Camp Chronicles (3): Meet the Faculty or Have I Died and Gone Heaven?

Editor’s Note: This is one of our “letters” from Sierra Surf Music Camp.  It is not close to real time because we are too cheap - or technology impaired - to have wireless internet.  Besides, we were having too much fun!

After the tour of the Donner Mine Camp site, the warmth of the Lodge with its wood-burning stove welcomed us.  Sign-up sheets were available for individual lessons with a member or two of a star-studded line-up.  The list of instructors was mind-boggling!

John Blair occupies a place in surf music that cannot be overlooked.  He is a historian, an author, and a cinematographer.  His current movie project is “Sound of Surf,” which will chronicle our California folk music.  His Illustrated Discography of Surf Music stood for years as the only published history of surf music.  He founded and was the lead guitarist for Jon and the Nightriders, which is credited with starting the second wave.  He helped keep surf music going in the Pre-Pulp-Fiction period and captured its history. 

Dusty Watson was the Camp Co-Director.  As readers of this blog know, his name is always followed by “the best surf drummer on Earth.”  His credentials as a drummer are not limited to surf.  He played drums for Lita Ford and Agent Orange.  As a surf drummer, he was a regular with Dick Dale, Paul Johnson, and Jon and the Nightriders.  His current band -- Slacktone -- sets the gold standard for all surf bands.  He also was ordained and performed the marriage ceremony of Cheri and Paul at the Donner Mine Camp last year.

Matt Quilter was new to me until I realized he was a co-producer of “Pounding Surf,” a must-have DVD on the surf beat and drumming.  He also was a guitarist for the Reventlos.  The LA Times described the Reventlos as, “at their best, . . . provide all you could want from a modern rock-instrumental band: crafty juxtapositions of styles, a good ear for inviting riffs and licks, a sure sense of structure and enticing sonic variety.”  Importantly to me, he started out in the Pacific Northwest, where garage band rock then was king.  

Ferenc Dobronyi
is third-wave star and an icon -- and moving force in the San Francisco surf music scene.  He is the founder, leader, and principal songwriter of Pollo Del Mar and Frankie and the Pool Boys.  As the musicians in Pollo moved on to different stages of their lives, he became a guitarist with San Francisco’s up and coming TomorrowMen, who recently released an album described by Phil Dirt as “splendid” with “superb writing and playing.” He also plays occasionally with the seminal San Francisco band The Aqua Velvets.

And each member of the Pyronauts was available for individual lessons.

With the names on the list, choosing was difficult to say the least.  What could be even comparable elsewhere in the music world?  Better pinch myself to make sure that this is not a dream or that I died and (unlikely) went to heaven.

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