We’ve put the wraps on another GREAT Fur Peace Ranch weekend. This was our first – big session camp weekend – here at the Ranch in the beautiful hills of SE Ohio. I say big session because not only did we have the Captain of the camp, Jorma, here teaching, but he was also joined by two real heavyweights in the music world…..Stefan Grossman and Larry Coryell. We had a great mix of
students that was predominately made up of “repeat offenders” along with some new students. I’m not usually aware of who will be coming to the Fur Peace on a camp weekend until the day before arrival. When I started to go through the list and cabin assignments…..I’m like….no way, wow, all my favorite people are coming in this weekend. As Debbie has pointed out to me….I do have lots of favorites, still the concentration was deep and strong. The new folks were all great as well and the combination was a beautiful thing. Sometimes I look at the Ranch as a microcosm and when I look around at all the fine folks that come through our doors…..I think how lucky I am……and I also think that if the world community had the energy, spirit, music and friends like we spend our time with in the course of a weekend……well, just lookout…..there would be no problems, no worries and alot of good music in the air.
We were so happy to have both, Stefan and Larry, back to the Ranch. Stefan is such a treat and a treasure!!! He is the consummate teacher and does alot to prepare for his class. He made up a nice instructional booklet just for his Fur Peace visit with 15 songs that he taught his students along with a CD. All respect Stefan……what a nice thought and great learning tool, and he gave one to each of his students.Larry got down to the Ranch just in time to start his afternoon session. He had played up in Quebec the night before and had really done some hustling to get to the Ranch. He jumped right into things and got the place swinging. Jorma had a great class too! Lots of teaching and learning as our three professors worked diligently with their eager students.
Saturday night was our first concert in the 2010 concert series and what a way to kick off the season! We started things off in our usual manner with Vanessa and I taking the stage to greet the crowd and make some stage announcements. After we had said about all there was to say…..I prompted the entire audience into a stellar version of Happy Birthday in honor of Vanessa’s birthday as
the staff promenaded down the aisle with a birthday cake ….. candles a burnin….not that there were a bunch of them. The cake was delicious and they had spelled out the “Happy Birthday Vanessa” in red, gold and green……now I don’t know where they got that idea……but I dug it. Stefan took the stage and treated all to a fine hour of country blues guitar. He was in top form and you could tell he was enjoying the evening and the audience ……he had the whole house clapping through one song……until the stop spot came up……and he also got everyone to sing along to “My Creole Belle”. Brilliant fun is what this master spun during his set. Stefan as a young man learned his craft from the old Blues Masters of the day…… Rev. Gary Davis, Skip James, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt among others. He channeled them during his performance and added some colorful stories that were an added treat. The beautiful thing about hearing Stefan play or teach is that you feel the link from way back as he connects these early masters to the present day……..they left their treasures in good hands.
Larry Coryell took the stage after the intermission along with his bass player, Jonathan Wood and drummer Jun Saito and they came out swinging. Opening their set with Milt Jacksons, “Bags Groove”, they totally put us in the groove and the mood for a night of Jazz. In introducing Larry I declared that he is arguably Jazz’s greatest living guitarist and I would stand by that. His set was fantastic!!! He played one of my all time favorite Larry songs….”Dragons Gate” along with Thelonious Monk’s “Twinkle Tingle”…..we got to hear the Theme from Black Orpheus as well as his beautiful original ……named after his beautiful wife……”Tracie”. He also played a solo piece on acoustic guitar, “Bolero”, and one of our regulars came over to me and told me that alone was worth the price of admission. At the end of the night Stefan joined up with Larry for a fine jam! What a night…….boy, we were all jazzed. Larry has such a nice way about him and he is also quite articulate…..He remarked to the audience how happy he was to return to the Fur Peace Ranch….. “Jorma’s castle of culture in the wilderness.” Yeah, Larry.
While I do try to give my blog the feel of a journal into a day in the life of…….I also will try to spice it up a bit from time to time with some precious information…..and here is some. Just about when I was saying my goodbye to Larry, I asked him….”What are your favorite three Jazz albums?”…..Now aside from having too many favorites, I also have a ton of records accumulated from my time in the business and a life long love of record collecting…..so these kind of things interest me…..and here they are: Wes Montgomery “Incredible Jazz Guitar of“, Bill Evans – “Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1” and Miles Davis “My Funny Valentine: Live at Lincoln Center“. Good stuff and a great time.
Sunday’s student performance was another winner. The variety and talent on the Fur Peace stage was staggering. BIG UP to all, cause it truly was all good. I was very happy that Brett E. asked me to play a song with him. He knows I’m a big Dylan fan and we decided to do ” I Shall be Released”. While running through it on Sunday morning Alan D. heard us and he was adding some nice sounds on his twelve string while sitting off to the side…..but he wasn’t out of ear range and we pulled him on in as a part of the performance. Now on top of this we added the fine sounds of Mitch’s accordion and Vanessa’s harmony vocal to make the song complete. Come Sunday night……another treat……we all got to hear a brilliant and magnificent set from JORMA…..solo…..and just for us! I get to hear JK alot and although he always sounds great……he went past that this night. Alot of happy campers leaving the concert hall that night. Everyone was inspired and a group of students got a jam going that went into early morning. Everyone has left now…..but the groove remains……and many memories of another great weekend here at the Fur Peace.