If you play or study one or more of the common bluegrass instruments, chances are you’ve attended a workshop or music camp weekend. Some are based around a single instrument, while others offer instruction on several over the course of a few days. Typically the faculty is drawn from regionally or nationally prominent performers, at larger camps chosen from among different touring groups.
Such is the fascination for students of bluegrass that these camps now proliferate across the US and Canada, and are starting to be scheduled in parts of the UK and continental Europe as well. You can find them held in settings as varied as hotels, schools, churches, and retreats. It has now become common to find these workshops held in conjunction with major music festivals.
One promoter on the west coast has come up with a new twist on this format. Dana Thorin and Music Caravan had the idea to host a smallish camp of around 50 students, and match them up with a noted touring band for several days of both group and single-instrument instruction. The hope is that existing groups of amateur or semi-pro bands will attend in full, along with individual students, and classes on group dynamics and working with sound systems will be included.
Calling this new venture Band Sessions, an initial weekend (November 7-9) has been selected, and Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands chosen to teach at the Yosemite Bug Rustic Resort and Spa in Midpines, CA. Laurie will work with guitarists, Tom Rozum with mandolinists, Patrick Sauber the banjo players, Andrew Conklin the bassists, and guest instructor Blaine Sprouse the fiddlers.
Dana is excited about this band-oriented concept, and is talking with a couple of different bands for Band Sessions in 2015. She also intends to start scouting for other locations around the country where she might host them.
More information about Band Sessions can be found online.