Pimps of Joytime

ROAD TRIP: 2012 Equifunk Festival - Artists go to Summer camp!

ONE FINAL NOTE: We interviewed many of the Equifunk artists, and asked each of them if they had attended summer camp as kids. Here are some of their answers.

Josh Schwartz, Saxophone/Vocals, Turkuaz: I was a camper at the same camp where my father was a camper starting at his 4th birthday in 1946, Camp Scatico in New York. I was a camper for four years, a counselor for one year. But this is combining summer camp with a music festival. It's like - summer camp with BEER? And RAVES? It's amazing.

Taylor Shell, Bassist, Turkuaz: I grew up in San Francisco, and I never did a full summer (of camp). I did three weeks at this place called Gold Arrow. It was a lot of water skiing, arts and crafts, that kind of thing. And massive funk concerts and big parties (laughs).

Arleigh Kincheloe, Vocalist, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds: No, I never went, and I really feel like I missed out. (Gestures to the camp) This is cool!

ROAD TRIP: 2012 Equifunk Festival - Part 2

While Friday afternoon was cloudy and rainy, Saturday morning dawned clear and warm at Equifunk. We wandered through the camp and enjoyed the picturesque landscape as laughter and music emanated from all the bunks. Campers enjoyed breakfast in the mess hall, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, softball, even hula hoop lessons. In other words, it was summer camp.

But the music started soon enough. Brooklyn’s I’ll Be John Brown provided the perfect Saturday morning set with a classic rock sound that called to mind a rawer version of Credence Clearwater Revival. After the electronic experimentation of the night before, it was great to have some “real” music again. A highlight of the band’s set was a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Mr. Charlie” – combined with Dumpstaphunk’s cover of “Fame” the previous evening, we began to see a pattern of Equifunk bands doing amazing renditions of other songs; it was a trend that would continue.

Eventually Sister Sparrow, neé Arleigh Kincheloe came on stage and, as we knew she would, promptly ripped the shit out of it. It’s astounding that such a husky and huge voice comes out of Kincheloe who is, to paraphrase Roc Dutton in Rudy, “five feet nothin’.” Her voice seems to change with every song – on “Millie Mae” she was Susan Tedeschi, on “Hollow Bones” she was Janis Joplin, but on “Dirt” she’s all Sister Sparrow, a funked-out wrecking ball whose “eyes are bigger than my liver.” Kincheloe’s brother Jackson, the unofficial bandleader, accompanies her on a bluesy, distorted harmonica. He’s probably sick of being compared to John Popper, but the compliment is accurate because the man is damn good.

LIVE: 2012 Equifunk Festival - PART 1

Most of our five-hour drive to the northeastern Pennsylvania town of Equinunk was taken up by a discussion of the 1980s action vehicle Roadhouse; specifically, the overall plausibility of the film. Would rich, evil Brad Wesley really waste his time exerting a stranglehold over the podunk burg of Jasper, Missouri? A town which seemed to have, at most, three businesses in it? How much money could he really make extorting an auto parts store? It seemed, in all likelihood, a business model destined to fail in a film that at every turn becomes more unbelievable, yet somehow more awesome.

I bring this up because our destination - an all-inclusive funk/jam festival held on the sprawling campus of a Poconos summer camp - seemed unbelievable as well. Two days, fifteen bands, cabin living, limitless beer, and all meals prepared? All for one price? And did I mention it’s at summer camp? The skeptical side of me couldn't help but wonder if it were too good to be true. I was like those naysayers meeting Roadhouse's James Dalton, sizing him up, and saying "I thought you'd be bigger."

Turns out Equifunk is bigger, and badder, and more energetic (yet somehow more laid back) than any number of other festivals that cost five times as much. There is, as numerous people told us throughout the weekend, "just a vibe" on the campus of Camp Equinunk that is completely unparalleled in any other music experience. Very few music festivals are held in such scenic rural locations; so rural, in fact, that you're forced to go native as your cell phone bars gradually shrink and eventually disappear completely. And because the event is all-inclusive, you don't need your wallet. I can't remember the last time I left my cell phone and wallet in the car for two hours, much less two days. But damn if it isn't refreshing to not have to worry about them.