Author: Varner, Mark

The new CBA Music Camp
Dear Friends,

The NCBS should be congratulated for presenting the biggest and best Good Old Fashioned Festival in its long and colorful career. The attendance was way up and the musical acts have never been so good. Despite the best efforts of those, myself included, who claim it never really gets hot at Bolado Park, the weather was decidedly summery.

One thing this festival has done, in my opinion, is to give a leg up to Bay Area bluegrass and old time musicians. Not to say that the GOOFY, as it has come to be called, doesn’t hire the very best of veteran California bands, but this is the festival that an up and coming band can aspire to play. Playing coffee houses and farmers markets for tips is one thing, but being part of a festival line up is a goal of any band. I know that my son’s band OMGG sure appreciated the opportunity. Offering these up and comers a big gig like this inspires excellence and has improved the overall musical scene in central California. Great job, Northern California Bluegrass Society!

Another contributor to musical excellence in our part of the Golden State is the CBA’s very own Music Camp. This popular event has been overflowing for years, with many would be campers turned away each time. The situation was more than Camp director Ingrid Noyes and the CBA leadership could bear forever. For quite some time discussions have been held on the topic of expanding the Camp. Adding more attendees to the already large June camp has been done to the point that we cannot grow anymore without straining our infrastructure and diminishing the quality of the event. An added Camp at another time of year seemed to be the way to go.

Ingrid came up with a plan for a Winter Camp, an indoor event that would allow us to deal with the summertime over flow and serve as a remedy to the rainy season cabin fever that plagues us 24/7 bluegrass and old time types. I kept bugging the poor woman until she wrote up the details in this piece, including the line up of excellent and experienced instructors. We will run a registration form in the September issue of the Bluegrass Breakdown. See ya at CBA’s new Camp!

CBA Winter Music Camp—Registration opens Sept 18th!

OK, all you campers who couldn’t come to music camp last summer, or you who did and just can’t get enough, or you who have never been before and want to get in on the fun…’s your chance to sign up for our brand new winter music camp, which will be making its debut at the Walker Creek Ranch near Petaluma, from February 15th –18th, (Monday to Thursday), the week of the San Francisco Bluegrass and Oldtime Festival.

These dates were picked partly because for many schools it’s “Ski Week”, so hopefully some kids who want to come will be able to without missing school (teachers, too!) The Monday of this week is the President’s Day holiday, so it’s still a matter of taking three days off work, same as our summer camp, for regular working people.

This camp will be very similar to our popular summer camp—designed for anyone, young or old, who enjoys playing bluegrass or oldtime music. In response to camper requests, we are offering more vocal electives, more ensemble classes, and more level 3 (upper intermediate) electives. Mornings will still be spent in classes of about ten each, working with an instructor on your instrumental or vocal skills. Elective classes will be offered each afternoon in everything from clogging to songwriting, music theory, etc. in addition to ensemble groups, and office hours with instructors for additional one-on-one time. Evenings will include dancing, staff and student concerts, and of course lots of jamming.

Walker Creek Ranch is a perfect site for a music camp. It’s situated in the rolling hills of Marin County, very remote and beautiful yet only about 25 minutes from the 101 corridor, and about an hour from the metropolitan Bay Area. It’s a full conference center facility, with room to hold all classes indoors and house all campers and staff indoors. There is a staffed kitchen and dining hall which serves three full meals daily. There is room to park RVs, and people who live nearby can commute and stay off site. For more information on the facility, check out

We selected twenty of our best tried-and-true teachers for this first winter camp, all stellar teachers who have received five-star ratings from previous students. The following instructors will be teaching these morning classes:
Bluegrass banjo: Bill Evans, level 1; Keith Little, level 2; Avram Siegel, level 3.
Oldtime banjo: Steve Baughman, level 1; Evie Ladin, level 2/3.
Bass: Missy Raines, level 1; Bill Amatneek, level 2/3.
Dobro: : Ivan Rosenberg, level 1; Mike Witcher. level 2/3.
Fiddle: Megan Lynch, level 1; Jack Tuttle, level 2/3 bluegrass; Brad Leftwich, level 2/3 oldtime.
Guitar: Jim Nunally, level 1; Carol McComb, level 2 Carter style; Kathy Barwick, level 3.
Mandolin: Roland White, level 1; Dix Bruce, level 2 oldtime; John Reischman, level 3 bluegrass.
Vocals: Chris Stuart, level 1; Janet Beazley, level 2/3.
Kids Fungrass program: instructor TBA
Jamming 101 (electives and evening classes): Sid Lewis

Level 1 classes are for “advanced beginners”, which means you can tune your instrument, you know how to play it, and you can play at least a few songs—if not up to tempo, at least not agonizingly slowly. Level 2 classes means you can play a lot of songs up to tempo, and have some experience playing with other people. Level 3 means you can play at least simple instrumental breaks and regularly jam with others or play in a band.

For detailed class descriptions, recommended prerequisites, bios of the instructors, schedule, and lots more information about the camp, please see our website:, which will be updated with all new information about the first week of September.

Prices start at $350, with various options ranging up to $600. Scholarship assistance is available as always for those who need it. There is a registration form elsewhere in this issue, which you can fill out and mail in with payment—we won’t respond until after registration opens on September 18th, but postmarked anytime on or before then will count as first-day registration.

On-line registration will be available the morning of September 18th at For any other information, you can call director Ingrid Noyes at 415-663-1342 or e-mail

Hope to see you at camp!
Posted:  8/10/2009

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