Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
- Day 1: February 15, 2008 -
It's back to Los Angeles for the Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp, and how exciting it is for the camp to be in my backyard. This camp has some great new guests and a few legends in the business, so I can't wait for all the excitement that will surely amaze the campers and myself as usual! There are some exciting new counselors involved with this camp, especially Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees! More details on all of them later in my blog.
Day one was registration and the bands' formation into the groups that were assigned to the counselors. My band has three guitar players, drums and bass, and all the guitar players sing as well. We don't have a keyboard player so our first song that was performed for everyone on opening night in the big room at SIR was REVOLUTION by The Beatles. I love that song, and my group spent the afternoon rehearsing all the parts. I loved tearing down the sections of the tune and explaining the strange way the chord changes in the verse. We really had the vibe by the dinner break and felt confident about jamming later on that song.
We had to choose a band name, and in light of the hot political election year we are in we decided on "Barack N' Roll All Nite". (A clever goof on Rock N Roll All Nite from KISS and of course Mr Obama). Hope the Obama family doesn't mind! We got through the performance really well and I was very proud of the guys.
After all 8 bands did their songs, the counselor band got a chance to jam for the campers and of course we tore the house down. The counselor band consists of Elliot Easton (The Cars) on guitar, Alan White (Yes), Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), and Simon Kirke (Bad Company) on drums and vocals, Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) on bass and vocals, Teddy Zig Zag (Gun's N' Roses) on keys, and Mark Hudson (Aerosmith, Grammy winner and all around insane genius) and David Ryan Harris (John Mayer) on guitar and vocals, and last but not least, Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees doing some jamming and singing. Monkees songs, Deep Purple, Beatles, Free, and Yes tunes etc were jammed on and it was a great way to end Day One at the camp!
Tomorrow will be more challenging, as we have to learn a Beach Boys song for Brian Wilson, as well as work on an original song to record and perform at the House of Blues on Monday night for the camp's big competition. Time for rest now!
- Day 2: February 16, 2008 -
Day two started with the task of getting ready for Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson. We chose the song "Don't Worry Baby". It was not easy vocally (what Beach Boys song is?), but of course it is an amazing song that we all loved. I again went over to piano, and my main guitarist Jeff (an excellent doctor) was excited to get this song going, as he was going to do his falsetto voice for the vocals and cool guitar chop parts for the intro to the verses.
Before Brian came in, we looked at some original ideas and I had to play producer and choose the best idea. Jamie, who is a stock broker money dude, had a wonderful idea for a song that I heard right away as our tune. He said his young son gave him some of the chords, and soon we working hard on making magic with it and the music started to come together fast. We sat with acoustics and flushed out a work in progress. It didn't take too long, but we would be recording the song on Sunday night!
We broke for lunch and soon Brian Wilson came in for a visit. He was going on only 4 hours sleep and was tired, but we knew he would enjoy our version of his song we had rehearsed. I was nervous as well, as I did some backgrounds and played some keys on the song. You just don't get more talented as a songwriter than Brian, who influenced The Beatles with the Pet Sounds disc Brian created. We did a great job, and got our pix and autographs. I was very proud of the band once again... no train wrecks!
Later that night he performed with his band and Jeff Foskett, his Musical Director, is simply amazing. He is also working the camp this year, visiting the rooms for the campers to help with whatever they need. Jeff led the Brian Wilson band in concert, and what a memorable performance they did in the big room at SIR. The hits of the Beach Boys are just unstoppable in making you feel great. From "California Girls" to "Good Vibrations" and all the surf style hits, I was so amazed once again seeing Brian bring the house down.
After dinner, Nick Mason from Pink Floyd came by and he and Alan White and Simon Kirke did a Q&A that was very informative. I even asked them about how the English drummers are so groove oriented, and the answer was just they played with each other so much as the weather was so bad in England they lay into the groove from all the hours of band practice! From the mouths of greats!
I then gave a Master Class on Guitar Tone 101 and it was fun sharing my tips with the campers. Now, time to go and get some more rest to be ready for the next big day. More tomorrow. BK out!
- Day 3: February 17, 2008 -
Day three started off with us tightening up the two songs we already knew and getting the Cliff Williams song ready. Cliff is the monster bass player in AC/DC and by a lottery drawing our band actually picked the ONLY non AC/DC song that Cliff requested. "Going Down" is a great song done by the Jeff Beck Group and for this song on stage at the House Of Blues, Cliff will play the bass with my band.
I took guitar duties and Steve our bass player, who really is a guitarist, will move over on guitar as well. Jeff will play keys. We got the ideas from the track, and soon it made sense to us. Jamie and Bo, my other two guitarists, would play rhythm and Bo would sing lead (with me in support). So we ran it down knowing Cliff would be sitting in later in the day.
The first special guest to enter our room would be Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. It was perfect timing as I wasn't sure how to describe to our drummer Carlo what to play in the bridge in the original song that really took shape in the morning session. It had a title by now, "Liberty Hotel" and was only missing a few lyrics. Nick came in and listened to the band perform the tune and suggested the perfect part to Carlo! I was so happy to have him contribute and those are the things that happen at the Fantasy Camp. We got our pix and autographs and I mentioned how in the past with KISS I worked with the famous producer Bob Ezrin who was very important for his work with Pink Floyd. Nick is a total gentleman and soon I would realize that I would get a chance to actually jam on stage with him on the hit song "MONEY"!
After lunch it was time for Nick Mason to jam with a few bands. That was great to see him and Alan White on the drum kits playing some Floyd classics. Surprise guest Corey Feldman, came in and wanted to sing "Another Brick In The Wall". Then Corey said, "Let's play 'Money'". I was the brave soul that played guitar along with them and it was amazing to say the least. What a thrill to jam that song on stage with the talented Nick Mason. Another rock and roll fantasy for me!
Soon it was time for Cliff to visit our room. He is a super cool guy and it was great to meet him. We ran through the song first with Cliff's drummer for his side projects, Steve Luongo. Steve was John Entwistle's drummer. Steve showed Carlo my drummer the basic beat for the tune. So after jamming it with him, we let Carlo play and it felt great! Cliff was happy and I was beaming as you don't get a more solid bassist than that keeping it tight. WOW! We got autographs and pix and thanked him for the jam.
After the dinner break it was time for some master classes and the recording of all the bands original song. My band was LAST of 8 groups to record, so since Mark Hudson was giving his class in my rehearsal room, I sat down to be entertained. I was practically in tears from the jokes and stories he told of his amazing journey in his career from TV show star, to Grammy award winning songwriter producer. I always said Mark was crazy in a creative way, but after enjoying his class he is now a genius in my opinion. His talent, humor and vision is truly unique. Thank you Mark for entertaining us so much. Gary Burr (Ringo Starr Band) an amazing songwriter guitarist who has done previous camps, sat in with Mark as they are a hit song-writing team. Thanks for coming to the camp Gary!
Finally it was time for my band to record and of course we were all nervous. Would our creation (called "Liberty Hotel") really come together? We only get two takes. After some careful tuning of the guitars, it was time to hit record, and we did a good 1st take. I knew that take two would be the one for the most part. Jamie who is like a papa bear about this song, as it all started from some chord progression his young son showed him, wanted to do it again - probably would of done it many times if he had his way! But I told him it was good for now, and let's listen to the take. Everyone around our band was praising the song, saying how much they loved it. We finally felt confident that we created something special, and all the camper bands and invited guests will hear it live on stage Monday night for the big competition. There is an award for best original song, but NO pressure right!?!
Off to bed for me, even though I was aware some jam rooms with some amazing talent were rocking SIR. I had to be rested for the big final day.
- Day 4: February 18, 2008 -
The last day of the camp represents the culmination of the hard work of the previous days, finally getting a chance to be seen live on stage! So excitement is in the air everywhere. Only one more rehearsal to get things right, and then after the lunch break it would be time for everyone to get back to the hotel, and get ready for the House Of Blues.
My band was pretty tight already after the three days of going over all the fine points of the songs. We ran through "Revolution" by The Beatles (I love that song!), and then moved into the cover song for Cliff, "Goin Down" and then of course our fave, the original song called "Liberty Hotel". I knew my band was ready. We discussed the order, and after my strong suggestion of "Revolution" first, the original second and the Cliff from AC/DC performance last, our set would rock quite well. I gave all my campers some of my CD's and DVD's and thanked them for their hard work. We really bonded at camp.
I went home during the break, and met up with the band at the famous House of Blues in Hollywood. I could see the stars in my bands eyes knowing they would be performing on such a great stage. I had a brief chat with Jamie, as he asked me about trying to win the best original song with the song that means so much to him. I told him that winning wasn't important. I know we have a great song. It was about making music that will move people. Do it special, and the people would respond. There were celebrity judges, but I try NOT to think of those things when we do the big competition.
Band one went on after the opening act LoNero, who did a fine warm up. It was exciting to hear some magic, and some not too good music on the stage. But you can tell all the campers where having a great time on that stage. My band was set to be the 4th on stage, so within an hour after the first band, it was time to get them on stage for our set. I was excited and we hit it off with our Beatles song. We had a minor wreck happen during my piano solo, and that even rattled me, but I tried to keep things calm, as the original was up next. We settled down and it was feeling GOOD. I was proud of the band, as that song gives me chills when we groove it correctly.
Next up was Cliff Williams the monster bass player from AC/DC. I played the lead guitar along with Steve our bass player and we ripped it up. Jeff jammed on keys and Bo sang. We rocked it good, and our set was over. Fast and furious it was! The crowd that I met loved our set, and I know we did at least an 8 out of 10. But the best surprise was to come later as we would learn we WON for BEST ORIGINAL SONG! We got our JBL prizes but most important we felt like all the work we put into that special song, paid off. Like I told Jamie, make magic and people will respond!
After all the bands were done they made that announcement but next up was the big counselor jam. We really had a blast doing song like "Smoke On The Water", "Last Train To Clarksville", "I'm A Believer", "Crossroads", "Voodoo Child", "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love", and "Long Tail Sally" into "I'm Down", and last one to sing along to by the entire crowd was "Instant Karma" to end the big night. We had Keith Emerson, sit in from ELP, Corey Feldman singing a few songs, and Cliff came up and jammed on bass as well. It was truly wild that is all I can say. Elliot Easton and I were trading riffs and we ripped it up. Upstairs watching all of this was Gene Simmons, who was very kind to everyone taking pictures with the campers. Eric Singer from KISS and Alice Cooper was in attendance as well.
Thanks to all the amazing counselors, the wonderful campers, the people who worked at the camp (big thanks to Hillary and Alan), the great catering, the helpful people at SIR studios, the staff at the House of Blues for making an extremely memorable experience. Everyone knows I enjoy doing these camps cause music makes us all feel something that is hard to describe, but you know it when it happens. The camp provides a chance for people in suits all week to really feel the joy of showbiz without feeling judged.
Once again, David Fishof's Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp was life changing for us all. Can't wait for the next one!