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California Coast Camp 2012

By John Wagner - California Coast Music Camp
February 24, 2012 - 7:15 am

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California Coast Music Camp 2012 - Great music instruction since 1992

California Coast Music Camp 2012 - Great music instruction since 1992

Palo Alto, Calif. — This July, California Coast Music Camp (CCMC) will offer two week-long acoustic camps, July 8-14 and July 15-21, 2012.

The camp is located on a wooded ridge at 4,000 feet, in the historic Sierra Nevada Gold Country in Placer County, northeast of Sacramento.

CCMC recently upgraded its website and added three short videos about the camp.

CCMC offers more than 30 classes in mandolin, guitar, bass, voice, fiddle, ukulele, and songwriting. CCMC focuses more on teaching practical, usable skills which you can incorporate into your playing or singing. Styles include bluegrass, swing, blues, old time, country, folk, Hawaiian slack-key, jazz, rock, jug band, and more. The camp features extra workshops, band labs, jams, concerts, dances, and performance opportunities.

Swimming and hiking are non-musical options at CCMC and some campers bring bikes to explore old roads and mining towns in the area. The camp has fairly flat terrain, with improved roads and trails throughout, and it overlooks one of the main canyons of the American River. Camp includes all meals and activities; for lodging, you can bring a tent or RV or stay in shared cabins.

But most of all, you get lots of music and music instruction from mandolin teachers like these:

Week 1 Mandolin Instructors: Mike Compton and Kenny Feinstein

Mike is among the top mandolin players in the country. He has participated in over 75 CD projects, some of which have been Grammy Award winners, and his mandolin can be heard in soundtracks for Oh Brother! Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain and other movies. He has performed and recorded with musicians like Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, John Hartford, David Grier and David Grisman. As an active member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band, he has toured internationally. Mike has been on the Mandolin Symposium faculty several times.

Kenny is a multi-instrumentalist who plays in bluegrass bands as well as in jazz combos. He also plays in other styles, from Cajun to country to blues. Kenny is a student and teacher of mandolin, guitar, banjo, harmonica, bass, uke, and fiddle. He has a music degree from the University of Oregon and is on the faculty of two music schools in the Portland, OR area.

Week 2 Mandolin Instructor: Marla Fibish

Marla specializes in Celtic mandolin, mandola and button accordion. She has added her Irish sound to several CD projects, including that of Three Mile Stone, an Irish trio with whom she regularly appears in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has both a CD and national tour upcoming with Irish musician, Jimmy Crowley, which will feature all the instruments in the mandolin family. She will be returning as a faculty member of the 2012 Mandolin Symposium and has taught mandolin at other camps as well.


In addition to skills classes, CCMC offers band workshops in bluegrass, swing and jazz styles, plus purely repertoire classes that mandolin players can enjoy. And there are always lots of jamming and chances to perform.

CCMC's teachers for other instruments and voice have similarly strong musical backgrounds as the mandolin faculty, so you'd have a chance to work on the non-mandolin parts of your music or try out a new style. CCMC strives to bring in instructors who are not only great musicians but great teachers.

Go to California Coast Music Camp web site to get details on the classes for mandolin and other instruments, plus information about the camp itself (and watch the videos!). Students may register for one or both weeks at this site or by mail. Scholarships are available. You can find links to the web sites of teachers there, too, if you want to get more of their musical bios and hear samples of their playing.

Student Concert

Mike Compton's Mandolin Class Performing for the Student Concert, 2011. Photo credit: Stephen Westfold.

Mike Compton's Mandolin Class Performing for the Student Concert, 2011

Whether you're a shy beginner or a seasoned professional, CCMC's classes and activities will challenge and inspire you. The supportive atmosphere will encourage you to stretch musically, regardless of your level or experience. And CCMC is fun - and has been since 1992!


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Reader Comments

Paul Kotapish
February 24, 2012 01:00 PM
This is a fabulous camp, and there are great mandolin instructors there both weeks. It's a very guitar-centric, but there are always plenty of 8-string players, too, and workshop/band/jam/performance opportunities in all manner of styles. I had the pleasure of teaching there on a few occasions, and my wife and I first hooked up after a late-night jam there 13 years ago.
Topher Gayle
March 12, 2012 03:03 PM
I've been going to CCMC nearly every year since about 2001. The last few years I've also been teaching there (though not this year, as it happens). I look forward to camp all year.

It is a great camp! For me, one of the most important things that came from this camp was the ability to hook up with many like-minded folks, so we could continue to make music during the 51 weeks of the year we're not at camp. Camp has enabled me to become a better musician, sure; but more importantly, I've had lots more musical fun in life, thanks to new contacts and experiences at camp.
March 12, 2012 09:52 PM
California Coast Music Camp is far more than a place to learn and play music. For me it's been a source of many life changing moments. While most initially come for the music, after 11 years, I come to reminisce with old friends, many that have become lifelong friends. It's an addition that you won't want to kick. Glenn Lawrence
March 15, 2012 08:26 AM
I was there in week-2 of 2007. Met and made quite few friends, among which were Jayme and Topher. Jayme later described Topher as "a musical swiss-army knife" in one of her concert announcements that featured either his mandolin or bouzuki. At CCMC I jammed with both. The jamming started about ten minutes after I got on the bus in Los Gatos and continued for a week including at least two all-nighters at the firepit including a group of who looked at the sacrament of jam as more important than sleep.

While it is true that I have not been to camp since then, I knew it would take a while to digest the huge and diverse input of ideas and styles that I had been exposed to; in the meantime I have a real job (various guitar cases had a bumper sticker that said "REAL musicians have day jobs") which pays the bills and distracts from music, but I have been to most of the reunions and also kicked in a few bucks for various CCMC related causes including funding for a project by one of my teachers, and attendance at various events by both teachers and students.

CCMC moved from Camp Gualala (in Sonoma county) to a new camp in the Sierra Foothills of East California in the meantime. I have heard and seen various postings about the advantages of flatter ground and ongoing efforts to add features and amenities. Eventually I will go back, there is no question about that. And as before I will be like a kid in a candy store, stymied at times to just make up my mind what to attend at what kinds of techniques to try and so forth.

And I am connected to a live and vibrant virtual community of mostly Bay Area pro- and amateur musicians whose taste and creativity and warmth continue to impress me, and on top of that I have become much more familiar with the prominence of some of the names that I had met informally and jammed with but realized later were major figures in Bay Area music. Ed, Christina, and Jennifer, you know who you are. To those I remain sincerely beholden.

at large
March 15, 2012 12:35 PM
I've gone to the CCMC camp but mostly go to their winter retreat. I just wanted to add my recommendation of CCMC, not just because of the teachers but because the participants are so much fun. It's a great, supportive atmosphere. Can hardly think of a better vacation a musician can give themselves.

Jill McAuley
March 18, 2012 10:34 AM
Would love to go to this but alas the chances of getting time off from my job are pretty much nil - any folks who play or are wanting to learn how to play Irish/Celtic style on the mandolin would be hard pressed to find a better teacher than Marla Fibish! Looking forward to reading folks reporting back on what the camp was like.

Topher Gayle
October 09, 2012 08:22 PM
Here it is several months later, and I guess it's time to report in, as requested, Jill!

I was there week two, and it was my pleasure to meet Marla then. A sweet, generous gal, a loved teacher, and a fabulous player. There were several mandolin-playing students on hand (including me!) and we all had plenty to do. There were many organized and also informal jams in many styles and speeds every day, concerts and/or dances at night. Informal coffee-house venue twice that week, too.

Part of the fun is "instrument tasting" - basically you're playing along with folks and then you say, "what a nice mandolin you have," and odds are really good that in a moment it will be thrust into your hands for a test drive. Really fun! That must have happened a dozen times to me during the week.

Well, I had the chance to play my funny songs at a couple of places during the week, accompanied by friends, and I acompanied them a couple of times also.

As I said before, I love music camps - this is a great one!
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