Jazzoids Go to Summer Camp

Ever since the series of American Pie movies came out, band camp has been stereotyped as a place for musically talented geeks to fiddle on their instruments, march around, and then return from band camp with stories that no one else cared to hear.

Band camp has changed…well, at least one “band camp”.

medeski martin and woodMedeski, Martin and Wood recently accepted applications to the Second Annual Camp MMW, running from August 4th through August 9th. This is not your everyday camp, as you can probably already guess.

For starters, you are at camp with Medeski, Martin, and Wood. I’m sure that being said, we have already taken any music camp up about twelve notches. The camp takes place at the Full Moon Resort, the foreground to 80,000 acres of New York State’s stunning Catskill Mountain wilderness.

The camp is all about musical exploration, growth, and interaction. This is not some camp where a well known band puts their name on it and shows up for an end of the week concert. On the contrary, MMW is intensely hands on. As the website for the camp boasts, I could be a trumpet player working on mastering rhythm with drummer Billy Martin, a guitarist studying melody with keyboardist John Medeski, or a pianist that wants to develop my groove with bassist Chris Wood.

Discovery is the theme of the camp, where all musicians are put in positions to break out of their comfort zones and bad habits, and explore a creative side of themselves that they have yet to meet.

There are some aspects of Camp MMW that resemble a traditional summer camp in some ways. All accommodations are shared, and sharing living quarters with someone you know is discouraged as it may hinder the creative process. There is a dining hall (complete with all-organic meals), swimming, bonfires, and even a dance party. And of course, there will be performances from MMW as well as jam sessions to participate in.

The application process, however, is slightly different than the average camp you might like to attend. The group selected to attend is not large, and in order to be considered applicants must submit two samples of music in Mp3 format only (one sample of applicants playing original music on their instrument with no accompaniment), alongside a non-refundable $50 application fee.

If you are one of the few who is accepted, the cost of the camp for the five days will run you $2000. Clearly going to camp with the big boys doesn’t come cheap.

Certainly there are musicians who I might favor more than Medeski, Martin, and Wood. But after thinking about it, there might not be a more interesting and fun trio to have head up a camp like this. For musicians looking to grow and become more creative, heading to camp with these three extremely creative musicians could be just the ticket. And feel free to come back and tell me all about it.

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