Sunday, July 6, 2008 @1:12:16 PM
So, I just found out that there are two things I want to do.
One is a three day Old Time Fiddler Workshop
at Greenwood Furnace in Central PA,
and which will focus on PA and WV fiddle tradition (how SWEET!) and has some very fine teachers who will be on board, including the Druckenmillers, who are our local old timey players (and who are playing at Quiet Valley
this coming weekend, btw!) The Greenwood Furnace event is three days of workshops and jamming and in the area I'm considering moving to over the next couple years, so it's also a chance to explore the area a bit more and maybe meet some of the local folks and check out the music scene.
The other is the Fireback Fiddle and Banjo Contest in Oxford NJ
which is being run by none other than MY TEACHER, Steve Martin of Fiddleboy.net. And I have to say that Steve just surprised the living daylights outta me by suggesting that I enter the contest. (OHMIGOD! I'm SO not ready for that! But he's my very well respected teacher . . . and he wants me to. ACK!!!! Hide the razor blades!) He also suggested that it's way past time I meet some of the local players and do some jamming, and I am sorry to admit he's right about that, but I'm so damned aware of how awful I am that it's embarassing to even think about.
Now the real dilemma. They're on the same weekend.
So, do I honor my teacher and attend the very close to home one day event that horrifies me to even think about as a CONTESTANT, and meet people Steve wants me to meet? Or do I go to the event I really want to go to, but that is a lot further away (approximately 110 miles) with gas prices the way they are, and a much larger time commitment, and is also me travelling that far alone to meet with a bunch of strangers, most of whom I'll probably never see again?
Steve, being the guy he is, suggested I try to talk with some folks who have attended the Greenwood Furnace weekend in the past and try to gauge if it would be a good event for me to attend. In his words-- "Those things are usually either painfully slow, or frustratingly fast. The bigger the group, the more that is true. But - record record record. Even if the workshop is just your speed, you'll forget more than you'll remember because so much is covered in such a short time. As far as this particular camp is concerned, see if you can talk to someone who's been to get the low down. It's always a gamble on its value going in cold. I played at a camp sometime ago where the workshops lasted about an hour a day, and no one broke into groups to jam afterward, only cook and shoot the breeze. See what you can find out. I took a class at Swannanoa, and by 8pm it was dead. No jams, no nothing, only crickets. I find the ones folkie oriented tend to be that way. Old Time, bluegrass, and Cajun, nobody ever seems to go to bed." He also said, "If you opt not to go, I strongly suggest entering Fireback. And the one in Howell as well. The stage time, the experience, to 'networking' is worth it. Even a couple simple tunes to play. It's not about winning (okay, it is for some people), it's about playing and sharing the experience. Okay, I'm off my little soapbox." He strongly suggests. Strongly suggests. Those two words keep repeating in my brain. I mean, the guy is my teacher. And the only other thing he's ever strongly suggested is buying a new bow.
The other issue about going to Greenwood Furnace is that they stress that those participating in any of the instrumental workshops are "for all levels beyond beginner". Steve assures me I'm "intermediate", but damn. I don't feel like I'm intermediate. I still feel like I can barely make any good noise with this devil's box.
My only chance of speaking with anyone who has attended Greenwood Furnace is either at Quiet Valley this coming weekend,or HERE on the Fiddle Hangout. I also value your opinion about the general dilemma too. I just plain don't feel even CLOSE to ready to play in front of people in such an exposed way. It would be much gentler to kind of sit back in a jam thingie and quietly add things here and there and feel my way into playing with others. I've been doing that with Suze a bit, but I know she's totally non-judgmental about things and very supportive. I have no assurances of that with a contest. I betcha if I even start to consider it seriously I'll be having nightmares of getting booed off stage. The workshop sounds easier to ease into, though the drive is more than a bit long, and going alone isn't ideal.