Sunday, July 21, 2019

Notes from Augusta, Week 2: Diary from Blues Music Camp

Augusta Heritage Center is a summer camp for musicians, would-be musicians, and hangers-on who are willing to listen to musicians, held at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia each July. It is a place to practice, perform, pass on, and preserve the music of our continent, including Cajun, country, blues, swing, old time, bluegrass, and other genres.
Week 2 - Blues Week, July 14-20, 2019:

Sun afternoon - register for Blues Week; looks like jam-packed schedule AGAIN. Yikes. Had hoped it would be less hectic, more laid back. Feeling the blues. Or maybe that's just lack of sleep, leftover from last week. (For a recount of Week 1 - Cajun/Country Week, click here.) Or maybe it's the Seattle-like mist and rain.
Sun evening -quick snacks in my room; peanut butter, crackers, apple. Need nap but no time; orientation to Blues Week starting soon. Then a dance. Sleep? Ha ha. That will have to wait a week! Mountain views in between showers.
Monday-Thursday - ya got me running, jogging, staggering crazily to classes, concerts, cultural sessions, lunch, dinner, pick up guitar, put away guitar, which key harmonica? Where's that guitar pick? Oh gee, that hectic schedule sounds familiar. But this week, unlike last week, I skipped the dances and went to bed by midnight.
 Blues guitar instructor Eric Noden, in library of Halliehurst mansion, teaching
"Key to the Highway" in key of G
Plenty to practice in the coming months!

Thursday night- pivotal moments. Woo-hoo! My goal this week was to develop the ability--and confidence--to take an instrumental "break" (i.e., perform an instrumental solo for one verse) during a jam session. I practiced in classes. Got my moment in the sun--actually, under the full moon--at a jam on the porch with some instructors, fellow musicians from the Archie Edwards blues jams in Maryland, and my friend Melissa who lives in West Virginia.
I love meeting up with Augusta friends each year, complimenting each other's musical progress--and complementing each other at the jams 
We sing and play, and sing and play some more, 'til the wee hours, on the porch under a full moon; this is why we come to music camp

Friday afternoon - prolific students this week! Student showcase, four hours long. Very impressive--about half. Promising potential--the other half. 🤭  I performed "Mockingbird" with one of my harmonica classes; see video below. (Soloed in a previous year--video of that performance here).
We huff and puff, and play and sing, along with our instructor, renowned harmonica virtuoso Joe Filisko from Chicago
Oh yeah, it's true, getting old sucks! Sing the blues out, buddy
Fellow students can be very entertaining, showcasing original songs and harmonica tricks; others are more serious about just plain singin' the blues
Friday night - A fabulous, fun dance to close out the week. Prominent blues musicians--Jontavious Willis, Sunpie Barnes, Andrew Alli, others--on stage. Students, instructors, and townspeople taking to the dance floor to shake their booties while the moon comes up, and over, and starts back down again. Sleep? Yeah, no problem. Tomorrow!

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