Camp Chronicles (9): This Music Stuff Sure Can Wear You Out

Editor’s Note: These chronicles started out as “letters” from Sierra Surf Music Camp.  But the story was bigger than a letter.  We hope that they convey how much fun we were having!

Sunday was building up to the grand finale.  The Camper Concert and Paul Johnson with an All-Star Band.  The countdown was on.

The weather had turned pleasant so the concert would be in the Donner Mine Camp amphitheater.  So pleasant that the other three Surf Miners asked if I had a Hawaiian shirt to wear for the concert.  “Nope.  Going with the retro flannel look.”

Bruce’s and my two hours of working out “Secret Agent Man” and “Surf Party” did not result in a breakaway success.  After hearing us shoot through “Secret Agent Man” a few times, Paul Johnson was brutally honest, “That’s nowhere near gig ready.” 


Ferenc nodded his head in agreement.  We certainly were not going to argue with our coaches.  This was music camp, not the NBA.

But our time spent earlier in the day on “Surf Party” was not wasted.  Two-bar drum intro.  Guitar intro.  Let her rip.  Glissando.  D.  Two-bar drum break.  Tim was not particularly familiar with the song.  My job became to cue the two-bar break.  Robert had captured the percussive rhythm.  Yeah, we can play this baby.  Paul and Ferenc agreed.

Now, all we had to do was put the finishing touches on “Muck Bucket.”  We played it.  Again.  Again.  Paul suggested that Bruce change it up the second time through.  He did.  “Show me what you’re playing over the B flat.”  He did.  And all was right in “play the root” land.

Paul then threw a curve ball.  “We need a bass run here.”  Huh?  You’re talking to Mr. Play-the-Root.  But who is to argue with the coach -- especially a Surf Music Laureate?  “What notes?”  He told me, and we then ran through “Muck Bucket” for the last time before going public to instructors, peers, families, bears, mosquitos, and whoever or whatever else might be in the forest that night.

As we finished band practice, I realized that whatever did not ache in my body was fatigued.  All this from only five hours on my feet with a bass hanging from my shoulder?  Sitting down to decompress begged the question: Can you get up again?  The time had come to abandon my normal caffeine elixir for a combo of Motrin and wine.

Anne Beatie -- Paul the Pyronaut’s Mom and a nurse by profession -- took one look and asked, “What can I do?”  “Do you have a Motrin 800.”  She did, and I washed it down with a Super Tuscan blend. 

Maybe rock ‘n roll is best left to the young.

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