Everyone Orchestra has been a traveling circus of collaboration since it first sprouted legs in 2001. Since then, conductor and full-time badass Matt Butler has been bringing together unlikely combinations of musicians for unadulterated improvisation to festivals and venues all across the U.S. and beyond. Each night is a new and exciting experiment featuring some of the greatest stars of today’s jam, jazz and grass scenes. Some shows have mild preconceived notions, but ultimately all musical exploration is fair game. This time around the lineup consisted of Claude Colman Jr. (Ween) on drums, Joel Cummins (UM) on keys, Mike Rempel (Lotus) on guitar, Zdenek Gubb (Twiddle) on bass, Josh Schwartz (Turkuaz) on sax, Shira Elias (Turkuaz) and another unbilled sax player tossed in for good measure. Unfortunately, Chuck Garvey (moe.) was not in attendance as he had an unforeseen family emergency, so Kevin Donohue (Sunsquabi) filled in nicely.
Up first was local musical monstrosity The RunniKine. This unassuming power trio lacks the adrenaline of Rush, but they do have the delicate keys of a “Squirming Coil” solo. Eric Luba is front and center tickling the ivory with elements of funk, hip-hop, and R&B dripping into the mix. They lacked a formal setlist but song selections from RunniKine included several new tracks off their recently released EP Danger Close including the progressive jam tune “Vice.” Their set featured oodles of improvisation and a sit-in from Sun Squabi’s Kevin Donohue, who received props from Luba on their recent sellout of The Fillmore in Denver.
Everyone Orchestra shows are hard to describe, beyond listing the members and some notable jams an actual review tends to lack the energy and vibrancy of the live performance. The players are locked in with Butler who orchestrates the band via a small tablet featuring hand-written direction and an abundance of eye contact. The songs can literally go any which way depending on the preconceived notions of music by the performers assembled. The shows are always jam-centric but more and more they are incorporating vocal jams and actual songs. Shira Elias was blasting out her signature vocals from the very start of the show. Mike Rempel was forced into the limelight due to Garvey’s absence, but he had help from Kevin Donohue. Many in attendance seemed to be there for Joel Cummins, who received many accolades from the enthusiastic crowd. Perhaps the most compelling part of the show was a huge back and forth jam between Joel and the horn section. At one point Butler announced a homage to AC/DC’s Malcolm Young who recently passed away. This was a rock tune lead by Coleman on the kit. At one point late in the set Butler invited RunniKine’s Eric Luba back to the stage for a dueling keyboard jam featuring Joel. Overall this was a great show and totally representative of what fans have come to expect when seeing Everyone Orchestra. The super jam has grown from being a random often unplanned event at a festival, to becoming an actual touring band. If you yearn to see live collaboration and unlikely combinations of musicians then check out EO. They are about the music, nothing is rehearsed, and every night is a new and exciting adventure. I for one cannot think of a better place to see Everyone Orchestra than in the Red Barn on a Sunday afternoon at Summer Camp. For the last several years that has been the reward to Make A Difference participants. Check out your festival booklet for more info when you get onsite this year.