RIPE AND READY FOR PICKIN’
Ripe at Camp Jam
Paradise Lakes Campground – Hammonton NJ – May 19, 2016
By Barry Brandow • Photos by Leonardo Mascaro
Although Camp Jam is a lesser known festival, it always seems to introduce a high magnitude of rising talent and bands. Bands like Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, The Main Squeeze, and Swift Technique owe much of their Philly area popularity to the following they’ve gained from this spring and fall festival.
The funk/pop band from Boston, MA named RIPE is about to find out what that is like as they embark on their debut performance at this intimate family friendly weekend of music. I had never heard of the band until a few days ago. A friend had sent me a video of theirs and asked me to come check them out at Camp Jam. After watching half the video I was messaging my friend that I would surely be there. Then I preceded to watch every video YouTube had to offer. The ambitious and talented octet came together as students at Berklee School of Music where several members studied jazz. It was on a “Why the hell not” basis that they decided to focus on becoming a kick ass rock band and run with it to the extreme. Centered around the energetic front man and lead vocalists Robbie Wolfsohn, RIPE offers a complete spectrum of sound and energy while giving it their all every night. The sound and energy is created by an arsenal of talented musicians. With ambitious guitarists Tory Geismer and Jon Becker, Nadav Shapira holding down the low end on bass, Sampson Hellerman on drums, and the energetic horn section consisting of Calvin Barthel on trombone and Josh Shpak on trumpet/EWI, RIPE sets the tone for a full speed musical romp.
With their time slot of 10:30 to 12:00 many campers departed back to their campsites after the high powered set that Swift Technique had performed from 9:00 to 10:00. When 10:30 hit and RIPE was ready to go the area in front of the stage was pretty vacant. That didn’t last long. Before they could even finish their opening song, “Brother Sky” from the Hey Hello EP, the area in front was filled back to capacity with eager music lovers looking to get their “boogie on.”
One way a band can always capture an older crowd is by taking an old classic and spicing it up with their unique style. RIPE took the Mungo Jerry classic “In the Summertime” and dressed it up with a funky flair and had everyone at Paradise Lakes campground on their feet dancing. RIPE kept the party going playing many songs from their 4-song EP as well as many other originals likely to be on the bands forthcoming album. The band and crowd continued to feed off each other’s energy throughout the night as front man Robbie Wolfsohn dared Camp Jammers to keep up. With original songs like “Rumpus,” “Flipside,” “Street Sweat,” and ”Passerby” that were unfamiliar to most, they were able to bring a universal familiarity with energy and showmanship as well as top notch musicianship and great songwriting.
RIPE continued to make a great impression by taking the Jimi Hendrix classic “Manic Depression” and morphing it into a full out 7-piece jam. They didn’t end there with unique and inventive covers. It’s not very often that a band takes a song like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from the Disney classic like Lion King and brings it to life on the concert stage with such success. My 23-year-old son was 3 when Lion King came out and it was on constant play in our household. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it 1000 times and could’ve helped out with the vocals if needed.
My favorite cover of the night was in the form of a “mash up.” Paying homage to modern funk giants Lettuce and iconic music legend Stevie Wonder, RIPE took the Lettuce song “Sam Huff Flying Rage Machine” and mashed it with Wonders “Living for the City” calling it “Sam Huffs for the City.” There were several “WOW” moments throughout the show and I was extremely impressed by their tightness and chemistry. As the clock got closer to midnight there was no sign of slowing down. Lead singer Robbie Wolfsohn even made a plea to allow the music to continue beyond their allotted time. Nobody seemed to mind, in fact many Camp Jammers chanted “Let them play”, which they did till their final encore ended around 12:30. They closed the show with four more originals (Caralee, Pedro, Yesterdays Clothes, and Downward) proving they had what it takes to be a bonafied force in the music scene and can hold their own as performers and crafting great music.
Just like the bands mentioned before, RIPE was feeling the mutual love from the music loving people of Camp Jam. It’s really cool when a band can embrace an event and feel a special bond with the people who attend. Even when The Main Squeeze, Sister Sparrow, and Swift Technique play other shows and venues in the area they always give a special shout out to their friends from Camp Jam in attendance. I have no doubt that’s how it will be when RIPE returns to the area in the future. I know I’m looking forward to when they return to Hammonton, NJ on July 24th for FARMfest. I HIGHLY recommend catching these guys if they ever come close to your home town, and if they are on the line up of a festival you’re attending make sure you catch their set.
For tour dates and info go to ripetheband.com and be sure to add their Facebook page to you list of followed pages for current updates, pictures, and videos.