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Something happened this year that changed Wormtown festivals forever. This past Memorial Day weekend played host to a Strange Creek Campout that has never seen so many attendees. I’m not sure what it was – the years of success, the growing hype, the credibility of the artists and musicians involved each year. Alas, on the morning of the festival Wormtown Trading Co. put out an announcement saying that they’d sold out Strange Creek 2011, and anyone who did not have a ticket secured for them shouldn’t bother driving to the event in Greenfield, Ma.
Driving up the dusty path toward Camp KeeWanee, cars were parked further than they’d ever been in the past, out into the field by the big, marshmallow-y bales of hay. The campgrounds were re-routed, paths changed and thinned, and tents practically piled on top of one another, fighting for space.
The camp areas were more trashed than they’d ever been in the past, although Wormtown did an exceptional job at keeping apace with the mess. This is nobody’s fault really, but the mere fact that the grassroots festival is becoming too big for their home at Camp KeeWanee, and more successful than they were entirely ready for.
This year’s lineup was comparable to last year, with a good amount of new and emerging bands to check out. Wormtown lineups are usually listener-friendly and well put together. It was striking how many tight, funk acts there were. It’s truly an indicator of what’s hot right now in music. Some of our favorites were Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Ryan Montbleau Band, Consider The Source, Dopapod, Holmes, Jimkata, and Goosepimp Orchestra.
Goosepimp Orchestra, in particular, has been on the Wormtown roster for years; having worked their way up from the Riverworm stage to the cabins, they are currently one of the main headlining bands in the festival. They always make a big impression, and festival organizers and attendees alike know that Camp Goosepimp is the place to be.
Ryan Montbleau Band returned with a headlining set Sunday Night sans Violist Laurence Scudder, but with new guitarist Lyle Brewer in tow. Montbleau made an appearance with Brewer in front of the Strangers Helping Strangers table later that night to serenade a small circle of passers-by with acoustic requests and old tunes. The set was refreshing, timed perfect- late on Sunday night, during the last moments of the festival’s final night. Montbleau’s energy was inviting, and the sit-down atmosphere he created became a much-needed, meditative break for festival goers.
Walking down to the cabins, the energetic, soul-driven funk of Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds followed by the high-intensity Middle Eastern virtuosity of Consider The Source closed out Strange Creek Campout 2011. This was Consider The Source’s first late-night cabin showdown. CTS delivered an outstanding closing set to Strange Creek. They move together as one, with a strong, undivided delivery and a unified energy that gives their music the power to shake listeners to the bone. Even Wormtown founder Mark Blanchette couldn’t stop himself from stepping on stage during their set to party with the rest of the Campers.
[pictured – Kung Fu (sax), Lyle Brewer of Ryan Montbleau Band (guitar)]