Day 0 - 8/19/2012
Preparation for this trip was much easier, since I pretty much knew what to expect from last year. I flew into Newark Airport the day before, and spent the afternoon with some friends in New Jersey, before heading up to Middletown, NY. I crashed early, knowing that I was looking at some long days and nights.
Waking up early the next morning, I headed over to Alto Music to rent some gear, and then drive up to Big Indian from the west. This trip is very scenic, and takes you by Rondout Reservoir, part of the NYC water system.
I arrived at the Full Moon about 45 minutes early, stumbling upon the entrance just as I was beginning to think that I had gotten lost. I immediately saw my friends Steve and Dawn Webster (from last year's camp) and Markus Reuter talking in the parking lot. Said hello to them and proceeded inside to get my keys.
After getting my room key, schwag, and throwing my suitcase in the room, I ran into Pat with Deb's son, Jeremy Minten (another Austinite). We walked to the barn, to help set up. John Sinks and Bob Frazza already had things well in hand.
Shortly afterwards, almost everyone else arrived, and we convened in the Barn to be welcomed by the band. Here they discussed the basic schedule (always subject to change), and took some questions. The rest of the day was filled with Happy Hour on the front lawn, dinner, and then a concert by Ade, Tony, Pat and Markus.
During the afternoon, I took John Sinks up on his offer from last year to learn about sitting and the first few exercises related to picking, from GC. He also showed me his electric mandolin, a very cool instrument. Later in the week I did something similar with Jim Lange, who showed me a few more GC exercises.
The day (or night rather) ended with the jams, kicked off by Tony Levin playing a blues with some of the campers in the Roadhouse. I spent my time in the Cafe jamming with several people, and had a great time.
The only problem of the day was losing some of the photos from my iPhone while transferring them to my laptop, due to a bad cable. Fortunately, I had a back up cable to prevent further loss.
I woke early, and really enjoyed my coffee in the crisp mountain air. As you can see, the weather was beatiful. Mornings at the Full Moon are always punctuated by Breakfast. Once again, everyone I spoke to was very happy with the food service at the resort. You very much look forward to meal times during the week.
The morning began with a Q&A session about what it takes to run a band, and how this differs from being a session guy and/or side-man. Of course, the campers had plenty of questions, and the band relayed some interesting personal stories, particularly the mistakes they had learned from.
Later, during lunch, Pat had a copy of the first contract he signed. It was somewhat humorous in that it seemed like it was for an indentured servant, rather than a drummer.
Before lunch, the Adrian, Tony, and Pat held classes about the gear and techniques they use. These were very interesting, even if you don't play guitar, bass or drums.
The band of course, is also looking to learn from the campers. During the bass session a camper Mike, from Christchurch, New Zealand (the furthest traveler this year) got up and showed off his custom made, 10 string bass guitar.
After lunch, Tony Levin had prepared charts for Thrak in preparation for the Jam, on Wednesday night. The battle plan was to open and close with Thrak, and have a long improvisation in the middle.
The key parts of Thrak are that it has two accompanying parts one in 5/4 and one in 7/4. The lead line or melody is based on diminished (or symmetric) scales. Tony had prepared 50 copies of some handwritten charts in bass and treble cleft.
After class some enterprising campers with Sibelius on their laptops, transcribed these into prettier versions, as well as preparing charts in B flat for the one trumpet player in camp. People were rehearsing Thrak all over camp.
During the day and afternoon, Markus and Tony were giving private one on one sessions with campers, as lessons. I asked Markus if I could learn something about Touch Guitar, with no previous experience on any stringed instruments. He said, most definitely,
yes. So I signed up for a session, Wednesday morning. (More on that later).
In hindsight, I wish I had taken the opportunity with Tony, as well, because he wasn't just doing bass lessons. He was talking to people about the music biz, and asking what their goals were. The feedback from Tony and Markus was positive enough, that Adrian said he was looking forwarded to doing one on ones at the
None the less, Adrian did teach several classes devoted to mastering the parts of Three of a Perfect Pair, and reviewing Frame by Frame. These classes went surprisingly well, particularly Frame. A class of 30 was divided into two sections, playing Adrian's and Robert's parts, respectively. At the end of the first session, it was listenable. A testament to Adrian's ability to teach and communicate.
The day ended with a continuation of the
being in a band seminar, followed by another late night of jams, at the Roadhouse. One camper, my friend, Marco Machero, got an unexpected treat. He was asked to join the band on Red, and nailed it!
My morning consisted of waking at 7AM, followed by the three S'es, then breakfast. The morning consisted entirely of classes, and my appointment with Markus in the Yurt, was a half an hour into Adrian's first class. Rather than go to that, I hung around outside the Yurt, and looked at the Esopus Creek. (Managed to spot a hummingbird in the process!)
For my lesson, Markus strapped one of his custom made U8 guitars, on me. We went over how to properly balance and hold the instrument, and discussed the overall relaxation of the body. I was able to draw upon what I have learned as a pianist, particularly from the exercises in Gyorgy Sandor's book,
On Piano Playing, as well as my past experience with Tai Chi Chuan. The rest of the lesson consisted of some exercises called the
Son and the
Daughter. These exercises were consistent with some of the Acoustic Guitar exercises John Sinks had shown me, during the previous day.
I discovered through my conversations with Markus, that many of the people selected for touch guitar during GC, started as pianists, including him. Not surprising, I guess. The biggest problem for me now, the cost of a touch guitar. I must say after trying a Chapman Stick and the U8, I much prefer the latter.
At the end of the morning sessions, a truck showed up for the setup and load-in of about 50 Amps began, for the large Jam.
Wednesday afternoon also marked the arrival of the remaining ABPT and Crimson Projekct members, Tobias Ralph and Julie Slick. A quick rehearsal was held for Thursday's show, but nothing anywhere near as comprehensive, as last year. Unlike last year's camp, this year they were coming off of a tour, not about to start one. From the get-go, everything was already tight.
Some highlights of the rehearsals during the camp were that we got to hear them play
Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream, songs that they didn't play on the tour.
Other notable events occurred during the afternoon. The Full Moon Resort is host to multiple music camps, of which TOAPP is but one. While our camp was underway, Allman Brothers band drummer, Butch Trucks, was present with his manager, looking over the facilities.
After last years Jam, Tony decided to utilize a Crimson song as the launchpad, for the Mega Jam. This year, he settled on Thrak.
Charts were prepared, and classes setup to teach any camper with the desire, the key parts of the song. Pat conducted similar sessions with the drummers. I sat in on several of Tony's sessions, and decided to tackle the melody, which is based on a diminished, half-whole tone scale.
A smaller group of us joked about and an
a cappella interlude, during the improv. We actually convened a mutant, barber-shop quartet to sing the diminished scale melody, accompanied by some drones. Tony thought it was a great idea, but when the actual time came, all of my cohorts backed out. ;(
The actual jam was about 40 minutes, and was a load of fun. The campers were joined by the entire Crimson Projekct, and Butch Trucks. Like last year, Bob Frazza, our fearless sound dude, made a recording of the jam in all of its glory. Tony then transferred it to USB keys, and one was given to each camper.
After participating in this for two years, I must say it's a lot of fun. I was disappointed however, that we didn't arrange a large group circulation. (Maybe next camp).
The night concluded with yet more jamming in the Roadhouse.
The last full day of camp is a little more relaxed, mainly because other people were packing up the band's gear for the show at the Bearsville Theater, on this night.
Adrian did another guitar class, and then band held a Q&A session, in the barn.
Things died down to around 2PM, and a group of us older farts, took a nap in the lobby of the main lodge.
As we were congregating out front waiting for the buses to take us to the Bearsville, famed Jazz drummer, Jack DeJohnette, arrived and toured the grounds with Butch Trucks. It made me wonder what was being planned, but I didn't find out.
After about a 35 minutes bus ride. (Our crew took the short bus, of course). We arrived at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, for dinner and the soundcheck.
I posted the set lists over here.
After the show, a significant number of the campers, the band, and families hung around a bonfire, down near the campgrounds. This went well into the night, with me finally crashing after 4AM. Just like last year, we hung out drinking shots and eating Doritos. (Thanks Stan!)
The final day consisted of breakfast, taking a group picture and checking out.
Unlike last year, there was no hurricane. I headed back up to Kingston after returning my gear to Middletown, and caught my old piano teacher, John Esposito's gig at Prospect Park, in Troy, NY. This put an extra punctuation point on the whole trip.
Only one question remains,
When is the next camp? 2013 or 2014?