Photo by Brian Hockensmith

You might have recently seen Cam Elkins at a festival near the front or in the photo pit with a huge smile on his face and swaying blissfully to the music. His presence has suddenly and swiftly become part of the jam scene, having only found jam bands in 2018 and hitting the ground full force by getting involved with Weird Music in Columbus, OH, and getting as much live music in his life ever since. We talked to Cam about what inspired him about the jam scene and caused his meteoric dive into the community.

Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in a city just outside of New York City — Stamford, Connecticut. When I was 18 I moved to Columbus, Ohio and have been here ever since. 

When did you start getting into jam band music? What was your first festival/show?
I was actually just talking about this with someone this morning. When I was a junior in college, my girlfriend at the time worked in a lab with someone who is very involved in the live painting scene – Rob Tichinel. Rob and I bonded over many mutual interests and he ended up taking me to see Aqueous play. At the time, my favorite artist was chance the rapper, and I had zero concept of what a jam band was, or really anything having to do with music festivals. As I’m sure you can imagine, this show  was beyond mind-blowing. That one show opened up the entire world of music for me, and honestly, I feel very grateful and inspired to open this door for others, similarly to how Rob for opened this door for me. 

Photo by Adam Berta

What inspired you about the jam band and festival community and what kept you coming back?
The thing that has inspired me most about the jam band community is the way musicians play live. I love feeling the energy in the crowd when everyone is locked in together in each moment as the jam unfolds. I love feeling the hunger and drive to crush it from the musicians on stage.  Inside my mind I feel like there are a thousand different life lessons that are exemplified within jam band music. Music is a whole other language and to hear it spoken at live jam band shows is, to me, one of the most epic things in the world. Its amazed me how strangers can become best friends without saying a word, just from dancing or playing music together. My love for my friends who I go to shows with, mixed with the over-the-top awesomeness of live performances is what keeps me coming back 

When did you start getting more involved within the community and what were some events or projects that you’ve worked with?
About a year after my first jam show I met Chris Salvato in the crowd of one of Weird Music’s shows. Weird Music is a company in Columbus that has a recording studio, a media blog, and also puts on events. In our first conversation, I asked him if I could start helping out as an intern. This was my first taste of any sort of involvement in the music festival community, and I have learned a ton with, and from, Chris since that initial conversation 2 years ago.

When did you start working with Weird Music? 
January of 2018 was when I started. 

Tell me about how your experience has been with Weird Music and some of the artists you’ve worked with.
My experience with Weird Music has been pretty unbelievable. I honestly don’t know where to start with answering this question. The first thing that comes to mind is how encouraging everyone around me has been the entire time I’ve worked with Weird Music. Every step of the way, Chris, Adam Berta, Rob Tichinel, and so many of my peers and family have been incredibly supportive of me really digging in. 

In March of 2018, Chris hooked me up with a press pass for a Pink Talking Phish show and I got to write a write my first article. A few weeks later and i found myself at Summer Camp Music Festival with a media pass. I was definitely super nervous going into this and had never interviewed anyone before. 

I still can still vividly remember that first Thursday night at Summer Camp. It was the pre-party, Lettuce was headlining, and Scamp was my first legit media gig. I remember sneaking backstage after their set, bumping into Jesus Coomes, (their bassist), asking if he wanted to do an interview. We ended up having a super cool half hour conversation about world peace and how music can basically be a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment. Right after the interview I remember typing up an article on my phone, and then, at like 4AM, being picked up in a golf cart by Chris, who was a stage manager at summer camp. We used his phone as a hot spot, Marta Goedde’s photos, and got that article uploaded by the morning time. Waking up to seeing that Summer Camp had published the article on their social medias was such an amazing feeling. 

Since then Chris and I started a podcast – The Weird Music Podcast – and I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned and how eye-opening podcasting has been. We’ve gotten to interview some truly amazing people – Cory Wong, Dixon’s Violin, guys from Moe., Andy Frasco, Spafford, the Goose dudes, and many others fantastic musicians. 

Who is your favorite band currently and why?
My favorite band currently is Goose. Why? I really don’t have a good answer to that question. I just love Goose. I’ve met the guys and they are all great dudes, which always makes it easier to love a band. Once I started really listening to their lyrics and not just the way their jams sound, I was sold.

Who is the last new band that you discovered and really liked?
Velvet Cacoon (a collaboration between Rob Chafin of The Werks, Chris Salvato, and Trey Burris).

What are your New Year’s Eve plans?
PAPADOSIO!! 2 nights in Columbus at The Bluestone. 

What is your New Year’s resolution?
This now is the first time I’m thinking of this. I am going to waste less time for sure. I also am going to be more deeply present, as well as a better listener.

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