This first was an intensive songwriter’s workshop, hosted by Ronnie Bowman and Dan Tyminski in mid-August. It was designed as a full-immersion songwriting experience, and special consideration was given to young songwriters with an interest in bluegrass music. The class contained just over a songwriters, who spent the weekend together in the NC woods.
These events are the brainchild of Henri Deschamps, a successful businessman and music lover who is using his expertise and business acumen during his “retirement” to help up-and-coming bluegrass artists develop their talents. He means to hold other small session seminars at Mast Farm Inn, a bed and breakfast he and his wife operate in Valle Crucis, NC.
In discussions, Henri exudes a sincerity and passion for the music and the people who dedicate their lives to it, and can be nothing but an asset to bluegrass. He spent a career in textbook publishing, and has a wealth of knowledge about instructional methods and publicity that he is willing to share. For example, he will help lead an IBMA Professional Development seminar in November on Creating Strategic Alliances on Facebook.
Though the songwriting workshop in August was kept to a minimal number, Deschamps tapped Nashville videographer (and IBMA Board member) Craig Havighurst to produce a record of the event. The result is The Mast Farm Inn Sessions (A Study In Songwriting), a 25 minute documentary crafted in a journalistic style. Henri footed the bill, but is making the video available online – you catch watch it below.
On his web site, Craig mused a bit about what a joy it was to create this film, and what an important part of the music it portrayed.
“My own sense of mission about this film was strong from the start. I wanted to try to capture one of the finest things I’ve come to know about bluegrass, and that is its giving, pass-the-knowledge kind of culture. At one point Scott in the film says that there can be an exclusive club-like quality to certain picking circles of cliques of musicians. And that can be true, but I think everyone including him would agree that there’s also a vast amount of information sharing and inspiration passing that goes on in the community. I am on the board of directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association because I think so highly about the bluegrass business and community and the music’s place in our culture. This film was in no way sanctioned by the IBMA. They haven’t even seen it. But I would like to dedicate the film to IBMA’s mission of perpetuating bluegrass music across borders and generations. I think you’ll agree that with teachers and learners this passionate and sincere, that will be going on for a long time to come.”
A tip of the hat to Deschamps for his vision, to Ronnie and Dan for their willingness to share, and to Craig for presenting it unfiltered for everyone to enjoy.