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Author: Subject: My Weekend at Fur Peace Ranch

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 01:11 PM
As requested, I am going to chronicle my time at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch. I have wanted to experience the bass workshop given by Jack Casady for several years now. I am pretty much a self taught player. I learned how to play in my youth by simply watching others playing in bands both on the local level as well as the big concert stages in my hometown. Never had any real lessons to speak of. Being a big fan of Jefferson Airplane, Jack Casady was an early influence on my style. The band I was in when I was 15 in 1969 played 3 songs from the album Surrealistic Pillow.

I found out about the Fur Peace Ranch (FPR) from Andrew, who plays in one of the bands I am currently in. He booked a weekend there in one of Jorma's classes and came back raving about how good a time it was and how much he had learned. I took his enthusiasm with a grain of salt until I noticed at a gig how much his approach to playing had improved. He was already a fine guitarist but I noticed he was playing with a new confidence I had never seen from him before.

I decided then that this FPR workshop must really be a good thing to do so I started looking into booking a class with Jack Casady. After checking their website I was amazed how far in advance Jack's classes were booked up. I had no chance to book something with Jack anytime soon so I put it to the back of my mind. I procrastinated too long after next year's schedule came out and to my dismay the bass workshops were once again full for the entire season.

This scenario seemed to repeat itself several more times until last year in this very forum somebody wrote in September of 2007 that the 2008 FPR schedule had just been announced. Warren Haynes was going to be there giving a workshop! I immediately went to their website and to my amazement all the classes were open! I am a huge Warren Haynes fan as some of you know. But I am a lousy guitarist. As much as I wanted to, I didn't want to waste Warren's time and my money just to sit in his class to learn something I could never apply to my real skills as a bassist. So I followed my original plan and signed up for Jack's level 3 bass workshop.

I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire meant to be a screening process to make sure you can actually play your instrument. These classes are not for the novice although they do have some entry level workshops throughout the year. Level 3 assumes you know your way around your guitar or bass well enough to run through the musical scales and had some experience playing out live either solo or in a band. About a week later I noticed Warren's workshop was full. After another day or so I received an email stating I had been accepted to Jack's bass workshop. Woo-Hoo! Couldn't believe I had to wait a whole year to do this though. I was ready right then and there to go! Wow! Bass lessons from a master who had been a major player in Rock's golden era along with lifelong friend and Fur Peace Ranch owner Jorma Kaukonen. Now add a modern day legend like Warren Haynes to the mix. And who is this 4th instructor, Spencer Bohren?

My next post will chronicle Day 1 at the ranch.
My link to photos taken: http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd155/terrapintom/

To be continued.


 
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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 04:30 PM
Keep it comin', Tom!
 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 04:39 PM
Thanks Tom,I look forward to the rest!!
 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 05:53 PM
Excellent Tom!! I love reading this!!

 

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  posted on 9/25/2008 at 10:00 AM
Thanks Tom. Very nice.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2008 at 12:55 PM
quote:
As requested, I am going to chronicle my time at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch. I have wanted to experience the bass workshop given by Jack Casady for several years now. I am pretty much a self taught player. I learned how to play in my youth by simply watching others playing in bands both on the local level as well as the big concert stages in my hometown. Never had any real lessons to speak of. Being a big fan of Jefferson Airplane, Jack Casady was an early influence on my style. The band I was in when I was 15 in 1969 played 3 songs from the album Surrealistic Pillow.

I found out about the Fur Peace Ranch (FPR) from Andrew, who plays in one of the bands I am currently in. He booked a weekend there in one of Jorma's classes and came back raving about how good a time it was and how much he had learned. I took his enthusiasm with a grain of salt until I noticed at a gig how much his approach to playing had improved. He was already a fine guitarist but I noticed he was playing with a new confidence I had never seen from him before.

I decided then that this FPR workshop must really be a good thing to do so I started looking into booking a class with Jack Casady. After checking their website I was amazed how far in advance Jack's classes were booked up. I had no chance to book something with Jack anytime soon so I put it to the back of my mind. I procrastinated too long after next year's schedule came out and to my dismay the bass workshops were once again full for the entire season.

This scenario seemed to repeat itself several more times until last year in this very forum somebody wrote in September of 2007 that the 2008 FPR schedule had just been announced. Warren Haynes was going to be there giving a workshop! I immediately went to their website and to my amazement all the classes were open! I am a huge Warren Haynes fan as some of you know. But I am a lousy guitarist. As much as I wanted to, I didn't want to waste Warren's time and my money just to sit in his class to learn something I could never apply to my real skills as a bassist. So I followed my original plan and signed up for Jack's level 3 bass workshop.

I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire meant to be a screening process to make sure you can actually play your instrument. These classes are not for the novice although they do have some entry level workshops throughout the year. Level 3 assumes you know your way around your guitar or bass well enough to run through the musical scales and had some experience playing out live either solo or in a band. About a week later I noticed Warren's workshop was full. After another day or so I received an email stating I had been accepted to Jack's bass workshop. Woo-Hoo! Couldn't believe I had to wait a whole year to do this though. I was ready right then and there to go! Wow! Bass lessons from a master who had been a major player in Rock's golden era along with lifelong friend and Fur Peace Ranch owner Jorma Kaukonen. Now add a modern day legend like Warren Haynes to the mix. And who is this 4th instructor, Spencer Bohren?

My next post will chronicle Day 1 at the ranch.
My link to photos taken: http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd155/terrapintom/

To be continued.


Spencer Bohren......The New Orleans Spencer Bohren?????



 

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  posted on 9/25/2008 at 01:24 PM
Tom - enjoying your account of Fur Peace Ranch! Thanks for sharing this.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2008 at 05:47 PM
Hey Tom, enjoying this and looking forward to the rest of the story. And yes it was New Orleans Spencer Bohren who has been at Fur Peace before and in typical Warren fashion he pretty much let Spencer be the star of I Shall Be Released.
 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 01:05 AM
Sorry it has taken a while to get this down. Lots going on here at home.

Day One At The Ranch - Arrival

Heading out from Cincinnati, the road was wide open once I left the turmoil of the morning rush hour. As I wound through the gentle hills of southern Ohio I could feel summer's last gasp warming the morning air. This is actually a pretty remote region of the state and the farmland gave way to a forest of trees cut in half by Route 32. Using my mapquest directions I turned onto Highway 681 and headed towards the village of Pomeroy. I finally pulled up on the sign marking the Fur Peace Ranch about 11:30 in the morning. As I proceeded up the winding dirt road to the ranch I wondered if this was going to be all I had hoped it to be.

My mind was quickly put to rest as I was greeted by "Thunder" Mike Coyne while getting out of my van in the parking lot. He directed me to the Beatrice Love Kitchen where I was checked in and given a quick tour of the grounds by camp manager John Hurlbut. John has that certain demeanor about him that causes you to feel like he has known you for years as a good friend. The cabins where the students were to sleep were just large enough for two single beds with just enough room to stow some gear. I checked the beds and found them to be clean and comfortable.

I made my way up to the concert hall where orientation was about to begin. I was greeted warmly there by Vanessa Kaukonen who then introduced me to her husband Jorma. During orientation we were all introduced to the instructors for the weekend. Jorma, Jack Casady, Spencer Bohren, and of course Warren Haynes. The rules and expectations were explained and all the students were asked to stand and introduce themselves one by one. I was amazed at how far some had come to take place in the workshop. Musicians from every corner of the country. There were two gentlemen from the British Isles making their way to the U.S. for the first time just for this occasion. As we broke for the dining hall to eat some lunch one could sense that this was to be a very special weekend for all in attendance.

After a very tasty meal with some lively discussion amongst my fellow students, I bumped into Brian Farmer and introduced myself. He remembered me from the letter I had written to him earlier. I have to admit at this point that I had an ulterior motive after hearing the rumors at Red Rocks concerning Andy Hess leaving Gov't Mule. Those of you who know me can probably guess what my motives were being a bass player myself. Brian explained how Andy decided to leave the Mule quite some time ago. In fact their new bassist, Jorgen Carlsson ,was chosen as a replacement to Andy 6 months ago. I looked to my side to see Warren Haynes walking up to speak to Brian. Warren greeted me in his laid back southern drawl and shook my hand saying he remembered talking with me on various occasions. He had overheard Brian and I talking about the Mule's newest member. Warren further explained that he regretted losing Andy as his bass player and they remain good friends. Everything had to remain hush hush due some contractual agreements concerning equipment endorsements and concert promoters. I thanked Warren for this special insight into the band as we broke into our workshop groups which were about to begin.

Next Up Jack Casady and the rest of the bottom feeders.


[Edited on 9/26/2008 by Terrapintom]

[Edited on 9/26/2008 by Terrapintom]

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 05:08 AM
quote:
Brian explained how Andy decided to leave the Mule quite some time ago. In fact their new bassist, Jorgen Carlsson ,was chosen as a replacement to Andy 6 months ago.

quote:
Warren further explained that he regretted losing Andy as his bass player and they remain good friends. Everything had to remain hush hush due some contractual agreements concerning equipment endorsements and concert promoters.


This will shed some light to those who didn't like the way things were handled. I knew there was a reason that we didn't know sooner so this is good to know! Thanks Tom for telling us this!

I'm loving living this trip thru your story!!

[Edited on 9/26/2008 by susea]

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 07:07 AM
Tom, you certainly had a great opportunity there to ask questions that you were itchin' to. Warren is so gracious to answer just about anything. Thanks for passing on the word to us about what you found out regarding Andy's movement away from the Mule. I haven't fed into the rumor mill, because I knew that there was no animosity between Andy and the rest of the band.

Bottom Feeders! Love it!!!!

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 11:13 AM
Thanks for the continued story of your time at Fur Peace Ranch, Tom! Very cool to read about this place from the perspective of one who studied there! And thanks for sharing the info on Andy.

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 12:33 PM
quote:
quote:
Brian explained how Andy decided to leave the Mule quite some time ago. In fact their new bassist, Jorgen Carlsson ,was chosen as a replacement to Andy 6 months ago.

quote:
Warren further explained that he regretted losing Andy as his bass player and they remain good friends. Everything had to remain hush hush due some contractual agreements concerning equipment endorsements and concert promoters.


This will shed some light to those who didn't like the way things were handled. I knew there was a reason that we didn't know sooner so this is good to know! Thanks Tom for telling us this!

I'm loving living this trip thru your story!!

[Edited on 9/26/2008 by susea]


Yes. Someone should post this in the Andy threads.

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 01:31 PM
quote:
Hey Tom, enjoying this and looking forward to the rest of the story. And yes it was New Orleans Spencer Bohren who has been at Fur Peace before and in typical Warren fashion he pretty much let Spencer be the star of I Shall Be Released.


No kidding.....Spencer played here in my hometown about 5 years ago and I was totally blown away by him. Just him, his voice, and his beautiful lap steel guitar (I think that's what it's called). He played in the old Masonic Temple in downtown Lowville, NY of all places....

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 01:37 PM
Tom--thanks--these are priceless stories & wonderful experiences...& so glad Warren & Andy parted on good terms--& i respect how Warren handled things--perhaps as a result of my believing that Warren is such a decent human being.....he seems as sweet as his most soulful guitar playing...so,all good

thanks again for this superb thread

 

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  posted on 9/26/2008 at 09:43 PM
Warren Haynes = Superb Human Being


Any questions?



Good.


 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 06:49 AM


Love that Warren and the MULE!!!

 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 01:17 PM
quote:


Love that Warren and the MULE!!!




Ditto!!!!!!

 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 02:14 PM
Great thread

Whens the next part?

 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 05:15 PM
Fur Peace Ranch and the Bottom Feeders - Day 1 Continued

The bass players were dubbed the Bottom Feeders at lunch right after orientation and the name stuck for the entire weekend. The bass workshop was in a little A-frame building down the hill away from the main compound. Jack's studio was nicely arranged with chairs forming a semi-circle around a workbench with a laptop and a small sound system on it. We each took our small little practice amps and fired them up. There were 10 students in Jack's workshop making 11 bass players including Jack. What a racket! It sounded chaotic hearing so many basses playing at once. I kept thinking there must be a few good bass player jokes to be made with this fact alone!

Jack silenced us after everybody got tuned up and played the Hot Tuna song Hesitation Blues (actually an old blues tune written in 1915 by Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton, & Art Gilham). As we were learning the song Jack began to tear into each student's playing style one by one. One guy pulled out a pick which Jack promptly instructed must be put away or it would be thrown away. Finger pickers only in this class please! I suppose the biggest thing I learned all weekend was shown to me from the start of this class. Jack demonstrated to me how my right hand technique was all wrong as he said, and I had to refine the method I had employed on the instrument for many many years. Wow! This was a humbling experience for me. It was like being told to learn how to walk all over again. Jack made his way around the room and adeptly identified each student's weak points and how to correct their technique. This was a level 3 class assuming each participant knew their way around his instrument and had a fair amount of experience in an ensemble (band) situation. As we broke for dinner everyone left the A-frame feeling like a rank amateur.

Jack Casady has an amazing sense of humor. Very witty, but dry in his manner. It's hard to tell when he is just kidding with you as he talks in his matter of fact voice about his approach to the bass guitar. He is an excellent teacher though exhibiting endless patience while being firm with his approach. By the time I was eating my first dinner in the Beatrice Love Kitchen and Dining Hall I already felt like I had received my money's worth from the workshop tuition.

After dinner there was time for general discussion amongst all the students from the different classes. The participants from Warren's class were simply stunned and amazed at how assessable and easy he laid out his own approach to them. You could see all of them were walking on cloud 9 from being able to pick some guitar with Warren as he demonstrated to them his own approach to all things musically speaking. The post dinner discussion found Warren laughing it up with everybody and he seemed to really be enjoying himself and at total ease with the situation. If one didn't know who he was, you would have thought he was just another student joking around with the rest of us there.

Around 7:30 we bottom feeders made our way back to the little A-frame and spent the next 3 hours wood-shedding our newly acquired techniques as we perfected the bass lines to Hesitation Blues. By the end of the evening we were starting to sound like one instrument as we played along together with the recording. The mad cacophony heard from so many bass instruments competing against each other was a real problem at first. It was not easy to listen to yourself with other bass lines being played by so many bassists at the same time. When somebody went astray it was like watching the wheels falling off a train and listening to the resulting crash become a mish mash of dissonance grinding to a halt. Jack would just put the wheels back on and headed us back down the track in the right direction. It proved to be an amazing experience, one I had never witnessed before.

After the evening workshops were finished everybody congregated up by the ranch library and resource center. The jam sessions had started! People broke into smaller groups and music filled the air from many corners of the the facility. So many good pickers it seemed. This was my first taste of listening to the 30 or so guitarists participating in the acoustic guitar workshops given by Jorma Kaukonen and Spencer Bohren. Warren's workshop was the only one besides the bass workshop that employed amplified instruments.

I wound up jamming around the campfire using my acoustic bass guitar with 5 or 6 other guitarists warming themselves in the now chilly night air. I was pleased to hear such sweet sounds emanating from around the fire. There were some fine voices amongst some of the pickers as well and we took turns singing and playing songs together into the wee hours of the morning.

Warren and Brian were being put up in a hotel in nearby Athens Ohio, home of the Ohio University campus. They left shortly after the evening workshops were over. If Warren jammed with anyone it was unfortunately with some other circle of pickers. We didn't get the pleasure of seeing him come up and jam by the fire. All in all though it was a stellar day which I shall never forget. As I laid down to go to sleep in my little cabin I realized how totally spent mentally and physically I was and fell quicky to sleep.

To be continued.

Coming up. Day 2 - A Very Special Concert

 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 05:52 PM
quote:
I suppose the biggest thing I learned all weekend was shown to me from the start of this class. Jack demonstrated to me how my right hand technique was all wrong as he said, and I had to refine the method I had employed on the instrument for many many years. Wow! This was a humbling experience for me. It was like being told to learn how to walk all over again.


Jack made his way around the room and adeptly identified each student's weak points and how to correct their technique. This was a level 3 class assuming each participant knew their way around his instrument and had a fair amount of experience in an ensemble (band) situation. As we broke for dinner everyone left the A-frame feeling like a rank amateur.

Aww man, constructive lecturing... there's challenge which is a good thing!

quote:
I wound up jamming around the campfire using my acoustic bass guitar with 5 or 6 other guitarists warming themselves in the now chilly night air. I was pleased to hear such sweet sounds emanating from around the fire. There were some fine voices amongst some of the pickers as well and we took turns singing and playing songs together into the wee hours of the morning.

Sounds like Wanee!! Love it!!

This is great stuff Tom!!!

 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 06:59 PM
More! More! Can't wait to read more!

 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 07:42 PM
truly a unique experience
 

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  posted on 9/27/2008 at 11:43 PM
This is very cool. One of the best post of the year
 

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  posted on 9/28/2008 at 10:04 AM
Tom, you have many of us waiting on your next words! This is great!!!!

You must still be flying pretty high from this once-in-a-lifetime experience.


 
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