Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lark Camp Day 6 - We leave the Camp for the Mendocino Ukestration Workshop

Our performance in the dinner line on Tuesday night (Day 4/5?) attracted some new people to today's workshop. They were impressed by our energy and what we do. After that we went into town to prepare for our Mendocino ukestration workshop. 2012 – 7 people. 2013 – 14 people. 2014 – 21 people. Not that that is a pattern or anything. Let's not get too excited.

One person at the Mendocino workshop asked a really critical question. How do we get to keep doing this? Such questions belong with a whole swag of similar queries and comments from people exposed to the prevailing 'ukulele culture'.

We aren't able to improve! We can't learn new stuff! We just sing a song and move onto the next one.

There are lots of people we are meeting at Lark Camp who - as ukulele players - are aspiring musicians. They are not satisfied by the prevailing strum n hum culture of the new ukulele movement.

My answer to the question How do we keep doing this stuff was simple.

Pay someone.

To my mind this achieves two things.

Firstly, it potentially provides a sustainable incentive for someone to harvest, arrange and teach new songs (and hence techniques and music theory), to organise and create opportunities for learning and performance.

Second, when you hand your money to someone you are saying – here, take my fifteen bucks, and you now have the responsibility to organise, teach, and handle the group and personal politics that inevitably arises. This buck is stopping with you!

So we live in hope that someone in the 20 or so Mendocino Coast souls takes up this challenge and thinks about running groups in such a way. It would / should complement the slew of volunteer groups that already exist in the area.

I feel a disturbance in The Force

But going ten miles to Mendocino was a challenge in some way. It made me think of Obi Wan Kenobi, when the Death Star destroyed Princess Leia's planet.

I'm not sure what it is, but I felt a great disturbance in The Force …

Well, I did. I felt a disturbance in my own force, my own equanimity. We got connected back to the internet. To an unwell mother, to daughters who miss their father, to business issues, to payruns, to how much money is in the bank back home, to abandoned Thai-Australian surrogate babies with child molester parents on the news, to the remnants of MH17. But we also had to re-orient ourselves back to a new set of relationships – even if only for one night.

How quickly we have become accustomed to a new set of relationships in the forest. These are now my daily community in my new life environment. The people who serve the food, who have specific musical specialties, the same haircut (is that Leo? Bill? or Radim?), the lady with the pretty (fake) hair braid who gives me the tickets for lunch (Bonnie), the San Rafael woman who I flung around on the dance floor the other night (Janene from Santa Rosa), the diurnal rhythm of the sun through the timbers (of the forest or the cracks in the cabin), the hot chocolate (chocolat caliente as the girls ask me to say in my cute accent), the rudimentary camp bed and dirty sheets, the dirty clothes in one corner, the clean still in the bag. How quickly we become comfortable, and uncomfortable with a subtle change ten miles down the road.

But always through this I have another planet with whom I revolve. It is so reassuring. Jane and her ways. And an accent that I cannot hear.

Tomorrow is our last day. It will be a big one. And in an hour or three I perform for the first time in my life with a Jazz Swing Big Band on the trumpet. Wish you could be here Mum. You'd be proud of my rather appalling music reading abilities and occasionally ok trumpet playing. You could keep company with Carol, who is 78, from Atlanta Georgia. She seems quite straight compared to all the recalcitrant 1960s hippies and draft dodgers. Yet Carol has embraced singing, marimba and all manner of other workshops. And stood on benches around the edge of the dance floor. And you could also then take the due credit for the cascade of compliments for all my lovely sweaters.
Her last swim. The footbridge just below our cabin

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