Whenever anyone asks me how to get their band on the Summer Camp lineup, I always tell them to hit the road and tour. If the music is good and you build a solid fanbase, Summer Camp will eventually come to you. Well that’s exactly what Chicago-based EGi did. They hit the road hard over the past couple years and along the way they’ve built a passionate following and a reputation for throwing high energy shows full of improvisation.
I recently got to see EGi play at George’s Tavern in Racine, WI and I can vouch that their live show lives up to the hype. Even at a small town venue and on a school night, they brought their A-game. During set break I got a chance to catch up with percussionist Michael “Gonzo” Gonzales who’s been coming to Summer Camp since its inaugural year in 2001.
“It’s like home,” he explained. “It’s in Illinois, it’s Umphrey’s and moe., and the people are what really make it great.”
EGi was basically birthed out of the Summer Camp tradition and are very much a part of the Chicago jam scene.
“I feel honored to play Summer Camp,” Gonzo shared. “We’ve been trying to get on the lineup for years and all our fans have been pushing for it too.”
“We had the whole New York experience,” Gonzo explained. “We were homeless for a day when our hostel kicked us out. Then we lost the mirror on our van when someone hit us. We even got a flat tire. This all happened in Brooklyn over the span of like two days… but in the middle of all that, I was talking about the band Dopapod with Dave while the rest of the guys were recording. He was like, ‘So do you guys like Dopapod? Eli (Winderman) is in town. How about Eli plays on a few songs?’ and I was like ‘YES! I’m just going to say yes for the whole band right now and when they come out of the recording booth, you should tell them that.'”
He then went on, “It was so great working with Dave, not only was he our producer but he sang backup vocals on ‘Air’. He also got Craig (Brodhead) from Turkuaz to join us for a few tracks.”
In less than two weeks time, EGi laid down a total of 11 tracks at the Brooklyn studio. Many of the songs like “Headphones” had endured the longitudinal test of being played out live time and time again. The result is a solid debut album that resonates with live music lovers like myself, thick with groove and danceability.
When asked about influences, Gonzo was quick to offer up one of Summer Camp’s favorite headliners.
“Well Umphrey’s is an obvious influence,” he shared. “I’ve been seeing that band since 1998.”
This influence is recognizable with song like “Glass” and “Peaches”. It also shines through EGi’s versatility and ability to adapt to a “jam” with fierce intention.
“Our sound is a lot of sounds: some funk, rock, some hip-hop, and there’s some improv in there too. So we are definitely experimental in a way. There’s also some Santana in there. We’ve done whole Santana sets before for Halloween. Then at Down on the Farm this year we will be doing Rage Against the Chili Peppers, which really suits us too.”
EGi is currently hitting the road for a headlining tour to support the new album. Plyatron Tour will include a hometown show at Durty Nellie’s on April 8th before the band heads out west to the mountains.
“Colorado has been really good to us,” bassist Alan Borukhovich shared. “We have a lot of our friends who moved out there and they’re spreading the word.”
EGi will then venture back to Illinois for a 4/20 show at Canopy Club with Old Shoe.
I can’t wait to see these guys make their mark at my favorite festival. Welcome to the Summer Camp 2016 lineup EGi!
April 8 | Durty Nellie’s | Palatine, IL
April 9 | The Lift | Dubuque, IA
April 13 | Hodi’s Half Note | Fort Collins, CO
April 14 | Sancho’s Boulder Arrow | Boulder, CO
April 15 | The Lazy Dog | Boulder, CO
April 16 | Quixote’s True Blue | Denver, CO
April 19 | The Bottleneck | Lawrence, KS
April 20 | The Canopy Club | Urbana, IL
April 21 | Paducah Beer Works | Paducah, KY
April 22 | Lamasco Bar & Grill | Evansville, IN
April 23 | Hangar 9 | Carbondale, IL
April 28 | The Avenue Cafe | Lansing, MI
April 29 | The Park Theatre | Holland, MI
April 30 | BASS JAM | Columbus, OH
May 4 | Scarlet & Grey Cafe | Columbus, OH
May 5 | Stanley’s Pub | Cincinnati, OH
May 6 | Jimmie’s Ladder | Dayton, OH
May 7 | DRXVMS | Athens, OH
May 28-30 | Summer Camp Music Festival!