Fur Peace Ranch Testimonials

  • "...a rare musical oasis in this troubled world."
  • "...in its way, it represents all that’s good..."
  • "...a true artists community..."
  • "...If you have never been there you need to go and if you have been there you will be back."
  • "...a weekend at the Ranch will recharge your soul..."
  • "...world-class teachers, incredible food, tremendous staff and picture postcard setting.."

Professional colleagues:

On the drive home from camp, I reflected on what I’d learned over the weekend. Beyond the hot licks that might fade from memory even before I got home, I was exposed to great teachers who shared not just well-thought-out lesson plans, but imparted a deeper sense of what is involved in making music, and growing as a musician. Great players talking so openly about what they do to practice, to prepare for new collaborations, and to keep themselves inspired, wouldn’t have the same impact on the printed page, or on a DVD. There is something liberating and inspiring about being exposed to legendary musicians and finding out that they are on the same journey of discovery as the rest of us.

- David Spelman, Guitar Player Magazine

The Fur Peace Ranch is what is great and magical about music. It is a place where musicians of all skill levels can leave their egos at home and truly get to the essence of what music is. The sharing of ideas, sounds, and songs between people in a community of mutual support, without pretensions or expectations. The way in which Jorma and Vanessa, and the amazing instructors give back at the Fur Peace Ranch is unlike any other class, or clinic I have ever experienced. The instructors cease to become performers and entertainers only to share their music in a way that goes back to when they were learning their instrument. I recommended this experience to everyone who wants grow as a musician and a person.

- Scott Baxendale

The Fur Peace Ranch is the most unique and beautiful schools of it's kind in the country. A wonderful combination of world-class teachers,incredible food,tremendous staff and picture postcard setting make it an experience like no other I've been to anywhere. Vanessa and Jorma have created heaven in Ohio.

- Steve Martin, President The Agency Group

First as a student, then as a performer, Fur Peace Ranch changed my life. No matter how good you are, Fur Peace will make you a better musician.

- Roger McNamee, Flying Other Bros.

The Fur Peace Ranch is a magical place, from my first visit years ago with Ramblin'Jack Elliott I felt at home and among friends. That feeling has increased over the years. I can escape to the Ranch and always find good vibes, friends and great music. In its way it represents all thatsgood. Plus I'm always honored when I'm invited to perform.

- Rob McNurlin

Instructors:

Good Lord........almost ten years have passed since I taught my first weekend workshop here at the Fur Peace Ranch! My wife Diana, can tell you how obsessed I was over planning to teach the bass guitar in a workshop environment before coming out from Los Angeles to Southeastern Ohio to the Fur Peace Ranch. Vanessa and Jorma had worked like dogs to get everything in shape, and this place did look just like a bee hive of activity upon arrival. I did not know what to expect. Then of course as soon as assembled folks from all over the country began to talk, play, and just enjoy the atmosphere of students and teachers all wanting to share and trade information, the magic began.......and grew, and something entirely new developed. Little smiles and then just big grins were seen everywhere! The coming together of people for the noble purpose of learning produces and maintains the human spirit and confirms Jorma and Vanessa's vision of the Fur Peace Ranch. The Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp is now a part of the fabric of hundreds of student's lives, as it is for us who are fortunate enough to teach here. See you soon at the Ranch.

- Jack Casady

Teaching at Fur Peace Ranch is an honor for me. To be able to be a part of such a warm and generous community of teachers and students brings me great joy. There's a feeling of camaraderie at Fur Peace that allows teachers and students to relax into their lessons, and to enjoy the magic carpet ride of creativity together. It is a wonderful place to learn a little about words, music and human connection.

- Mary Gauthier

Fur Peace Ranch is not only a place to learn, it's also a setting that inspires and relaxes...that goes for both students AND the teachers. Add a beautiful theatre and a wonderfullly paced wkend, and you can't help but wish that rest of the world was the same way.

- Cindy Cashdollar

Last September I spent a weekend teaching country Blues at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp, along with fellow musicians Arlo Guthrie, Jorma and Jack Casady. I don't see how it is possible to get closer to the music than spending an entire weekend with your favorite artist. Hanging out, studying, swapping stories, breaking bread and asking all the questions you ever had but never thought you'd be able to ask. I can personally say that my students taught me more than I taught them and bowled me over with the intensity of their commitment.

At the end of the first day we covered some very intricate and involved country blues techniques, more than, could be easily retained and that very evening my entire class was spotted in the video library working diligently with my video. The following day they had all reached a new level of accomplishment leading me to believe that this could only really happen in this concentrated kind of environment. If this is what you're looking for, ya gotta try it! The natural foods in the cafeteria and the surrounding Appalachian countryside alone are worth the ticket price. The instructor/student concert at the end is also not to be missed.

- Rory Block

Fur Peace is absolutely the best guitar camp I've experienced, and I've taught at a lot of them. The combination of a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, a dedication to teaching, and an immaculately-run physical setting make this a truly magical place. Jorma and Vanessa, with the help of a great staff, have created a place of warmth and fellowship that helps learning players feel comfortable at whatever skill level they might be at. A rare musical oasis in this troubled world. -Happy Traum Paul (Karp) once asked me: "You have been there (the FPR) 2 dozen times; is it always that amazing for you?" I replied thusly: "Here's what its like.. remember those kind of science fiction-y stories, where there is some place.. some magical place that the protagonist encounters, has some experience, returns to find it all as if it never was.. a dream or imagination ? That is FPR. except its really there, and more beautiful every time. Have you noticed even in inclement weather it is still a magic land?" First as a scared student, now as Jorma’s teaching assistant, performer and instructor..as the Captain says “Ya can’t make this stuff up!” It is oxygen wrapped passion what we all find here.

- Marjorie Thompson

Every year I know I have a special place to be,and that place is Fur Peace Ranch. It is all about friendship, community, renewal of spirit. I count the Fur Peace Experience as a must need for everyone looking to open up their musical heart.

- Sally Van Meter

When I arrived at the Fur Peace Ranch to teach yoga during the 2005 Couples Weekend, I was immediately captivated by both the natural beauty of the setting and the dedication and vision of the staff. As a musician and educator on the spiritual path for over 30 years, I am grateful for the existence of Fur Peace Ranch as living proof of what a small group of conscious, caring individuals can bring to the world for the benefit and enjoyment of all who set foot on the land.

- Shanti Sanchez

Students:

What strikes you about the Fur Peace Ranch is that it's much more than a vacation destination or instructional program. Jorma and Vanessa Kaukonen have created a true artists community, where novices and masters come together and share their passion for musical expression"

- Jon Vesey

I wanted you both to know that when I went to the gym on Tuesday, Sep. 19th after my vocal harmony workshop weekend, my blood pressure was at 102 over 70 after having been 130-something over 80 for weeks. Due to work and personal stressors, it had been up as high as 166 and it's been taking real will power for me to keep it in the 130 range. But there it was, down to where it used to be before life started catching up to me. So, I guess you could say that FPR promotes that 'peaceful, easy feeling.' I'm trying to maintain that by putting ranch photos up around my cube so I can get back into that zone.

- Ellie Kohler

For me, the most profound thing that I have found about the Ranch is that, come Monday, I'm not really setting out on the road from the Ranch so much as setting out on the road to my next session at the Ranch. I come away from each weekend with new songs, new friends, and new possibilities. A weekend at the FPR is so much more than a couple of days of guitar lessons. Setting out on Mondays I'm on a road filled with potential. Were it not for the FPR, I would never have gotten up in public and played guitar, sang, or gotten out to meet and see people like Tommy Emmanuel, Geoff Achison, Marjorie, etc., perform. It's hard to some up the experience in anything less than a small novel I don't think I really appreciated how great it is until I returned for my second visit, and found that weekend was even better than the first. And they just keep getting better..... I probably don't mention it enough when I'm there, but much thanks to you!

- Dave Hoffsommer

Being a big Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane fan, when I first had the opportunity to take a guitar class with Jorma I thought that was as good as it could get. But, after numerous trips back to Fur Peace, as wonderfully rewarding as all the workshops have been, to say that Jorma and Vanessa Kaukonen are my friends exceeds any guitar lick I've ever learned there. Their warmth, along with that of the rest of the staff, coupled with the friendships made with fellow students, has made this a truly remarkable experience. For great music, friends and food, I don't think there is a better place to spend a weekend than at the Fur Peace Ranch. …. I really mean every word and maybe haven't told you that before. Also, the friendships with other students that I've made. Bob Doherty, Mickey Rigby, Marjorie (who has come to Kenosha 2 or 3 times to hang out with us), and others. It's really hard to express. And I now look forward to seeing Hurlbut as much as anyone on my trips down there. Thanks again for everything.

- Pete Mulligan

At Fur Peace, you'll get to eat, drink, and breathe music in the most supportive environment imaginable. When you combine the camaraderie of your fellow students, the top-notch instructors and the welcoming staff, it's no exaggeration to say that a weekend at the Ranch will recharge your soul.

- Gary Kelleher

I attended the Fur Peace Ranch for the 1st time for the June session with David Lindley and had a wonderful experience. The whole atmosphere was sublime, the FPR staff makes it look transparent, but pulling off a relaxing, productive weekend for 40 people, plus throwing a public concert is an incredible feat and everyone there deserves a huge thanks and appreciation. From the moment of arrival to the moment of departure, everything was so well run I was amazed. The food was great, the cabins comfortable, and the facilities are all top notch. Even without the music it would have been a spiritual retreat in a beautiful setting. But of course, there was the music. Never before have I been with so many musicians with so little competition and ego, that includes students and instructors alike. Everyone was supportive of each other and it was great getting to know everyone and seeing the complexity and depth of each and everyone’s musical knowledge.

- John C. Potenza

Fur Peace Ranch is a musical oasis where you can explore the depths of guitar playing to any level you wish, while recharging your batteries worn down from the daily grind. It's good for you fingers, your heart and your soul. Every time I've been to the ranch there has been at least one truly transcendent musical moment. That's why I keep coming back.

- John Blythe

The simple part was the full, but not frantic, agenda of intriguing ways of exploring my own creativity. It was watching the ingredients of a salad being picked a mere hour before it was served as part of the most incredible and healthful meal that you can imagine. It was truly seeing wildflowers for the first time after glancing at them for decades and not really noticing them at all. It was sitting with 25 other women of varied backgrounds from all over the United States and realizing that what made us similar was far more powerful than what made us different. The magical part was spending four days in an environment where there was always a flurry of activity but never a sense of being hurried. Where not a single cross word was uttered or a moment of scorn witnessed. Where vulnerability was high but criticism was non-existent. Where strangers became lifetime friends. Where couples spent little time together but strengthened their bond. We entered Fur Peace Ranch on Friday morning and, by some miracle, left on Monday as better people, better partners and, for one of us at least, a better guitar player.

- Dolores (writing about Couples Weekend 2006)

What started out in early 2001 as a way to fill a weekend has turned into an annual pilgrimmage to the Fur Peace Ranch. The lessons from gifted professionals, the food and the camaradarie of fellow musicians provides me a way to expand my musical abilities in a way that sustains me for the rest of the year. I appreciate the fact that your camp allows me to leave my daily routine for a weekend of good music, good food and good friends.

- Dan Hayton

The Fur Peace Ranch changed my life. That sounds like a pretty inflated statement, but it is true. I made friends there who will last a lifetime, honed and expanded my musical skills, began a musical career I never imagined having, and found a sense of peace and delight which had been lacking. Of course, FPR did not cause these things to happen, but it provided the opportunity and focal point from which everything else evolved. All that, and good food, too!

- Greg Franklin

…you have been blessed to be able to vision and create this amazing environment..And it seems to attract the right kind of folks. I was just blown away by the quality of the people (instructors, students and staff) ..what a great way to spend a weekend with good people.

- Susheel

Life is filled with miracles and one of those is Fur Peace Ranch. Where else but in church can the young and the old, the skilled and the hesitant, the prosperous and those who struggle, the faithful and the skeptics come together in a community of learning and sharing, and the common joy of playing the guitar. We all leave with a song in our hearts, strumming and singing all the way home, and planning our next class at the ranch. I will have a place at their table for my remaining years.

- Frank M. Groom

Every time I go there it exceeds my expectations. There is always more magic to discover. The Fur Peace Ranch is more than a guitar camp it has become a part of my life. Whether I am attending camp, seeing shows at The Fur Peace Station or even in my life away from the ranch, the vibe created at this camp that Jorma and Vanessa envisioned and all the wonderful friends I have met there is always with me. If you have never been there you need to go and if you have been there you will be back.

- Kyle Siegrist

I've been to F.P.R. in the spring, summer, and fall, and it is always a beautiful place that lifts my spirit, even if it rains. The instructors are very talented and accessible during the workshops, but also often during down times, such as at a meal or hanging out before the next scheduled event. I've spoken to many people who attended other guitar camps and they all agree that the ranch's food is, far and away, the best. I've always thought the concerts at Fur Peace Station represent some of the best performances from national recording artists. Perhaps its that the performers have been teaching at the camp that weekend, and so being on the station stage is like playing their living room, but some thing special comes out of those shows. Whether staff, instructor, or student, the people associated with Fur Peace Ranch have always been kind and caring to my partner and myself. I can say, without hesitation, that I continue to count many of them as my friends.

- Scott Davis

After my first weekend there I sent along my thoughts for the brochure and now with a few years under my belt I have this to say. I've gone to the Fur Peace Ranch three time now and each time I discover something powerful: powerful music, powerful people and something in myself gets better. The Fur Peace Ranch is selling life improvement in the guise of musical instruction. I can't think of a better way to spend a few days and I have never been disappointed. Now when I play the guitar or work on a piece that is challenging I have memories of times in the Ohio Appalachians to inspire me to work a little harder. That inspiration works even if I'm not playing guitar.

- Gideon Besson

Dear Vanessa, Ginger, John, and the rest of the Furpeace Staff: In the movie “Field of Dreams,” there’s a great scene in which the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson emerges from the darkness of a moonlit Iowa cornfield—ball and glove in hand—and steps on to a pristine baseball field built by a visionary farmer. Overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and perfection of it all, Jackson asks the farmer, “Is this heaven?” Every time I turn on to St. Clair Road in Meigs County, Ohio and pass the sign that says “Furpeace Ranch,” I ask myself the same question.

- Martin L. McCann

I was reading some of the Testimonials on the new Web Site (Cool new look!) and I thought I would add one of my own. I'm a guitar player that has been "messing around with the Bass" for more than 25 years (Jack says "neat trick"). Any way, when I found out about Fur Peace Ranch I was thrilled by the prospect of being able to study with my two biggest music heroes. While Signing up for the first ever "Pick & Putt" weekend, I found Jorma's class full, so I thought "Hey! now's my chance to learn to play the Bass" and I signed up for Jack's Beginner's class.

Boy Howdy! I learned from Jack more qualitative, practical and useful stuff about how to play and what to play in one weekend than I had in more than twenty years "going it alone". Jack immediately corrected my right hand technique (I had no idea I was goofing up) and really helped me "play like a Bass player" instead of playing like a guitar player who "thinks they know how to play Bass."

I was so fired up after my first class, I took the Intermediate Bass class during the 2nd annual "Pick & Putt" weekend and I am now firmly convinced that if a smart piece of granite (or perhaps quartz) could hold the Bass, Jack could teach it to play well. I think Jack is one of the greatest Bass players of all time and a remarkably effective teacher due to his keen focus on proper technique and tasteful content. At a recent Hot Tuna show, someone in the audience asked why Jack doesn't sing. He replied "There's a reason for that". In my humble opinion, Jack's the BEST and "there's a reason for that" too! Thank You.

- Mellissa Dalby

After getting back to my routine of jamming and conversing with bandmates (and trying to "make it") I realized how far from the truth we've gotten. After spending my time with you I realized how real and pure music can be and is. You have reopened my mind to the reason why music even exists in the world. Plus given me some more skills on the bass.

- Isaac

As I listen to your recent & fresh contributions to great music, reflect on all the great music you've put out throughout your career, and occasionally visit with your thoughts on your website, I've come to realize what a unique and valuable artist you are on our national stage-- "integrity" is the word that comes to mind to summarize who you are and what you do for our body of music, and for the work you are doing to continue to spread the joy and beauty of great American acoustic music.

- Greg Friedmann

Just a quick note to thank you both for an incredible experience at the Fur Peace Ranch last weekend. The hospitality, accomodations, and food were wonderful! All of the staff members (and the students) were so nice and helpful - they really made me feel welcome and comfortable. Jorma, a special thanks to you. As a real neophyte guitar player in general, and as a fingerstyle player in particular, I felt intimidated even before I arrived. This feeling intensified even more upon determining the relatively high levels of guitar skills and experience of my "peers". However, with your patient and unassuming approach to teaching, you were able to quell my anxiety, which allowed me to learn a tremendous amount. I look forward to returning for another workshop next year.

- Art
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