Camp Bisco XI Artist Spotlight: Spiritual Rez

Camp Bisco, while revered by many (myself included) as one of the only places to catch three consecutive days of delicious Disco Biscuits sets, also brings in many of the most progressive and talented names in music today. The lineup is so stacked it can be overwhelming (I often get really into an artist months after July and realize I missed their set at Camp Bisco because I didn’t know them at the time). Let Sensible Reason pick out some of the names you should not miss this year and give you a taste of what they are going to bring to you at Camp Bisco.

First up is Spiritual Rez, the high energy “reggae funk dance experience” out of Boston. These guys have been touring for nine years, bringing their heat to all corners of the country sharing the stage with heads like Gregory Issacs, Toots and The Maytals, Steel Pulse, Barrington Levy, George Clinton and The Parliament Funkadelic, Golgol Bordello and Jimmy Buffett. Legendary keyboardist and founding member of Funkadelic/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell is known to play entire shows with Rez creating a whole new musical experience.

Their music is difficult to classify but is deeply rooted in reggae, with dub grooves, smooth bass, crisp horns and soulful lyrics giving them a sound that ranges from sexy to high energy ska dance party. Rez is made up of Toft Willingham who provides lead vocals and guitar, Jesse Shaternick on the bass, drummer Ian “Meat” Miller, Kory Stanbury on sax and Bryan House on trombone. Having seen (and traveled for) dozens of their shows, I can affirm that their live performances will leave you drenched in sweat with a massive smile on your face.

This year will be Spiritual Rez’s second Camp Bisco performance, check them out at 8PM on the Showcase Stage Friday, July 13. I was able to catch up with drummer and band manager Ian Miller and find out what they plan to bring to their performance.

So you guys played a Camp Bisco 9 day set on the main stage, am I right? How did you like it?

You are. That was our first Bisco experience, not just as band, but as revelers. We were more than thankful to be offered a main stage slot on our first year, albeit a 12:30PM afternoon slot. It was incredibly hot at Bisco 9, we were on Saturday afternoon and the peak heat was swirling towards that unbelievable storm we all remember later in the day. That stage was very special to me; I went to Vibes 2003 that was held in that very field. I said to myself watching Deep Banana Blackout’s set that year (I was only 19) that I would one day play on that very stage. Playing Bisco’s main stage in that very field was exactly as I had imagined.

How would you describe your sound to people who aren’t familiar with Spiritual Rez?

We’re a Psychedelic Reggae Dance Earthquake. If you’re looking for a high energy experience that’s centered around Reggae and just general fun, you’ll find it with us.

Why should people come see your set at Camp Bisco XI?

We’re pulling out a lot of stops for Bisco. We’ve got guest performers and while this year we’re not on the main stage, we’re at 8PM on the showcase stage, giving Bisco attendees time to at least wake up and hose off the night prior before seeing us. It’s going to be a non-stop 9.0 on the Richter Scale.

Are you going to have any time to check out the festival? If so, what or who are you psyched to see?

This year absolutely. We always try to make the time to stay at festivals, meeting people and seeing music is partial payment for us! To be honest, I was REALLY excited for Shpongle’s set, but rumors have it that he will not be at Camp this year are getting me down. I’m praying it’s not true and all a sham. Seeing friends play too is always great. Our homies in Dopapod, Rubblebucket and Capital Zen will all be throwing down, so don’t miss those sets.

Where else can people find you playing this summer?

We’re finishing up our newest album “Apocalypse Whenever” this summer, so our schedule is lighter than normal. You can see us lots in the Northeast, including shows in New York (7/27) and Lake Placid (7/28) as well as Cape Cod in August and other festivals like Last Daze of Summer at Sterling Stage in September – We’re headlining Friday night (9/14) for that one.

Get a free download of “Bring it ON” from Rez’s new album Apocalypse Whenever:


Stay tuned for more artist spotlights and up-to-date preview coverage of Camp Bisco as we approach July 12!

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