Catskills Corner: Camp MMW
In the old days, people would come to the Catskills, stay at a resort, eat drink and be merry, and relax every night by watching a band perform – often a very famous band at that. In the current day, that kind of package holiday no longer holds the same cachet. In fact, it hardly exists. But jam/jazz trio Medeski Martin and Wood have revived the Catskills summer holiday, and added a twist. Their Camp MMW, which returns from August 4-9 following last year’s successful inaugural event, is an all-inclusive experience, aimed at musicians of varying levels, in which the trio take part in workshops and tuition sessions with camp guests, as well as offering their own performances. In fact, they go deep. To quote the press release, at last year’s Camp MWW…
“John Medeski discussed the Schumann Resonance and expounded on the basic human need for sound and music, and how not to let the creative flame extinguish. Billy Martin presented the idea of rhythmic harmony, and showed how identical rhythms have permeated cultures around the world – long before the internet! Chris Wood presented a lecture by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor called My Stroke of Insight, then went on to explain how to “serve” the music by practicing how to relax while playing. Special guests included John Scofield, Steven Bernstein, and Marc Ribot.”
As per last year Camp MMW takes place at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, several miles off of Route 28 on the way to Belleayre. The Full Moon is one of those aforementioned summer destination spots that, under its current, highly attuned owners is now open only for weddings and other special occasions, like Camp MMW. I met the resort’s chef recently, in a hot tub (as you do), and he was ecstatic about last year’s Camp MMW. (I notice the trio’s web site stresses that accommodation includes “organic, gourmet” meals.) I’m sure it will be a treat for those who are accepted – because not just anyone can cough up the $2000 program cost.
No, the eighty spaces will be allocated only to those who meet certain criteria. “You will be required to submit 2 samples of music in MP3 format along with your application,” states the Camp MMW web site. “At least one music sample must be played solo on your instrument (without accompaniment). Original music is preferred.” Two grand is a lot of money for a week in the country, but for those who look up to MMW – and, let’s be honest, these are some of the finest musicians in America not locked into the classical and jazz realms – the opportunity to spend a week in the act’s company, woodshedding, workshopping with them is probably worth every dime.
In other MMW news, the trio will be releasing the second in a series of three Radiolarian albums next month. They claim that the Series is designed to subvert the age-old music industry cycle of write>record>tour, although, in this case, it’s only by switching the last of these two around: the group hit the road last year, playing only new music, then recorded that material in the studio directly after getting off tour. The album is released on their own Indirecto label.
For a live review of MMW at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, click here.
There’s a follow-up to last week’s story about the regiun’s new radio station, WGXC. Turns out that the FCC has opened up another frequency, at 88.1 FM, and entities based out of both Woodstock and Bard College are competing for it. At the same time, the online Catskill Community Radio appears to go from strength to strength; this Saturday, from 6-9pm, the station will be hosting one of its quarterly Catskill Cabaradio live broadcasts at the Pine Hill Community Center. Following a potluck dinner hour, the likes of musician/poet Ed Sanders, novelist Gioia Timpanelli, the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK), musician Ben Vita, and local publisher Brian Powers will all take part in a show that should help define the meaning of Community. In addition, “audience members will have a chance to win several prizes by playing Catskill Trivia, including a fabulous weekend for four at the beautiful Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville.” The Catskills resort holiday lives on.
PS: Spring may be here, but there’s still plenty terrain on the local ski mountains – or there certainly is at Hunter, where I got out for a couple of beautiful hours skiing this Friday morning. The weather looks like being perfect all weekend long, lots of sunshine and temperatures well above freezing, and Hunter is making the most of the clocks springing forward as early as they have done this year by staying open until 5pm on Saturdays until their closing date – which, so they state, will not be until April 11th. Belleayre has also announced that it will stay open into April. Come and make the most of it. Bargains abound as the season winds down; call the mountains or check their web sites – or read my piece, Skiing In A Recession, fron two weeks ago – to snag a deal.