For generations summer camps have been a proving ground for young aspiring performers to get their first taste of an audience and hone the skills that would one day make them famous. But they’ve also been places for seasoned performers to visit and entertain campers.
Here are nine concerts that I was able to find that should be remembered.
David Bowie, before he was David Bowie
Eleven-year-old David Bowie (David Robert Jones) performed at the 18th Bromley Scouts’ Summer Camp in 1958.
Yes, the Band
The first performance of the band Yes was at the East Mersea Youth Camp in England on Aug. 4, 1968. The band had previously been named Mabel Greer’s Toyshop and renamed themselves Yes before the youth camp gig.
Big Bill Broonzy and Pete Seeger
Blues artist Big Bill Broonzy played a concert at Circle Pines Center in Michigan with Pete Seeger July 4, 1954, on the farmhouse lawn, which was recorded by Seeger for Chicago’s WFMT-FM. Broonzy worked at the Center’s summer camp as a cook from 1953-’56.
Porno For Pyros Acoustic
Three-fourths of the band Porno For Pyros performed acoustic at Camp Joan Mier in Malibu in the late ’90s. The band’s drummer, Stephen Perkins, visited the camp frequently with a friend of his, leading drum circles, according to a 2003 Billboard article.
Camper Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt performed when she was a camper at Camp Regis-Applejack in New York in what must have been incredible camp talent shows. She also recorded her 1971 self-titled debut album at an empty summer camp on Enchanted Island in Minnesota.
Jewish Reggae star Matisyahu has performed more than once at summer camp, including performances in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at Camp Solomon Schechter in Olympia, Wash., and at Camp Cedar Lake in Milford, Pa. in 2012.
Lovin’ Spoonful Co-Founder
In July 1960, a summer evening concert was recorded at Camp Naivelt in Ontario featuring 16-year-old camper Zal Yanofsky, who later co-founded the rock band Lovin’ Spoonful with John Sebastian. Sharon Hampson, later a member of the children’s group Sharon, Lois and Bram, also performed that night.
Larry Norman at Church Camp
Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman performed at a religious summer camp in 1978 attended by a 13-year-old Charles Thompson, who would later go on to be known as The Pixies frontman Black Francis and solo artist Frank Black.