Incident. In the midst of their farewell tour, SCI blasted out their hula-hoop anthems with passion. Their two sets featured a mixed bag of catalog-spanning material and a couple lively covers. A funky keyboard-driven "Chameleon" (Herbie Hancock) anchored the first set and put the spotlight on always-energetic keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth who took hold of the song's central groove and ran with it. The second set featured inspired runs on "San Jose," the Talking Heads' "This Must be the Place (Naïve Melody)" and "Rollover." Both sets were solid and reflected positively on the band's legacy and the reputation they've developed over the last ten-plus years. -PK
Rivaled only by the Pnuma Trio's efforts, Kinetix dropped one of the best Saloon Stage sets of the festival. The strong Friday late night lineup made every band work for an audience, and even with The Tragically Hip and Trampled By Turtles waiting in the wings, Kinetix held its own, packing the Saloon with raging, bouncing fans. The Allman Brothers' "Jessica" mixed things up between the electronic-based, poppy, punky, funky and sometimes in-your-face sounds. With the crowd hopping to the originals and covers alike, Kinetix is poised to become a reputable late night attraction on the festival circuit. -BH
The String Cheese Incident :: 10KLF
Playing opposite Kinetix, Friday's late night events featured a raucously loud set from Canada's biggest rock band since Rush, The Tragically Hip, and an inspired acoustic set from the somewhat-local pickers Trampled by Turtles. But it was the late-late night dance party in the Saloon with The Pnuma Trio that kept the party thumping 'til the wee hours. Blasting through a throng of upbeat instrumental funk and electronica, the eager capacity crowd clamored for boogie space. Chemistry and connection between the band, as individual musicians, as well as with their fans, was both evident and impressive. -PK
It's not a festival unless the great Keller Williams is playing. He began the last day of 10KLF at the Field Stage, while a somewhat similar guitar player, Kaki King, shredded the Barn Stage. The often cartoon-like Keller slid on stage with his acoustic guitar to the popping of cameras all over the pit. Opening with an instrumental into Nirvana's "Lithium," Keller raised the heat of the hottest day of the weekend to make the dancers sweat just a bit more. As is custom, Keller looped the guitar, added bass, recorded a drum beat, threw in some lyrics, stopped it all at once and started it back up on beat in response to the dancing. "Restraint" and "Skitso" were next, followed by Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," "Dogs," and Butthole Surfers' "Pepper." "Freaker by the Speaker" had an Andy Griffith Show whistle and a few Fat Albert "Hey Hey Heys." Keller also told a musical story called "Doobie In My Pocket" and finished off with "Celebrate Your Youth." -BH
Keller Williams (and his guitars) :: 10KLF
The early afternoon set from acoustic guitar whiz Kaki King provided a brief retreat from the sweltering sun under the shade of the Barn Stage's neighboring trees. Her lightening quick finger work and rhythmic timbre showcased the petite artist's craft and sense of humor. Due to airline trouble, specific equipment didn't make it to the fest. So, she advised the audience to write letters of complaint to a certain airline. The pairing of King (Barn Stage) and Keller Williams (Field Stage) offered fans the opportunity to hear two impressive acoustic musicians. -PK
Kaki King :: 10KLF
Feeding off of the Grateful Dead vibe that started with Williams' version of "Ruben and Cherise," Little Feat opened their set with a rowdy "Tennessee Jed." Their seasoned attitude and free spirit was a perfect blend of rock, blues and New Orleans funk for a sunny summer afternoon. The multiple guitar parts and soulful vocals resurrected gems like "Dixie Chicken," "Long Black Veil" and "The Weight." Singer Shaun Murphy's vocals were crisp and complimented the gritty riffs impeccably.
People at the Barn Stage in the late afternoon who skipped some or all of Little Feat's set were exposed to one of the best kept secrets in the jam community, Asheville, North Carolina's Toubab Krewe. Encompassing an array of different non-traditional percussion and stringed instruments, the band's sound ranges from tribal to island-y to bright, electric jamming. They seemed to uncover new instruments every song, creating an entirely different sound each time. To close the set, every member of Toubab Krewe played different percussive gadgets for an extensive, very well choreographed drum jam. -BH
Gov't Mule drew the thinnest crowd of any Main Stage band by far. The Mule was also the only band choosing not to use the 10KLF signature backdrop, as a source claimed the band "did not want logos." The Mule's set included "Get Up, Stand Up" and "Shakedown Street" teases along with a full version of The Beatles' "Love Me Do." With the set moving past dinnertime, the crowd grew and welcomed guest Derek Trucks to the fold. The strong encore featured "Soulshine" with a fitting "Jessica" tease near the end. -BH
Matt Abts - Gov't Mule :: 10KLF
As Bob Weir emerged wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, Capri shorts and sandals, the giant crowd greeted him with an astounding roar. Always the consummate professional, Weir quickly corralled his group, Ratdog, into the thunderous beginning of "Help On the Way," setting the tone for the evening. Ratdog eased through the song's vocal section into the odd timing filled, jazz-infused "Slipknot" but skipped the usual "Franklin's Tower" conclusion. In its place was a hearty, patriotic "Liberty." Weir's vocals started off a little sluggish but improved and continued gaining strength throughout the night. First set highlights included tight versions of "Cassidy," "Bird Song" and "Big Railroad Blues" with special guest Warren Haynes. Steve Kimock's presence provided Weir with a mixture of stability and reliance that opened doors to many of extended jams. The second set's beautiful "Terrapin Station" had Kimock's clean, deep guitar melodies entwined harmoniously with Weir's interpretation of the psychedelic epic. Keller Williams joined them during "Come Together" and stuck around for a rowdy "One More Saturday Night." Ratdog came out punching during their set, which was rather pleasing and surprising. -PK
Closing down the festival were a couple of crafty veterans, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, and the Derek Trucks Band. Both sets featured funky r&b centered grooves and clean, professional playing. Truck's slide guitar mastery and all-around talent was hard to ignore, especially during a jazz-inspired version of "My Favorite Things." Neville geared his multitalented band through a funky set that brought about a ferocious dance party for everyone who still had the energy. -PK
Ratdog :: 10KLF
Fireworks closed the Main Stage in a celebration of another great year of 10KLF. In what's become a tradition, "Mahna Mahna" of Muppet Show fame played in the background followed by a portion of a Phish "Simple" jam. For the fifth year in a row, the 10,000 Lakes Festival has become a retreat for thousands. With a pristine locale, wonderful weather and a solid lineup it was nearly impossible to not enjoy the fest.
JamBase | Minnesota
Go See Live Music!