Our daughter, Laura, has a wonderful clothing store in Nevada City. In August, they close the streets and allow pedestrians only on three Wednesday evenings from 4pm to 10pm. The city then rents spaces in front of the stores to various vendors who show and sell their wares. Thousands of people show up on those Wednesdays to eat, drink, and be merry to music venues that are scattered up and down the streets. If you are in the area at that time of the year you should plan to go – it is a fun evening where people are care-free and fully enjoying themselves.
Anyhow, Lou Travato, (the police chief there for many years – now retired) and myself were standing, looking, and listening to music one of those Wednesday evenings. In our conversation he mentioned that he would miss the other two Wednesdays. When I asked him why, he said that he would be attending a couple of music camps – one in Eureka, CA. (Classical) and one in Pollock Pines, CA. (Jazz). This, of course, sparked my interest because I love to play Jazz and live 17 Minutes from Pollock Pines. When I told him he said that in 2 weeks I should come over and watch their final recital. Further, he said to be sure to be early so that I could hear the “Professors” play at the beginning. I did and have attended the camp 3 out of the last 4 years because of that visit.
All I can say is WOW!!!! They are the best musicians that I have ever heard bar none! The camp is called “The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp” – check it out. I have always played strictly by ear so this has been a real humbling and good experience for me. I have played and performed since I was a kid but I have still not progressed past the beginning band stage at the camp. However, I have learned so much on how to use a fake book and am starting to learn how to improvise. The camp starts on Sunday afternoon where you sign up, meet and get briefed about the week, eat, audition with your instrument, play in a jam session, and go to bed. On Monday, you find out what band you are in; go to learning, Jam, and practice sessions, and perform that night for the rest of the campers.(they don’t mess around – you jump right into the fire) Tuesday and Wednesday are just the same as Monday but each with a new song. Thursday is dress rehearsal with all three songs and Friday is the performance where you can invite family and friends to watch. ($10 – donation to help camp kids) It is a very fun, exciting, and intense week where you get trained by the very best musicians in a relaxed and very entertaining environment. You also get to meet and make new like-minded friends from all over the USA and Canada. The “Professors” or teachers are so encouraging to all the campers no matter how proficient you are. The type of music played is called traditional jazz. Here is a recording that I just made to show a sample of what we play – “Wrap Up Your Troubles in Dreams”. I actually learned this from one of the fake books that I downloaded from the camp website – just another perk that all campers get – a username & password to download sheet music, audios, and videos for practicing.
Also, the intense week gives you the privilege of connecting with many of these professional musicians at a personal level. Here is info, pictures, websites, & videos of some of these outstanding musicians/teachers.
Shelly and Bill Dendle: (Bill is the camp director and Shelly Burns is his wife) S & B Productions
Shelly, Bill, & Eddie performing “Somebody Loves Me
Rusty Stiers: Jambalaya Jazz Band – Disneyland
Rusty has never missed teaching at the camp.
Bria Skonberg: So is the Day This is one of her cutest videos. And here she is doing “Muskrat Ramble”
Terry Myers: The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
Terry is the best. Check out this website and listen to him playing.
Anita Thomas: Anita’s Website
Just another multi-talented gal who is a lot of fun. Watch “Tiger Rag” below and see what fun her and Terry are having. Here she is with Westy and Katie Cavera in Monterey, CA. Katie has been a camp professor also.
Greg Varlota & Curtis Brengle: The Side Street Strutters
I think Greg plays every instrument & he is an unreal tap dancer. Curtis has such a command of the piano. He has a classical background and can play anything with precision. They are both in the Side Street Strutters.
Eddie Metz: Eddie’s Website
The other musicians call him the “World’s best drummer” and after seeing him in action I believe it. Just watch him in “Tiger Rag” and “I Want to be Happy” – he is unreal and such a team player.
Jason Wanner: Jason’s website
Watch nimble fingers Jason in this video.
Eddie Erickson: Eddie’s website
Eddie is not only one of the funniest guys on stage but he is gifted with encouraging others. He is such a joy in the camp and what a great musician. Here he is doing “Embraceable You“.
Lee “Westy” Westenhofer: Westy Works home page
And one of his classics “The William Tell Overture” – Westy is the reason that I went to camp – he is the greatest!
“The Professors-Tiger Rag” – These guys are so-o-o-o good and hilarious – click on them to watch & listen! And don’t have anything in your mouth – you might choke!
“I Want to be Happy” – These guys are truly happy when they are playing this music – what a fun team they are – just UNBELIEVABLE!!.
The obvious conclusion is that this Traditional Jazz music is infectious to all ages. Watch “Tuba Skinny” playing “Yes Sir! That’s my baby” on Royal Street in New Orleans.