Culture Camp Returns to Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival, Trumansburg NY, July 16-19, 2017
Some of you may recall that this time last year I did an article on a new addition to the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival held each July in Trumansburg, New York, Culture Camp. It was a four-day music camp for musicians that preceded the festival itself.
Building on its success of last year, Tara Nevins and the festival again offer four days of workshops and instruction by a variety of musicians in the many, many genres of roots music, and the many levels, beginners and up. There are 27 types of workshops, including yoga, painting and dance, and 87 different instructors. There are also workshops specifically tailored for young folks.
Culture Camp is set on the grounds of the festival and includes more the workshops. Each of the four evenings also offer a different themed dinner and dance. For example, on Wednesday night before the festival opens, there will be a creole dinner prepared by Shane Guidry from Louisiana, and the dance features music by zydeco master, Preston Frank. Camp participants can subscribe to all four days or day by day. There is a youth discount, and the evening dinners and dances are open (for a fee) to the public as well. On-site camping is also available.
Last year I attended Culture Camp and was awed by camaraderie of not just the attendees who, it seemed, ranged in age from 10 to 70, but the “instructors” as well. I put that in quotes because what I saw was their patience and desire to pass along what had been passed along to them. They were not so much instructing as they were “sharing” the tradition. In so doing, they were also learning. More than once I witnessed a young player come up with something that couldn’t be done. Because no one had told her it couldn’t be done in a certain way, she did it that way. The Camp embraces tradition as being a two-way street as well.
As you will note below the workshops are varied, and based on my experience last year, it should come as no surprise that songwriting and singing were the most popular, with guitar and fiddle not far behind.
However, this year the Camp expands its already diverse line-up as it is able to offer instruction by guests who did not play the festival last year. Notably, members of Balfa Toujours, and Los Texmaniacs will lead workshops as well as preparing Tuesday night’s dinner and leading that night’s dance. Wow. Folks in the northeast will have the opportunity to learn how those folks carry on their traditions. Just imagine, let’s say, you are already somewhat proficient on one or more instruments, now you can immerse yourself in the Cajun style. While you may never play Cajun music, the deep exposure to another way of playing the same instrument can only open up new possibilities for your own music.
There is another workshop I am excited about, it’s Bobbie Henry on flat picking in the style of Doc Watson. Again, can you imagine what could be gleaned from a day or two of that?
But, workshops are not limited to those who know their way around a given instrument, there are also many beginner classes. All workshops are noted on skill level as well as style. Some examples: Richie Stearns on beginner clawhammer banjo; Preston Frank on zydeco accordion; Judy Hyman on advanced old time fiddle; or Jeff Claus on old time guitar. Or, Tara Nevins and jim Miller (both founding members of Donna teh Buffalo), withe Miller also delving into Country Songs Old and New.
Duo workshops also offer an interesting perspective. This year, David Via and his son offer two perspectives on the mandolin; and the intriguing combination of guitar and cello with Jeb Puryear and Hank Roberts. Puryear is, of course, a founding member of Donna the Buffalo and festival founder, while the Grammy-winning Roberts comes from a jazz and experimental background as evidenced by his many ECM recordings in the 1980s and his work with such notables as John Zorn, Arto Lindsey and Bill Frisell. Roberts, as like last year, also leads a workshop on improvisation.
I could go on, but these are just some of the things I am looking forward to. For complete information, please visit: https://www.grassrootsfest.org/culture-camp-1-1
To hear about Culture Camp from Ms. Nevins herself, listen to her radio interview here: http://whcuradio.com/morning-newswatch/grassroots-culture-camp/