One day this extended Guster Telethon will end. But until that day, road journals — once a portal to rock debauchery that put Dionysus / Wilt Chamberlain / Lindsay Lohan / Sodom / Gommorah to shame — until that day these road journals will document family-friendly musician-fan bonding stories, based on the experiences people have picked from our Pledge page. Also, don’t forget I puked from tequila shots in the last road journal.
When the Pledge days have expired we will do our damned-est to carry on “Camp Guster” in some shape or form. Year One was epic. It was beyond epic. Every member of Guster was shocked by how epic it was, and as far as I could tell the campers were pretty happy too. So we’ll turn this over to camper “Brett” — who laughed, cried, and paddleboarded, when not stuffing his face with sustainable local cupcakes.
His version of events is thorough and sincere, whereas my version would have been abbreviated and cloaked in the usual sarcasm (it’s a fear of intimacy thing). Take it from here, Brett, you get the italic treatment…
Guster’s music has been a staple in my life for the last 10 years. With every new album release, I’ve always looked for an opportunity to see the band preform live. I’ve been fortunate, living on Long Island, to have had a great many opportunities to see their shows. From the acoustic set at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the nostalgic Parachute revival at Brooklyn Bowl, every performance is a new way to re-discover the band.
Naturally, when the new album was announced and the unending shopping list of Guster fantasies was introduced, one option stuck out among the rest. Camp Guster. I grabbed my ticket and planned for my weekend in Freeport, Maine. After a nice weekend exploring the area, Sunday finally came and with it, Camp Guster. I knew right from the start that this was going to be an unforgettable experience. As I approached the L.L. Bean store where the group was meeting for registration, Ryan, Adam, Brian, and Luke walked directly in front of my path drinking coffee and laughing with each other. It was as if they were just four friends getting together for a nice Sunday or casually shopping. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. After a few minutes, the band came out in full L.L. Bean camp counselor gear to personally register every fan for camp.
Sporting zip pants-to-shorts khakis, woodsmen plaid button ups of varying colors, wool grey vests, and fishing caps, each band member greeted us with a handshake and a smile. Ryan, Adam, Brian, and Luke all began to ask where each fan had traveled from, how their weekend was going, if they were excited. The atmosphere became friendly very quickly and the adrenaline of being completely star-struck at first turned into a warm respect for the band and the day they had put together for us. Excited about their new camp counselor whistles, Brian, Adam, and Luke gave them a good blast and announced for everyone to get on the bus. Adam and Ryan went onto the first bus, and Luke and Brian went on the second. We spent the bus riding all sort of gawking at the fact that they had just sat next to somebody and began talking like we were all old friends.
Once we arrived at the L.L. Bean discovery school, we were gathered together for a group photo in front of their mascot car shaped like a boot. As we worked out the logistics of the picture, we noticed music playing out of speakers directly behind us that sounded familiar. It was the new album. Our backdrop for the rest of the day was the sound of the brand new Guster album playing in its entirety on repeat for the rest of the day, three months before it’s due to be released. We were assigned to four groups to participate in events throughout the day. I was part of the Big Friends group while there was also The Architects, The Engineers, and The Simple Machines.
First up was Archery with Luke Reynolds. While our Archery instructor was explaining how to properly shoot a bow, many of us were still sort of reeling from the fact that this was happening at all. No one seemed to move for a few minutes until someone began to casually talk to Luke. It very quickly turned into a wonderful dialogue between fan and artist, and we all were curious. Luke answered all of our questions with sincerity and enthusiasm. We talked about living in Nashville, Turkey calling, and what Joe Pisapia was up to these days. Luke affectionately spoke about his father as his “Pops”.
Next up was Lawn Games with Brian Rosenworcel. This very quickly became the most competitive event of the day and Brian was pumped to get a game of volleyball going. After a few rotations, I found myself face to face with the Thunder God himself on opposite sides of the net. And Brian has a good foot and a half on me. Despite the moment being extremely intimidating, Brian was a great sport and we had a blast. A few Camp Gusterians had brought their children along and I saw a nice moment in which Brian was coddling one of the youngsters.
Next, we went kayaking with Ryan Miller. After we all got into the water and began to relax on beautiful Casco Bay, Ryan pulled his kayak up beside ours to say hi. We drifted along together for a while chatting. The woman in the front of my kayak shared a great story in which she met Ryan at a concert on the eve of her 30th birthday. Ryan had meant to give her 30 high fives but had gotten distracted so only made it to 12 or so. Well Ryan saw this as the perfect opportunity to finish the count. I sat there and laughed as both kayaks rocked back and forth with each high five to get to 30.
Finally, we had upright paddle boarding with Adam Gardner. This is a unique sport for those of you have never tried it. It was my first time, but it seemed like I took to it naturally because I had somehow managed to be the first person out in the water. As I looked to my right, there’s Adam floating right along next to me. For a moment or two, it was just me and him out on the water. I asked him what it was like to live in Maine, and I commented on how beautiful the scenery was. He smiled and explained how much he loved it there. As we were floating along, Adam’s daughter ran along the dock beside us, giggling and taunting her father to go faster.
After the activities, we headed to Wolf’s Neck Farm to end the night. Delicious organic and sustainable foods were served. Ryan happened to wander over to the table (haystack) I was eating on, and again struck up friendly conversation with everyone around. After dinner, we were treated to one of the most intimate and breathtaking acoustic sets I have ever witnessed. With our group no larger than 50-75 people, and the instruments and microphones set up on a literal cliff overlooking the water, a more perfect stage could not be set. As the sun went down and the sky turned pink and yellow behind them, the four members of Guster played a fun, heartfelt, and amazing set of their music. A few old songs, and a few new. During “Do You Love Me?” someone actually proposed, which only added more joy to the event. I and my fellow Camp Gusterians would agree that it was an experience like none other.
At the end of the event we all headed back toward the busses to journey home. I made it a point to seek out Ryan, Adam, Brian, and Luke one last time to shake their hands and thank them for doing this for us. Each of the band members felt so familiar now and so welcoming. Each handshake left me with a firm impression of the dignity and respectfulness that these artists have for their music and their fans. Ryan even wound up giving me a hug. The last person I saw was Luke, and I thanked him for putting this day together for us, and that the new album sounded amazing. I can’t wait to get it when it hits stores. Luke thanked me for the kind words and said the following, “I can’t wait for you guys to be able to take it home and play it in your headphones or in your car and have something to be really proud of.” The amusing thing is, that I’m already proud to be a Guster fan because of the beautifully crafted and inspiring music they’ve written. Now I’m even more proud to have met the men behind the music who shared stories of family, music, friendship and life with us. I’m proud to have been a part of the Guster family for one day.