Words by Corinne Casella | Photos by Jeremy Gordon
Catskill Chill devotees bid farewell to Camp Minglewood this past weekend in Hancock, NY. This year’s event was headlined by moe. (improv veterans whose career spans over two decades and 24 albums) along with Lotus, Zappa Plays Zappa, Lettuce, Electron, The Motet and Dopapod and numerous other acts ranging the gamut of musical styles. Snuggled among the pines, the festival was a self-contained community featuring a farmer’s market, food and retail vendors, donation-based yoga/massage and a nightly communal bonfire. With heavy hearts, the “chillfam” celebrated “A Farwell to Minglewood” with a bevy of well-produced artist collaborations, culminating with a rendition of “We Are Family” by Chill veterans Particle & Fam. It was a moving ending to a six-year run at the prestigious camp.
Located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, Camp Minglewood offered many cozy accommodations. Both individual and group cabin rentals were available, equipped with bathrooms and a kitchenette, as well as plenty of wooded and lakeside camping. With four stages and pop-up performances scattered throughout the grounds, there was no lack of music. Despite its numerous offerings, the festival retained an intimacy, with attendees and staff acting more like friends and family than strangers. Festival fashion was abound, ranging from costumes to patterned leggings, real and faux fur and reinvented bohemian threads, giving off a well-curated carnival feel. Adding to the atmosphere were inviting hammocks strung up at campsites and the main stage. Strolling through the grounds, one was greeted with smiling faces and sunlight glinting off the lake, the smell of pine needles and fresh food from vendors ranging from BBQ to vegan/organic fare.
The three-day lineup featured a mix of acoustic sets, original jams and super-group collaborations. Tribute acts reigned supreme, including Dopakuaz Plays Studio 54 (with band members from Dopapod and Turkuaz playing 70’s classics). Zappa Plays Zappa played select cuts from One Size Fits All in near-perfect rendition. Chillfam All-Stars performed a riotous Herbie Hancock tribute, while Shwizz and FiKus join forces for ShwiKus plays the 80s with the incredible vocal stylings of Brittany Beckett. Other highlights included Twiddle’s always popular “Dead Set,” and Santana tribute act, Borboletta.
Friday highlights included performances by Brooklyn-based Lettuce, bringing their own unique funk grooves, with a three song sit-in by Nigel Hall, culminating in the closer, “Do It Like You Do.” Headliner moe. played high-energy favorites catering to long-time fans. They started off the set on a high note with “Seat of My Pants.” For “Happy Hour Hero,” they invited members of the Moon Hooch horns Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen to sit in, with the later addition of Diggy Lessard for “Dr. Gaffenberg.” They ended the set with “Spine of a Dog” into “Buster.” Being the only band that has played at every Chill, Particle had the privilege of closing the festival with a group of all-star guests to end the weekend in style.
Among the music and celebration, the weekend also held an undertone of sadness. For many, Camp Minglewood had become a second home: six years of camping in the same cabins, surrounded by fellow fans that become family. While the festival will live on, its loss of location was felt and discussed by all in attendance. Part of what makes Chill so unique is its sense of place — not only to fans, but to the artists themselves, many of whom grew up as camp attendees before later headlining. While some nostalgia was present, the Chillfam need not worry about the future. “I hope everyone will trust that we’ll find a place,” promoter and owner Dave Marzolla told the O-Town Scene. “We do have a bunch of great options, from current venues, to resorts and other summer camps. We’re looking to keep the same size event we have going. We don’t want to be an eighty-thousand person event.”
TheWaster.com | Camp Minglewood