Friday, September 07, 2012

Americana Song Academy aka Song Camp

Well, I hope someone asks me to make cornbread for 131 people because I learned the right way to do it.  What am I talking about?  Why am I so excited?  Read on, my friends.

Our landlord, Annie, is a traveling chef.  She asked if I wanted to help cook for a big group of songwriters for three days.  Heck yeah!  I love to cook and bake.  So, I asked her to consider Emil too if she needed additional help.  He could be a prep cook, dishwasher, loader/unloader/general hosser (shout out to Erica), and is super efficient.  You know...the kind of guy who will give you a heads up if eggs are needed on the buffet.  My exact words were, "You'll like him more than me after three days.  He's that good of a worker."

Here are the deets of the venue:

A beautiful lodge, Blue Lake (created by a caldera, super COLD), tee pees, plenty of room for camping, no bears or wildlife hanging out nearby, no cell reception (a break from technology), 131 songwriters loaded down with guitars, trumpets, banjos, ukuleles, and more, and the BEST food EVER.  Yes, I'm shouting with all caps emphasis.

Each day consisted of three delicious meals, workshops taught by accomplished musicians, song circles, mentoring, open mic, and plenty of free time to work on songwriting.  Attendees ranged in age from high school to 70+.  Jumping in the lake was optional, but many people took advantage of it, despite the "No Swimming in the Lake" sign. 

Our job?  Prep meals, clean up, eat well, cheerful chats with the songwriters, and clapping loudly and excitedly for their courage at open mic each evening.  Talk about inspirational.  Seriously.  Some songs brought you to tears with their powerful lyrics and incredible skill, while others had you dancing in the aisles.

The cooking was my favorite part of Song Camp.  I learned so much from Annie.  She was patient, kind, and calm while directing 6-8 of us (all different skill levels) as we worked our way through each meal.  My note-taking of breakfast set up and ratios amused her.  How many quarts in a gallon?  What's the ratio of water to rice?  How does she want the cucumbers sliced?  How many cups in a quart?  How do you work a Cuisinart?  How do I cook rice in the oven? 

Emil and I compared notes each evening...what did he get to make?  What did I learn?  What did I make?  It was so much fun....I was thinking all week about Lori, Ted, Uncle Ron, Karla, Chef Sara, and Tommy.  They would've loved this camp or the kitchen work or the music.

Here's a link about the Americana Song Academy:

Some pics from Extreme Open Mic.  I almost forgot to mention the amazing musicians we met and heard sing.  Mary Gauthier, Catie Curtis, LJ Booth, Beth Wood, Phoebe Hunt and more.

Monko, Gwyneth (both fellow kitchen folks), Gary Schrodt , Phoebe

Shireen Amini playing the happy ukulele!

Love the banjo.  This was a really cute song by first year camper, Amy Sue Berlin.

Benjy with Helen.

An accordion just makes the world a better place.

Big crush on all three musicians.  BIG.  I may or may not have gushed at Patrick (far left) on the last morning. 

Monko and Gwyneth.  Check out their website and buy a CD!
Katie (kitchen volunteer) and Chris Kokesh on fiddle.

Moe Dixon on ukulele,  Mary Gauthier on guitar, Rad on accordion.  'Nuff said.

Moe Dixon and fellow uker.

Brace yourself for the cold

Patrick - guitarist, uke player, ultimate rocker and nice guy. 

Monko cut perfect julienned carrots.

Working on my knife skills.

Gwyneth, almonds, brownies.  Mmmm....

The most colorful salad bar ever.  Hi Natasha...fellow type A girl! 

Yoga on the dock every day.

Curry Chicken Salad, Curry Tofu Salad, and more.

Katie crying from onions.  Stick a piece of bread in your mouth to help.

A serenade in the kitchen.  Patrick on the baritone uke.

A sparkling flattop was worth half a brick.  Thanks, Monko!
I could keep talking and talking about the ah-mazing week.  The funny stories, the friendly attendees, the pork verde, the organized kitchen, the singing, the music, the honey mustard dressing (which I could just was that good), and the really great kitchen volunteers, but I should close for now.  Time to return to reality...washing my own dishes, menu planning with Weight Watcher recipes, walking the Butte at 6:15 a.m., and becoming a better ukulele player.

P.S.  Next year, I'm bringing a big poster that says how many quarts in gallon, how many cups in a quart, etc.  

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