Author: Sargent, Geoff

Signs, Portents, Soothsaying, and Music Camp

Some of you know that I am a tea snob and bloody proud of it. I don’t drink coffee, not because of any particular reason except that I never learned to appreciate the taste. My life would be so much easier if I did drink coffee though… many business meetings have you been to where someone asked if you wanted a cup of tea? Usually I just decline, and don’t offer any explanation, but occasionally I’ll ask for tea knowing that a) I’ll get that “oh you’re one of those new age freaks” look and b) get a lukewarm cup of tap water with some frufru bag of lemon crap or rose petal doggie doo that everyone assumes is what I want. Nope, what I want is a big, knock-your-socks-off, take-no-prisoners Assam tea or maybe an eye-crossing African tea made from tea bushes fertilized by lion, tiger, or elephant dung; something with big body, big taste, and hopefully big caffeine or the equivalent. The tea should be free to range around the cup, not imprisoned by a bag, and the water hot, hot, hot; if it doesn’t remove at least two layers of skin off your mouth it ain’t hot enough. And this is critical…the water is poured over the leaves, not the other way around. Making a cup of tea is a little bit of a Zen exercise in patience… gotta let it steep a good 3-5 minutes, which means at Starbucks the tea drinkers are generally the aimless looking jerks blocking off the milk bar, waiting for that subjective moment when the tea is ready to accept milk and sugar. Did I say milk…….it is the highest of sins to use Half & Half or cream for tea. For those of you who think that the British traditional Cream Tea refers to what you put in the tea, you got it wrong… a Cream Tea, clotted cream is what you put on the strawberry jam-covered scone you’re going to stuff into your mouth, while the tea gets milk.

As with most things in my life, I place blame for this tea affliction fully on my mother’s shoulders. Mom is a Brit…it’s not her fault, but when she grew up, before, during, and after WWII evidently there wasn’t much in the way of decent coffee in the UK. Her coffee brewing skills were so bad that my father would not allow her to make coffee at home, especially for guests. This is even sadder because we are talking instant coffee here. But tea, that was different. We had hot tea for every meal….including hot Atlanta summers, we had tea when we got sick, for celebrations, minor emergencies, stitches, bumps on the head, skinned knees, lost loves, first kisses, traffic tickets, and lost dogs all required a cuppa to help sort out the full implications of the situation. So, if you happen to wander by my camp at Grass Valley this summer you might ask for, and I might grant, a cuppa of free range tea, big, strong stuff full of those good nutrients from the lions, tigers, or elephants that helped the tea bush grow, and you might surprise yourself with how much better your picking will be.

After you have finished that soul satisfying, ego boosting, libido enhancing cuppa, look carefully and at the bottom of the cup you might see a few leaves peeking through the last few dregs of murky liquid, and you should pause a moment and ask the leaves a question. I did that this morning and the answer I got was: full, full, full of happy campers playing their hearts out, and jamming with abandonment. The leaves, being of unknown origin, most likely from India and Africa, went on to suggest the possible presence of large wild animals but the message was confusing because lions, tigers, and elephants generally don’t carry stringed instruments…..and strangely, the name “Sid” kept appearing in the context of wild animals.

So here’s the skinny. Music camp is filling up and we are over half full! One class, vocal harmonies, is full and several are well on their way so don’t wait, enroll now otherwise you might be unpleasantly surprised. March is when we used to open music enrollment and I am wondering if all of a sudden a bunch of folks are going to wake up, think “March! I better get my spot before everyone else remembers” and …..ooooops!

So get online ( and register now, before all the classes are full!

We're really proud of the world-class teachers we've been able to assemble for the 2013 camp. The complete roster of classes and teachers is now posted on the website along with class descriptions, teacher biographies, prerequisites, and other useful information at ( Here's a quick list of just the teachers and their classes:

Teacher Class
------------------------ ---------------------------------
Masha & Geff Crawford Old-Time Band, level 1/2
Kathy Kallick Bluegrass Band, level 1/2
Jason Burleson Bluegrass Banjo, level 1
Bill Evans Bluegrass Banjo, level 2/3
Tom Sauber Old-Time Banjo, level 2/3
Lisa Burns Bass, level 1
Cary Black Bass, level 2/3
Mike Witcher Dobro, level 1
Rob Ickes Dobro, level 2/3
Annie Staninec Bluegrass/Old-Time Fiddle, level 1
Jack Tuttle Bluegrass Fiddle, level 2/3
Brad Leftwich Old-Time Fiddle, level 2/3
Molly Tuttle Guitar w/Singing, level 1
Jim Nunally Rhythm Guitar, level 2
Tim Stafford Guitar Solos, level 2/3
Sharon Gilchrist Bluegrass/Old-Time Mandolin, level 1
Patrick Sauber Bluegrass/Old-Time Mandolin, level 2
John Reischman Bluegrass/Old-Time Mandolin, level 3
Alice Gerrard Singing Styles, level 2/3
Keith Little Harmony Singing, level 2/3
Kathleen Rushing FunGrass, level 0/1
Sid Lewis Jamming 101, level 1/2

If you're wondering which level would be right for you, this may help: Level 1 is advanced beginner (you can tune and play a bit); level 2 is intermediate (you're comfortable playing or singing and have played some with others); level 3 is upper intermediate (you have some years experience and play well with others in jam sessions or on stage).

If you have any questions about the classes or the costs or the accommodations or anything to do with the CBA Summer Music Camp, the camp directors (Janet Peterson and Peter Langston) will be happy to answer them. The easiest way to reach them is by email . If you'd rather talk to a live person you can call Janet at 360-647-0741 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PST. If you get the answering machine, leave a message and Janet will call you back.

Posted:  2/17/2013

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