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!