Author: Varner, Mark

Music Camp 2008
Dear friends,

I noticed a query about CBA Music Camp on the message board. I imagine that other compulsive Music Camp lovers like myself are wondering about who’s teaching and when we can sign up. Here’s exactly what Music Camp poobah Ingrid Noyes has to say:

Registration opens February 1st for the eighth annual CBA Music Camp, which will take place this year from June 8th to 11th at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, just prior to the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival. This camp has been heralded by staff and students alike as one of the best bluegrass camps in the country.

The camp is designed for anyone who plays bluegrass or oldtime music, at an advanced beginning or intermediate level. Advanced beginning (level 1) means you can tune your instrument and know how to play it at least a little. Intermediate (level 2) means you're beyond that, but still have lots to learn. We also have a few level 3 classes, designed for those who have at least two years of playing experience, and some experience playing with others in jam sessions or in informal bands. Where there is no level 3 class, the level 2 classes will be open to level 3 students as well, and teachers will cater to the ability level of the group.

The focus is on learning more about playing your instrument, and learning more about how to play well with others. Mornings are devoted to working with one instructor in a small group, focusing on skill and technique on your instrument. Afternoons feature jam groups, with help and guidance from the staff; elective classes in various topics such as songwriting, clogging, music theory, working with a band, etc; and office hours in which you can get some extra one-on-one time with any instructor. In the evenings, there are lots of jams, a contra dance, and staff and student concerts.

Camp starts Sunday afternoon with registration and some of our most valuable classes taught by Jack Tuttle. There will also be some jamming Sunday afternoon, then dinner and introductions to the staff, followed by a jam class. Monday morning we begin our instrumental classes, and our final, yet-to-be-announced event will take place Wednesday evening. A detailed schedule is posted on our website (see below).

There is also a morning children’s program for young budding musicians who are just learning to play, want to learn to play, or are too young to be in a mostly adult class. This class will be taught by Kathleen Rushing, with help from Bob Schwartz, and it is intended for children or siblings of students enrolled in the music camp.

New this year, Sid Lewis brings his popular Jamming 101 program to camp. Sid is known for his skill at getting players of all ability levels jamming together happily and successfully, and he will be leading jams every day or evening at camp (for more info on this program, see

On staff this year—
We will have three members from the Blue Highway Band. Rob Ickes will be teaching the level 2 dobro class, Tim Stafford will teach a level 3 guitar flatpicking class, and Jason Burleson will teach the level 3 bluegrass banjo class. The four members of John Reischman’s Jaybirds who were on staff last year will return: John will again teach level 1 mandolin; Jim Nunally will teach his level 2 rhythm guitar class; Trisha Gagnon will be teaching the level 2 bass class; and Nick Hornbuckle will teach level 1 bluegrass banjo. Alan Bibey from Grasstowne will teach the level 2 mandolin class, and Lisa Burns from Sidesaddle will teach level 1 bass. Two teachers who taught here for the first time last year and got rave reviews will return: Heidi Clare for the level 2 oldtime fiddle class, and Butch Waller for the level 2 Monroe mandolin class. New this year, we welcome Megan Lynch, who will teach level 1 fiddle; Steve Baughman, who will be teaching the level 1 oldtime banjo class; and Carol McComb, who will teach the level 2 vocals class. We also welcome back three well-liked teachers who have taught here in previous years: Ivan Rosenberg for level 1 dobro; Dix Bruce for level 1 guitar; and Tom Sauber for level 2 oldtime banjo. And, finally, some of our “mainstay” camp instructors will be with us again: Jack Tuttle will teach level 2 bluegrass fiddle; Keith Little will teach level 1 vocals; and Bill Evans will teach level 2 bluegrass banjo this year.

Next month’s Breakdown will have complete class information and bios for all these teachers and their classes. To see this information now, go to the Instructors page of our website ( and it is already posted there. It is very helpful to read these descriptions before choosing a class to enroll in. It is also helpful to read the FAQs page on the website, and What’s New for 2008—check it out!

About prices, we have bad news and good news. The bad news is, due to increased expenses, including a much deserved raise for our instructors, the price of camp has gone up $25 this year, to $270 (for registration by May 1st--$305 after that date). The good news is, we hardly ever have to turn people away from this camp for lack of funds, due to a very well-oiled scholarship machine, which is fed by a lot of kind and generous people—most of them our own campers who choose to chip in a little extra for this purpose. CBA campers are the best! So if you find yourself short on funds but would like to come to camp, you are encouraged to apply for a partial scholarship to make it work for you. We also have a few full scholarships available, which are awarded to promising young musicians from low-income families—to apply, just contact the director of the camp at or call 415-663-1342 (after 9 a.m.).

The above price is for tuition; meals and camping are optional add-ons. For full catered meals, Sunday dinner through Wednesday lunch, we charge an additional $80. Other options are to bring and prepare your own food, or eat out at any of various nearby restaurants. But our meal plan is a great deal, with delicious meals prepared, and served with a smile, by Blue Sun Catering, and eating together is a nice way to get to know your fellow campers. For camping, there are various choices. Tent camping costs only $25, our best deal. RV camping is $60, or $90 with guaranteed electrical hook-up, subject to availability. Other options are to commute to camp or stay in a nearby motel. For information on local lodging and meals, contact the Grass Valley/Nevada City Chamber of Commerce at 530-273-4667 or

Enrollment in this camp gets you a $10 discount off a 4-day festival pass to the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival. Some classes fill within a few weeks, so early registration is strongly advised for best choice of classes.

To enroll, fill out the registration form in this issue and mail it in with payment, OR for online registration, you can sign up directly on the website. Our website, again, is; for any questions, you can call director Ingrid Noyes at 415-663-1342 or e-mail

Hope to see you at camp!

So we’ve got some entertainment coming up in San Francisco just right around the corner. Feb 1st marks the beginning of the ninth annual NCBS San Francisco Bluegrass and Old Time Festival. Check out the schedule at Lots of show from which to choose. I’ll be taking the family up to see our buds Jackstraw at the Noe Valley Ministry on February 8th. Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this festival what it is.

Your pal,
Mark Varner
Posted:  1/21/2008

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