Summer Camp Music Festival features local band Sun Stereo as part of eclectic lineup

Photo by Billi Jo Hart | Prospectus News Sun Stereo members Kelly McMorris and Christine Janak perform at Summer Camp Music Festival on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Photo by Billi Jo Hart | Prospectus News
Sun Stereo members Kelly McMorris and Christine Janak perform at Summer Camp Music Festival on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Scott Barnes

Staff Writer

Attending music festivals is a common pastime for many who are a part of the Parkland student body. Perhaps one of the most popular festivals is the annual Summer Camp Music Festival, which takes place in Chillicothe, IL.

This year the event played host to some big name bands, such as Steve Miller Band, moe., Widespread Panic and Umphrey’s McGee. The festival also provided a platform for local bands to showcase their talent to the thousands of people who gather at Three Sisters Park for the experience.

One such band is Urbana’s own Sun Stereo. In fact, the band has been a part of the festival’s lineup for the last four years and front man Kelly McMorris cut his teeth almost a decade ago as part of another set of musicians.

“This is the 15th year of Summer Camp,” McMorris explained. “This is the fourth year that we’ve played. I played back in 2001 or 2002 with the first band I started and then didn’t really come back until I put together Sun Stereo.”

According to the festival’s website, more than 20,000 people attend Summer Camp. The exposure that local bands gain from playing such a big event is invaluable and giving unknown musicians a chance to shine is something that the festival has been doing since it started back in 2001.

Born out of the booming jam band scene of the late 1990’s, Summer Camp has become one of the most significant festivals in the area and adaptation is one big reason why the festival is still relevant today. Electronic music has become more popular in recent years and Summer Camp reflects that popularity in their lineup.

“We have tried to encompass as many genres and styles as we can over the years,” Mike Armintrout, Director of Marketing for the Summer Camp Music Festival, explained. “The beauty of having our festival rooted in the jam band scene is that the fans of that scene are very open and have eclectic taste in terms of what they like.”

Sun Stereo is a band that seems to fit perfectly into the dynamic of the contemporary festival scene that Summer Camp epitomizes. Even though the band has an obvious rock and roll element, they aren’t afraid to use modern technology or step outside the confines of being defined as any certain brand of music. McMorris described the band’s sound as “nothing but a little bit of everything” and explained how he has embraced technology as a musician.

“My vision for this band was to create a hybrid of organic elements and electronic elements,” McMorris said. “Just like a nice balance between all of the electronic soundscapes that I throw in there and then we’ve got, you know, piano, bass, a live drummer and horns.”

Not only does the band utilize technology as part of their live performances, McMorris also uses technology as an instrument when writing songs.

“I’ve kind of integrated the recording and writing process as one,” McMorris added. “It’s allowed me to basically have like a nice hands free approach to writing. I really wanted to use technology as an asset to really promote whatever the specific song needs. At the end of the day that’s what it comes down to, you know, what concoction or amalgamation of all of the tools I have in the toolbox.”

Sun Stereo has been busy working on new material and are currently making plans for the year ahead, which includes getting ready for the “Gentlemen of the Road” show in Waverly, Iowa on June 19. They will also be playing a limited release EP show at Mike N’ Molly’s in Champaign on July 17. Fans who want to stay current on all things Sun Stereo can visit their website at www.sunstereomusic.com.