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Thread: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

  1. #1
    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    Has anyone here ever attended Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp in Bayern, Germany? I'm thinking of going this year. I've been assured that the instruction is "mostly" in English which since I have no German is important. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has gone in previous years.

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    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    Here´s some feedback.

    I have attended Adiaha´s Camp pre pandemic (once). I live a couple of miles/kilometers down the road, so I didn´t stay at the hotel.

    I know many regular attendees personaly (german bluegrass scene), some better than others. The camp is often fully booked. The regulars come because they like the workshops the atmosphere and the cameraderie. I am loosely acquainted with Adiaha, who is also active in the MBf (Munich bluegrass friends organisation), that hosts jam sessions and other events. I know some teachers and know of some teachers from this year´s camp lineup.

    The camp is held in the german/austrian border region of the Chiemgau.

    Aschau im Chiemgau is about a 2 h train ride from the Munich airport. Unfortunately the current train situation in Germany (and probably more so in my part of the country) is riddled with unreliabilities. I commute to Munich for work. If all goes as it should the train ride to Munich east takes about 1 h. But there are frequent delays. So when leaving the camp, if you have to take a plane make sure that you have at least a 2 hour security buffer for train messups!

    Aschau is located at the foot of the Alps. You can visit the Kampenwand of aproximately 1.745 m, have a stellar view to the second biggest (completely) German lake (Chiemsee), where you can visit two islands which are lived on since medieval times. The convent on the island Frauenchiemsee was founded around 800 AD. The region is known for great mountain hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, sailing, for its beer and its rustic cuisine. So if you plan on coming to the camp it may be advisable to spend some days leading into or out of the event.

    As for the weather, it is at a time when you need to be prepared for cold weather but quite probably also nice and sunny fall days with tempereatures from around two to nineteen degrees Celsius. There are an average of ten days of rain in October even though we are currently suffering from an extreme dry spell.

    The camp is held at a hotel that to my understanding caters mostly to group events. The food is quite allright. I do not know how prepared the hotel may be if there are certain dieatary requirements (thinking of kosher for example).

    I think that the camp´s focus is on the beginner/intermediate musician and their needs.

    The daily structure consists of the classes, meal and coffee breaks, off time and session times. Sometimes it may be a tight schedule, if you want to catch everything. The idea is to participate in „scratch/camp bands“ that on the last evening present their musical efforts. Also on the last day there is a teacher´s concert.
    I think of myself as pretty proficient when it comes to playing mandolin and guitar. When I attended among the teachers were Kristin Scott Benson (banjo), Adam Haynes (fiddle) and Danny Roberts (mandolin). We had us a nice jam session on the last day of the camp.

    I attended the fiddle class where I received the information I wanted. It all depends on the teacher and though I was satisfied I have heard about some criticism concerning Adam Haynes lessons.

    I had expected more „free“ jamming. This didn´t happen. Let me explain.
    I thought, that in the „spare“ time, people would just mingle, talk and eventually jam in small groups. But there was the „camp band“ thing going on. So people tried to get their scratch band thing off the ground in the „spare“ time. Also people tried to catch up on their lessons. There were also „organized“ sessions that people attended. And in the end there was not soooo much „spare“ time. Also I went home in the evenings (at about 10 pm.). So what happened at midnight or in the wee hours of the morning, I failed to notice. I heard of late sessions, yet I didn´t experience them.
    On the last evening – when I had the session with Adam, Kristin and Danny there were other sessions going on also, some of which I also attended.

    So if you are a beginner or an intermediate, there is plenty of oportunity to live out your musical dream.

    To my mind it is all about the teachers. And this is an individual thing that is not necessarily linked to a specific camp.

    Most of this years teachers are excellent multi instrumentalists. Jürgen Biller (D, „4 Wheel Drive“) is the Earl Scruggs expert. Richard Cifersky (Slovakia) has spent some time in Nashville, is behind the gear project Banjolit (https://banjolit.com/about/). He is an excellent modern banjo player. Ondra Kozak (CZ) and Ralph Shut (NL, lives in CZ now) are top notch players that play everything with strings. Both are super mandolin players (modern styles). I was in Laroche-sur-Foron (biggest bluegrass festival in Europe) this year where Ondra Kozak and Radim Zenkl (CZ, lives in the US) played some crazy good music (though very far out musically). Ralph Shut is a mainstay in the Czech bluegrass scene with bands like G Runs and Roses. Rupert Paulik is a very good mandolin teacher based in Munich, a driving force behind the Munich bluegrass jamming scene. I also know Gerhard Saller (guitar and clawhammer banjo). I know of the others (Christian Auer, bass, is a band member of Adiaha´s band, Martin Gross is a german dobro player and Leon Hunt is a very well known english banjo player).

    I would advocate that you check out the teacher´s music on youtube. Thus you may get a picture. I know that Ondra has some online lessons on youtube (though in the Czech language).

    Assuming that you are contemplating mandolin classes I would guess that you will learn from Radim Zenkl. I do not know how he is as a teacher. Musically he is extremely good. Could he teach Monroe mandolin… I do not know. I do know that Ondra Kozak teaches and that he is reportedly a very good teacher. I would suspect that the focus in the mandolin workshops is more on modern than traditional playing styles.

    Apart from Leon, the only english native speaker, Radim, living in the USA, is fluent in English, as are Ondra, Ralph, Richard and Jürgen. I have no information about Rupert´s english skills but assume that he is well versed in English. When I attended quite some of the teachers were english native speakers so English was spoken.

    I hope, this writeup is fairly helpful. I am still thinking about going to „Sore Fingers Week“ in England. I missed out when they canceled because of the pandemic. I am thinking of going (with my son) when they will have Mike Compton again. You may also think of going to another camp in Bavaria (also around the corner from me). It´s „Bluegrass Camp Germany“ (http://www.bluegrasscampgermany.com/teachers/). It is organized by one of Germany´s premier banjo players, Rüdiger Helbig and his wife. They allways have a stellar lineup of teachers. I haven´t been but may go next year (if only to jam with the likes of Jim Hurst and Greg Cahil or Ned Luberecki).
    Olaf

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  4. #3
    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    Thank you, that's incredibly helpful. It definitely confirms my desire to go, if I can work out the logistics.

    I actually met Rüdiger earlier this summer when I was in Munich - I didn't know who he was or even that there was a big Bluegrass scene in Munich, but I had found his shop on the Internet and I thought I would check it out as long as I was in the city. Walked in, and walked out with a Kentucky KM-850 an hour later!

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    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    I am glad to have been of help.

    Bluegrass in Germany has to do with Germany´s history (as western Germany had the three western allied forces stationed in different parts of the country and therefore bringing the Germans into contact with the respective cultures) and a couple of people (f.ex. the recently deceased Eberhard Finke who published Germany´s Bluegrass magazine "Bluegrass Bühne" and Klaus Grotelüschen, who organized and shouldered the so far longest running - now defunkt - Bluegrass Festival in Germany in Neusüdende - northern Germany-) that are/were instrumental for its publicity. I would not want to claim that there is a "big" scene but it is very devoted and just like everywhere else it finds nurishment from the fact that it is a fun music played by nice people that are comunicative and hospitable.

    Rüdiger is a key (historical) figure in the German bluegrass scene. He has played professionaly since the 1970ies. Back then (even early 80ies) you could earn a living playing Bluegrass (and Country Music) in Germany. Rüdiger was the go to guy who even toured the GDR (eastern Germany). The money that he made enabled him to open his Folkladen where you met him. It is a fun shop. When I went there many moons ago he gave me a flatpick that (because of the material) is the best pick that I´ve ever owned. I still have it and only play it on the big stage or when recording. We had a blast dining together and jammed nicely. That was long before I moved to Bavaria.

    If you come to Germany from time to time... there is the Cologne Bluegrass Bash (in Cologne obviously), a jamsession there too, the Blue Monday bluegrass session in Munich (MBf organize that), a session in Halle (eastern Germany), a session in Hamburg and various festivals (f.ex. Greven Grass which is the successor to Neusüdende and which I am proud to have helped to come into being).
    Olaf

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    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    Thanks for this thorough review, Olaf, I've been thinking about tapping into the German scene as well.

  8. #6
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    You´re wellcome.

    I once compiled a list of European festivals that found its way on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...usic_festivals

    The list is not acurate anymore, as the list was edited by someone, some festivals (Güglingen for example) folded and some (Greven Grass) started. There´s also the EBMA´s website with its listings: https://www.ebma.org/explore/?type=festival&sort=random

    Many local organisations have their own additional listings, for example the British Bluegrass Music Association (https://britishbluegrass.org/sessions-alphabetical/) with its aditional session listings or the Czech Bluegrass Music Associations with its legendary Caslav festival and other listings (http://www.bacr.cz/index.php).

    I found it useful to remember these sources when I travel. Sometimes nice opportunities presentet themselves (like when I took a trip to England and participated in a nice jam session in the at least some time defunkt Church House Inn in Linkinhorne).

    I still have to make it to the Al Ras festival (E)... It´s on my list.
    Olaf

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    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    Al Ras is small but really fun, I look forward to hanging out with you there one fine year!

    There's also the Barcelona Bluegrass Camp in March, but I think this is less interesting for you.

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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    I attended a 4 day wokshop with Radim Zenkl in 2013 and he is a wonderful teacher and nice guy. He is very systematic and was well prepared. The level of the class was ranging from beginner to intermediate, but I think he managed to balance the lessons so that everyone got something out of it. On the final day each student performed a piece for him (whatever we were working on) and he gave direct feedback to the player.

    I know several people who've been to Adiaha's camp, and only heard good things about it. Also considered it myself this year, but as Olaf mentions in his review, I am (with my current level) too someone who really appreciates the free jam time on such arrangements and am not that keen on ''mandatory'' scratch bands. So probably I will not head there. But for beginners/intermediate levels it sounds like a very good camp. I regret I didn't seek more of these camps when I started out years ago, but I lived in another country back then.

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    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    I'm posting from a hotel room in Munich where I'm recovering from Adiaha's. It was indeed a great and productive experience. The community could not have been more welcoming, both personally and musically. The level of most participants was fairly high, although there were some near-absolute beginners and some at about my level of I would say not-quite-competent-at-improvising. But everyone was included in jams and encouraged to take a solo, even by the instructors and most accomplished players.

    I found the scratch-band process very valuable and enjoyable (working with a random group to put together three tunes for a performance given about 4 hours total rehearsal time). But it wasn't mandatory - there were separate slow and medium jam tracks for people who just wanted to play. While the linguistic environment was German, most of the instruction was in English so I don't feel like I missed out on anything important. As it happened there were several other Americans and Brits there, mostly folks living in Germany for work or love and even the Deutschphones were very kind about using English to include me.

    I stayed entirely with Radim's mandolin instruction track, except for two hours on Friday when I did "Clawhammer Banjo for Absolute Beginners". The instruction was very good but mostly lecture, a lot of material thrown at us in a limited time. But it was geared towards info and techniques that we could take away with us and which will be very valuable - if implemented! I'm looking forward to getting home and doing some of that.

    In short, five thumbs up, highly recommended.

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    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp

    I had dental work today and I feel like crap so I am taking the day off from the practice plan I devised based on what I learned at Adiaha's.

    I just thought I'd share.

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