Schwag frontman Jimmy Tebeau says Camp Zoe is an idyllic campground for weekend hippie jam fests. Federal prosecutors beg to differ.

Schwag frontman Jimmy Tebeau says Camp Zoe is an idyllic campground for weekend hippie jam fests. Federal prosecutors beg to differ.
Courtesy Jimmy Tebeau

Drink all day and rock all night
Law come to get you if you don't walk right
Robert Hunter

The Ozark region of southern Missouri is not renowned as a hotbed of psychedelic rock. Heritage-wise, the rolling hills and winding rivers have proven conducive to jug bands and dexterously plucked banjos, not jam bands and fifteen-minute guitar solos. But every summer since 2004, thousands of tie-dyed hippies have descended on the Ozarks as though it were Haight-Ashbury circa 1967.

This annual Summer of Love revival in the heart of hillbilly country is largely the work of Jimmy Tebeau. An ebullient 43-year-old who sports a chest-length red beard and a thick tangle of dreadlocks, Tebeau is the bass player and frontman of a St. Louis-based Grateful Dead tribute band called the Schwag. When the Dead's legendary lead singer Jerry Garcia died in 1995, the act, which had formed three years prior, was suddenly a hot ticket. In the summer of 1997, Tebeau organized the first Schwagstock music festivals, a series of weekend events headlined by the Schwag and staged at campgrounds in the Ozarks. The shows were popular — drawing upward of 7,000 people five times per summer — and Tebeau saw an opportunity to expand.

Jimmy Tebeau bought Camp Zoe to give Schwagstock events — and his family — a bucolic permanent home.
Jennifer Silverberg
Jimmy Tebeau bought Camp Zoe to give Schwagstock events — and his family — a bucolic permanent home.
'Stocking feat: The Schwag's series of events at Camp Zoe attracted crowds — and, local and federal law-enforcement authorities allege, drugs galore.
Courtesy Jimmy Tebeau
'Stocking feat: The Schwag's series of events at Camp Zoe attracted crowds — and, local and federal law-enforcement authorities allege, drugs galore.

"The [campground] rent started becoming twice the amount of total cost of a land payment for one year," the singer explains. "It only made sense to buy a campground and customize the property to cater to this regular series of events."

About 150 miles southwest of St. Louis, near the tiny town of Salem, Tebeau found exactly what he was looking for: a 352-acre tract, bucolic and picturesque, with access to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. From 1929 to 1986, it had been the site of a youth summer camp called Camp Zoe. In order to muster a down payment on the $530,000 parcel, Tebeau refinanced his home mortgage and borrowed money from family members. Relocating to his new spread along with his wife, Tiffany, and their two children, Tebeau resolved to resurrect the old campsite's name, wooing concertgoers with a mix of music and the great outdoors.

"It's just kind of a fun concept," says Andy Coco, whose band the Dogtown Allstars has played several Schwagstocks. "I really enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere and having a body of water to jump in and stuff like that."

Tebeau hosted a variety of events at Camp Zoe, including the Pagan Spirit Gathering, the Bluegrass Jam, biker rallies and Gateway Burners, a gathering inspired by Burning Man. He estimates that the camp has attracted more than 150,000 visitors since 2004.

With the crowds came the party.

James Mullins, a disc jockey at KDHX (88.1 FM) who volunteered to work the public-address system and spin records between sets at several Camp Zoe events, says the Schwagstock festivals in particular developed a reputation for debauchery.

"It's a stereotype that all people that go to this are heavy into drugs," Mullins says. "So there were folks that, word-of-mouth, were saying, 'Hey, go to Schwagstock; it's a hippie festival — anything goes.' I think there were probably some folks that were going for that. Not that that's why Schwagstock happened, but I'm sure some folks were thinking that."

Local entertainment lawyer Emmett McAuliffe, Tebeau's attorney and a personal friend, says goings-on at the campground were no different from what transpires at any other music festival or large gathering.

"You have problems in society at-large — drug use, violence, drunken driving, et cetera," says McAuliffe. "When you get people assembled for a recreational event, those problems are not going to disappear. As a matter of fact, you expect them to get a little worse — because it's the weekend, after all."

McAuliffe adds that Tebeau went to great lengths to keep things under control, including hiring security guards and installing lighting in high-traffic areas around the campground.

"Camp Zoe did everything that all other festivals and amphitheaters do for security, and perhaps more," the attorney says. "[Jimmy] has got a four-year-old and a two-year-old. The last thing he would want is a bunch of drug-crazed weirdos camping out on his front doorstep."

Tebeau's efforts notwithstanding, several festival attendees and performers say that in recent years the scene at the campground had gotten out of hand. One musician, who asked that his name be withheld because he does not want to jeopardize his relationships with members of the jam-band community, tells of car break-ins and thefts from campers' tents.

"There was kind of a weirdness about it, that it was getting a little dirty," says the musician. "The feeling among some of my friends was that Schwagstock was becoming slightly dangerous. Some of the kids were more runaways than they were credit-card hippies."

Concertgoers and musicians weren't the only ones concerned about the happenings at Camp Zoe.

The bacchanals eventually attracted the attention of law-enforcement officials.


Carrie Goebel went to sleep this past Halloween in her own version of paradise. She woke up to a nightmare.

The 46-year-old artist from Warrenton spent the last weekend in October 2010 camping out at Camp Zoe's Spookstock festival. "The weather was great; there were lots of good costumes," Goebel recalls. "Little kids were trick-or-treating from campsite to campsite. It was a good time. It was a great weekend."

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42 comments
2late4jew
2late4jew

Crap cover band that preyed on teens for their parents hard earned money in exchange for crap drugs. Let him rot. At least those hacks wont be taking all the good dates in local venues anymore, and free up some spots for some ORIGINAL bands.

Anne_R_u_Ok
Anne_R_u_Ok

@DumpsterPirates hunny there is a song what u

Chiefwanadubie
Chiefwanadubie

The Missouri state constitution states: that we the people are guaranteed the right to the gain of their own industry! The bible states: that we shall reap what we sow!The government has become Jesse James with a badge, and has made an industry our of stealing our industry!Pharmecutical drugs were not mentioned in the artical, yet pharmecutical drugs have become the biggest abused drug, yet the pharmacist and drug companies are not held accountable for their products actions!Drug use is rampet in prison, and it is mostly brought in my staff members, but if prisons can not be kept drug free, than how was camp Zoe? Seize all of the prisons, bars, pharmacutical pushers ect. also!!! Or give Jimmi back his assets! No more double standards! No more hypocracy! No more thievery in the name of justice! No victin: no rime!!! No more lies!!!

Tod
Tod

What a travesty of justice. Are all bars and clubs now subject to this kind of forfeiture? I am completely uninvolved with this property of festivals, but this makes me furious. No crime charged, no drugs found on the property? This is the kind of thing which caused America's founder's to fllle England and start this country. The guard has got to change, this is unacceptable in my country, the USA. I am done running in fear from lifestyle crimes and I encourage everyone to feel the same. Oliver North was convicted of selling thousands of pounds of cocaine to finance the Contras, with minimal consequences. Come on Justice Dept. time to play fair , you are ruining this country! Drowning in the tears of your citizens and countrymen.

Danielle
Danielle

This is so terrible, Camp Zoe was my heaven on earth one of the only places to go and feel completely safe and happy. My heart goes out to Jimmy and his family.

Jerradbaumann
Jerradbaumann

the sad reality of it is if illegal things are brought into a festival it was probably the police that brought the stuff in themselves just so they could say it was going on, but that is the way of the world folks, the people happy inside their boxes taking their pharmies because they are just so depressed or sore from a 20 year old injury, these are the people that make the decisions for the rest off us. Enough is enough. SAVE ZOE! nOW GET UP AND GET DOWN, YOU'LL NEVER STOP US COPPERS.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Camp Zoe was also home to another well-known "drug party" called Underground Sound. It used to be held at Salt-Petre Cave near Murphysboro, IL. Every year they had several drug overdoses. One year they had a stabbing, and another year somebody was chased into the woods by a mob. I understand it will now be held at Hog Rock Ranch in Illinois again. Which is where they had the Juggalo festival. Another notorious event with stabbings, drug overdoses, and rapes.

I'm a pretty open minded person, and can appreciate all cultures, sub-cultures, and art forms. However, I am appalled at the ignorance displayed by some of these so-called festival organizers who show no regard for human life or the law. I think they would rather pad their pockets than take the proper measures to insure the safety, and well-being of the public.

I've been to Camp Zoe for a Schwagstock, and it was just a drug fest. I don't think I met a sober person a part from myself, my friends, and some of the security.

Poop
Poop

fuck the feds. save camp zoe. i hate america. if i was given a plane ticket outta here id be goneeeeeee

Chris
Chris

I have a few things to say:

First of all, I have seen the Schwag perfom and they are incredibly talented musicians, worthy of playing the songs of one of my favorite bands, the Grateful Dead.

Secondly, the seizure of property, even if the owner has not been convicted of a crime, is a terrifying and totally unconstitutional violation of Tebeau's rights. Don't think it could happen to you? When one person's rights are violated, all of ours are.

That being said, let's be honest here. Of course Tebeau knew illegal drugs were being used at his Camp Zoe. If he didn't, he's a complete and total idiot. Is that a crime? I really don't think so. When I attended a Schwag event, there were tons of drugs being sold right out in the open. EVERYONE knew exactly what was going on.

I think it was a really bad idea to buy a camp out in the middle of Central Missouri. Did he really not think that Barney Fife would not try to clamp down on a band that plays Grateful Dead songs? From the arrest records, it seems the Missouri Highway Patrol was on to something, weren't they? Remember Missouri is really two states: Missourah and Missouree. The two tend to not mix very well.

My advice, if he manages to save Camp Zoe is to sell and find somewhere else, like Sauget, to have a camp to play. They might want to watch out for the pollution, but I think it could work.

Dfwtacos
Dfwtacos

I had my life ruined and most everything I owned stolen by these "do-gooder" hippies directly tied to the"Schwag Family". Let them rot in jail. There's nothing peace or love about those people, trust me. They screwed me over worse than I thought imaginable.

J-One
J-One

The pattern for most fed agencies seems to be easy targets that do not end up ina courtroom with complex financial schemes and tuned in defense attorneys that worked for the feds before private practice. Now if you had hundreds of loaded weapons, numerous 911 calls to your property, rampant drug use with armed employees, and a dead body from drug overdose, that occurs in a wealthy St. Louis suburb, you would not face this mess...oh that might be because of who you are...a beer baron or an outdoorsman. And as the Feds spent millions in NYC to round up aged mafia wiseguys, the feds will never even dream of trying a RICO investigation on the Wall Street Cartels, insider trading mob, or financial ponzi/ hedge schemes so complex and that milked the entire world economy. In part those things are way expensive to investigate, the defense teams can confuse an average jury and the culprits have generally secreted their cash overseas. The cops and prosecutors are doing their job, and in the end, a conviction and asset trade is a notch in the belt for promotions ..

Jdubbs
Jdubbs

so let me get this straight. jimmy's land is worth $600,000, his bank account is worth $188,000, the price of seein jimmy cry because he lost his land? priceless.

'ey bra!
'ey bra!

I'm suprised it's taken this long for the riverfront times to do a story on the dirty drugstock that has taken place several times a year for over a decade now. I remember going to schwagstock back when Jimmy's little redhead kid was running around, then several years later I saw him at "spookstock" with dreads high on exctasy. The whole "love" and "family" deadhead mythology is just a rediculous white on white family fluff nonsense distraction. Year after year there were less true counter culture "hippies" and more frat boy jocks with tie dyes bragging about how much acid they've taken. The last time I went I couldn't walk five feet without different 13 year old girl asking were the weed was at. I tottally support a movement to legalize drugs and love music and nature and peaceful gathering. But these douche bags have been making $45 a head from hundreds of kids who aren't even dead fans looking to get all trippy dippy. I could understand why an unoriginal cover band of a cover band would do whatever they could to continue making a living as they aged, but when your a parent of kids who are involved with the drug scene, you might want to start making more responsible decisions about the "family" you so fakely pretend to be all about. Don't get me wrong, never sell out, never give up on your dreams for money, don't even cut your hair, but don't get rich providing a place for children to do dangerous drugs and then pretend to be about love and karma and family. I could continue, but I think I made my point...

Leonjenkins
Leonjenkins

Don't diss the Summer Camp. I saw a kid with Dead wings and he asked me about Schwag. Never seen the Dead. BOOO. Kids are grimy and dirty and thats why the Feds dont bust Bonnaroo or Waka. The kids aren't AS grimy and dirty at Bonnaroo or Waka. (Well, the first 2 years.) The first year I described Zoe as, " a ghetto in the woods." And I can only imagine how shitty it got. The point being, maybe the reason people are offered dirty drugs at other festivals is because they got their wings at Shwagstock.

Shastamastacrafta
Shastamastacrafta

I'd just like to say that if you gather any large group of people together you will always find drugs, violence, and stupidity. To con-dim a place like this where people have made it such a safe place to go. I mean they even have their own medical staff that has EMT's, and other medical professionals. I know from speaking with these people they treat this as a job, a time to be professional, not a time to be on whatever drug and slap band-aids on people. Compared to a lot of the other raunchy smaller festivals I've been to campzoe is number one in cleanliness to! Around the clock porter potty maintainer, cleaning of the hand washing stations, which have foot things so you don't have to touch anything to get your hands / face properly cleaned. I have never seen such care at a festival before.

People there are always nice, always giving, always accepting. I never before saw any violence there til spring jam 09, but that was quickly taken care of by security and those who were hurt in the fight were taken to the medical area known as safe stock. This fight I saw was between some kids (in my opinion, they were realistically prob 19-20) and obviously werent very stable people and obviously weren't treating the situation as a mature person should. Just in the bar scene, a bar or club gets popular it starts getting a flow of different people, then those people tell their friends, their friends tell theirs and so on, and eventually you start getting problems with people bringing in drugs, but to take this wonderful place away from those of us who enjoy the land, the beauty, the sinking creek, the community feeling from all of those who really care about this place. Why do that to us? What have we done so wrong? We assemble in peace, and we will always assemble this way, and there will always be other places that people like us will get together and enjoy the music, the vibes, and the company of one another. You can take the land but you will never take the spirit of what is really there.

I'd also like to add another thing about the staff at campzoe, my hubby and I went there in july heat when there wasn't a festival going on and we were litterately the only people there aside from the people who live and work there. Atleast twice a day we one of the staff members would come by and check on us, make sure we had enough water, were staying cool and were enjoying our selfs. These people have been nothing but friendly folk, so why punish us for the stupidity that we have not caused. It is not out fault that people who see this place as a drugged out party come here with whatever substance they enjoy. Just keep this and other stories similar to this in mind, because you will be hearing A LOT more of them. viva le zoe!

billhannegan
billhannegan

Keegan Hamilton, I think people are still confusing the Keegan commenter with you, though that is not the kind of comment you would make in reference to your own story.

agabawawa
agabawawa

This is indeed a travesty, harassment, and above all, pure and simple greed by law enforcement to line their pockets. Nothing has been said about Jimmy supporting us clean and sober people at these events. I was only at Zoe once, for Big Summer Classic, and found the place to be quite mellow and less chaotic than say, Summer Camp where hoards of drunken weekend "hippies" gather each year to litter, puke, vandalize and spill beer on everyone. Jimmy even set aside a special area called "Camp Traction" for about 100 clean and sober folks and family campers. I hear that that was a regular thing at Zoe. It was well organized and very clean. I also will say that EVERY not most, but EVERY private venue I have been in, bars, concert halls and even Busch Stadium, would qualify for asset forfeiture from the amount of "illegal activity" I have witnessed in them! This is simply Easy Rider all over again. The line in the movie when "George" (Jack Nicholson) tells Dennis Hopper that the rednecks fear him because he represents freedom, the freedom they can't have, it scares them, and they do bad things. Zoe was a good thing and the laws of this country contradict the very "Constitution" that supposedly makes it such a wonderful Free nation available for dreams like Jimmy's..... to have a cool place, out in nature to play music.... plain and simple. Now, to all the little assholes who don't understand that music and dealing dope are not even on the same plane, way to go! You just might have fucked it up for everyone! Music festivals are for music... (if you want to hoot up, that's your business) they're not a place for you to make money dealing, your place is on the street where you will live and die by the rules there. Way to go assholes!

Stlgdfan
Stlgdfan

Camp Zoe is the "Walgreens" of all hippie music festivals - you can get anything you want there.

HoopRenegade
HoopRenegade

Keegan, the story you shared in your comment is just as I see it. Seeing something happen to this respected, positive, beautiful home, that is Camp Zoe, is heartbreaking. I just finished reading your RFT story, thank you for writing and sharing this story.

I wish the best of luck to Jimmy and all those behind Zoe supporting them. Many are following closely and are all supporting the Zoe family.

Flifishun
Flifishun

This is a great article, but haven't I read it before?

Bulletinman
Bulletinman

Went to high school with Jimmy and have known him and his family for over 25 years. He is a wonderful man and great friend. It is a travesty of justice what the FEDS are doing to this man. My question is why is the local Sheriff allowing these Federal Jack Booted Nazi' to rob the people of Shannon County. When will the local citizens demand accountability from their elected servants? By the way can any Federal agent be legitimate when their Commander in Chief cannot even produce a Birth Certificate, which I had too to renew my drivers license. Thieves that is all they are. Good to see Rosenbloom get in on this. He is the lawyers last hope.

MandoPlayer
MandoPlayer

Gee, I wonder if the Feds are going to be busting any NASCAR races soon. I hear some pretty crazy shit goes down on the infield.

"Mother" Sharon
"Mother" Sharon

Part of what Joe was doing was an attempt to avert the exact thing that has finally happened. Do you honestly think Joe made his money at Zoe? He is a businessman. I would hate to think I had to bail out my employer if they had such a horrendous thing happen to them. In the end, it's none of our business.

Jimmy needs our help, and although most of us are poor folk, we should do whatever we can to help him and ensure these heinous laws get changed! And yes, I am one of the many in the 40-60 and beyond group that went to events at Zoe. One of the things I loved about the place is that there were many of us old folks around. More than I have ever seen at other festivals. When young people made stupid decisions, there were lots of us around to take care of them and teach them the TRUTH about drug use. Where will that place be now?

THANK YOU, Riverfront Times, for keeping this issue in visable. BUMP!

Gluboy
Gluboy

Not all festivals are like Zoes Schwagstocks. Lets not get to self righteous here. Everyone had to know this was a bad scene laden with excess. I hate the way the Government stole the land. But I will not subscribe to the Zoe Campground was a victim stuff. They played their role.

jim bruce
jim bruce

Everytime I went to Zoe I'd see Joe Grasso marching up and down Shakedown telling folks what they can and can't do. He seemed nazi like with his walky talkies, marching around acting like he owned Zoe. He's a so-called millionaire, concert promoter, and friend of Jimmy's. IF JOE is so rich then why is Jimmy having benefits, fund raisers, and basically begging for money to help save himself? Here's a link to Joe Grasso's mansion including pictures. Look at where he lives and you tell me how he's sooooo rich and Jimmy's losing everything he worked for.http://stlouis.blockshopper.co...

Keegan
Keegan

Honestly? I have a story to tell.

Schwagstock was my first festival. Not knowing what to expect, I was slightly shocked to see the ease of finding drugs at Camp Zoe. But then, I started getting more into the scene.

When I went to a rave in somebody's loft above a (get this) Christian Book Store, the amount of drugs surprised me. There were people sitting in the corner or crowding the window with sweat streaming down their faces. The bathrooms reeked of vomit, much of which could be seen on the floor and in the bathtub. The host's bedroom was in constant use, and I saw drawers casually strung open and looted. People were snorting cocaine, molly, and 2CB from the counter and digging for cigarette shorts in the ashtray.I then went to Summercamp, a sponsored music festival in Chilicothe. There was a checkpoint at the front where items were searched, but by the end of the first night it was more of an inconvenience than anything. The people checking your luggage would be sitting back, drunk or high, waving you through. I quickly found the access to drugs was equal to that at Camp Zoe, only here they had EVERYTHING. Zoe mainly kept to the 'hippie' drugs, while at Summercamp I was offered black tar heroin, amphetamines, and all types of ecstasy. I was puked on at one point, and people were passed out everywhere. One guy passed out behind our car in the parking lot and started convulsing when we tried to wake him.

At Camp Zoe, my tent was on a main road. I had 200 dollars in my wallet which blew apart when I tossed it in the tent, and I forgot to close the flap. So our tent is strewn about with 10s, 20s, 50s. But when I returned I found all of the money was there. The only thing I had stolen from me at Camp Zoe was a few beers from our cooler, which were replaced with different brands (we had Heineken, one bottle replaced with one Budweiser etc.) At the rave, a man tried to start a fight with me because he claimed I budged in line. Later, when I put my coat on a chair to run to the bathroom, I found my pockets had been searched and 20 dollars taken.

It's funny. Parents try to shut down Zoe because "of the children". I really didn't see many people there under 18. The main age group was 18-30, with some who were 40-60. Besides the occasional family, children were hard to come across.Not with Summercamp. There were kids everywhere, making ghost noises outside of our tent and shooting us with marshmallow guns.

Personally, I believe the seizure of this camp is not for the usage of drugs. The drugs are a facade. Sure, people were getting high and tripping and yes, occasionally somebody did too much and started acting stupid. But nobody fought, nobody argued, everybody got along. The camp follows an 80-20 rule and, as always, the government will prosecute for that 20.

SAVE CAMP ZOE!

billhannegan
billhannegan

Great job staying on this story. This sort of journalism can make the difference for Zoe.

Danieljoeoconnor
Danieljoeoconnor

at least this seizure/adjudicated theft is being given the light of day by well written stories like this. that is what these NWO cockroaches fear the most along with their network of rats, moles and other assorted vermin.

Sir
Sir

Concerned citizen, you are really showing your downhome ignorance here. What a load of crap. You were the only sober people at the festival? Did you go home that night and polish of a 12 pack ofBud, while you were so accurately judging all the people at this MUSIC festival. To call it a drug festival is out of line and and shows what an idiot you are. Yes people in Missouri take drugs. That will never change. Get used to it or be judgemental and stupid for the rest of your life.

Sarah Orschel
Sarah Orschel

thank you for the fix, I really do appreciate that!

"Mother" Sharon
"Mother" Sharon

Make that NOT invisible. Like I said, some of us are beyond 60.

anonymous
anonymous

Gluboy, Scene laden with excess? Excessive hippies living like they deserve to live. Too excessive for you? Great, don't show up. Don't like violent movies? Don't go see them. This is a personal freedom and you have a a choice. Everyone does. To make the festival grounds owner responsible is outrageous. I'm just guessing here but I would bet your fridge is full of excessive amouts of Budweiser and junk food. To each his own. btw: the gov't didn't steal the land, they stole his PERSONAL funds in his bank acccount. And since you probably don't get out much, most festivals are even more excessive than Schwagstocks. Ever been to Marti Gras? Too excesive for you?

Keegan Hamilton
Keegan Hamilton

Lovely story, dude. Next time post it under your own name instead of using mine.

yoohoo
yoohoo

Anymore festivals you'd like to throw under the bus?

billhannegan
billhannegan

"the government will prosecute for that 20." Look out, that 20 or 10 or 5 percent can get a lot of places in the same trouble. Please rally to stop this. If the government was truly interested in stopping drug use rather than seizing property, the concerts at Zoe could have been stopped years earlier.

Leonjenkins
Leonjenkins

of course youre happy now, all you wanted was a fix

billhannegan
billhannegan

I know Jimmy from the shows he has played at my place and at local bars, and the time he taught my son guitar. My experience with Jimmy has been nothing but positive and he was the opposite of greedy. He always came across as a True Grateful Dead Believer who lived the music he played. But I have never been to Zoe and know nothing about what happened there firsthand.

Jwillett787
Jwillett787

I have been there many times and i enjoyed my weekend every time with a community of happy helping caring people. I was there when Rockso the Clown won the Saturday night costume contest at Spookstock before the unnecessary show of force by law enforcement showed up. I love that land those people and the unforgettable times i spent with friends there. KEEP THE LOVE LIGHT SHINING, SAVE CAMP ZOE

 
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