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Thread: The old time camp-out

  1. #1
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default The old time camp-out

    If you love old time music and haven't yet attended a camp-out then do yourself a favor and find one near you. There are usually a few dances scheduled, sometimes with ""open bands" of whomever wants to join in. But mostly, its about jamming, sitting in with both friends and strangers and playing and learning lots of tunes from every possible genre. If you decide to attend one, give it at least three nights to really get into the mood.

    One thing i learned early on, is that the jam groups are almost never mandolin-centric. The fiddlers overwhelmingly control the tune choices, although with so many talented fiddlers at the gatherings, both the number and sheer speed of tunes you play, can really push your learning curve. Old-time devotees can treat new tunes much the same as bird devotees treat their lifetime lists.

    Banjos are usually the most frequent instruments encountered, with fewer guitars, and even fewer basses. Mandolins are usually dead last. An interesting phenomenon that develops from so many open-tuned, frailed banjos, is that a session will often stick to one key through 10 or 20 tunes in a row. These days, I seem to smile the most when that key finally turns to C major, which attracts the most seasoned players who savor the musical nuances of the prevalent rags, revelries, and southern swing.

    A lot of old-time mandolin players seem to favor old Gibson A's, and stick to first position chords rather than playing the melody. I once met a guy who lugs four Gibson A's around to the sessions, each one open-tuned to a different key. My own personal habit is inventing counter-rhythms that push the melody, often relying on double stops over the entire real estate of the fingerboard. Last summer at Centralia — one of the best camp-outs — I met and played with some great mandolinists picking on Red Diamonds, Nuggets, Loar period F4s, and a Gilchrist or two. Spending an hour swapping my Altman for such mandolins, while focusing on specific tunes that we mandolin players seem to favor, is a highlight of a camp-out.

    I started this thread, because there's a great camp-out coming up in early March in Tucson. Here's the info. If you attend, maybe I'll see you there. http://www.swotgathering.com
    Last edited by Jim Nollman; Jan-09-2018 at 5:45pm.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

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  3. #2
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The old time camp-out

    While living in NC for years, my two favorite old time fests were Mt Airy and Rockbridge.

    Rockbridge is in Buena Vista VA, and there are a lot of very fine mandolin players in the Charlottesville - Harrisonburg area.

    http://www.rockbridgefestival.org/
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  4. #3
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    Default Re: The old time camp-out

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    While living in NC for years, my two favorite old time fests were Mt Airy and Rockbridge.

    Rockbridge is in Buena Vista VA, and there are a lot of very fine mandolin players in the Charlottesville - Harrisonburg area.

    http://www.rockbridgefestival.org/
    thanks jim, tucson was good fun last year. centralia was great, but we had noisy folks camped next door[jim & katie]. HA! see you soon! let's all go to croma.....
    haven't posted in a few, hope I'm doing this right

  5. #4
    Registered User smokinop's Avatar
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    Default Re: The old time camp-out

    I will be going to my first in 2 weeks in the middle of Florida, Sparrow Music Camp. I've been to many festivals but this is my first OT music camp. Some friends that I jam with have been in the past and recommended it so I'm very excited for the new adventure and the opportunity to meet new friends.

    http://aishaivey.wixsite.com/sparrow-music-camp
    Kevin
    -Laura Ratcliff Model A #0035

  6. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The old time camp-out

    Thanks for that link to the sparrow music camp. I am inquiring to see if they still have space available.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  7. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The old time camp-out

    I have been going to these gatherings for decades in the east and mid-south but never heard them called camp-outs. I guess that is what they are but maybe that is more a western term?

    Decades ago I always went to the the Brandywine Old Time Festival outside of Newark, DE on a horse farm in Maryland. More recently is has become a reunion of sorts with no paid performers, camping out and a large potluck. Loads of fun and tunes.

    We also have within a few hours travel from where I live:

    • Black Creek - Near Altamont, NY on Memorial Day Weekend
    • Harry Smith - Mid summer in western Massachusetts
    • Lake Genero - In eastern PA over Labor Day Weekend


    These are not really festivals. There are no paid performers, just a bunch of players hanging out and trading tunes.

    I almost always bring a mandolin but usually play mostly fiddle for the old time tunes. However, last year at Lake Genero we had an Italian tune jam that was a lot of fun.
    Jim

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  8. #7
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The old time camp-out

    Someone I know just asked me if the old-time campout was a new phenomena. I couldn't answer, mostly because I've only been playing this music seriously for about 5 years. So thanks for your response Jim Garber. As Forrest Gump might say, camping out and playing old time music is like carrots and peas. It makes me curious if there are similar campouts for bluegrass, jazz, rock and roll, classical. I kind of doubt it since old-time music is much more available to different levels of musicianship than those other genres. In general, it's more about playing than becoming an audience to watch a performance. It also makes me suspect that the same could be said about Celtic music, which probably has its own version of a campout as well.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

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