The Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp

Hollywood, February 15-19, 2007

 

Day Two (02/16/2007)

And so began musical boot camp. Of course, my body refuses to adjust to West Coast time… despite keeping myself up until 2am I was unable to sleep past 6 – so I rather suspect I'm going to slowly wear-out as Camp progresses.

At any rate, I was in the hotel lobby about 8:45am for the ride over to SIR Studios – first to have breakfast (much like you'd find in a hotel – buffet-style scrambled eggs or to-order eggs by a cook, bacon, ham, hash browns, etc… it was really quite good!). I then headed-over to Studio Four, where not too long afterwards we did intros and brief bios – followed by some jamming led by conductor/counselor Mark Slaughter.

Before I get sidetracked in a recap of the day, lemme tell you about Mark. The guy is a friggin' genius! I sometimes think highly of my own abilities, but as I watched this guy take this amateur bull by the horns, and move from instrument-to-instrument offering playing suggestions… along with the tasty ideas about our original song (more on that in a sec)… suffice to say that I can't write enough glowing commentary. Mark has a new lifelong fan in yours truly!

But you guys are probably curious about particulars. Not too long into the day we chose (out of a hat) the Beach Boys' song that'll be performed on the night of Day 4 (we picked "Barbara-Ann") and the KISS song we'll do at the House of Blues on the last night (that one will be "Detroit Rock City"). And late in the morning we decided on a name for our band: we are henceforth to be known as "Rogue Scholars". Other than the play on "Rhodes Scholars" there's not much more intended with it.

The band begins jamming...
The band begins jamming...
The band begins jamming...
Select Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Because the Beach Boys' song is fairly easy we began with it, only to quickly discover that we have a VERY talented band! To try to put our own stamp of originality on it, there are some peculiar breaks between vocals where soloing has kind of a prog rock feel. We're all wondering if Brian Wilson is going to have a stroke when he hears what we've done to his song! lol

...and soon discovers we're pretty good!
...and soon discovers we're pretty good!
...and soon discovers we're pretty good!
Select Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

After an hour-or-so we decided to commence work on our original composition. Mark first asked me if I had any interesting hook lines or ostinatos that I'd been playing with (really, I hadn't) – so he then asked one of our two drummers (Ed Johnson) if he had a particular rhythm that he liked. Ed knocked-out this funky little riff, from which Mark conjured a funky little bass line. From there, I came-up with an odd little hook; next we all agreed on a few chord progressions, then everyone just started playing with it.

Rogue Scholars Drummer - Adria McClain
Rogue Scholars Lead Guitarist (and resident whiz kid) - Jared Stamey
Rogue Scholars Drummer - Ed Johnson
Select Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Over the next few hours the rudimentary project has turned into a prog/funk mélange with the working title "Draw The Line". It's more complex than you might think – while each of us can play it, the timing of the entry of various parts was still vexing us late in the day. But we performed it with Scott Ian of Anthrax (when he came to visit our studio) and for Bret Michaels of Poison (who, along with Camp Creator David Fishof, were blown-away that it was dreamed-up only a couple of hours earlier… and that this was our band's first day playing together).

Scott Ian jamming to the Rogue Scholars' original song "Draw The Line"
Scott Ian and the members of Rogue Scholars
Bret Michaels, after hearing Rogue Scholars play, signs an autograph for our guitarist Jared Stamey
Bret Michaels and the members of Rogue Scholars
Select Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

We broke for lunch 1-ish, and had a tasty little wurstfest (I had the spicy shrimp – fairly spicy to even my standards!). Afterwards, we continued fleshing-out both songs until late afternoon, when we turned our attention to picking one more song to learn – and play withDickey Betts at the House of Blues. We settled on one of his earlier solo numbers: "Long Time Gone". We were tempted to pick one of The Allman Bros Band classics, but figured that'd be the approach of most of the other bands… and that Dickey might enjoy playing/singing something wholly his own. A few more run-throughs, it was then time to meet in Studio One – where we had a Q&A with Bret, Scott, and now Sully Erna (of Godsmack). I remarked over late night drinks about my amazement over how intelligent and well-spoken every one of the rockstar guests are… dunno why I was, but I just figured there had to be a few "dummies" out there. So far, none of them are at this Camp!

Bret Michaels, Sully Erna, and Scott Ian answer questions posed by the Campers
The Counselors jamming "Sweet Home Alabama" with Bret, Scott, and Sully
Select Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Dinner included a choice of poultry or fish (with a white sauce that was a tad over-salted), a carrot-based vege dish, mashed potatoes or wild rice, a tasty salad with pecans, etc. Hit the spot, although by then I (and most of the campers) were kind of out of it (by that time my band had rehearsed right at nine hours).

Afterwards, I bumbled into Studio 6 for Teddy Andreadis' "Crazy 88's" keyboard master class. It as great – the guy could have a GREAT second career as a comedian, telling all kinds of "war stories" to illustrate his various points. But the highlight of the evening(for me) came afterwards. Teddy had a weighted 88-note Korg to demo (where I've been using a 61-note mini-axe for my rehearsals) so I wanted to play a little bit. I first showed him a couple of the parts of "Sister Christian" that interested him; I then ran through a few excerpts from some of my favorite Keith Emerson numbers (including taking a few pre-ELP requests from Spike)... and managed to leave both of them with their mouths hanging-open (and, running into David Fishof back at the hotel, apparently they were talking about it afterwards). lol… a WONDERFUL boost for one's ego!

Teddy Andreadis and Patti Russo entertaining after his Master Class
Spike Edney and Patti Russo entertaining after Teddy's Master Class
My new keyboard buddy... Teddy Andreadis! :)
Select Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

The only thing a little odd with this Camp is the lack of late-night jamming. Really, I think everyone is putting so much into this experience that they're just spent by the late evening hours. BTW, an interesting aside: before dinner, I went to the bar to get a red wine, and told the bartender that I had to be "good" (lest I'd be having a vodka rocks instead)… because I had a homework assignment. With that, she smiles and asks, "Is your Counselor Mark Slaughter?" The look on my face gave the answer, to which she replied "he's pretty intense about this." Fine by me… I'm LOVIN' his style, working us hard to push us into areas and styles of playing we're not accustomed (oh, and the homework – repeated listens to the KISS song so we can hit the ground running Saturday morning – fell by the wayside when we had trouble getting CDs burned for everyone).

Getting back to the hotel about 11:30 at least tonight the hotel bar stayed-open past midnight (that was their closing hour Thursday night)… though not much more (they shut it down about 12:45 – which confuses me… I'm in a name hotel in the heart of Hollywood, and they're closing-down so early? What gives?). Got back up to my room not too long after closing so I'd have time to check MySpace and my email… and got a message that capped an otherwise incredible day...

Many of you know that I entered a YouTube-based performance contest late last year that was sponsored by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Then, in the 12th hour – when Atlantic Records changed the rules and extended the contest by another month – I withdrew my entry. Well, surprise – they declared me the winner in the keyboard category! I replied-back to the contact asking how that could happen – given that I withdrew. Seems that they had been doing periodic judging, and had rated mine prior to withdrawal… so they still considered it a valid entry. I figure it's going to make for a great discussion topic over breakfast this morning (oh, and BTW, it always was – and still is – my intention to donate it to the music department of the high school near my home – those of you who've seen pics of my own rig know that I really don't need another 88-note axe!  ED NOTE: on March 1, Watkins delivered the Korg Triton Extreme 88 to my home, and I placed a call to the High School to arrange my donation.  I have to admit... knowing such a wonderful axe is about to just be given away is a bit disconcerting – but I know it's the right thing to do!).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So another scant few hours of sleep came and went; with that, it's now approaching 7:30am – and I need to get cleaned-up. What's on tap for Day Three? Our band still needs a visit from Jeff Foskett, Musical Director for Brian Wilson, to work-through our version of "Barber-Ann" (I know I'm misspelling that title, but I'm opting to go with the phonetic version for those of you not sure of the song)Paul Stanley will be in during the afternoon to rehearse our KISS tune (which means we'd better get to learning it first thing this morning, especially since only a few of us have ever even heard it!), and Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead will first visit the studios then do a pre-dinner Q&A. More Master Classes after the meal, and perhaps there'll actually be some late-night jamming this Saturday night!

Until I next check-in, here's hoping all of you have a great Saturday!

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