Camp Freddy is not just a band. It’s an experience. With all of the monster acts that come through the City of Angels, the annual December Camp Freddy Residency shows at the Roxy Theatre are always the most memorable of the year and this year was no different.
Camp Freddy is Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney of Jane’s Addiction, Billy Morrison of the Cult, Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver/Guns and Roses and singer Donovan Leitch, Jr. The five guys that are Camp Freddy come together for a handful of shows a year, which culminate with the Roxy run in December. In previous years the band would play once a week for 4 weeks in December. This year the format was changed to 3 straight gigs in a row from December 20 to the 22nd.
The band writes no original music. They don’t record. Camp Freddy happens more than it plays in an organized fashion like a traditional touring band. It mostly happens in Los Angeles and always, in December. Since these guys throw their sets together with very little warm up the songs are mostly standards, without much complexity, but leaving lots of room for improvisation.
All of the songs are covers that run the gamut from punk, to new wave, to rap and classic rock. Two years ago “Freddy” honored a different decade of music each week beginning with the 1960’s. The last two years have been theme free but just as entertaining.
What the band lacks in original music they more than make up for with their rolodex of rock and roll legends who show up and play every year. No one is announced ahead of time, but Sunset Blvd is awash in rumor before each show. Some of the more notable guests who have joined Freddy in years past are Ozzy Osborne, Steven Tyler, and Billy Idol just to name a few.
What’s astonishes me still is that no one seems to know about these gigs. But for a few thousand of us who pay 30 bucks a pop for a ticket, the major music media seem totally out to lunch on these shows, and that’s fine by the rest of us.
Thee less people who know about the XMAS residency the better. While the shows always sell out, if you are in the queue when the show’s go on sale through Ticket Web, usually in October, you are most likely going to get at least one ticket if not multiple tickets to as many of the shows as you want. For those who wait, they pay a premium on the open market or get shut out all together.
This year I stumbled into a 3 day pass with a ticket for each show as well as sound check for the 2nd night all for the ridiculously low price of $150.00 and change. This year’s special guests were some of the band’s regular pals who show up and play every year including Steve Stevens, Mark McGrath, Fred Durst, Sebastian Bach, and Franky Perez who all delivered again this year.
Who’s Franky Perez you may ask? Having seen him now for 4 straight years with Camp Freddy we don’t understand how no one has made this guy a superstar, since he is one. This guy has a serious set of pipes and someone needs to put a bad ass band around him.
Back on subject, this year’s surprise guests included, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine who engaged in a serious guitar duel with Dave Navarro, which, to me, was one of the highlights of this week’s run. Morello tore into his unique version of “Ghost of Tom Joad” and then challenged Navarro to take a shot at a “Rage” song. Navarro, with McGrath on vocals responded and absolutely tore it up with their version of “Killing in the Name Of”.
McGrath, his days as a Celebrity TV personality in the rear view mirror, appears to be embracing his rock roots more seriously. He was outstanding this year as was Navarro who proved every night that he is an A list guitar player who can play with anyone. With Camp Freddy, he literally does play with everyone.
Night one of this year’s run included another epic finale with the legendary front man of Motorhead, Lemmy who, while looking shakier than he did at last year’s finale, was still tight. Night two saw sets featuring Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and the always affable Sebastian Bach. On the third and final night special guests included Linda Perry of Four Non Blondes, Morello and Lana Del Rey.
The climactic set of the week was fronted by long time Ozzy Osborne guitar legend Zakk Wylde who mesmerized the house with a 10 minute long, blazing guitar symphony in which he lead a shirt less guitar gang of Navarro and Morrison into Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” that went on so long my hands starting shaking trying to get as much video as I could of this little slice of Rock and Roll history.
Now that the secret is out about Camp Freddy maybe the world will stop and pay attention. Personally I prefer that Rolling Stone seems to be more interested in Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. Leave Rock and Roll to the dedicated hard-core rock music aficionados who know that the only place to be in December is The Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip, still rocking after all these years.
Full Photo Gallery’s of night 1 and 3 and the night 2 sound check can be found at:
Full Set Lists for all 3 nights: Pending
Much thanks to Nic Adler for keeping Rock and Roll alive and always treating us well over the years.