The Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp

Hollywood, February 15-19, 2007

 

Day Five (02/19/2007)

I'm typing the final day's narrative as I wait for my flight from Burbank to Dallas / Fort Worth (then connecting to Fort Myers)… with my Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp now just a series of amazing memories (and what they say about finding yourself in a funk for the first couple of days afterwards seems to be very true… I'm quite sad that it's all over, as I now am forced to return to my mundane "regular person" existence… c'est la vie). But enough of that – let me recap the events of the last day...

As Mark had said, we kept rehearsing to a minimum – basically just three-or-four run-throughs of our set, then just sitting-around chatting, surfing the web, etc. while we waited for lunch. We felt very confident… any flubs were minor, so we figured we'd at least not embarrass ourselves.

A Mexican lunch (e.g. chicken/pork tacos, spanish rice, pico, guac, etc.) came and went, with most of us returning to the hotel shortly after eating. I had delusions of grandeur in thinking that I might catch a 45min power nap – but while I'd been cool-as-a-cucumber up until today, the reality of what we were about to go do was setting-in. Therefore, no sleep for me – I just tossed-and-turned while mentally hearing/playing our setlist over-and-over-and-over in my head. Time quickly came for me to catch a refreshing hot shower, get into my performance clothes (thanks to my daughter for the two-tone silk Tommy Bahama), then take the shuttle back to SIR.

About 3:30 they had a DVD slideshow on the big projector showing various candids taken throughout the camp. Each band was summoned onstage to be introduced by their respective Counselor, receive a framed commemorative plaque (which looks like a gold CD with an engraving below  and is now hanging just above and right of my keyboard stack), get one last group photo taken (ED NOTE: yet another photo MIA... in retrospect, that's my biggest disappointment with RRFC  so many of the photos I planned on buying, that apparently were snapped, aren't becoming available :( ), then have a very early dinner (with a choice of roast beef station or salmon, loaded baked potatoes, salad, etc). I'd decided in advance to eat very lightly… yes, my tummy was FINALLY churning, so the last thing I wanted to do was be dealing with stomach upset just before taking the stage.

A Portrait of the Rogue Scholars, on the day of their epic House of Blues performance
David Presley and David Fishof (creator of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp)
David Presley & Mark Slaughter
A Portrait of the Rogue Scholars, on the day of their epic House of Blues performance
Rogue Scholars commemoration at the concluding dinner of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
Rogue Scholars commemoration at the concluding dinner of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
Rogue Scholars commemoration at the concluding dinner of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
Rogue Scholars commemoration at the concluding dinner of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
Rogue Scholars commemoration at the concluding dinner of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
Photos © Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Quite a few folks – including a couple members of my band – elected to get stage makeup. On the guys it just looked a little bizarre – but on the women it changed their look to the point where they were almost unrecognizable (Jim's wife Becky comes to mind in that regard). About 20-25min before leaving, Jared (our lead guitarist), Ed (one of our drummers) and I were asked to come to the equipment room for a photo-shoot. I almost busted-out laughing when I discovered it was for Maxim Magazine (I figure a paunchy 50 year old man is NOT what you usually buy that magazine to look-at! lol). But they were doing a story on Camp, and brought-in a cross-section of players (not from any one band, but a mix of several) to look like a generic Fantasy Camp band. Amazing how many pics they took, but I suppose it's necessary to secure that perfect shot.

At any rate, we finally finished about 6:15 then made-way to the shuttle buses for the 20min-or-so ride to the House of Blues. Upon arrival, we headed-to the main entrance… and I was so "in the zone" that I almost walked completely past my daughter and my brother. Thankfully, I had a press pass and release for my bro… as he feared (despite repeated reassurances to the contrary from RRFC staff) the HOB would NOT let him enter with his camera gear (although upon receiving credentials he had no problem). Once all of the "artists" (aka Campers) were inside they began to admit the general public. I spent a good chunk of time hanging-out and visiting with my daughter (and her friend Emily) along with my brother – and was also very happy to talk for a couple of minutes with Asha (who headed-up the winning band at the last RRFC  Beauty And The Beasts).

The intent was for the show to start about 7:30pm… but, in actuality, it was a touch past 8 when Bruce Kulick's band kicked-things-off. Up until the music began, I was joking with everyone about the location of the vomitorium (relates to a very old original "Saturday Night Live" skit) – but it was humor based partially in truth. I was really nervous. But when the music began there was kind of a soothing effect, and the apprehension pretty much vanished.

Our Mistress of Ceremonies - Lynn Hoffmann from VH1

Rogue Scholars was to play sixth, so about the time the fourth band took the stage I excused myself from family and friends (by that time Alex – whom I dined-with on Valentine's Day – had joined Jordan and Robert, and my friend Ada texted me that she was upstairs watching from something called The Foundation Room). Displaying our backstage credentials, we entered the staging area – what first caught me was how smoky the thing was. The guitarists got one last tuning, then we waited a bit longer after the fifth band left the stage so David Fishof could auction-off several autographed guitars in a charity fundraiser. But, when done, our band was called to the stage. YIKES – here we go!! lol

The smoky backstage area, just before taking the stage at the House of Blues
Guitarists get a quick last-second tuning before taking the stage

We had heard from a couple of prior bands that the mix was markedly better than what we had on the prior night (thank goodness!). That seemed to be true as each of us quickly checked our instruments. One thing I immediately noticed – the B3 they had for this show was NOT the one I played in Studio One… and it had sticky keys on both manuals. That, and it wouldn't make a sound (some quick help from the techs remedied the situation)… but, in retrospect, I think these two things spooked me (at least subconsciously). At any rate, Mark looks around, we all give a thumbs-up, and away we go!

We began with "Draw The Line" (our original) – it went pretty well until we got to my keyboard solo about halfway through. That bad karma I mentioned had me on edge; then when you factor-in the first-song adrenalin, I simply tried to play my part too fast and lost control. Mind you, it's supposed to be one of those fast run / glissando thingies so it didn't matter too much, but I did notice an intermittent bit of dead air here and there. It could've been so much more with better pacing; definitely NOT my best take, but we plodded on. When we finished, I was shocked at how receptive the audience was with the tune… very gratifying! They liked us… they really liked us!

Rogue Scholars open with "Draw The Line" at the House of Blues
Rogue Scholars' Jared Stamey on Lead Guitar
Rogue Scholars' Guitarist and Lead Vocalist Jim King
Rogue Scholars' Guitarist Bob Kozicki
Rogue Scholars tearing-up our original work "Draw The Line"
Mark Slaughter, Jim King, and Bob Kozicki performing "Draw The Line"
Dan Donnelly, Jared Stamey, Mark Slaughter, and Jim King - performing the original "Draw The Line"
Jared Stamey, soloing on the Rogue Scholars' original "Draw The Line"
Rogue Scholars, wowing the LA House of Blues, with the original "Draw The Line"
Jared Stamey finishing his guitar solo...
...with David Presley taking-over for a keyboard solo
Rogue Scholars' Keyboardist David Presley, soloing in the originall song "Draw The Line"
Jared Stamey, Mark Slaughter, and Jim King, performing "Draw The Line"
Rogue Scholars' Counselor Mark Slaughter on Bass for the original song "Draw The Line"
David Presley, finishing his keyboard solo, in the Rogue Scholars original song "Draw The Line"
Rogue Scholars' Keyboardist David Presley slapping at the B3 to provide rhymthic accompaniment to a verse of the original song "Draw The Line"
Rogue Scholars' David Presley, Dan Donnelly and (buried behind the percussion stack) Adria McClain, performing at the Los Angeles House of Blues
Rogue Scholars' Lead Guitarist Jared Stamey soloing in the original song "Draw The Line"
Rogue Scholars' Jared Stamey and Mark Slaughter, performing "Draw The Line" at the House of Blues
Rogue Scholars' Bob Kozicki near the end of "Draw The Line"
Photos © Robert Presley & Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Paul Stanley then joined us on stage and we immediately jumped into "Detroit Rock City" (worded that way because most of the bands seemed to take at least a couple of minutes between their songs). Again, we'd played it better in rehearsal, but it wasn't at all bad either(and compared to some of the songs other bands drew I was elated with our luck-of-the-draw – at least ours was lively/catchy… some of the other songs were, I'm sorry to say, crap!). We get to song's end, and I begin my planned segue into the "Layla" piano solo – but played the first couple of bars an octave too low (eh, shit happens when you've rehearsed dozens of time on a 61-noter then suddenly play on 88... muscle memory rules!). Paul quickly exited and both Dickey Betts and his son Duane took the stage for about a 3min close. All in all, I was very proud of our set and our band. I wasn't convinced we'd delivered a winning performance, but I don't think we embarrassed ourselves either.

Paul Stanley joins Rogue Scholars' for a performance of "Detroit Rock City"
Rogue Scholars' Keyboardist David Presley, providing a simple guitar accompaniment, to the KISS song "Detroit Rock City"
Paul Stanley and Mark Slaughter, performing "Detroit Rock City" at the LA House of Blues
Rogue Scholars' Keyboardist David Presley waiting for the next musical cue in the KISS classic "Detroit Rock City"
Paul Stanley, Jim King, and Bob Kozicki, performing "Detroit Rock City" at the House of Blues
Paul Stanley, Mark Slaughter, Jim King, and Bob Kozicki, performing "Detroit Rock City" at the House of Blues
Paul Stanley, Mark Slaughter, and Jim King performing "Detroit Rock City" at the House of Blues
Mark Slaughter and Jim King showboating during "Detroit Rock City"
Paul Stanley, Mark Slaughter, Jim King, and Bob Kozicki, performing "Detroit Rock City" at the House of Blues
Jared Stamey and Jim King giving harmonic lead to Paul Stanley's "Detroit Rock City" vocals
David Presley playing a "Detroit Rock City" guitar accompaniment on both the B3 and a Korg synth
Paul Stanley, Mark Slaughter, Jim King, Bob Kozicki (and, way in the background, drummer Ed Johnson) near the end of "Detroit Rock City"
Paul Stanley nearing the big finish of "Detroit Rock City"
Even Paul Stanley can't ignore the guitar wizardry of Jared Stamey
"Detroit Rock City" concludes, as David Presley segues to the piano solo portion of "Layla"
Rogue Scholars joined by Duane and Dickey Betts for the concluding bars of "Layla"
To visually answer another question, yes, I did take time to realize where I was and what I was doing... it wasn't all about playing perfectly!
Jared Stamey, Duane Betts, and Mark Slaughter during a particularly melodic passage in "Layla"
Rogue Scholars' Keyboardist David Presley in the waning seconds of "Layla" (and our performance at the House of Blues)
Dickey Betts joins Rogue Scholars for a solo to "Layla"
Mark Slaughter, Dickey Betts, and Jim King, performing "Layla" at the LA House of Blues
Mark Slaughter, Dickey Betts, and Jim King, performing "Layla" at the LA House of Blues
Jared Stamey and Mark Slaughter, playing "Layla", with an assist from Duane Betts
The final guitar harmonies of "Layla" are played by Dickey Betts, Bob Kozkcik, and Jim King...
The long pause...
...and, with that, my time in the limelight ends - what a helluva great experience!!
Photos © Robert Presley & Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Once RRFC provides me with the DVD of our performance, I'll upload to YouTube and link-back to this page!

As everyone warned us, the time onstage was fleeting – perceptually, even though the pace was the same as in rehearsal, the time seemed to pass 2x-3x faster. It's over WAY too quickly… and I can see why touring acts like to keep coming back (suddenly, that Jackson Browne song makes SOOO much sense!). Very strange phenomenon indeed! I rejoined my family/friends on the floor – whereupon my hypercritical daughter immediately picked-up on the soloing snafu, but said it wasn't that bad. My brother was quite amazed with the original, saying he really liked the hook line (my contribution to the tune :D ). I stayed with them to hear the rest of the bands – on the whole, all except a couple were very good – but, as we feared, Teddy Andreadis' band definitely WAS the band to beat… having turned-in a spot-on performance. The judges apparently agreed, declaring them the winner of the Feb '07 RRFC Battle of the Bands. I'm perfectly fine with that – they deserved it (although a couple of other Campers I later spoke-with disagreed).

Conductor Spike Edney, officially ending the last notes to be played in the Feb '07 Battle of the Bands
An especially great closeup of Paul Stanley, courtesy Robert Presley
Teddy Andreadis, leading his band's winning performance
Photos © Robert Presley,
2007, All Rights Reserved

With thirteen bands performing – combined with the late start – the evening was running WAY too long… so the showcase demo by Jared that I was going to assist-with got shit-canned. Instead, the counselor jam got quickly underway – but they were forced to cut their set down from seven songs to five for the same reason. The professionals – assisted by guests Patti Russo and Journey lead singer Jeff Scott Soto – finished right at the stroke of midnight with "We Are The Champions".  The winning band was announced, and the show was officially over.

The last Counselor jam, to close the Feb '07 Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
The last Counselor jam, to close the Feb '07 Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
The last Counselor jam, to close the Feb '07 Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
The last Counselor jam, to close the Feb '07 Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
The last Counselor Jam (you can tell I'm back on the snapshot camera - everything suddenly goes blurry!)
Jane Wiedlin rocking-out during the House of Blues Counselor Jam
Rogue Scholars' Counselor Mark Slaughter in the waning moments of the final night's Counselor Jam
The Counselors, led by Jeff Scott Soto and Patti Russo, wail the final notes to Queen's classic "We Are The Champions"
My daughter Jordan and her friend Emily - flanking Spike Edney - at the conclusion of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp
Photos © Robert Presley & Rebecca King, 2007, All Rights Reserved

With my brother heading to Santa Barbara (for work) and my daughter driving to San Diego (for school) I quickly said my goodbyes(although quickly insisting that Jordan get a photo with Spike - shown above), then joined Ada upstairs at the private party (yes, in true rockstar fashion, you had to be "with the band" to attend). Only problem is that I was just exhausted – she and I visited for awhile, but a bit before 1:30 I insisted she drive me back to the hotel (I was so tired I wasn't hearing what she was saying anymore). I made myself stay-up for about another hour – packing WAS a challenge!  I almost didn't get everything put-away due to all the "freebies" we received over the past five days, but did finally crash-n-burn about 2:45 (interestingly, I later found-out that this was within 5min of my daughter arriving home in San Diego).

Which brings me to now. I awoke about 6:30 (ah, what WILL it be like to sleep more than 4 or 5 hours in a given night?!!), cleaned-up, walked across the street for a BK breakfast, then killed a little time watching some Anna Nicole courtroom stuff before checking-out and taking the cab to the airport. I'm about to power-down… it looks like we board in a few minutes… but during my layover at DFW I'll finish this missive (so it can be uploaded when I return home).

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

Ah, the best laid plans… upon arriving DFW I realized I needed to get some food in me – and after seeing a Popeye's Chicken (which sounded particularly appetizing!) I stopped for about a 20min lunch. Then I powered-up my cell and had three calls to return… needless to say, I didn't do anymore creative blogging during my layover.

But that's not really germane – cuz I'm about done. I talked with a couple of alumni campers just before boarding my flight out of Burbank, and they said to let everything soak-in for a few days then write a closing blog. They both also reiterated that it takes a few days to decompress and let all of the events really simmer in one's mind. I can buy that. I'm still spacy as hell – and praying that my more normal sleeping patterns will return in the next night or so.

With that, let me call it an evening – and for those of you who've been actively following these blogs, I'll do that wrap-up in a few days.

Until then…

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