By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
This year, bluegrass music instruction camps for kids and adults will once again take place on Reservoir Hill immediately preceding the Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival.
Dates for the Jam Camp and Junior Jam Camp are June 4, 5 and 6. Registration is currently open for both camps, though some instrument spots are full or nearly full for the adult Jam Camp.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass Junior Jam Camp is open to students ages 7-15. Exceptions may be made for younger students who have demonstrated aptitude and experience. This camp is an opportunity to explore traditional music in a supportive environment with qualified instruction alongside peers of similar abilities. Local students can be dropped off and picked up each day; out-of-town students are encouraged to camp on the festival grounds with at least one adult family member or stay in lodging that is close to Reservoir Hill in downtown Pagosa Springs.
This year’s faculty instructors include Grammy-award winning musicians Kate Lee and Forrest O’Connor; Bonnie and Taylor Sims from Bonnie and the Clydes; and Gregg Daigle, an Albuquerque-based classical guitarist who teaches music professionally. The camp director is Eric Richard Stone, a singer-songwriter based in Boulder. Kids camp alumni The Cody Sisters and Jackson Earle will also be on hand as faculty assistants.
Tuition is $275 and includes all regular instruction, a keepsake songbook and camping on Reservoir Hill for jam camp students and their immediate family. Class sizes and enrollment are limited in order to provide more personalized instruction.
The adult version Jam Camp returns for its 12th year with Fort Collins-based band FY5 at the helm. Mike Finders is a singer/songwriter, guitar picker and professional educator. He’s been teaching guitar lessons for most of his adult life and bluegrass jam classes for the last seven years. Erin Youngberg has played stand-up bluegrass bass since she was 9 years old and is a veteran lesson teacher and jam camp instructor. Her husband, Aaron Youngberg, is a professional banjo and pedal steel player, guitar and banjo instructor, and recording engineer. He’ll be teaching banjo. Ryan Drickey is a Rockygrass fiddle champion, old-time, jazz and classical player whose session and sideman work is in high demand from New York to Seattle. Rich Zimmerman on mandolin has been a private instructor as well as band leader for the popular regional band Slipstream. All five members of the band are not only knowledgeable and experienced bluegrass players, but — more importantly — they are patient and skilled instructors with the humor and grace it takes to help adults have fun and move forward in their playing.
Jam Camp is an excellent opportunity for intermediate-level pickers age 17-plus to take a big step forward in their bluegrass understanding and pickin’ proficiency. Built on the idea that playing with and for other musicians is a powerful tool for learning, campers are afforded supported opportunities to study and practice the foundations of bluegrass music on their guitars, fiddles, banjos, basses and mandolins. The camp uses a quick-paced variety of different teaching styles and formats including large-group instruction, small like-instrument workshops, one-on-one lessons and a band scramble that is gently coached by each of the staff members. In the small group ensembles, campers learn to play in balance, build solos, sing harmony and perform in front of a single microphone. The camp is recommended for intermediate-level adult musicians who enjoy playing bluegrass music with other folks.
Class sizes are limited, and registration focuses on creating a balance of instruments so that total registrants have a relatively equal number of each of the bluegrass “voices.” Guitar is already full, and mandolin spots are extremely limited at this time; do not wait to register if this is your instrument. Tuition is $275 for all three days and includes camping on Reservoir Hill. Jam Camp participants may stay on through Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass if festival passes with camping are purchased ahead of time. Participants are also welcome to stay in off-site lodging and drive to camp each day.
For additional information about these bluegrass Jam Camps, including daily activity schedules, or to secure your or your child’s spot in June, please visit www.folkwest.com/jamcamps.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass Jam Camps are organized by FolkWest, a Colorado nonprofit organization that receives funding from Colorado Creative Industries.