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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

6910 reviews in the archive.

Pete Wernick's Boulder Bluegrass Band Camp Event (Festival, Camp, etc) Reviews

Submitted by dbbanjo1 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/24/2017

Overall Comments

I went to Pete's camp last to learn about being in a band. I had played for years and been jamming for several in addition to having attended excellent banjo camps for several years.  I had not experienced the special skills of playing in a small group where everyone has a role.  

Overall, I would rate it the best musical learning experience I have had with the greatest effect on my overall musical life. It surpassed all my goals. I came to camp barely able to sing a song, unable to harmonize predictably and with no idea of band mechanics, working together, moving on stage etc., with unformed ideas about kick offs, taking solos etc.

Using a highly structured format with daily harmony singing sessions, daily instrument sessions, daily band rehearsal, some general bluegrass learning, I became familiar with all these things. To put it simply, by continuing to use the things I learned at camp, (and practicing), within 4 months,  I was transformed from the guy who sits at the back of the jam, never leading songs, shy about harmonizing, and an inconsistent solo and rhythm player,  to someone who can lead the jam, sing lead, harmonize and fit in.  In small group sessions, I now can play with semi-pros comfortably, help design or guide the harmony and have a better sense of how to make a small group work.

My wife who was initially a supportive disbeliever in how far I could go, now rates me higher than locals who have played out for years. I am truly amazed and inspired.

The staff at this camp were all excellent.  I make special  mention of  Hereford Percy who spent lots of extra time with jams sharing great musical knowledge and inspiration. Doug Lindsay also spent lots of extra time in extended jam sessions.  Another feature of the camp was the staff''s ability to take those who had not had band experience and turn them into functioning band members in such a short time. They were available to give special help in learning to do harmony arranging and addressing other special requests.

I plan to attend the upcoming camp Jan 2018 with a small group to further refine my individual and group skills.

One important thing, while all the staff are amazing and diverse musicians, camp activities focus entirely on bluegrass ( except very  rarely at jams).  While some ( including me initially) felt this was limiting, in the end I see that to achieve the goals in 1 week, such focus was needed.  Once the skills are learned they can be transferred to other genres without a lot of difficulty.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by five-string fever (see all reviews from this person) on 8/19/2016

Overall Comments

   I have attended Pete Wernick's first 2 one week-long Bluegrass Band Camps (not to be confused with the Jam Camp, although there are similarities) in Boulder, Colorado. The first one was in January 2015 and the second was in January 2016. This review  is a largely cut and pasted from a forum post I wrote shortly after the first camp in 2015. I have added additional comments about going as part of a gigging band at the 2016 camp versus going more-or-less solo (an old banjo camp buddy suggested we go as duo, which we did but we had not played together since the last banjo camp) as I did in the 2015 camp further on in the review (starting at the bolded area). The band camp is different than the jam camp and a new category for Pete. Many of you might be familiar with his "Wernick Jam Camp", mostly trying to get Novice players to learn the fundamentals of playing together. The Band camp was squarely aimed at getting actual performing bands and groups to polish their skills. If you had an actual performing professional band of 4 or more it was $300 per person. Partial groups were $450 per person and did not have to be gigging bands. Individuals were $600 each and Pete let people know up front that he had a limit since he did not want it to become unbalanced with too many of one or the other instrument.  It took the place of the 3 one week long Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Banjo Camps that he had been doing every January in Boulder for decades. I had attended Intermediate Banjo the three consecutive years before this and to be honest was not planning on going back unless I was ready for Advanced, if I ever felt that confident. Pete not only had himself and his wife, Joan, but many other excellent musician/coaches to help with instrument skills not only groups of each instrument but also one on one attention; vocal skills especially harmony singing, the biggest challenge, and song arrangements, breaks and performance. I still got to sit in on two of Pete's Banjo classes and got to do two One-on-Ones with him as well as getting direction on Bass, my first ever mandolin lesson and two songwriting classes/forums. Even though there were only two solid full performing bands "Sugar Creek" and "The Hippie Buckaroos" and many partial bands, they did a good job of shoehorning the various different players and partial bands into groups. A friend of mine from Banjo camp had asked me back in October to join him as a partial band and I did, him on banjo me on bass. I did not think a two banjo band would fly. They paired us up with a guitar, fiddle, mandolin and another banjo player from Germany. After several days of picking, singing arranging and polishing we had a Friday night concert with paying attendees as well as campers packing the house. We spent Saturday reviewing the game film and doing various other last minute One-on-Ones, jams and classes. I got more from it than I have any other Bluegrass or instrument classes including 4 years at Rockygrass Academy and Pete's Banjo camps. In November 2015 I joined "The Hippie Buckaroos" as the banjo/lead guitar and one of the first things we did was sign up for the 2016 Band Camp. I have to say it was better and even more useful going with a performing band and probably speeded up our "gelling as a band" process. I would highly recommend it to anybody who wants to polish their picking and singing abilities and improve their Bluegrass band skills but I got more from it when I actually went with a band. I would say it ended up becoming a Band camp because the players who got put together became a band even though we did not start out that way.

I have also included a review I copied and pasted below (in italics) from Fiddle Hangout from the fiddle player in my group, Jack.

"Hello Everyone,  I wanted to share with you Fiddler's my experience last week at Pete Wernick's Bluegrass Class in Boulder, CO.

   The Camp started last Sunday evening with a Social get together but then the Camp started in earnest on Monday morning.  Pete  (Banjo of course) was assisted by his wife Joan, humorist and Guitar instructor, all around good guy and multi-instrumentalist, Hereford Percy, and  a portion of Pete's fellow Long Road Home band members, Jordan Ramsey teaching Mandolin, Martin Gilmore teaching Guitar and Songwriting (man, can Martin sing) and Justin Hoffenberg teaching Fiddle (Boy was I lucky) .  I believe Pete is temporarily out of Long Road Home due to his National and International Tour with Hot Rize. The Camp ran Sunday evening through the following Saturday.  Each day began in the large group with pearls of wisdom from Pete.  Pete would then teach the group a song, verse and melody, then we'd play it with Pete calling out breaks for each group of instruments.  I was the only Fiddler at camp so that pretty well isolated me and forced me to pay attention and step up when the Fiddle break was called. After about an hour and a half in the big group with Pete, we broke into 5 different bands.  Of the 5 bands, 2 or 3 were actual bands who came as a group to work on their stuff.  The rest of us were freelancer but everyone found a good fit.  After lunch we broke into groups by instruments for an hour with our respective instructors.  The nice thing about being the only Fiddler was I got a private lesson from Justin every day.  Justin is an excellent Fiddler and a great teacher and a really intelligent young Man.  After our lesson we would meet again as a large group and work on singing three part harmonies.  That was superb.  Not only the singing but being taught by professional Bluegrass musicians how to structure a three part harmony.  We did these things each day. I'm afraid I'm getting a little long winded so I'll close with a couple of other items.  Friday night we had the student and faculty concert.  The concert was publicized and we ended up playing before a full house which included paying customers.  It was a great week and I learned a ton.  I spent my first 4 plus years of learning Fiddle on nothing more than Fiddle tunes.  Recently I've begun trying to put what I've learned with Fiddle tunes into Bluegrass songs which is my first love.  I would encourage you Fiddlers to consider Pete's Bluegrass Camp.  You can log on to Drbanjo.com and check out future camps.  Look around the site while you are there.  There's a ton of great information to go through.  OK, stick a fork in me, I'm done."

Overall Rating: 9

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