Campout for the Cause ushers in the season with modern folk music, yoga and SUP
If you go …
What: Campout for the Cause.
When: Friday through Sunday.
Where: Rancho Del Rio, near Bond.
Cost: Three-day passes are $135 in advance, including camping; single-day passes range from $59-$69 in advance. Tickets will be available at the door at slightly higher prices.
More information: http://www.campoutforthecause.org. Check the website for more details on camping, parking and RV/trailer passes. Dogs are not allowed at the festival.
Summertime in the valley tends to be packed with events to pick and choose from, whether you like to drink and dance, sip along to the sounds of classical music, get muddy while competing amongst other weekend warriors or attend one of the many art extravaganzas that populate the calendar from mid-May to late September. But few festivals are so anticipated to the point where one wants to experience it all again as soon as it stops.
“I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one ended,” said Edward Jackson, a yoga teacher who leads classes at the The Westin Riverfront Resort in Avon.
He’s referring to Campout for the Cause, a weekend-long benefit festival running today through Sunday, with music, camping, yoga, stand-up paddleboarding and more. Held at Rancho Del Rio along the Colorado River, the event is a celebration of acoustic and roots music and a chance to camp out under the stars while “banjos play in the background,” said Jackson, who will lead yoga classes at the festival this year.
More than just music
The net proceeds from Campout for the Cause will benefit nonprofit organizations American Rivers, the Eagle Valley Land Trust and All Hands Volunteers, which provides disaster relief around the world. Scotty Stoughton, organizer and founder of Campout for the Cause, said this year they’ve added more yoga classes and there will also be workshops on nutrition and permaculture.
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“(The workshops) are a great place to ask about what’s in your food, what kind of food is right for your body, locally sourcing your produce and where in the area to get organic stuff without spending a lot of money,” Stoughton said.
For many who attend, it’s not just about the music. It’s a chance to connect with family, friends, fellow yogis and music fans while enjoying the beauty and nature that surrounds them.
“There’s a party associated with Campout — having some drinks, having some fun — but it’s so much bigger than that,” Stoughton said. “(The festival) brings in a much more consciously-minded fan base.”
At the festival, yoga and music often meld together, with DJs playing sets while festival-goers practice their poses. Jackson said he initially got interested in yoga through music, when he attended a class where they played hip-hop — not your typical stretching and breathing soundtrack. Jackson said one of the highlights from last year’s Campout was when musician Geoff Farina played during a class, an experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.
“I just feel like yoga and music belong together,” Jackson said. “It helps you move, it helps you flow and when it’s live it’s just that much better. … It’s almost like you’re just dancing but you’re moving in yoga postures.”
An ‘old-time dance party’
Along with the jams and handstands at the yoga deck, there will be music blasting at both the Bonfire Lounge and the main stage from noon until midnight each day. A few festival favorites are returning this year, including Elephant Revival and Fruition, but there are also some newcomers like The Dustbowl Revival. Based on their sound, you’d think the band hailed from the heyday of big-band jazz and swing groups of the 1930s, but they’re actually from Los Angeles. Singer and guitarist Zach Lupetin moved out to Hollywood eight years ago with plans on working in the film industry, but he ended up sneaking into bluegrass shows, getting more seeped in “raw, authentic, Americana music,” he said.
After putting up a Craigslist ad for bandmates, The Dustbowl Revival started playing around town and bringing back a style of music people had certainly heard about but not necessarily seen.
“A lot of people wanted to hear that (type of music) and experience it live, maybe for the first time,” Lupetin said. “We like to bring this sort of old-time dance party wherever we go. It’s a lot of fun.”
After making a splash at WinterWonderGrass this winter, the band is back to play for the Campout crowd and expect them to join in.
“There’s a lot of call and response in what we do,” Lupetin said. “(Our shows) are built like the audience is having a musical conversation with us.”
While on first listen The Dustbowl Revival may sound like something your grandparents would like, remember that they didn’t always used to be such old fogies.
“In a way, we’re playing the music of your grandparents, but as if your grandparents were teenagers rocking out to it,” Lupetin said. “Your grandparents were probably pretty hip back in the day, you just didn’t realize it until now.”
Sharing the stage
Another band from out-of-state that hasn’t played at Campout for a few years are the Shook Twins, comprised of twin sisters and songstresses Laurie and Katelyn Shook. Katelyn, who plays guitar and sings vocals along with her sister, said they got a late start as musicians and initially they saw themselves in a different type of spotlight.
“The original dream for us was to have our own show on the Travel Channel called ‘The Travel Twins,’” Katelyn said. “But then we realized we hated being on camera, so we gave that dream up.”
As identical twins, when listening to the duo’s folksy, bluegrass-tinged tunes it can be hard to tell them apart, even for Katelyn.
“When I’m listening back to recordings of our voice, sometimes I can’t tell which one’s me and which one’s (Laurie),” Katelyn said. “I have a stronger voice, and I just sing a little louder, I think that’s the only difference really.”
Katelyn said this year all the headliners at Campout are “our best friends,” and she likes the camaraderie that happens at the festival between both attendees and musicians.
“(Festivals) take the pressure off having to fill a whole space with your fans,” Katelyn said. “I like sharing.”
An intimate festival experience
One musician making his debut at Campout this year is Gregory Alan Isakov, a singer-songwriter who describes his style as “dirty folk,” which means “quiet songs that are played around and distorted in different ways,” he said.
Isakov tends not to tour in the summer, mainly because he’s too busy tending to the farm he co-owns near Boulder, living in a barn he just converted to a recording studio. Isakov said life working the land doesn’t produce as much musical inspiration as people might think.
“It sounds like this romantic thing, but I’m really just shoveling sheep (crap),” Isakov said. “It’s not this bucolic, amazing Walt Whitman poem, (more) just trying to pay the mortgage and come up with what we can.”
Isakov is looking forward to the more intimate vibe of Campout and said he doesn’t do a lot of festivals because as a musician, and a fan, it’s not always the best experience.
“At giant rock ‘n’ roll festivals I’ve done before, you know how they have the really good restaurant in the city, and then they have the airport version with the limited menu?” Isakov said. “(Festivals can be) like the airport version of every band. There’s a really quick changeover. But if you go into it knowing that, you can still walk away with a lot of amazing experiences.”
Like many of the artists playing at Campout this year, making music and connecting with the audience is more important than being top bill.
“I never got into this to be known or famous,” Isakov said. “I feel like I need to play, and I need to write and I have a love for it.”
Leave inspired, invigorated
Darcy Giles, volunteer coordinator for Campout for the Cause, said she’s especially looking forward to hearing Isakov’s show on Sunday night, and that bands at the festival often become so much like family that even if “they’re not from our hometown, we consider them to be.”
Giles said compared to other summer festivals, Campout is the most geared toward all ages, with plenty of parents who bring their kids to sleep out under the stars, stand-up paddleboard along the river and hula hoop to the music.
For Campout this year, Giles said she’s hoping for clear skies and sunny days and that she’s already “sent a memo to Mother Nature requesting perfect weather.”
Unlike other festivals where you might need to detox after partying several days in a row, Stoughton said the festival makes you feel better after it’s over.
“The goal is to leave inspired, invigorated, healthy and with a really positive outlook on the experience,” Stoughton said. “You leave Campout with a higher vibe, you really do. People are drawn to the music, the yoga, the river, the environment, the elements. The fact that it’s giving back is a great component of that as well.”
In some ways, Campout for the Cause combines all the best parts of summer into one weekend: live music outdoors, the beauty of the mountains, cruising along the Colorado river, being active every day and good times with family and friends. There’s also no better way to commence the season than with a sing-along by the campfire, only at Campout the harmonies sound a little sweeter, due to all the talented musicians lending their voices to the chorus.