Captain Fiddle Music

Ryan and Brennish

Thomson

Lark in the Morning

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Lark in the Morning Music Celebration 1996 (Lark Camp)

I've explored music and dance camps nationwide for over 20 years and "Lark camp" proved

to be a pleasant surprise as one of the most musically stimulating events I've ever

attended. Its not that this camp necessarily has the best music or faculty. There are lots of

other excellent camps. Its just that this camp comes closest to satisfying my own eclectic

musical tastes. In the course of a typical day I found myself playing fiddle in a lively celtic

session, attending a class in Yugoslavian dance music, pounding the ivories at a swing and

jitterbug dance, and sitting on Persian rugs jamming on arabic music while belly dancers

circled round.

The camp is situated in the foothills east of the town of Mendocino in a redwood forest.

The rustic setting includes small cabins with fireplaces but no electricity, plenty of

camping space, dance floors, dining halls, fire circles, and secluded wooded areas. The days

were moderately warm and comfortable, evenings cool enough for a sweater. The camp

started Friday night and continued through till the next Saturday morning when sleepy

attendees were wakened by announcements via a megaphone to hurry and pack up so that

the next group of visiters can settle in. (The camp site is used throughout the summer for

other groups and events)

This is the largest camp I've attended at approximately 500 persons. There is a "half camp"

option at either end of the week but I stayed for the complete event. Class scheduling is

somewhat informal as hired instructors were supplemented by anyone(students or staff)

who wanted to teach additional classes of their own choosing. The printed advertising for

the camp mentioned that folk music "professionals," were welcome. Since I perform and

teach folk music for a living, I found this to be an inviting feature. In addition to the

classes I attended as a student, I helped a beginning fiddler set up an instrument,

explained chord construction to a small group of accompanists, and shared other bits of

musical knowledge with many others. A teacher learns as much or more than the student in

the process of teaching and so I came away from the week with a treasure of new musical

knowledge.

It would take a couple more pages to list all of the music and dance attractions available

but I'll mention some of my personal favorites: celtic fiddle with Dale Russ; Bosnian fiddle

with Slavko; continuous celtic sessions; Greek sessions; the Klesmer orchestra; contra

dancing; swing vocals class; cuban percussion class; mexican music; French Canadian tunes

with Kevin Carr; English Morris dancing in the wee hours; middle eastern food, jams and

dancing; the circle of wheezing hurdy gurdys in the woods; and the numerous impromptu

jams and performances that would appear at any hour of night and day, including a noon

time concert by an orchestra of ocarinas.

Unlike other camps which have a particular weekly musical focus, Lark heads out into

almost every conceivable direction simultaneously. It takes a bit of self discipline to limit

one's activities and still obtain the requisite sleep, nourishment, and rest. But if music is

your priority, Lark's the place! For more information visit the web site.

Written By Ryan Thomson, 1996