Give Thanks!

photo by Frank Gibbs

I really want to thank every one for all the nice emails and phone calls over the last couple of days in regard to our show…..Hurl and the Spins… the Fur Peace this past weekend.  Judging from the amount of letters and the nice spirit of those letters…. everyone had a great time.  That really makes me happy because we (Hurl and the Spins)  had a great time as well.  Total greatness….. you can’t beat it.  One letter from someone at the show that night asked if I could put up a close up of the stage poster……so here you have it.
These posters are made by the top ranking Fur Peace Ranch artist …….the man responsible for the Fur Peace art and look…..yes, the one and only Kevin Morgan.  I give thanks for his friendship and his great works!

I also want to thank Brad Denson, bass player for  The Spins a.k.a. Lost On Iddings, for helping put the show together. Without his time and consideration into this project it would have never happened….a sad thought indeed.  Below is a picture of Brad and his daughter Daisy who is keeping the beat with her egg shaker, what a rhythm section!

photo by Franks Gibbs

Speaking of  giving thanks…….Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!!



Ray Hurlbut (Hurl Sr.) with The Spins a.k.a. Lost On Iddings with Daisy Denson

What a fantastic time this past Saturday night at the Fur Peace Station…it was one of those evenings hard to describe in just words…there was a feeling in the air and you could feel the spirit of the music and the community adding to the magic of the Fur Peace vibe. This November 22nd concert date was originally an add-on show that we had scheduled for Carlene Carter. When Carlene Carter cancelled within 24 hours a new plan for the evening was hatched…a show with me, the Hurl, with my fairly new group…..Hurl and the Spins…along with Special Guest – Jorma!

Hurl and the Spins came together about two years ago when I was asked to play a friend’s wedding. Since I had just been playing pretty much solo guitar I felt I better get a band to work with for this special occasion. The summer before I had jammed with some good folks and good players as well and I called up the band’s musical director, Brad Denson and asked if they could accompany me for a wedding. Brad agreed as did his fellow band-mates in Lost on Iddings…..the band name they play under when not performing as Hurl and the Spins…..and that was the beginning of all the good times we have shared since.

We had a real good crowd at the Fur Peace Station that night with lots of friends and family. My Dad and brother were there as well as some old friends going way back and all the nice folks I’ve met at the Ranch over the years. It was an audience you would be thrilled to be playing in front of. There were also lots of young kids who brought a nice vibe to the evening’s magic.

This was a “concert only” night and I did my usual greetings and ticket disbursement at the front gate before heading into the Fur Peace Station for the concert. Vanessa and I did our usual concert introduction and then I excused myself while Vanessa informed the audience about all the shows on our 2015 Concert Schedule selling out. Giving me just enough time to change into a nice western shirt, next thing I knew Vanessa was introducing Hurl and the Spins.

The Fur Peace Station stage is a special place. We hear that from everyone that has played that stage over all the years……and it felt good to walk out from the backstage to the energy of the Fur Peace audience. I felt it too….big time……so did all the Spins……there’s just nothing like it. So…..we were feeling very IRIE to be at Fur Peace.

This is the set list:

Rollin In My Sweet Baby’s Arms
She Belongs To Me
Mama Tried
Beat It On Down The Line
A Day In The Country
Stand By Me
Nothstar (Lost on Iddings original without Hurl on stage)
Don’t Bring Me Down
Big Boss Man (with Jorma)
All Along The Watchtower (with Jorma)

You Ain’t Goin Nowhere
Me And Bobby McGee
Dark Hollow
Six Days On The Road
Born Under A Bad Sign
Friend Of The Devil
Smokestack Lightning (with Jorma)
A Little Faster (with Jorma)

The Weight

We really had a good time playing and the musicianship of the Spins is top shelf…..I feel so lucky to play with these guys and gal and we really get along so good together… both musically and socially …’s real easy to enjoy making music with them and I’m really feeling satisfied by our collaboration. I’d have to say it feels like magic. The songs we played our some of my favorite songs and every one of them were played just right…..we were all hitting it…..nice harmonies and great solos by the band members. If you go to Jorma’s blog you can read his entry in regard to this show and he has listed all the band members.

….and speaking of Jorma…..what a king!!! When we were putting this show together he agreed to be our special guest and even passed on a tempting offer to play that same night since he had already told me to count him in. Jorma really did some great soloing on the songs he came up for. Not only did it sound great it was loads of fun! He tore it up during Big Boss Man and we really did some jamming in All Along The Watchtower. We took it really nice and slow
getting into the song with just my acoustic and the congas setting the stage for Jorma to bring in a very electric…
heartfelt solo. He took some nice extended breaks and they were smoking. During the second set he put the shine on Smokestack Lightning and really ripped into A Little Faster. All the songs got a good jam and The Spins keyboardist, Hazy, along with the dual guitar attack on Rich and Eric all added more fire to the mix.

I want to thank everyone that came out and for supporting this show. Hazy mentioned to me that you could feel the energy coming from the audience. That is the ideal situation when there is a transfer of energy from the stage to the audience and then right back to the stage…..we were all feeling it. We got lots of nice comments after the show and Vanessa and Jorma were delighted as well…..they say we’ll have to do it again…..count me in!


Photos by Scotty Hall


August has been a rockin month for the Fur Peace Ranch and the music has been hotter then our late summer temps.  We really have been enjoying a nice summer…..with some typically hot and humid Kingston in the summertime days, but also some very nice and cool mornings that wake you up feeling good to be alive.  We have had two great back to back camp weekends and our people got a nice taste of Ohio and the Fur Peace in the summertime.  I’ll move on from the weather, but… really has been good for us this year…..without a doubt ……rain or shine we always have a good time at the Ranch……but it is so nice to enjoy a nice summer day with a bunch of great people at camp.

Our Couples’ Weekend this year was the greatest.  This is always such a special weekend for us, as well as all the folks that attend.  Some of the couples that came we have been friends with for a long time now and we had the pleasure of meeting some fine folks on their first visits.  We also had several guests that we had not seen Ranch-side in some years and it was so nice to be in their presence again.  Many things going on in life and we realize what a blessing it is when we get to spend time together.

It was nice to have Barry Mitterhoff, Dave Revels and Pete Sears here to join Jorma as the weekend’s instructors.  They all had super classes with good attendance.  Pete had not been to the Fur Peace for some time and it was great to have him back to camp …. Fur Peace.  He commented about how all the trees had grown so much, along with all of the landscape,  and he also noticed many of the improvements that have happened over the years…….Thanks for seeing and appreciating the growth, Pete.  There is an old saying…..”My how the flowers have grown”…..and I think about that when I think of the Fur Peace’s natural progressions.

Pete Sears was here to teach the bass class, but on Saturday night he was joined by the rest of his mates in Moonalice for an out of sight Saturday night concert on the Fur Peace Station stage.  Moonalice includes Pete, Barry Sless, John Molo and the band’s founder Roger McNamee.  They put on a dazzling show that really jammed hard and they also had a fantastic light show that added a real groovy touch to their stage performance.  I was really knocked out by their show…..I saw this band when they were just getting started and they have really solidified as a band over the years…..getting stronger and better all the time.  The sold out house that made it out for the show was impressed, especially since a good portion of them were not aware of the legend of Moonalice.  Concert goers were also treated to a great set by Jorma and Barry that really set a nice tone for the evening.  Jorma can play in so many different musical configurations and each one of them carry a certain magic with them….sometimes shared……sometimes unique.

The whole Couples’s Weekend is special, but I always get excited for it to arrive because that means I will be reunited with my ladies……Hurl’s Girls.  We’ve been doing Hurl’s Girls for about 14 years now.  Hurl’s Girls is me….the Hurl……and all the ladies at the camp.  Vanessa always takes the lead helping to organize the group and this is another beautiful flower that has grown nicely.  At first in our early years……some of the ladies use to hold back…..”I’m not a singer” they might say. But singers they have become and some  of the ladies that were so shy all those years ago have really grown to be wonderful harmony singers.  There is strength in numbers and boy, Hurl’s Girls were strong!  This year every single lady  taking part in the camp weekend joined the band, along with Vanessa and Barry’s friend, Gail.  We were not only looking good……it was the best the band has ever sounded.  We picked two songs to perform during the Student Performance and we rehearsed a couple of times before our big show on Sunday afternoon.  The songs we picked this year……as we pick different songs each year…..were,  The Weight and Blowin in the Wind.  They came off fantastic and the strong harmonies also carried a real beauty with them.  I find such joy in the power of a big vocal group and that is just what the ladies in Hurl’s Girls have become……a joy to be with and a joy to sing with.  We did Blowin in the Wind as a call and response type tune……ie…..Hurl sings; “How many roads must a man walk down”…..the ladies sing; “Before you call him a man”…..we all were together for the chorus.  At the end of the song all the ladies “testified” as to what the answer was……world peace, within and without, one love, getting your kid’s through college…..lots of good and original thoughts here……when it came to me at the end…..I had to testify……”The answer is HURL’S GIRLS!   Thank you ladies for joining in and making our performance this year the best ever!  Now mind you, before we performed the Fur Peace Station was rockin with a superb student performance that saw about everyone get up and play and also included once again the fabulous Mitterhoff Mandolin Orchestra… amazing afternoon of music.

Time is running out for me today so, I’m going to finish up on the August update next week.  Have a blessed weekend and enjoy the long weekend…….take it easy…………….and have fun!

July Update

Here we are in August……the eight month of the year……and we will soon be going full tilt here at the Ranch as we start our second half of the season.  We’ve got a couple great camps coming up back to back in August and I’ll be sure to give you all a full report next time around.  But, how about that great month of July that just passed bye.

The last weekend of July was the weekend of our “Arts and Minds Festival”.  It was a great weekend and we had a great time on so many levels.  The Ranch was blessed with some fine artists and craft folks that really had some nice works on display.  Bob Steeler came out all the way from New Jersey and his fine art work was on display to be viewed.  Bob was present to talk art or music and it was nice to have him around the Fur Peace.  Our good friend, Don Aters, was here as well with some of his fine rock photography and his recently released photo book.  Don also loves to chat with folks and the people who engaged him in conversation were treated to some rock and roll stories and history.  Check out Don’s website to see his amazing collection of photos from back in the day…….he was there and he caught some classic pictures.  We also had wood carvers, soap makers, jewelry, poster art and more.  It was a nice array of artists.

We also had the good folks from the Snowville Creamery on the grounds talking good milk and good dairy practice.  They were also handing out free samples of fine ice cream, made fine by the use of the cream from Snowville Creamery.  The ice cream was churned by a unique contraption …a bicycle peddled ice cream maker.  This was a delicious treat on a hot summer afternoon.  We also had Mauvette on the grounds cooking only the finest Jamaican food and Chelsea’s Real Food Truck with the best in natural eating delights.  You get the picture…….lots going on ……and it was all good!

During the daytime hours of the Festival we also had musicians playing up under our gazebo by the Psylodelic Gallery.  On Saturday we had the great Marshall Bellew from Tennessee playing and singing the blues along with a whole heap of great Americana songs….past and present.  He was followed by upcoming local faves, Emerson and Seeder.  These are two brothers, a bass and six string player, performing cool original music with a nice organic feel to the music.

On Sunday, the Captain of the Camp, Jorma, took the stage at about 1:30 PM and performed a wonderful solo set for what turned out to be a pretty good sized crowd.  They had called for a high percentage of rain that day, but we had a beautiful afternoon and it looked really nice seeing Jorma playing under the gazebo and all the people sitting around and enjoying his set.  Following Jorma’s set of music the Captain moved into the Fur Peace Station to get ready for a phone interview with Grace Slick.  The Station had a good group of folks in there to hear the interview and it was fun and informative.  It looked pretty cool seeing Jorma on stage sitting at a desk with a microphone…..the amazement of modern technology….Grace was mic-ed through Jorma’s Iphone and it was hooked into the sound system and it came through really clear for all to hear. The music on the gazebo stage continued with nice sets of music by Laura Nadeau and Rusty Smith completing the day’s musical entertainment.

That night we had one of the greatest shows to ever hit the Fur Peace Station stage when It’s A Beautiful Day (IABD) performed.  This visit and performance by IABD was powerful.  First off, they are the nicest folks and without trying to sound cliche ….. they embody the spirit of those halcyon days of San Francisco 60′s rock.  The music took us all away…..from the set’s opener, Don and Dewey, the band just took off treating all in attendance to the best of their first two records from the late 1960′s….their self titled 1st record and Marrying Maiden.  Hot Summer Day followed as did Girl With No Eyes, Bombay, and White Bird.  They played two amazing sets and David LaFlamme’s violin playing was exciting and amazing.  The band was TIGHT.  Val Fuentes the original IABD drummer sat behind the kit and did a great job of working with long time bassist, Toby Gray.  Linda and David’s voices were beautiful and their harmonies were heavenly.  The band got several standing ovations and that was even before the encore.  They did two encores…..Time Is and God Bless The Child…..and these were the icing on a very tasty cake.  As I mentioned the band is a tight outfit and I must give kudos to the fine keyboards of Gary Thomas and the fine guitar work of Rob Cunningham.  There were times when Rob’s playing parralled what Dave was doing on the violin and it created a great sound.  So, if you can’t tell……I was totally jazzed by the IABD performance.  This is a band I’ve loved for a very long time and had never had a chance to see LIVE.  So it was great to hear them and hear them sound greater then anything you had ever heard by IABD before.

The Saturday night show with Hot Tuna was pretty special as well.  We’d had a nice day at the Fur Peace Ranch and about one hour before the show was to start all of a sudden the sky darkened and the rain came a pourin.  Next thing I noticed was the lights flickering, just before the electric went out.  We didn’t miss a beat and before long Smiles (a FPR associate and a good cat) was pushing the generator up to the back of the concert hall.  Jorma and Jack started the show with enough power to fill the room with sound and enough to power two floor-lamps to illuminate the scene.  Once again, even in a case of adversity, things turned out better then you could ever hope.  Aside from the usual great sound of Hot Tuna…..maybe it was the low lights…..but Jorma and Jack were hilarious with their on stage banter.  By the time they hit song number six….the lights were on and it was no stopping from that point.

This was a big and busy weekend!  It was our only working weekend in July….but we’ve been staying real busy. … Busy with work on a new Fur Peace schedule for 2015.  It’s about 90% complete and we’ll be posting it at the end of the week.  Check it out……the good times continue to roll!


Good God Almighty where did June go?  Well, this month …….just like the last one  has flown bye……but we’ve had some great Fur Peace weekends.  We’ve had two great shows in June…..The David Bromberg Quintet and Janis Ian…..both stopped by the Ranch during the first two June weekends and both turned in wonderful sets of music.  Now we’re looking at the last weekend in June and that means it’s time for  G E Smith’s and Jorma’s Electric Guitar Weekend.  These two kings will also be the stars for the Ranch’s Saturday night show.  It’s been a while since G E and Jorma did some duo dates and I’m really looking forward to hearing them again.  There was a lot of fun and magic when they last played a set of shows together.  This weekend’s workshops have been FULL for some time and the concert has also been SOLD OUT forever!


The David Bromberg Quintet stopped by on June 7th.  This was a date we did as an add-on to the Fur Peace concert schedule.  The show was well attended and just shy of selling out.  It’s always nice to see David and it was a treat to have him stop by with his band.  We’ve had David play solo several times at the Ranch but this was a real treat having the band join him.  David has surrounded himself with a great group of players and the musicianship was tops!  At the beginning of the first set a feedback issue prompted David to finish off the first set unplugged standing in front of the stage.  We have such a nice listening room and we are blessed to have such great audiences that this came off as a real special unexpected treat……just acoustic instruments…….un-amplified …..other then the bass player.  David asked at one point if everyone could hear?… and he got a resounding shout of YES!  It was very cool.  Sound was perfect for the second set and David really treated us to some great electric guitar playing.  It was a super and unique evening of music.

Janis Ian
made her first stop to the Fur Peace on June 15th.  She has been on our list of desired concert performers for a few years and this year the scheduling worked out and boy, are we glad it did.  Janis played two very special sets during this Sunday show.  She augmented the music with a lot of stories that really made the evening special.  Janis carries the roots of folk music to the present day and it was refreshing.  She is known for her songwriting, however, I really enjoyed listening to her guitar playing as well.  Her playing has a subtle complexity to it and it was a perfect compliment to the songs and the feelings they conveyed……her playing framed the songs perfectly.  At the end of the evening on concert night ……..  after a farewell greeting to the audience…….I head out to direct the cars leaving the show.  I always get a lot of feedback from the audience as they stop by to say hey on there way to their cars and Janis drew plenty of compliments from the audience.  Some folks told me they had been fans of her music forever and had never had a chance to see her …….  they were thankful as well as stoked for the great evening that had ensued.

During our one off weekend in June……this past weekend……I made a trip to the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.  This is a great festival and I’ve been blessed to have attended it several times.  The festival takes place in Booneville at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds… talk about a beautiful spot for a music festival.  Well, Saturday afternoon may have been the best afternoon of REGGAE music that I have ever witnessed.  I was traveling with one of my long time dear friends…..Grateful…… and we always have a good time together.  We got over to the festival in the early afternoon and caught the great vocal trio…..The Tamlins.  I had seen them years ago when they use to sing back up for the bush doctor, Peter Tosh.  They sounded fantastic and all three of them have great pipes.  I especially enjoyed their Motown covers of “Just My Imagination” and “I Wish It Would Rain”.  They were followed by the mighty U-Roy, who is a long time favorite of mine, and he was in Top Ranking fashion.  U-Roy is the originator of Reggae DJ music and he is the reigning king……no doubt.  I was in the front row for his whole set and then got to meet him and take a picture with him.  It was the highlight of the festival for me.

The music didn’t stop and U-Roy was followed by another old school pioneer of Reggae music…….Bob Andy of the Paragons.  After his amazing set came President Brown…….Sly and Robbie……Bitty McLean……Mykal Rose and then Shaggy.  Mykal was in Black Uhuru and his entire set was like the best of Black Uhuru LIVE!

If you don’t have any U-Roy get some in your collection and enjoy your summer.  Nuff Respect!


Hurl and the Rasta Man!

Collaboration…….imagine David Lindley pronouncing this word in Rasta talk……KO….Lab…or…A-tion!! The dictionary says it means…”The action of working with someone to create something.” We’ve had three great shows in May at the Fur Peace Ranch and our good captain, Jorma, has had a chance during each of these performances to participate in some very cool collaborations! This past week with David Lindley was a great one! It’s always great to see the Ras …… he is a King, a great teacher and his playing is better then ever. During his show last Saturday David invited Jorma up to collaborate ……or should we say jam……on a couple of tunes. I believe the songs were Well, Well, Well and Rag Bag and boy, things really took off. They closed the set and performed the encore together. Anyhey, during the set’s last song with David playing the Weissenborn along with Jorma the music just smoked. They were creating right there …. at that very moment and for those of us bearing witness it was so coooool! I was on the edge of my seat and it was exciting just to see where this music was going to. It just kept getting better and better. For me these are truly the golden moments. It was pretty neat to be at the kitchen table the next morning when David came in. Jorma, graciously said…..”It was great playing with you last night, David” and
David’s reply was, “We went there.”…..Jorma concurred. Where there is …… is a very special place and sometimes you don’t know where there is until you hear it. It brings jamming to a higher level. Check out David here at Fur Peace last year…..

Jorma also got in some great collaboration during the Glass Harp show. That was another great time at the Fur Peace. We hosted Glass Harp on May 17th and it was another super show. This is the original three members that released their first, self titled, album on Decca in 1969…..John Sferra on drums…..Dan Pecchio on bass and Phil Keaggy on guitar. Well, they had Jorma come up during each set and each time was cool…..but, during the second set when JK joined in Phil started some improv jam… sounded kind of Santana-esque to me…..really nice rhythm that they worked in and with Jorma and Phil trading leads back and forth this was another unbelievable display of music. After jamming for a while, Phil called an audible to John and they were heading into “Crossroads” and it smoldered. The Harp kept the song along the “Cream” groove and with John singing……Dan grooving….Phil and Jorma traded leads and called and responded to each other as well. It was very exciting!!!

Then ….. going back to May 10th… Brian Auger and the Oblivion Express. A magical night of music and Jorma invited up for “Season of the Witch”. The song reminded me of Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield’s version on Super Session…..legendary! Brian set the pace and when he gave Jorma the nod the Captain came in nice and slow….holding that first note….good and long…..and then taking it way out from there. It was a nice long jam…with plenty of soloing.

These collaborations have all been pretty magical and I was glad to be there as a witness…..cause it would have been hard to describe…..these collaborations were not only creative…..but they brought the music to a realm where the magic is and you realize these notes were just for us……

Arts and Minds Festival

I’m here at Kevin’s because we are working on a poster for a future Fur Peace Ranch event….The Arts and Minds Festival…..taking place at the Ranch on July 26 and 27. This two day festival will combine our Holiday Faire and Psylodelic Sit-In into one very cool event. There will be artists and crafts of a wide variety, food from the Fur Peace kitchen, informational booths promoting socially conscious issues and topics and music. The festival will be a free event and will give folks a chance to visit the Fur Peace Ranch and support the local arts and learn a thing or two. Each night there will be a concert….however these are ticketed events. Hot Tuna will perform on the 26th and It’s A Beautiful Day will play on the 27th. The Hot Tuna show has been SOLD OUT for months. Tickets are still available for the It’s A Beautiful Day show…but get them soon…..the room is already more then three-quarters full. Put the Arts and Minds Festival on your calendar cause you won’t want to miss out on it. More information will be coming and if you are interested in being a part of it as a art or informational vendor please call the Ranch at 740-992-2575.

Hello World…….I’m blogging again

I’ve been away from the blog world for too long and I’m attempting to re-enter the blog hemisphere. I’m here at Kevin Morgan Studio with Michael McSteen and he’s giving me a lesson on how to operate this blog page so that I can try to check the levels on a more regular basis. We’ve had a zillion things going and lots of new things happening too.

Our concert series this year has been bombastic fantastic…. and we’ve had a tremendous response with most all of our shows being sold out before we even started our year. With this in mind we are adding some concerts to our schedule. Two new shows have been announced and YES there are tickets available for them. I’m really looking forward to seeing David Bromberg back here at Fur Peace and this time he’s stopping by with his quintet which will make it extra special. Another show we added to this year’s line-up is It’s A Beautiful Day on July 27th…..oh, yeah, my bad…..the David Bromberg Quintet show will be on June 7th. David’s shows at Fur Peace have been mostly solo acoustic and it is going to be a treat to hear him on the electric guitar

The Brian Auger show sure created quite a buzz and people are still talking about it. I last saw Brian Auger and the Oblivion Express in 1974 when I was in college and it surpassed my high anticipation. First, off…..Brian’s prowess on that B-3 organ mixed with the keys has only grown stronger over the years. The players in the Oblivion Express are all kings and one even is named King….Les King the bass player. So….it was great to have this super 5 piece group right here in the intimate acoustically perfect Fur Peace Station Concert Hall. It may have been the loudest show we ever had as well as one of the greatest. Cause
they all are pretty darn great.

OK, this is a start… let’s see if I can drop it in ….. with a picture…….Whooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Me and the Man

A Couple More T’ings

I wanted to add a couple more pieces of information in regard to my most recent blog…..BACK FROM CALIFORNIA 2013. First off, BIG THANKS to Michael Charney for the use of his photos. Michael, has been out to Ohio to study at the Fur Peace Ranch and he joined us at the Dana on Mission Bay during our recent two weeks of workshops. Michael was there for the second week’s workshop and I noticed him taking lots of pictures. He kindly sent me some photos and they capture the fine time we had in San Diego. Great photos Michael… BIG THANKS and Respect!

ALSO……We really felt that the Dana worked great for our On The Road workshops and we’re going to go back to that super spot on the edge of Mission Bay for two weeks in early 2014. We’ll once again do two separate weeks of workshops and we have already blocked out our time. We’ll be doing our first workshops from January 27th through January 31st. Captain Jorma will be joined during the first week by Instructor Extraordinaire…..Stefan Grossman. We’re all really excited about this! The second week of workshops will be from February 3rd through February 7th. Jorma will be on-board during the second session as well and we’re presently waiting for a confirmation from the second instructor. We’ll let you know as soon as we do.

So, you can start making plans to join us in San Diego in 2014 for a couple great weeks of Winter workshops. We’ll be posting the class descriptions and applications in the next couple weeks. Just wanted to give you a headsup and a bless up!

Back From California 2013

I’m sitting here in #4, my office, just back from three nice weeks in San Diego, California. It really was a super time. Our two weeks of workshops at the Dana Inn on Mission Bay were not bad…..if you don’t mind perfect! Yes, indeed, a really great time at the Dana was had by all. We chose the Dana because we’ve all enjoyed the hospitality and pleasant surroundings of this destination in past trips to San Diego. I’ve stayed there with my folks some years ago and the Kaukonens as well as Hot Tuna have enjoyed their time at this wonderful spot on the edge of Mission Bay. Our past experiences were exceeded during our two weeks of workshops and our hopes were surpassed as well……A fine job by the Dana staff and a couple weeks of great workshops as well.

Big respect and BIG thanks to my old friend, David Drummond, who is pictured here with the Cap and I. We met many years ago. We both shared a common love for good music with a particular emphasis on Hot Tuna and the good ole Grateful Dead. David is the sales manager at the Dana and he took super good care of us. The entire staff at the Dana took super good care of us as well and we were all impressed with how cheerfully they did it. I can’t say enough nice things about the Dana and it’s people…….maximum respect!

The Cap and I flew out to San Diego on the Saturday before our sessions were to start up, January 12th. Weather is so weird these days and this day was not going to be an exception. The temperature was 67 degrees when we left the Columbus Airport and we arrived later that night into a cool San Diego, sporting a temperature in the low 40′s. That’s odd for this time of year for both locations. Indeed, the next morning Jorma and I went out for breakfast and we had frost on the windshield and that is a first for me in all my excursions to sunny Southern California. We had two great breakfasts in Ocean Beach at a little spot called the Village Kitchen. Jorma’s got a picture of the spot and his rave review on his blog, Cracks In The Finish.

By the time we started the workshops up the temperature was starting to rise up as well. It kept getting nicer as our days moved on at the Dana. By the end of our two week stint we were hitting the low 70′s and it was nice. Now even when the temperature was cool, the sun was shining and Jah knows that sun makes you feel good even when the temps aren’t particularly hot. The Dana is a sprawling hotel/resort and it sits quite beautifully on the edge of Mission Bay. It was so quiet and peaceful it is hard to believe you are right there in the big city of San Diego. The Dana is minutes from Sea World and about 10 minutes from downtown and Old Town. It really was a perfect location.

Yes, the spirit of Fur Peace was fully present when we kicked in with the first session. Jorma, along with his teaching assistant, David Wolff, had an enthusiastic class and the teachers were pretty enthused as well. David is Jorma’s partner and founder of the great on-line lessons website, Break Down Way. This class was designed for the student beginning his adventure into fingerstyle guitar. Many in the class were good players with the flat pick, but were venturing into something new with fingerstyle guitar playing. Jorma and David brought them in and gave them the tools they will need as they progress in their playing. There were lots of things to learn and the class structure gave everyone an opportunity to take something from the experience.

The meeting room that the Dana provided also served as our dining room and we ate three nice meals there each day. The food was quite excellent and the service was fine too. Great food and great service are important factors for us when we decide on our “On the Road” destination. We know the instruction is going to be great, and we always hope for the other aspects of “On the Road” workshops, such as food and customer service to be great as well……and they were!

Our first week seemed to just fly bye. As mentioned, we had a great group of students and the fellowship was tops too. It seemed to me, just after the first day, like we were all old friends getting together for a vacation. Well, it was a vacation with some fine guitar instruction and breaking of the bread included. With the workshops running Monday through Friday morning, we used Thursday afternoon for our student performance. Since we had a smaller group for the first week we did the student performance as a round robin. What this means is that we sat in a big circle and we started at one point and moved around the circle in a clockwise manner. When it was your turn, you could either pass or play and that is how it went down. During the course of the afternoon we all got a chance to play several times. Let me tell you, there were some great songs going around the room and lots of fun moments. One of our students passed the first two rounds, but played for all of us on the third round. Everyone was glad he did and I could sense a real satisfied happiness from him as well. As is the case at the mother-ship in Ohio where the Fur Peace stands…… the student performance is one of the best parts of the whole weekend and the same holds true when we are on the road. We had a great afternoon of playing and the support and kindness between everyone present……well, it just makes me so happy. I got to play three songs and that was a treat for me. I chose “The Weight” by The Band for my last number and Jorma obliged my asking him to play lead guitar and he tore it up most nicely. I was also joined by the entire group for the chorus and we even worked out the three ….and, and, and…….all taking our parts……before a resounding ….”You put the load right on me”… was just classic and it served as a great way to end a super afternoon of music.

After another fine meal and tasty desert we all were treated to a totally acoustic and I do mean unplugged performance by our flagship Captain…..Jorma. He was in fine style and there is something very cool about just hearing the man and his guitar. Jorma closed the night with a beautiful version of his “Embryonic Journey” and it seemed as fitting as when they used that same song for the closing episode of the TV show “Friends”. Our first workshop of 2013 and year number 16 for the Fur Peace Ranch drew to a close on Friday morning. We all said our goodbyes and there was lots of happiness in the air…….I’m taking it as a very good sign of a good year ahead for all of us!!!

The weekend off was nice. On Saturday I took a trip out to the desert with my sister, Marylou, her husband, John and my Dad and his friend Nancy. ML and JR…..that’s my sister and bro-in-law, like to go out to Anza-Borego for camping and they really wanted to show it to us and boy, am I glad they did. What a spectacular place! I really love the desert landscape. My Mom, God rest and bless her soul, use to say the desert was like penance and why would anyone want to live there…..but I have always found a real beauty in the desert and that desert solitude feeling. It was a great day and we all enjoyed a really nice authentic Mexican lunch. Great views, great eating and peerless fellowship…….like the Captain says…….does it get any better then this. Vanessa and Izzy came in for the weekend and the start of the next’s week’s class. We all got together for a very fun time and night of music on that Saturday celebrating our good friend Marc Schechter’s 15th anniversary at his law firm, Butterfield and Schechter…….these guys know how to do it uprighteously!

On Sunday Vanessa joined Dad, Nancy and me at the Self Realization Fellowship temple in Encinitas for service. It was very nice and thoughtful. My Dad who had planned to go to the Catholic Church in my sister’s neighborhood, but decided to go with V and me really dug it. He enjoyed it so much he was ready to clap at the end of the service. The main subject of the service and sermon was the power of positive thinking and that is always something good to think about or remind yourself about. The good brother said he always use to tell people “When a negative thought comes into your mind, just erase it. These days we say delete it”. Later in the day we met at a great restaurant in Old Town, Casa Guadalajara…..we had a long table with about 15 seats and once again our whole dining experience was just blessed and wonderful.

Come Monday…….it’ll be alright… bet it will…..we have another group of students joining us at the Dana. Barry Mitterhoff is here to teach a mandolin class and Jorma is joined this week by Marjorie Thompson and David Wolff as his teaching assistants. This is another great session and once again some fine players have come in to improve their already fine skills. Jorma had a class of 15 and on the first night they did a class assessment and overview of how the week’s classes would unfold. I had stayed on in the back of the room to sus things out and what instantly came to mind was that everyone of Jorma’s students could really play……and play quite well. There were some repeat offenders, some that we had met at past On the Road expeditions, and we also had some first timers. All in all it was a perfect mix.

Barry Mitterhoff’s class took place in the Bay Side Conference Room and it was the closest classroom we have ever had to the water……Mission Bay beckoned just yards away from the room’s picture windows. Barry also had a nice class and all of his students were repeat offenders. They hunkered down in that classroom for some serious learning and from what I’ve heard they got it too!

Thinking ahead to the afternoon student performance on Thursday……one of Barry’s students and I talked about reprising “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” with the Mitterhoff Mandoliners. We had done this when I opened the 2012 Concert Season at the Fur Peace Station last year. Well, come Thursday afternoon we had us a dandy of a student performance……one great song after another. There was so much talent coming off that stage……well, we could put some of these TV talent shows to shame………..but, we won’t. When I got my chance I jumped up with the Mandoliners and we had the added vocal talent of David Drummond and we really nailed down a kicking version of that Dylan classic. It really was an incredible afternoon.

That night we had our instructor performance and yes, it was, a really big show. For this week’s performance we brought in some sound reinforcement…..thanks to Fred and Marc…, we were wired for sound. David Wolff took to the stage first thing and did two Jorma classics before ending his brief set with the Dead’s …Ripple. We were all singing along. Big Kudos to David for playing I am the Light of This World and Embryonic Journey so fine……second only to the one that was sitting there and totally digging his performance.

Marjorie Thompson…….boy, it was great to see her… followed with a brief, yet powerful set of her own material. We had lots of people in the audience this night…..aside from our students….we had family and Dana guests…..and everyone really loved her set. Little Ms. Dynamite …..that’s what she is.

Next up……our main act of the evening…..Jorma and Barry… making their first concert appearance in the new year. The men played a fine set and every bit as good as their playing was their stage antics. They just kept cracking me up as well as others, I could tell by all the laughing in the room. Jorma had put his set-list on his I and I phone and kept pulling it out to show Barry what the plan was. Barry, was sporting a Woody Allenish banter with the Captain and it really worked. What also worked was the musicianship on display. Barry mentioned that it has been 11 years since he joined up with Jorma and Hot Tuna and my first thought is “no, it can’t be that long”, but indeed it is and when you hear the dynamics and interplay between these two, well you might think they had been playing together for a lifetime. A great set and a great treat for all of us in the Marina Room at the Dana that night. Somewhere during the show I looked over at David Drummond sitting next to me and said, “can you believe it David, Jorma and Barry playing the Dana?” He agreed, it was something like a dream……a surrealistic one on that.

We bid farewell to our fellow musicians and friends on Friday morning. Before long Jorma and Barry were ready to jump on board the tour bus that had shown up to start up a four week tour of Jorma and Hot Tuna dates. I was staying on for another week of vacation and my Dad pulled up just after the bus left to bring me on over to my sister’s. It was a super week on so many levels…..but one level that I’m really happy about is……… new dog I adopted in San Diego. I have been interested in this breed…..a Tibetan Spaniel….for at least 10 years. I never was able to get one as they are rare. However, one night at my sister’s I was listening to the voices in my head when they said….”Google Tibetan Spaniels in California”…. and there he was a four year old Tibbie up for adoption. ….a half hour from my sister’s house. My sister and I went to see him the next day and I knew right away that I liked him. So, I put down a deposit and three days later I went back to pick him up and the next morning we were flying back to Ohio. We made it back fine and he has adopted my house and two other dogs as if we have been pals for a lifetime. Yes, life is good and I’m about as happy as can be. I sure hope the same for you.