Sunday, July 3, 2011

Guitar Picking & Much More!

A couple of weeks ago, Laurie came across an article in the local newspaper about Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp.  She told me that the Kamp was staging nightly performances open to the public every weeknight for 2 weeks.  The venue for all of this action was the terrific Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre in Maryville Tennessee.  The theatre is part of the Clayton Center for the Arts on the campus of Maryville College.  It was created through a partnership between the college and the cities of Maryville and Alcoa Tennessee.  For more on the Clayton Center for the Arts and upcoming attractions, check it out at  

Given our schedule, we chose the last evening and last performance that was staged by the Acoustic Kamp for 2011.

Here we have a sampling of almost every type of stringed instrument that was involved in the 2nd week of the Kamp…banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and bass. (The dobro or resonator guitar was absent from this group) The players shown were all instructors who taught classes during this week.  Note: The theatre was packed with kampers, their family and ticketed guests.

Steve Kaufman is shown 2nd from the right playing the guitar.  He is the only 3-time winner of the National Flatpicking Championships.   After all of his years in the business, Steve continues to work hard in the world of music.  He produces instructional books and videos and his catalog of instructional materials contains nearly 75 items.  Steve has also produced more than 14 CD’s and Video’s for his music fans. (To see the catalog, go to

After touring the world conducting seminars, workshops, clinics and concerts, in 1995, Steve and his wife Donna Dixon started ‘Steve Kaufman’s Flatpicking Camp’.  This has evolved into his current multi award winning ‘Acoustic Kamps’.  In addition to the Acoustic Kamp, Steve maintains a tour and teaching schedule, writes books, records videos and CD’s plus he owns and operates The Palace Theater in downtown Maryville. (

This photo shows the mandolin instructors in action with Steve in support on his guitar.  Laurie and I were really impressed with his playing…he is really a great guitar artist! 

The first week of Acoustic Kamp was entitled ‘Old Time and Traditional Week’.  It included classes in flatpicking, fingerpicking, old time fiddle, mountain dulcimer, songwriting, the upright bass and old time banjo.

Here is Steve with the dobro/resonator guitars.  All of the instructors were extremely proficient…really laying down some special music in their solo segments of every appearance. 

The second week of the Acoustic Kamp was entitled ‘Bluegrass Week’.  This week included classes in mandolin, bluegrass banjo, bluegrass fiddle, dobro, bass guitar, upright bass and vocal/singing.

As this was the last day of Kamp, like all camps, this one had special performances to close out the week.  This group was made up of the ‘Kamp Followers’, i.e., those accompanying musical family members just to be with them and support them.  They pulled together their own little version of ‘Don’t Let the Rain Fall Down’.  It was very entertaining...and it reminded us of the closing night at a resort in the Pocono’s or the Catskills.   

One of the most original and entertaining performances of the evening was provided by 4 young artists who didn’t name their group, but were introduced as the Mystery Band…formerly known as Prince…ha ha!  They were terrific…and creative!  This group was put together via a weekly format called The Band Scramble.  One person per instrument is chosen via a drawing on Friday before the show…and the new group has 45 minutes to arrange a vocal and instrumental tune in an arrangement. (Unfortunately, since this was early in the show, we didn’t know that we could take photos…alas, no photo of these young and promising musicians.

Here is the finale…All of the instructors…with Donna Dixon and Katie, Steve and Donna's white standard poodle on stage, far left. (Katie had a habit of wandering on stage in the middle of performances…very amusing!)

As this was the last night with several musical instruments to be raffled off to the Kampers, (up to $5,500 in value!), it was a long performance.  We had a great time!  Cost…only $32.00 for both of us with the handling fee.

In 2011, the cost of Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp for musical ‘kampers’ was $800.00, which included a week’s stay in the Maryville College dormitories, classes, concerts, workshops and meals.  Kamp followers accompanying the ‘students’ are charged $450.00 for the week.  The Kamp is open to beginners on up to advanced musicians and any age is welcome but minors must be accompanied by a guardian or parent.  (Kampers come from around the world.  We heard a performance from a group from Switzerland and a second year attendee from New Zealand won one of the big raffle prizes)

How big a deal is this Kamp?!  Check out this partial list of sponsors: Acoustic Guitar Magazine; Artisan Guitars; Bluegrass Connection; Collings Guitars; Deering Banjos; D’Addario Strings; Down Home Guitars; DR Strings; Dunlop Picks; Fishman Transducers; Flatpicking Guitar Magazine; Homespun Tapes; Huss and Dalton Guitars; Intellitouch Tuners; Ken Miller Guitars; Mandolin Magazine; Martin Guitars; Naugler Guitars; Ome Banjos; PicKing; Smoky Mountain Guitars; Taylor Guitars; Weber Mandolins and; Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop.  Not a bad representation from the music business!!

For anyone interested in Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp, it’s scheduled for June of 2012… Check it out at  

Just as important, even if you’re not a musician, and you just like good music…a jamming session by pros…keep your eyes open for the Acoustic Kamp’s performance dates next year.  It’s a heck of a good night’s entertainment…a minimal cost too!  
One final note: Many thanks to Ed and Marion Robinson for turning us on to the talents of Steve Kaufman.

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