Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Well, I’ve been off the blog for awhile. Too many other things to do, I guess. But I thought I should post something about my week at Kaufman Kamp. Steve Kaufman had been asking me for a few years, and I’d declined, mostly because when I was working it would have meant taking a week of vacation time to do it. Had I known how much fun it was, I would have made more of an effort to get there. Steve is not only a great guitarist and businessman, but puts on an incredible event.
The teaching format was a little different than other camps I’ve been to, where I either had the same guitarists for a week, or had two to five classes that meet daily. At Kaufman Kamp, the guitarists are split into groups by level and rotate through all the guitar instructors (of which there were nine the week I was there). This means you see every group once, for two hours. It took me awhile to figure out how to teach that way, but it worked well. You end up teaching real concepts and spending very little time saying “put your second finger on the third fret . . . no the third fret . . . no your second finger.
It was also a good hang and I met and re-met lots of great folks. I shared a cab to Kamp with the legendary banjoist Pat Cloud, who currently has the great misfortune to be living in my hometown of Long Beach, CA. He’s an amazing banjo player—none like him really: bebop and jazz lines on melodic banjo—crazy. And he’s a fun guy to hang with—favorite line: “Where does the time come from?” I spent a couple post-concert evenings at the local TGIFridays imbibing Sam Adams with Beppe Gambetta, his wife Frederica, Casey Henry, and Tony McManus, who kept us in stitches until they kicked us out: One of his gems: “I come from Paisley, Scotland, which is known for being the stingiest place in Scotland. At Christmas every year, a man there takes his children to visit Santa’s grave.” I also enjoyed hanging with Rolly Brown, Adam Granger, Mike Kaufman, Steve Kilby, Jim Baggett, and Marcy Marxer.
There was also an incredible group of mandolin instructors: Alan Bibey, John Moore, Don Stiernberg, Roland White, Radim Zenkl, and the unsung Emory Lester, who, if he was in the right band would be winning IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year for the next decade. I was thrilled that he asked me to play a tune with him on his concert set.
As for the Kampers, this was one of the largest and most cohesive groups of students I’d ever seen. Great players—ages 12 to well, I don’t know, but there were a few downright old guys. They all seemed to look after each other, have a great time together, and as Rolly Brown commented at the end of the week, there wasn’t a dud class the whole week.
On the last night I played my 20-minute concert set. I was a little nervous, but it went OK—I got Tony McManus to play “Josefin’s Waltz” with me and ended with “Richmond Blues,” with Steve K joining in. Then after I went backstage, Steve told me they wanted me onstage again. There were no encores, so I thought they just wanted me to take a little bow or something. But no, they were presenting me with the Kaufy Award—for “contributions to flatpicking.” What a shock and an honor. I was very moved and couldn’t really think of much to say. But it was a nice cap to the week, and made me feel very welcome in East Tennessee. Thanks, Steve.