Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Winter Acoustic Music Weekend

 I used to use this blog as a place to write about some of my musical experiences. I haven't been doing that, and it is time I return to the original purpose of this thing!!

This past weekend, I visited Groton, MA for a musical adventure called Winter Acoustic Music Weekend, sponsored by WUMB radio out of Boston. It is run, heart, and soul, by Lorraine and Bennett Hammond, a couple of very sweet folks who are also fantastic folk musicians.  They run what can best be described as a musical retreat, a gathering of acoustic music makers for the sole purpose of... making music.

You drive up a short country road (if you follow the directions perfectly... the immediate right is IMMEDIATELY on the right, for example, lol) and come to Grotonwood, usually a camp for kids from what I gather. Greeted by a staff or two, you are handed your tee shirt, wrapped with your lanyard, and a page telling you your room number and building. How to actually find your room, however, is pretty much up to you. I did meet many folks, though, looking for my room and saying GREAT TO SEE YOU to several people I remembered from past weekends. And, of course, there is already a group of people jamming in the lobby of the house I am living in for the next few days. By the time I get settled, though, it is dinnertime, and we are headed towards the cafeteria, on the other end of the property. This is usually ok, but this weekend, it is ah HEM, a BIT cold (freezing temps all weekend). 

Do I sound a little tired before I begin? yep, I am. Feeling a little guilty about leaving the dog... again. Wondering what I am doing here, really. Kinda been down lately about writing songs, seems they have all dried up, and gigs are getting rarer as the population of musicians is getting thicker. You know, the typical musician worries and disappointments. 

But, I go into the already bustling cafeteria. 'MARILYN' someone calls to me, gives me a hug, and tells me I am missed. A little later another and another... and another! And, they mention songs or things about my music or performances in the past or SOMETHING that means, yes, they really do remember me AND MY MUSIC. Oh MY! That means so much. 

None of that was expected. At all. I was hoping I would be remembered, but I NEVER thought the music would be, especially when there are so many very talented music makers here!!! Then I started feeling at home. The rest of the weekend went on from there...

The first evening is the concert by each teacher. We could learn harmonica, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer, harmony and guitar. There were workshops in singing health, rhythm guitar, blues fiddle, songwriting, performance, and stage sound. You can take 4 classes Saturday and 3 on Sunday. There was even a class on applying Beatles study to your own songwriting!!! I took harmonica, songwriting, harmony, and singing health. I got something I am already using out of every single one of those classes.

And then, there are the jams. You don't have to go to a class at all... you can just do jams all day if you want (or sleep, there is no attendance!!! LOL) In the summer, we sit on the large porch and jam from pre-breakfast to late at night... but it is cold in Massachusetts in February!!! lol So we jam in buildings, and so there is only one area since the others are full of classes. 

The jams are what I LOVE. Each one is different. Some are run like I do here... Go around the circle and pass, request, or play. Most, however, are 'Who has a song?' which in an unstructured group leads to a couple people just playing all evening. Then there are the groups where it is still 'who has a song?', but the song should be followable by most players... those are the ones I prefer!

After jamming for a bit, I hit the hay. At some point, I find that my roommate is someone I have shared space here with before and I am glad to see her! We are sorta on the same schedule, for one thing, and that worked out this weekend too!

After classes, we have a small break before the student concert. I am on NEXT TO LAST. Sigh. OK. Someone figures out I should be onstage by  10pm. That is not TOO bad. But what song? I spend an hour or so before dinner making that decision. I sure would like to do, 'Little Things', an upbeat tune about the pleasure of 'little things'. Turns out my voice is just NOT gonna hit those high notes for nothing. I keep looking. 

Stole My Trust, a song about a woman discovering her lover is using drugs instead of paying the bills, keeps sounding best. It is SUCH a heavy song, and from experience, I know this crowd mostly enjoys pretty, positive-sounding songs. Should I?

It sounds the best BY FAR, to my ear. Sigh. OK. I guess it wants to be heard.

And... it was a success! I am SO appreciative of the comments I heard! We all make a point of telling each other what we like about the songs, performance, or whatever, and that is really what makes this gathering so special. I used to leave it wanting to shake off all the (possibly phony) positive stuff. This time I didn't want to leave it. I felt that I really needed it.

Thank you, WAMW (pronounced Wham-double U). 

I am gonna write a new song!!!