10,000 Lakes Music Festival :: 07.21 - 07.24 :: Detroit lakes, MN

A revamped Dark Star Orchestra, retooled Black Crowes, re-energized Widespread Panic, remarkable Everyone Orchestra with Steve Kimock, and a revitalized Trey Anastasio moved through Northern Minnesota as if rock itself was being reincarnated out of the dust of music past. The 10,000 Lakes Festival rocked non-stop in near perfect weather while bands were given ample time to flex their chops, which helped double the attendance at this annual event.


Dark Star Orchestra :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
With the passing of keyboardist Scott Larned, Dark Star Orchestra has gone through a period of reflection that infused its set with timely passion. Headlining the Festival Pre-Party on the Barn Stage, the band stormed through a rippling set of Grateful Dead numbers. While DSO spun an astronomical web around the audience, the night sky wrapped around us in a surreal little dance. From an exquisite "The Music Never Stopped" to a poignant "Box of Rain" onto a spectacular "St. Stephen" > "Not Fade Away," the group soared with subtle emotional nuances. This is no cover band but rather a group that has mined a rich body of work and interpreted the grooves with its own magic.

Earlier, Signal Path lit up the night on the Barn Stage with an enclosed cocoon vibe that was rather cool when you accounted for the sonic techno trips laced with a mind-blowing light show. "Transit" was a highlight with purple, green, and blue lights hovering overhead while sound floatation devises lapped the jammed head-bobbing floor. Meanwhile, Trampled by Turtles were doing a take on Minnesota native Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" that slapped my ears as we visited the Saloon Stage — a location that would repeatedly redefine hot, heavy, and rapturous. God Johnson followed the Turtles with a two-hour jazz funk fest that closed the Saloon for the night.


10KLF by John Crouch
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey played on the Barn Stage and featured huge bass notes from Reed Mathis with psycho post-modern keys ala Brian Haas, with drummer Jason Smart applying abstract machinery within an organic shell. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was a very cool little weird instrumental, and "Santiago" featured the trio in its definitive role: extended elastic jams that carry multiple themes while rocking out. "Playing here was just amazing," said Mathis. "People were just partying at two in the afternoon, just ready to rock." Holy Moses & the High Rollers, a band from Fort Collins, Colorado, played great Latin/salsa/reggae/jazz cross-cultural carnival music — you could just see the Rocky Mountains hovering overhead on the Saloon Stage. HMHR was one of seven new bands that won the "Cosmic Break Competition" sponsored by JamBase. This tactic yielded many fine musical moments, especially the crowd-pleasing HMHR set. "The crowd was really something else," said Nick Boeka, keyboardist and vocalist, "and the close proximity of each of the stages made it really convenient to make it from one act to another."

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowed
10KLF by Chris Monson
Rusted Root followed on the Field Stage with a spirited tribal stomp and a perfect hot afternoon mix. "I didn't know what to expect as we'd never played here before," said Michael Glabicki, guitarist and lead singer. "I was really surprised at the energy of the show and crowd." Meanwhile, the Jazz Mandolin Project played the first of two days worth of a very enjoyable acoustic blend on the Barn Stage. This band is different every time I see them, and I'm always surprised at their interesting tangents within a frame. Bump, a band from Detroit, played on the Saloon Stage and delivered smart, exploratory rock that bounced off the people dancing within the rustic wooden structure.

The Black Crowes, like their hiatus-ending brethren - Widespread Panic, have played many a fine gig since their return earlier this year. "Hello, all you freaks," leader Chris Robinson bellowed as they opened up the Main Stage for its first blitzkrieg. The Crowes went on a journey into Southern Country Honk, reaching an early peak with "Downtown Money Waster" > "Share the Ride" > "Mellow Down Easy." Rich Robinson and Mark Ford clearly had their axes welded together as Chris whipped out his killer blues harp magic. The band has shot forward rapidly this year after some good ole rust removal.

John Bell of WSP :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
Widespread Panic began the first of two days of three-hour music marathons. On Friday evening, Panic had a wonderfully heavy bottom-groove with cobra-shock vocals from John Bell. This was hard, tight, drinking music, and it went down about as well as could possibly be expected. "Worry," "Good People," and "Pickin' Up the Pieces" were played with pile-driving fury. Bell and McConnell were shredding while Schools was applying the massive bass notes with percussion duo and keys lining the pocket. "Makes Sense To Me" roared to a set break close, leaving many to ponder the 'water vs. beer' debate. Second set? Suffice it to say, "Stop Breakin' Down Blues," "All Time Low" > "Pusherman" > "Fishwater" leveled the crowd and reminded everyone that these cats have only just begun their new era. Next, I ran off to the Field Stage to catch the spectacular tones of Sound Tribe Sector 9. Their setup faced the Main Stage in the distance, and in a magical moment, somebody with a wad of cash in the VIP Campgrounds was putting on quite a fireworks display. Coupled with the light show shattering the blackness of night, we all thought the fireworks were part of the STS9 vibe, but no — they were just another cool little synchronicity in the North Minnesota night. "Honored to be at 10,000 Lakes," said percussionist Jeffree Lerner before STS9's set. "I have the usual openness to stuff I haven't seen before." "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey dedicated a song to STS9," I stated. "They're beautiful like that," Lerner responded. "This is a nice clean scene here." Meanwhile, over at the Saloon, Fat Maw Rooney was laying down its own style of trippy funk, and the crowd ate it up.

10KLF by John Crouch
The Breakfast played a rousing Fireman's Nightmare set. The long room that held the Saloon Stage was so crowded that people were hanging out of windows and standing on tables. It was an unbelievable sight as the band played numbers off of their new release Real Radio and threw in a few classic gems as well like "Buquebus" and "Rufus." They also played the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song, "Sir Psycho Sexy." It was an amazing scene and a great way to end Day 2. "The crowd was very receptive. There were a lot of women, and we played a Chili Peppers song to complement that," cracked drummer Adrian Tramontano.


Everyone Orchestra (L to R: Kimock, Mathis, Janover, Adams)
10KLF by Chris Monson
Everyone Orchestra. The list of musicians was mind-blowing "Who's Who" of Great Improv: EO Founder Matt Butler, Kimock, Jamie Janover, JFJO's Reed Mathis, JMP's Jamie Masefield, Signal Path's Ben Griffin, Delta Nove's Rob Covacevich and John Harrington, Madahoochi's Shawn Hartung, and Rock the Earth's Marc Ross on amazing spoken poetry while Colin Cargyle handled the EO Sound. Janover reigned as 10KLF's MVP when he took over the conducting role, inspiring a tremendous performance out of the musicians and the crowd, blending two streams into a wonderful improv wave. "I'm trying to get as many diverse people as possible," said Butler after the set. "To see people just melt into the group - that's what the Everyone Orchestra is all about."

Steve Molitz of Particle :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
Particle followed with an intense, atmospheric, and energetic rage orgy. They dialed in every element with numerous highlights including "Kill Bill," which was a stunner. "We've been here every year, so it's really nice to see the evolution of a festival and the evolution of brother bands," said drummer Darren Pujalet. "The lineup this year is the best. I'm really looking forward to seeing G Love, ALO, and Delta Nove." G. Love & Special Sauce opened the Main Stage with a crowd-pleasing set that was equal parts R&B, rap, hip-hop, funk, and rock. They rolled through Latin Playboy's "If" and took off for ninety-minutes of succulent tunes. Delta Nove started their show with each member on percussion as they moved from outside the Saloon and onto the stage. They slammed out potent rhythms that linked Latin salsa with Brazilian stomp as paint-melting horn, percussion, and guitar grooves echoed throughout the night.

Buckethead :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
Widespread Panic painted a completely different sonic portrait than the preceding evening with tunes that had more melodic undercurrents than last night's super crunch rock euphoria. Even the keys were layered with an almost gospel hymnal theme while John Bell's aching vocals matched with the Blues Church Masterpiece. Hard to believe they could top Friday's show, but Panic has that habit. Buckethead with Brain shocked the late night crowd with flashes of brilliant eccentricity. Maximum Bob made a rare appearance with his scattershot ramblings courtesy of the Deli Creeps. In addition, Bockman played the Saloon Stage nearby. "Springtime Mildew" was a sonic scenic journey — a walk, a stroll, a dance. They played melodic ambient grooves that focused on mood and rhythm. ALO closed Day 3 with another festival peak as people gathered into the Saloon Stage to hear the band rock almost as hard as when I witnessed them at the Roo.

I was talking to Trey about all of this stuff... Frog Brigade came about because Primus quit playing, and I'm not going to sit around. It was like a crisis band — pile everyone into the RV and let's go.

--Les Claypool at 10KLF

Photo by Chris Monson


Grace Potter & the Nocturnals graced the Barn Stage with a bag full of soul and a heart entrenched in blues rock. Her voice curled around my mind in a great performance that nodded to the past with a clear vision of the future. Green Lemon hit the Field Stage with a cosmic sequence that continued to increase their near-mythic status — rhythms played upon melodies like haphazard railroad tracks. Gabby La La in Northern Minnesota. Read that sentence again and try not to think of some bizarre Monty Python skit. She excelled on a toy guitar, Theremin, and sitar. "This saloon is the coolest spot in all of 10,000 Lakes," said La La, "because maybe it is the 10,000th Lake."

Gabby La La & Les Claypool :: 10KLF by John Crouch
Perpetual Groove on the Field Stage hit their stride as we danced in furious little pockets while they funked hard with a mighty techno wallop that left everyone drenched in sweat. Les Claypool had his great band with him that also included Gabby La La. As usual, pretty much the whole set smoked from the Sausage picks to the Primus curio "Tom the Cat." Dressed in military garb, a boot perched on a monitor, Claypool sang while bursting through many elastic bass notes. He had a bit of fun with La La in a crowd 'sing-a-long' as he tried to teach her how to roar like a Viking. "She's a good friend - a talented person," offered Claypool to me. "I was talking to Trey about all of this stuff. I stumble across things like Bucket of Bernie Brains and Oysterhead. Frog Brigade came about because Primus quit playing, and I'm not going to sit around. It was like a crisis band — pile everyone into the RV and let's go."

Mike Dillon (Claypool's Band) :: 10KLF by John Crouch
Cyro Baptista and Beat the Donkey closed the festival late Sunday night with an incredibly wild display of imaginative percussion work as the stage was filled with costumes, harps, electronic washboards, keyboards, tap dancers, a drum kit, a guitarist, African drums, and some sort of massive contraption that housed various wooden pipes. Baptista roared throughout the set on a bullhorn and a mic in-between segments of percussion mastery. "You know," he told me earlier in the day, "I'm known as the Frank Sinatra of Brazil." Pause. Loud laughter. "I'm kidding!"


Trey Anastasio :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
A clean-shaven Trey Anastasio played a surprise 75-minute set to help his new young band through a batch of fresh numbers. "This is the first time I've ever held a band practice in front of audience," laughed Anastasio. "I hope you don't mind — we'll be repeating a few songs so we can work them out." Mind? This little set was all goose bumps and massive grins as the crowd grew larger. I was one of the lucky rail rats as memories of 1997 flooded my brain. When the set ended, I wandered backstage and struck up a conversation with the band's new bass player, Tony Hall, who has played with everyone from Bob Dylan to Dave Matthews to the Neville Brothers. Then, I turned and there he was... "18 years of church wiped out in one quick swoop," I joked. Trey laughed. "Cool — we should play 'Ether Sunday' for you."

Trey Anastasio :: 10KLF by John Crouch
"We're incredibly happy to be here. Thank you for having us," said Anastasio before completely obliterating any notion that the Jam King had abdicated his throne. His band included Tony Hall (bass), Les Hall (guitar, keys, synths), Skeeto Valdez (drums), Ray Paczkowski (drums), and Jennifer Hartswick and Christina Durfee (vocals). When the band wasn't piling legions of chords into our ears, they were flipping between new melodies that had classic Trey elements mixed with some very warm hooks. Bad vibes about Mr. Anastasio? Well, Sunday, July 24th changed all of that. "Drifting" featured Hartswick on soulful vocals as Anastasio played an epic solo incorporating every aspect of his guitar work — multiple peaks, tension and release, and ecstatic ROCK. Multi-colored balloons replaced the long out-of-fashion glow sticks as the current ritual during "Drifting" as I watched the band gawk in awe at the crowd. "Invisible" and "Tuesday" were played for the second time (if you include the afternoon warm-up set), and they produced a hell of a lot of redemptive joy while Anastasio whipped through another rocker, hitting all of the notes while the crowd roared in tandem. "Burlap Sack and Pumps" changed the pace of the set and foreshadowed the monumental explorations of the second set by laying down a patient groove—good bass bottom, strong clavinet, and the entire band feelin' it out before a tempo shift bled into the coda. "Night Speaks to a Woman" was played at a very fast pace, and the crowd went absolutely bonkers. Trey's guitar notes were completely engulfed in flames as the band returned to the main theme. At one point, I looked around at everyone, and the place was going berserk: dancing maniacs, heads rocking back and forth, 100% pure grade Ape Shit. This was the highest peak possible, and then, the song climaxed with a huge bang.

Les Claypool with Trey Anastasio :: 10KLF by John Crouch
And that's when Les Claypool came out to play Oysterhead's "Oz Is Ever Floating" with Trey as they both laughed and smiled at each other. There were dueling rhythms and solos racing left and right, back and forth, ending a beautifully emotional set played by a man who just doesn't know how to give up or break under the microscope of intense speculation. Backstage at setbreak, I ran into Trey heading to his trailer. "I just lost five pounds during that set," I said. "You'll lose ten pounds in the second set," he cracked back.

Trey Anastasio :: 10KLF by John Crouch
The closing set began with the debut of "Spin" — a crafty rocker with strong keys and background vocals. "46 Days" would be a rare Phish number on this evening, but it roared from start to finish and rested very comfortably next to a very heavy "Money, Love, and Change." "Goodbye Head" and "The Way I Feel" shot me into an intimate section of deep space. The latter number stretched out far and long into the night and reached some fairly vast terrain as the band explored countless variations of a very difficult motif, which somehow echoed early Phish and the "Starless" era of King Crimson as Trey got down close to the stage in a classic gunslinger pose. "Mr. Completely" began, and away we went — again rocking out as Valdez pushed everyone to get as tight and funky as possible with a massive pile-driving drumbeat. When they waltzed into "Ether Sunday," I had to ignore the childish thought that, "Hey — Trey is playing this for me!" "Come As Melody" was a fantastic set ender with its good rolling hard-rock riff as Trey cranked up the volume. Next, Trey hugged Tony Hall, and we started yelling for more. "First Tube" stomped forward as the lone encore, and Trey really hammered the point home as if he never wanted this moment to end. Chris Kuroda was back with Trey, and the lights were blazing in fifty different directions. It was blissful insanity with glowsticks everywhere. Trey caught one, and the screen faded to black. FINIS.


There are many talented people who went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed to complete my JamBase 10KLF article. I'd like to thank them for their generosity: Aaron Kayce, Dave Weissman, Chris Monson, John Crouch, Lee Crumpton, Jesse Jarnow, Trey Anastasio, Tony Hall, Paul Languedoc, Les Claypool, Darren Pujalet, Steve Molitz, Tim Palmieri, Matt Butler, Steve Kimock, Jamie Janover, Marc Ross, Cyro Baptista, Clay Ross, Reed Mathis, Jason Smart, Michael Glabicki, Gabby La La, Jeffrey Lerner, Bockman, The Breakfast, HMHR, Delta Nove, Bump, Wendy Weisberg, Ami Heinrich, Laura Cohen, Wilton Elder, Maija Ray, and one of the best festival crowds I've ever seen.

Randy Ray
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