June 03, 2006

Camp music


The quickest way to win the hearts of the crowd at the campfire is to bring a guitar. Honestly, you don’t even have to play very well. Somehow music sounds better outside in the cool night air when you’ve got a whole crowd of people talking and laughing around the fire. Anyone who can strum a few chords of a popular song will be welcomed and encouraged to play.

When I was a kid and we would camp up in the mountains at a state park, my father and his friend TrumpetPlayer would sometimes start a jam session right on the camp site. No one around us ever seemed to mind: no one ever complained. In fact strangers we met in the bathrooms the next day would tell us how much they enjoyed it. When I took my students on a weekend retreat one year, one student brought the bagpipes. He stood near the campfire and played, while students got up and danced wildly around the fire, these dark figures silhouetted against the flames.

For many years, it was a tradition for my brother to walk to the end of the dock with his trumpet at sunset and play taps. Nowadays, my father, brother, and son are the threesome who play together most often at camp. In this photo, Boy in Black is practicing guitar and harmonica over near the firepit.


Jenevieve said...

How's the harmonica playing working out for him?

jo(e) said...

He's doing great with the harmonica. It didn't take him long to learn how to coordinate it with the guitar.

He said one night, "I think I play guitar better when I have the harmonica holder around my neck. It makes me feel like Bob Dylan."

liz said...

I love these stories.

claire (yt) said...

I totally love that B I B.

Not Scott said...

What is that behind the guitar case, an amp? Electricity?! Ah ha! I knew these things were fake. That's a set, a soundstage. You don't really go camping, do you? It was too good to be true.

jo(e) said...

Scott: Yep, it's an amp. Skater Boy brought his electric guitar, since it is the only guitar he owns, and ran an orange extension cord to my parents' cabin. It did seem weird to have an electric guitar at the campfire.