Linas Phillips’ rockumentary Camp Giraite II – Guitars, Grub & Grog focuses on an annual camp and rock show in Connecticut. Taking place the weekend after Mother’s Day, roughly 50 Lithuanian men head out into the woods of Connecticut to drink, eat, hang out and watch some live music. In the case of Camp Giraite II, which took place in 2011, the bands performing were the lowercase g’s, Steel Wolf and Randy Jackson of Zebra (not American Idol).
And it’s a somewhat eclectic mix. The lowercase g’s have simple sing-a-long songs about birds and sandwiches while Steel Wolf plays a more traditional, though ribald, rock. Finally headlined by the one-man acoustic performance by Randy Jackson, it’s an interesting flow of musical styles and performances, all taking place in front of a small group of guys in the great outdoors.
It’s a unique sight to see, essentially a bunch of middle-aged men lounging in their camping chairs, watching live music, while they drink, hang out and smoke cigars. As far as outdoor music festivals go, it is decidedly low key. It makes for a fun juxtaposition, for example, seeing the more rocking endeavors of Steel Wolf intercut with the audience just sitting back and relaxing; for a brief moment, you wonder if they’ve all gotten so drunk they’re sleepy (there is a Krupnikas contest, and considering the alcohol content therein, this could very well be the case), or if they’re so happy to be away from their family responsibilities for a short time that they can’t help but see if they can sneak a nap in too.
Our main tour guide for the film is Steel Wolf singer Mark Vytas Adomaitis, who explains the event as being the brainchild of his best friend Ed Kezys, who wanted to capture that feeling of Summer camp without all the rules and regulations they had as children. Now, listening to music and drinking is encouraged instead of condemned, and the older men are able to revisit the camaraderie of their youth with the freedom of being adults. To quote from the Camp Giraite website FAQ:
“The goal was to be able to compare the weekend to the movie The Hangover; replacing the hooker, Mike Tyson and Las Vegas Nevada with a grilled sausage, another grilled sausage and Ashford Connecticut. In practice though, the weekend has worked out to be more like The Goonies. Thankfully, we haven’t progressed to the Blair Witch Project yet.”
Of course, other holdovers from youth find their way to the camp, such as the majority of campers’ love and adoration for the band Zebra. Seeing one of their favorite musicians perform at what amounts to a private concert is only made better when Steel Wolf gets to join Randy Jackson for a song too. For me, not being all that familiar with Zebra or Randy Jackson doesn’t take away from the universal nature of that experience; imagine if you got to hang out with one of your heroes and shared a moment like that.
In the end, Camp Giraite II – Guitars, Grub & Grog is a more polished, professional-looking and rocking equivalent of being invited over to look through someone’s vacation photos, or watch vacation video. That isn’t to say that it is laborious or as uninteresting as that may sound, it merely points to the fact that the audience for this film is probably friends and family of those who are in the film; beyond that, perhaps fans of the bands Zebra, Steel Wolf and/or the lowercase g’s. For anyone else, it’s a neat look at a cool idea for a short getaway for adults who remember their camp days fondly.
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