Notes from the Road - Sunshine State Acoustic Music Camp Saturday, November 15, 2008 Corrections and additions from Friday first – another of the early arrivers was Doug Purcell (how did I omit that!). Doug is at the camp every year and, as the reigning FOFF Prez, has an important role at the camp – FOFF provides a number of youth scholarships for these teen and preteens to attend. Whenever Doug and I are together we bill it as “Doug squared”, though given our respective girths it’s more appropriately “Doug rounded!” Doug has teamed up with Carl Wade and Barbara Schaffer to form a new trio, Triad. Watch for them – I think they may even include a Spears tune or two in their repertoire! The weatherman had predicted a little rain on Saturday and, for once, he was right. I woke to a drizzling mist and low moving clouds. Now that sounds worse than it was. While our classes here are designed to given outdoors at designated shady spots around the grounds (notice the alliteration there), there was a plan B. There are cabins on one end of the area the SSAMC occupies with covered front porches and which are conveniently numbered 1 through 8 (corresponding with the designated outdoor class areas also numbered 1 – 8). In the case of rain we were to report to our correspondingly numbered front cabin porch and conduct our classes there – smooth as silk. Though the rain broke just as my first class at 11 a.m. was to begin, we opted to stay near the porches in case of a passing shower. Before heading over to my class at 11 a.m., in consideration of any poor student that might end up down wind, I thought perhaps I should shower and remove the layers of sweat accumulated from the load up, travel, set up, night humidity, etc. of the previous day. Now, do not misunderstand what follows as complaint – any campground with bathrooms and showers of any condition are a luxury, particularly when your campsite has no water or power. Nevertheless, in the interests of full and truthful reporting, I should say that the showers were “assorted.” On the men’s side (I can’t report on the Ladies’ side as such behavior is not tolerated around here) there were three showers, kind of “locker room” style along one wall. Privacy is not a feature that is offered. The shower to the far right end of the wall was stone cold. Though it was still warm outside, it seemed as if this water was being brought in from some mountain beer brewing operation and there was no way I was dousing myself in that. The second shower dribbled (and that’s generous) a tepid stream that in order to get my head under I would have had to place my cheek (face!!) against the wall. You would have had a hard time rinsing your hands in it, much less a full fledged scrub. The last shower on the left had magnificent, paint removing pressure. However, where the first was stone cold, this one was scalding (hand reddening) hot. Yikes!! So after testing all three multiple times wandering around in nothing but shower shoes (OK, so you didn’t need that image I’m sure) I settled on scalding hot. Essentially I willed my hands to endure it while I splashed and spritzed the rest of me, soaped, rinsed and got out just before first aid for my fingers became necessary. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again tomorrow, odor be damned! I was thrilled that my classes, both morning and afternoon, were well attended – a dozen or more in each segment. I was particularly thrilled to have at least one return student from last year (thanks Andrea!) and more than four of those teens and preteens I mentioned above. And, I ESPECIALLY gratified that about half of my morning class came back for my afternoon class as well! Too cool! We covered various aspects of songwriting including issues relating to basic tips and techniques, resources, generating ideas for both lyrics and melodies, rhyme schemes and more. The class doesn’t follow the outline necessarily, but molds to what those that are attending want to work on. I’m often unsure who learns more, them or me! I know I certainly enjoy it and have so much fun talking about one of the things I love most. I finished up at 4 pm (after another more serious rain squall moved through) and made my way back to the camper to dump the guitar, etc. and check on the football scores. I got the Gaytor game (oops, sorry about that) and listened as they pounded SC in the swamp, while eating some stew, etc. sitting out under the camper awning as the temperature began to drop. The FSU game won’t come on until 8 pm, so I’ll probably miss that. Saturday night at the SSAMC is the instructors’ performance and Charlie creates a schedule starting at 7 pm. As it turns out, Charlie has scheduled me as the “chase act” – dead last. I don’t mind – it lets me hear all the others, hang out, chat, etc. So I coffeed up and settled in. A lot of folks came in just for the show, including my dear friends Goody Haines and Shelly Eckert. This is a much loved event in the area and people go to some lengths to support it year after year. Expert sound was provided, free of charge, by Mike McNeil. It’s hard to imagine a better setting. It is truly impressive the collection of talent that agrees, for little more than gas money (less than for some) to contribute their time and energy to this very worthwhile endeavor. The show was excellent top to bottom. Charlie always kicks it off with a few tunes and then we cycle through the entire faculty with 10 minute slots. There clearly were stand outs, but it does a disservice to mention some and not others as all were truly exceptional. The telling point is that the clubhouse building was filled and folks were sitting outside on the deck until the bitter end. I came on at nearly 11 p.m. and very few folks had left from the 7 p.m. start. After my two song slot (Yellow Butter Moon & Hemingway’s Hurricane, both of which will be included on my upcoming album), ably assisted on bass by Jim Davis, all the instructors gathered back on stage for the finale – “Keep on the Sunny Side.” A tremendous show all around! Outside the temperature continued to fall under the bright light of a waning gibbous moon. A crowd collected outside the clubhouse and a great jam ensued with the teens and preteens front and center playing traditional tunes, newer stuff, originals – the whole gamut. Joe and Katie Waller, as always, were the unofficial jam ring leaders and, in their skilled fashion, made sure everyone was included and got to participate. I hung in for an hour or so, but soon I could hear my pillow calling my name. Back at the camper I closed the windows against the chill and snuggled up under warm blankets for a little reading and then lights out. I have two more two hour sections to teach tomorrow afternoon so the sleep is much needed. Wonderful sleeping weather! Night – Doug Doug Spears 36 Interlaken Road Orlando, Florida 32804 407-257-4242