Summerfest '05

Ah… the day I’ve been waiting for all summer long -- the return of Milwaukee’s Summerfest … the Big Gig! … World’s Largest Music Festival!

There are few things throughout the summer (ok … maybe a Cubs game at Wrigley) that match the rush of hopping on the shuttle from the park n’ ride and arriving at those pearly white gates and giant red lettering that reads ‘Summerfest.’ It’s all I’ve waited for all winter and spring -- the 10-day Milwaukee festival on the lake that’s loaded with delicious food and top-notch music, all for the cost of a full-tank of gas.

I located Eddie and Matty again; we took in some food, the bands and the crowds. For $3 Matt and Ed shot golf balls toward the island in the middle of the lake. A hole in one won a new car -- too bad, by the time we got there Sunday afternoon someone already had won it. We competed together in a few arcade games and stopped to listen to a few bands that caught our ears …including one amazing jam band -- think Jason Mraz paired with Hootie & the Blowfish -- playing on this tiny stage, hidden away from much of the hub-bub. I’d tell you the name of the band, but I honestly didn’t understand the pronunciation and the name scribbled on a white board was too hard to read.

By 5:30, we had some seats at The Potowatomi stage and were ready for what was to come, starting with U2 Zoo, a cover band playing the songs of you know who. And they played the parts perfectly -- shades, stocking caps, guitars and all. Between the dead-on songs and the acting, you might have believed they really did just come from playing Live 8 in London the day before. The guys played a lengthy set of almost every U2 fave that lasted nearly three hours …..At about 9 p.m., a Jimi Hendrix-like guitarist by the name of Greg Koch took the stage and wowed the crowd, with few vocals and non-stop guitar jams that ranged from Pink Floyd, to the Beatles to some of his own stuff ….

THEN, it was time to bring on the keyboard prodigy himself, Mr. Steve Winwood. The band included Winwood on a keyboard/organ, a couple guitarists, a sax player, drummer and bongo player that produced sort of a samba sound that was hard to get used to on some of the songs. Added to that, the Winwood band started with some newer stuff that few people knew and some members of the crowd were getting a little unruly (at a Steve Winwood concert of all things!) and started throwing bottles at people who refused to stay seated -- it’s a concert people! You stand, dance and soak in the energy that comes from the music ….Things picked up a little when Winwood played “Bring Me a Higher Love.” Things picked up A LOT when he grabbed an acoustic guitar and jammed at center stage with the other guitarists before streaming into an awesome version of “Back in the High Life.” ….He kept the crowd going with “I’m a Man” and a few Traffic songs, including “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and left the stage. But you knew the crowd was stirring to hear one more song, and after a few minutes of non-stop cheering, Winwood and the band came back out and sounded the opening chords of you know what -- “Gimme Some Lovin.”

…..Winwood’s show ended a few minutes after midnight and then we fought the mad rush to the shuttle buses …

…I was home and in bed by 2.

No comments: