Photos And Text By Anne M. Raso
The first Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp back at New York’s Gibson Studios (adjacent to the world-famous Record Plant in Midtown West) on January ’11 was so great that the MAC WIRE had to return for another visit. We were sad to see that two of our favorite instructors–Mark Farner and Sandy Gennaro–were on summer tours and could not return but we made sure to hang with the world-famous bassist extraordinaire and super camp counselor Rudy Sarzo. The poor guy just couldn’t get rid of us. We sat in on his master class, his band’s performance with guest star Leslie West and even dinner on Saturday night. All the counselors and campers practiced on Friday and Saturday (August 13th and 14th) in anticipation of individual band performances and a jam with the likes of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Sly & The Family Stone (unforttunately without Sly) and Tommy James (on Sunday, August 15th at Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, site of the original Woodstock Festival which was celebrating its 42nd anniversary). Each camp band was assigned three classic rock songs to play on the big night. Other fabulous instructors this time around included Kip Winger, Mark Hudson, Kasim Sultan, David Rosenthal from Billy Joel’s band and Joe Stefko of Turtles fame.
Photos on this page include Rudy’s wonderful master bass class (featuring four bassists, two drummers and lots of stories about playing on the Blizzard Of Oz tour and Paul McCartney’s work that he suggested listening to). It still sticks in our heads that Rudy told his master bass class students that Paul McCartney’s best bass work was on George Harrison-penned songs and cited “Something” as possibly Macca’s best work on his instrument. Rudy and his official campers, who were forced to change their name from Brown Acid to Mudslide after objections from a musician who played in Jimi Hendrix’s band at Woodstock (this unnamed guy said that brown acid really caused a lot of big problems at the festival), but Rudy told us with a smile, “I actually wanted to change the name of the group to Winger.” (That’s sort of an inside joke since Kip Winger was another one of the excellent counselors at this particular version of R&R Fantasy Camp.) The three songs Mudslide were practicing for the big Sunday night show were “Black Magic Woman, “Hey Joe” and “Woodstock” (perfect choices given the venue of the concert)!
The highlight of Saturday–the day we visited–was undoubtedly Leslie West coming in with his statuesque wife Jenni (who were actually married on the Bethel Woods Center For The Arts stage two years ago) to jam and so soon after his recent surgery. He was in great spirits, telling jokes and really wailing and playing his best licks with the campers. His pals, Fred Norris from the Howard Stern Show and author May Pang were there, to cheer on both West and the campers, and the legendary axeman probably signed about 75 pieces of memorabilia and posed for as many pictures in just a two-hour period. After performing with all the camp bands, he had a huge pile of Gibson guitars to sign for the VIP campers and he doled out some good (and funny) advise to some of the younger campers watching him sign the guitars–many of the campers appeared to be of junior high and high school age, and it was great to see so many young girls who took up the guitar. (At the last NYC camp in January, there were only female vocalists in the camp bands.) It was also great to catch Fred Norris jamming with Kip Winger’s band. Winger is impressive because he plays every instrument in his assigned studio with the campers.
There will be another Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp coming up sponsored by Citibank in October–you can bet we will be covering that and our pal Rudy will be coming back (so we are putting all bass players on alert) and before then there is the camp with Paul Stanley at the Playboy Mansion (see rockcamp.com/ for more details). Til it’s time to report on the next R&R Fantasy Camp here at the MAC WIRE, keep practicing and save up your pennies, because this superstar-studded camp is so worth the dough! You can bet that MAC WIRE correspondent Anne Raso will be practicing her beloved cowbell and maybe even talk Rudy Sarzo into letting her play on “Don’t Fear The Reaper” when he comes to town with Blue Oyster Cult again (LOL)!