Fiddling friend Ellen Carlson and I put on our 21st Fiddleheads JamCamp recently in Contoocook, NH. This year 100 people traveled in for the weekend–from as far away as Florida–and, with our camp's focus on jamming together in groups. made music from Friday evening 'til Sunday afternoon. Fellow Busker Paul Hubert was one of our guitar coaches again, and we also featured the great Byron Berline from Oklahoma to teach our fiddlers new tunes and stylistic tricks.
Everyone is encouraged to bring a song to try in a jam, to work on skills such as singing in public, learning how to open and end a song, tell the group the chords of the song, and offer solos to players. The highlight of the weekend is when campers form bands on Saturday afternoon. Led by coaches, each group learns and practices a song in preparation for the big concert of bands that evening. The energy is really electric that night. Band styles this year included funk, the Beatles,1970's pop, klezmer, celtic, bluegrass, and country and four others I forget! Ten bands, ten different styles. Afterwards, coached jamming continues into the late hours: fiddle tunes, blues and folk, celtic, old time, sung songs, slow jams, fast jams, you name it. And there was PLENTY of singing! It's a pretty dramatic weekend for everyone since time is short and energy output is very high–very little sleep is had. But what a good time! Thanks to all the coaches and participants!
Campers perform with fiddler Byron Berline at Fiddleheads Jam Camp Saturday night concert.