Photos And Review | Equifunk | Poconos

Images and Words by: Jake Krolick

Equifunk Festival :: 08.16.13 - 08.17.13 :: Camps Equinunk and Blue Ridge :: Equinunk, PA

Full review below photo gallery!

The Scene at Equifunk 2013:

The Equifunk Festival has always been a different animal; fun, all-inclusive, intimate, but it’s a summer camp folks and it seriously lacked a good campfire sing-along. Between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Saturday morning that all changed as the Equifunk Festival finally found its musical groove and let me tell you...it was a glorious thing!

It’s easy to see why Equifunk is so darn fun. For some, it’s a strong camp bond that wells-up in long forgotten childhood memories. For others, it’s the access to nature and music that pulls at the heart strings. Some of us are there for the music while others simply reunite with friends and family. Equifunk has been growing and its crowd has been changing yearly, from those connected to the camp to those travelling in for the artists. This year’s crowd morphed into a more musically focused organism as intimate as in past years, but with a hunger for music like never before.

Yes, the highlights of the festival were all still intact: a raging Saturday pool party, a summer camp with alcohol, a beautiful setting, great weather - but musically this year turned us on our heads with options and talent. The defined sets blended together as band members guested with one another in a musical anomaly usually reserved for late nights in New Orleans. My favorite set couldn’t be found on the schedule and was led by a true legend of our time, Marco Benevento, but that’s a story for later.

On Friday the grounds filled slowly and like previous years, while the sun painted the sky above the E-RENA, the music began. The Main Squeeze sold most on their inventive sound last year at their late-night gym party. You couldn’t call them a secret any more as lead singer Corey Frye and The Main Squeeze “laid out the funk” according to Counselor Stan. Stan has been a staple at the camp for years so when he shouts you listen. The Main Squeeze’s driving force, Corey Frye, was a ball of positive energy. His vocals and massive smiles brought the crowd to its feet as they covered Led Zeppelin's “No Quarter” and Stevie Wonder's “Higher Ground.”

The crowd got freaky early on Friday night dropping the outside world easily. A rabid pack of Indians danced throughout the floor, spreading feathers and face paint while JJ Grey & Mofro destroyed versions of “Country Ghetto," “Dirtfloor Cracker" and “Ho Cake.” A mix of friends from Virginia was participating in their third year at Equifunk and steadily passed around their favorite skin of wine while they played a wild game of circle dance. Outside, the crowd surged around the beer taps, which never really shut off until Sunday. The traditions of a first night at a small festival were everywhere: the laughing and running around, gaining bearings and staking spots were second nature to some, while others bounced between camps and music like energetic ping pong balls.

By midnight it was clear that Equifunk royalty had arrived as Eddie Roberts led The New Mastersounds with guest James Casey on saxophone (Lettuce/Trey Anastasio Band) through standards like “Yo Mama,” a super version of “Summer Camp” and a crowd favorite “You Got It All.” Roberts was a wild man on guitar and was on (and off) his feet so much that he ended up with a busted ankle by the weekend's end. This year Roberts brought along his 11-year-old son, a piano phenom in the making who could be found hanging tough all weekend. He even had some of his own epic moments playing alongside Marco Benevento into the wee hours the next night.

By 4 a.m. Equifunk had seen a dance party led by Boombox and the whole security team at the E-RENA was treated to sunrise cocktails at the Funk That Camp. Somewhere deep in the VIP tents off the E-RENA stage was a vocal, drum, harmonica and guitar jam that brought up Saturday’s sun.

By 10 a.m. on Saturday, the breakfast service at the mess hall was way too loud for hangovers. The flag pole on the main lawn was raided and the yearly offering of funk was captured by a group of campers. It was Saturday at Equifunk and as everyone knocked away the cobwebs from the night before with food or substances, there was one thought on the minds and bodies of festival attendees – Pool Party!

Saturday’s Pool Party has morphed since its raucous showing two years ago that literally had the whole festival in the pool for the Main Squeeze’s set. Since the Pool Stage was moved and music spread around the camp, the in-pool crowd hasn’t quite been as thick. This year, with a warmer day and an icy-cool pool, the numbers maintained. The party was a sight to see with its blend of beach balls and skin that set a wild mood, it was the closest on land resemblance of Jam Cruise you could get.

The constant screams and splashes as the water slide released another victim blended with the music coming off of the Pool Stage. We took in a mix of King Lincoln covering Jerry Garcia’s “Reuben & Cerise.” Superhuman Happiness blasted us with some heavy horns and Monophonics laid out a killer version of the Rolling Stones' “Gimme Shelter.” Later, there was Keller Williams and a small taste of Marco Benevento to wrap it up. In between all the music and the sunbathing, one could find a relaxed picnic on the ball field, several basketball games, enough corn hole to last a lifetime and one stellar homemade bar set-up at second base in the VIP camping area serving saucy Bloody Marys. In the shade under a tent at the newly launched Phoncert Booth, CEO Jonathan Schultz was beaming. He had just launched Phoncert - a mobile audio streaming app that allows you to listen to the concert on your phone.

New energy was manifested and those napping from too much sun at the pool started to stir again. Back in the camping area by the E-RENA stage the Bobby Paltauf Band played a secret RV set as the sun dipped on Saturday night. Paltauf, a 13-year-old guitar wiz, worked his way through a slow and burning version of “Shakedown Street” similar to earlier in the day, but with a crowd twice as deep.

The E-RENA caught early fire from the Nigel Hall Band as they uncorked “Don’t Change” and “Make it Funky." Hall paved the way for Anders Osborne, John Medeski and Scott Metzger, who dominated guitar and key-laden covers of “Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad” and Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” Soulive came packing a bunch of brass as Eric Krasno and the Evans Brothers tore through one of the strongest sets many had heard. Among the highlights was a funk-filled version of “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles that transitioned into Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun.” Maceo Parker joined Soulive for a handful of tunes midway into the set highlighted by The J.B.'s “Pass the Peas.” In hindsight, it was all just a warm-up to what would come next.

Somewhere around 2 a.m. Marco Benevento started his campfire set. The idea of a set like this has been tossed around for several years and watching it unfold was just magical. If you’ve seen these types of jams happen before, whether into the wee hours with the Barr Brothers at High Sierra’s Camp Harry or on Jam Cruise with Nathan Moore or Brock Butler, you get a great idea of the organic nature of its build. Jams like this are fueled by a religious love for live music, the right combination of substance and a crowd ready to respectfully participate in helping to create a plethora of wonderful music that could and would go everywhere across the musical map.

Benevento was in his element as he sported his patriotic pants and a hearty grin. The set began with Benevento surrounded by a few hundred fans as Andrew Borger and Dave Dreiwitz helped the keyboardist uncork song after song. By 4:30, while the New Mastersounds and friends were still deep in a set at the E-RENA, the campfire had been extinguished, but the music was just heating up. Tradition at a campfire encouraged crowd participation, requests galore, sing-alongs, rotating guests, antics, pranks, dancing and a winding set list that went on and on until about 9 a.m. Corey Frye and Sister Sparrow’s singer Arleigh Kincheloe joined in to sing, Nigel Hall and Eddie Roberts' son both guested with Benevento on the ivories, Borger was on an mash-up of a kit featuring various percussion with several others in tow. When it was all said and done I think it’s fair to say the set was burned into the live music memories of all in attendance for many lifetimes to come. Please see the setlist below for a recap of song selections with huge thanks to Cleantones and Phrazz for the recap.

Equifunk has grown once again and huge kudos goes out to Eric Welles, Jeff Fisher and the crew intertwined in the inner workings at The Equifunk Festival. They have held true to a vision of an intimate festival done at a place they loved dearly as children, only to be reinvented into something that can grow with everyone as adults. This year offered a Sunday session of music, unfortunately I was called away Sunday afternoon due to a funeral.

Benevento’s Campfire songs included (but is not limited to):

Limbs of a Pine (Marco Benevento)
Axel F (Harold Faltermeyer)
Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground)
The Ocean (Led Zeppelin)
Fly Me To The Moon (Bart Howard) Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi)
Take A Look At My Girlfriend (Supertramp)
Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin] (Sly and the Family Stone) >
Everyday People (Sly and the Family Stone)
I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)
Funiculì, Funiculà (Luigi Denza)
The Shape I'm In (The Band)
Dancing In The Streets (Marvin Gaye)
Why Don't We Do It In The Road (The Beatles)
Gimme Some Lovin' (Steve Winwood)
Walk On > (Neil Young)
Frankenstein > (Edgar Winter Group)
Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough+ (Michael Jackson) with The Main Squeeze Corey Frye singing in the crowd
Fearless (Pink Floyd)
I Heard It Through The Grapevine+ (Marvin Gaye) with The Main Squeeze Corey Frye singing in the crowd
Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
My Girl (The Temptations) with The Main Squeeze Corey Frye singing in the crowd
Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight (The Spaniels)
Such A Night (Dr. John)
New Marco song? >
Let The Sun Shine In (Hair)
You Know I'm No Good (Amy Winehouse)
Lean On Me (Bill Withers)
Bennie And The Jets (Elton John)
Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing+ (Stevie Wonder) with The Main Squeeze Corey Frye singing acapella crowd backed off singing
Imagine (John Lennon)
Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Some Kind of Wonderful (The Drifters)
I Got You [I Feel Good] (James Brown)
With a Little Help from My Friends (The Beatles)
Saturday In The Park (Chicago)
Light My Fire (The Doors)
Let's Make A Better World (Dr. John)
Shake Your Tail Feather (Ray Charles)
Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream)
Jam with Nigel Hall


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