Fort Worden View Strait of Juan de Fuca
In 2008 I turned 50 and my wife said it was time I'd take my music more seriously. She gets the Centrum newsletter in the mail and told me about the Acoustic Blues Festival. Since Port Townsend is in our neck of the woods and it's literally cool even in the middle of the summer, out there on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I thought I'd give it a try.

Two years ago I was a bit overwhelmed by everything that was going on, all these amazing Master musicians to study with, so many classes to take. You get the feeling you don't want to miss out on anything, you kind of want to sniff out everything.
The great thing about being "at camp" is that you have a chance to meet members of the faculty during meal times and in between classes. That way you get to talk to know them and they get to know you. That's how I met Ari Eisinger for instance. Later I sat in the back of the room where he was teaching a Blind Blake class, taking it all in. At some point I wanted to sneak out, but the door creaked and Ari stopped playing and introduced me to the people in the class, "Ladies and Gentlemen," he said, "Gary Davis, not the Reverend Gary Davis, but Gary Davis."

Rick Franklin with his National
 Eleanor Ellis and Rick Franklin both taught classes in the Introduction to Piedmont finger pickin style, but one day they decided to give a workshop together.

Rick played some songs, to get us into the progression of the finger pickin'. He surprised me with Jambalaya, which I knew as a Cajun song, to teach us the Piedmont technique.

Eleanore Ellis
The hand-outs Eleanore gave us were really incredible, she's done all this research into the background of the music, and that's actually how she got into playing Piedmont Blues professionally herself.

Another time I sat in the back of the room while Steve James was teaching a slide class. I had slides when I was a teen, but it had been years since I used them, so I was just listening. Steve was talking about Austin, TX and since I knew all the venues and people he mentioned, I was nodding all the time in recognition. After the class I went up to him to introduce myself and he said, "But I know you, Gary."
I guess that's what you get when you've been around for a while. There are times I really miss Austin, or at least the Austin I used to know.

This summer (2010) Steve James and Suzy Thompson gathered participants to form a group at Centrum they called the Howard Armstrong Memorial String Band, that performed at the participants' concert.
Steve stayed in the Pacific Northwest for a few weeks after the Blues Fest doing gigs here and there. Judith and I enjoyed a house concert he gave on a barge in Ballard. He's the kind of musician who doesn't stand still while playing his guitar. He's an animated story teller, with great fingerpickin' and fancy footwork to boot.

Sometimes you'd see notes posted on the board about impromptu happenings, one day during the 2008 Blues Fest I saw John Miller and Mike Dowling were going to play around with Frank Stokes' Chicken Roost Behind the Moon, having people try-out different voicings, like some guys using capos and some not. An other time I took John Miller's "Open D-tuning". New to Blues as far as playing it, I went to Rick Franklin and Eleanor Ellis's Intro to Piedmont Blues class quite a few times.

I've been playing guitar since I was eight years old. In seventh grade I played the whole B-side of Abbey Road for Orientation at the beginning of the school year. Mickey Jones, a friend of my step-dad Jack Davis heard me play Blackbird and according to Jack, Mickey told him he ought to buy me a real guitar. They actually went to the music store together.
In High School a girlfriend and I had a few gigs, playing at birthdays and parties. While in college I composed music for poems by a fellow student and in my early twenties I recorded those songs, but never really did anything with the resulting 2-inch tape. I've managed to hold on to it through many a relocation though. Now it's in the hands of my old friend, sound engineer Everett Moran.

My work schedule as a stage technician is so unpredictable that it's practically impossible to take classes so I was really glad to find that some of my favorite musicians have teaching DVDs out.
I've got John Miller's Mississippi John Hurt Volume 1 and 2 and his Intro to Chord Theory and a lot more is available through Steve Grossman's Guitar Workshop
Of Mike Dowling's DVDs I've got his Homespun Swing Series

So, I went to the Blues Fest with an open mind, and came back with a very tired pinkie and a great urge to study some more Piedmont fingerpickin'.