Sunday, July 24, 2016

California Coast Music Camp (CCMC) Week 2 in Foresthill, California

I have just returned from a week long CCMC music camp. It was a week away from work and cell phone communication. My friend, Janet Lenore, has been recommending that I go for about five years and finally the time was right for me.

The camp supports the string instrument community: Bass, Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Fiddle, and Ukulele (string instruments). I did see an accordian and I brought 2 baritone ukuleles, a steel-string Tenor Guitar (Also DoGBonE / Chicago tuning) and a stick-dulcimer from Woodrow instruments (in Asheville, North Carolina.)

There are two possible weeks of classes. Some people attend both camps. One of the main reasons I chose week two was because Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink were instructors. Marcy supports the Tenor Guitar and Baritone Ukulele on the internet. She saw me playing my favorite Favilla bari and told me that she knew Favilla made guitars but was surprised to see the bari. She played a little tune, If I Had You, and I took a photo.

Marcy Marxer CCMC 2016

There were camp attendees from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Iowa, Maryland, Massachussets, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Canada, and Australia. I believe that instructors came from all across the country as well. Marcy and Cathy are from the East Coast. There were many camp instructors and the musicianship of the entire group was astounding, in some cases, world class players -- all were outstanding. Daniel Ward returned from Europe to provide ukulele instruction.

Another reason I went to the camp is that I have had an interest in learning some flat-picking skills. After the first day orientation meeting where the instructors introduced themselves, we were allowed to meet the instructors at stations along the wall to discuss if our particular needs could be clarified with the instructor. My first class choice was Mountain Tunes from Wayne Henderson and I asked him if I could attend with my baritone ukulele. Each of the three teachers I choose were very accommodating to my request.

Turns out that Wayne is a National Treasure, a master picker who has had the likes of Doc Martin over to his place! I tell ya that Wayne is a national treasure of a person. With his pedigree making world class guitars for 52 years including one for Eric Clapton. He also has an annual flat picking Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival & Guitar Competition on the 3rd Saturday in June. The man is full of great music and old-time rascally humor! (If you see him ask him the brass rat story!)

Wayne Henderson CCMC 2016

In 5 days, Wayne played 6 tunes in "to speed" and "turtle speed" and I clearly struggled to keep up. In fact I never really got anything playable during the class time. I was almost a failure. But I recorded all of the sessions and videoed all of the songs. After the day's events I would go back to my minivan music camp tiny home, set-up my cooler as a desk, squint at my telephone screen, and transcribe in a spiral bound notebook. I was not going to loose such a great opportunity with a master!

MiniVan Tiny-Home for CCMC

MiniVan amongst the pines near Claar House

I found that this camp expertly creates a supportive environment for all people at every level. Many "campers" come year after year for the comraderie and musical development. I took the maximum 3 classes with 5 days of instruction each. I also attended some slow jams, coffee house concerts, barbecue, dance, teacher concert and student concert. I found Cathy Fink's class on practice to be very enlightening. 

I would like to thank each of my instructors: Lissy Abraham (slow jams, Square Dance, and East Coast Swing), Roger Ferguson (flatpick and musical theory), Wayne Henderson (Mountain Tunes), Paul Kotapish (slow jams), and Cyd Smith (Intro to Swing Guitar & Ukulele)

I already look forward to attending next year.

(It is not so close to the coast, new inland location just North of Sacramento.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ken Middleton || New Custom Pereira Baritone Ukulele & Review



Ken's choice of woods are spectacular. The tiger stripe maple is one of my favorites.

Of course, the Pereira bari is strung with Ken's Living Water Strings. Ken has flourocarbon bari string sets in both high-D and low-D. I have a set of his high-D strings on one of my bari's. I mostly play low-D so I'll be ordering a set or two of low-D's soon.

Ken also has some great tutorials. Here's one on RIGHT HAND technique.