Sunday, August 03, 2008

Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp

Wow... did I say wow? Yeah, well, wow.

Acoustic Kamp was an incredible experience. Teaching banjo is something I enjoy, but teaching banjo to players that have enough interest to travel across the country and pay for a week long session is incredible!

I had 2 classes - beginner and intermediate/advanced. I spent 2 hours a day with each group, and we covered everything from the very basic stroke to the ever elusive cluck. And while I covered a lot of material I think I learned as much or more than my students. There's probably nothing better for me than to have a student or students that ask tough questions that make me think.

Remember, I'm that guy that just plays. I've never really analyzed everything that I do; I just do it. So this Kamp was not just motivation for me to take a closer look at how I approach the banjo, but it forced me to look at how to explain those things that I "just do." There's a silly little quote that came to mind while I was teaching: "It is easier to make one alike than two alike." Meaning that I often find it difficult to do things exactly the same way twice.

I met a lot of great folks - students and teachers alike. I made some friends, reunited with old friends and I look forward to seeing them/you all again. Laura Boosinger was my other teammate for Clawhammer banjo, and it was a real treat working with her.

Evening concerts...

Each night instructors at the Kamp provided entertainment. I was not excluded. I call Roy Curry and pleaded with him to come and accompany me for my section. Roy, being the champion he is, showed up and we ran through my setlist and all was ready. Our set went without any significant problems - at least nothing that couldn't be handled with humor. We had a good time, and I think everyone enjoyed that show. No one threw anything at us, so we count that as a positive.

One afternoon a few of us were standing around and someone asks if I had a yo-yo handy. I happened to have one in my banjo case, so I did the obligatory couple of tricks when Barbara Lamb spotted me. She had just been in Chico and bought a yo-yo at the museum, so she was excited to meet someone that she could mooch a yo-yo lesson off of. We talked a bit and I helped her get her started with just the basics.

(In bluegrass & old-time music the fiddle and the banjo represent a very common duet. It wasn't uncommon for just the pair to perform without other instruments.)

So, she gets the huge grin and tells me that I'd be yo-yoing on her portion of the concert. Her portion wasn't until Thursday of that week, so each time we saw each other we chuckled about the concept of a Fiddle/Yo-Yo duet. Yeah, it's one of those things where you'd have had to be there, but we chuckled. We did. Really.

There were a couple of evenings that I got to participate in the "Open Mic." One time I just soloed alone with my "Early Banjo". The next evening I got to play with "Just Us" as a guest along with Gary Davis. It was a blast!

The pictures you're seeing here (with the exception of the group photos) were taken by R. Brian Porter. His shots are great. Makes me wish I had a better camera, but I'm not so silly to think that a camera will make the difference for me. He's spent as much time behind the lens as I have behind a banjo. It's obvious from his shots that he's spent a lifetime honing his craft. I'm glad he was so willing to share these photos with me - and allowing me to share them with you.

There are a couple of folks I really look forward to seeing again. Hopefully sooner than later. Tony McManus - you know what you did - I'll always remember it. Mark McCluney - not only did you touch my heart, I saw you do the same with others.


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