Mark Mercier has no problem with the word “legendary” when people describe Max Creek.
“When you’ve been at it as long as we have, you can bill yourself however you want,” said Mercier, who has been on keyboards and vocals for the New England-based rock band since 1973.
Max is the chief factor at this weekend’s “Camp Creek” music festival that begins Friday at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville. The guys will play sets Saturday and Sunday, and be around the grounds as 15 other bands — including the New Riders of the Purple Sage — kick out the jams during the early summer party.
WHERE: Indian Lookout Country Club, Mariaville
HOW MUCH: $120, gate; $95 advance, at outlets
MORE INFO: www.campcreek2016.com
Mercier said his band is ready for its double shift.
“I think playing-wise, we probably haven’t played better in all our years,” he said in a telephone interview from Simsbury, Connecticut, and his day job as a church music director. “We’re practicing a lot more, we’re basically being kicked in our butt by two young drummers [Bill Carbone and Jamemurrell Stanley] and they are really giving us a lot of energy and a lot of forward motion.” Bassist John Rider is the last remaining founder of the band that started in 1971.
Mercier believes age has been kind to Max Creek.
“Everything is new every time we get together and we just love playing together so much,” he said. “It’s not just one of those nostalgia things, it never became nostalgia. Whenever we climb on stage and start a song, even if we’ve been doing the song for 35 years, it’s a new version of that particular tune.”
Bunches of music fans like the camp-in festivals. Bunches of musicians — like Mercier — like them too.
“We’re probably the oldest music festival out there, maybe barring Woodstock or something like that,” he said. “We started I think in 1974, it stemmed from a get-together we used to play in Narragansett, Rhode Island, where people would come and camp on the ocean front for the weekend and we would play the entire weekend.
“We thought it was just a dandy idea, so we started doing festivals,” Mercier added. “The attraction is you can set up camp, you don’t really have to do anything in terms of climbing back in your car and driving home after a show. The weekend becomes one of those timeless, lifetime things where people get to experience each other and their kids. They get to cook out, they get to camp out, they get to hear some music.”
The rest of the bands
The good-natured Mercier knows about all the bands on this year’s Camp Creek roster. He provided brief descriptions of everyone coming to town:
• New Riders of the Purple Sage: “Old friends of ours, country rock band.”
• Hayley Jane & The Primates: “Rhythm and blues, with a little bit of a contemporary twist. Hayley has amazing pipes.”
• Gratefully Yours: “They do Grateful Dead and they do it quite well.”
• Riders on the Storm with Eamon Cronin: “They’re friends of ours. Eamon Cronin is like Jim Morrison, Riders on the Storm is a Doors band and they do it very well.”
• After Funk: “They’re from Canada, absolutely tremendous funk band. They do some standards but they stretch out, they’re tighter than the bark on a tree.”
• Rev Tor Band: “Old friends of ours, the have a lot original music, jam band, they do some Dead, some Band and covers in the roots direction.”
• Legion of Jerry: “A Jerry Garcia project, they do a lot of stuff from Garcia that the Dead didn’t necessarily do.”
• Creamery Station: “These guys are amazing, a bluegrass-ragtime type of situation.”
• Jamemurrell Stanley: “Percussionist, he’s into the whole drumming for peace situation.”
• Hot Creekin’ Acoustics: “Side projects, with John Rider, Jamemurrell Stanley, Alyce Bertz on violin.”
• Depth Quartet: “That’s Scott Murawski, our guitar player, his side project. They’re very tight and probably so some funk and rhythmically complicated stuff.”
• Marks Brothers: “My side project. Mark Paradis is a friend of mine, we just get together and play. It’s mostly jam band.”
• City Hotel: “City hotel is fantastic. They’re from Savannah, and they are an award-winning bluegrass band. They gather around one microphone and just play the dickens out of bluegrass.”
• Spitune: “Arguably more ragtime.”
• Miss E & the Resonators: “They’re a blues band and fantastic. We discovered her online and she’s just great.”
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.