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Django in June 2011

Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
edited July 2011 in North America Posts: 795
Django in June 2011 is in the bag and just wanted to give my compliments to Andrew Lawrence and staff for making this such a great event. Last time for me was 2008 and while it was great then, it was even better this year. For those who were there, you know what I am talking about. For those who could not make it.......

The most improved aspect for me was how the headline players/staff have been integrated with the attendees. This is by design I suppose, but it is done with pleasure and skill. World class players who on Friday and Saturday nights would give never-to-be-forgotten concerts were giving work shops AND jamming with players of all stripes in the days and nights before. They regularly and unobtrusively joined in-progress jams w/ players of all levels. As we played together, we all learned and become more comfortable with each other. I suppose we are all somewhat shy around great players, but we sometimes forget it can be tough for them too. I think the interaction worked well both ways.

The workshops were even better organized this year. Having all the rhythm classes in the morning and all the lead classes in the afternoon is a simple but very effective change from 2008. Workshops came in four levels and the instructors were rotated through the levels so there was alway something for everyone.

Facility wise, Andrew Lawrence and crew really put on the dog. The Smith College venue is just incredible. Rooms in the old King and Scales dorms are perfect for this event. The workshops and jam spots are right there in multiple large, furnished rooms on the ground floor with excellent acoustics. The semi circular shape if the building cradles a wonderful outdoor area for jams. The Hills Chapel is a great concert spot and though one occasionally wishes for air conditioning and opera house acoustics, it still a very good spot. The Smith College cafeteria food is very good and efficient so little time is taken away from the main event.

Other high points for me included:

Michael Bauer's guitar expose and demonstration of ~ 15 high end new and vintage guitars on Wednesday night. Selmers, Busatos, Castellucias, Favinos, Holos, Di Mauro, Shopis, Duponts, etc. The displayed instruments were played one song each, sequencially by a trio of guitarists (Ben Wood, Dennis Chang, Emmet Mahoney and at the end Benoit Convert). After the demos, everyone in attendance got to play whatever guitar they wished. Raised GAS to a whole new level. On top of this, Michael generously held court in room 101 and it was common to see a half a dozen players of all skill level jamming away on some of the best guitars on the planet at most any hour.

A new feature was the Thursday-night-in-town-restaurant-gigs. Andrew organized five groups and sent them into town for two hour gigs at participating restaurants. The rest of us trailed along in support but most of the places were packed already The two performances I saw were outstanding. Another great idea which helps integrate the Django in June players with the Northampton community.

And of course, the very best part is the catching up with and playing with old friends and new in the GJ community. I talked to some players who had attended over six years. What a pleasure. Hope to see you all next time!

If you haven't before, consider doing so. It is truly a unique and satisfying event.

Django in June 2007, 2008 and 2011


  • redbluesredblues ✭✭
    Posts: 456
    Let it be said, the fest sounds amazing folks. If you look at the line-up for Samois 2011 compared to Django in June 2011, it appears I am living on the wrong side of the globe. Gonzalo, Doigts...I would actually pay solid euros to see these guys and they've been jammin around the neighborhood.

    Post videos folks please, and well done to the organisers
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    Damn, if those Friday and Saturday night concerts were not explosive!

    Craig, your post reflects my feelings as well - excellent write up.

    As a new guy to this music style and only having time to enjoy the abbreviated weekend version of the camp, I found the experience to be insanely inspiring. Interacting with heavy hitters such as Olivier, Gonzalo, Stephane, Dennis, Jeff, Benoit, and Yannick for a weekend was simply amazing.

    The instruction I received parted the clouds in a way and gave me a clear understanding of what I need to work on and learn in order to make progress to the next level of playing. Exactly the inspiration and direction I hoped I would find.

    I now have enough material to last me a year until DIJ '12. Sign me up, I cannot wait.

    Dennis, your sense of humor is excellent and was much appreciated during my struggling. Thank you!
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    This was my sixth straight Django in June, and I think nearly all of us regulars thought it was the best ever, which is really saying something given the quality of the previous events. Craig gave a thorough summary, but I would like to add a few more comments.

    What Andrew has put together is unlike any other gypsy jazz event in the world: a place where players of every level and musical background can get together and learn to play from some of the best players anywhere. I think the format to rhythm in the morning and solo classes in the afternoon started in 2009 and it has been an unqualified success, and as Craig said, shuffling the instructors through different skill levels gave everyone a chance to take any class at any level from any player. Want to get help from Gonzalo on some special lick or chord sequence from one of his songs? Wait until he's free and he'll likely do it graciously.

    Andrew spends alot of time to get the right sort of performers. They not only have to be world class players, but they need to be fairly comfortable with English, and most of all, they need to be great teachers. He seems to outdo himself every year. Olivier, Benoit, Gonzalo, Stephane, Yannick, Denis, Eric, Jeff, Aaron, Steve, Jason, and others were gracious with their knowledge, and were as comfortable teaching beginners as they were with the aces. Teaching is the backbone of Django in June, and this year's group of instructors were, top to bottom, superlative in every way.

    The concerts were stunning! Stephane Wrembel hasn't played at Django in June for a few years and made up for lost time (and notes!), with great reditions of "Big Brother" from the last Woody Allen movie, and the theme song to Woody's latest, "Midnight in Paris, which Stepane wrote. Gonzalo has been in Northampton often over the last few years, but every concert is fresh and original, this year's featuring several tunes from the new "Simplicated" CD. And Les Doigts de l'homme just brought down the house!. I have been fortunate to see great concerts in my life, but I have never been to a better one than theirs on Saturday night. I saw the Who do "Tommy" back in the day, and many others from Hendrix to Segovia, and Les Doights will stay in my memory with the very best of them. I can't be more descriptive yet; it was too amazing for words.

    I was grateful to all the participants and attendees in Wednesday's guitar show. I didn't count guitars, but I'll bet it was even more than fifteen. I always figure about ten people will show up, and for the second yerar in a row, I was shocked and grateful at the turnout. And this year a new luthier of note emerged, Craig Bumgarner, who brought two terrific examples of his work and left with one less, alot more money, and quite alot of buzz among those of us who tried his creations. Keep an eye on Craig, he's going places.

    The "in-town" concerts on Thursday were great fun and good PR, and, I think, the beginning of something that will grow in the future.

    If you can come for the whole camp, do it. It's more a band of brothers than a music school, and you will make lifelong friends if you attend. But even if you can't, come for the weekend. There is still much to be learned there and you can go to concerts that rival any anywhere.

    Negatives? The cafeteria food was a step down from previous years, but where else can you eat lunch with Benoit Convert, Olivier Kikteff, Michael Horowitz, etc, etc.?

    Positives? EVERYTHING ELSE! Thanks again, Andrew for what you have developed. Django in June is the highlight of my year.

    To all the old friends, it was great seeing you all again. To the new friends, it was great getting to know you. Olivier, you are right, we will meet again somewhere someday, I hope soon. To all the players, from the mighty to the meek, thanks for hanging out in the temporarily relocated (to room 101) "Hot Club of Room 202". And to whomever stayed in room 202 in King, you have no idea how much fun has been had in that room in years past! To Michael Horowitz, thanks for always showing up with boxes of goodies to lighten my wallet for the return trip. And to Denis Chang, thanks for just being Denis Chang. You are a great teacher, and an even better person. Django in June wouldn't be Django in June if you weren't there.

    Wayne and Daniel, we missed you!
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • This seems like a perfect week. I'm really hoping that I can swing this next year. I heard a bit more from Guillaume (who occasionally posts here) about the weekend and he agreed that it was awesome. Every player I like taught this year. Can anyone share an overview of what level lessons they took, who the teachers where, and generally what was shared?
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Yeah, what Michael said! I don't have a lot to add to that. What a fabulous Django in June this year - it just keeps getting better and better. A big part of the experience for the "old-timers" is reconnecting with our little "band of brothers" (and sisters, too, although not nearly enough of those), plus making new friends each year. The artists are so selfless, and so is Michael, sharing his wonderful collection of gypsy guitars with all comers. Most of us never get any other chance to play fine vintage instruments like that.

    And I vote to keep the Hot Club in Room 101. Room 202 was fun, but 101 was even better.

    Here's a photo of the seven guitars that Michael brought this time. Front row L-R: 50s Di Mauro, 50s Busato (aka "The Beast"), 30s Busato, 2001 J. P. Favino. Back row L-R: 1932 Selmer (complete with resonator!), 1951 Selmer, 60s Jacques Favino.

    Note the awesome Jesus action figure blessing the collection (and the empty bottle of Scotch right next to him).

    Here's a closeup of JC himself (What Would Jesus Drink?):

    ... and here he is being psychoanalyzed by Sigmund Freud (you may have to click on the picture to read the speech balloons):

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • KarenAnnKarenAnn Virginia✭✭
    Posts: 55
    Thanks for all the descriptions of what goes on at Django in June. It sounds like a lot of fun. I would really have liked to hear LDDLH ,as I listen to quite a bit of their music. A friend from France turned me on to them a while back. Hopefully this sister will have advanced enough to attend next year!
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002

    Never let your skill level keep you away. Even if you are a raw beginner, you should come. Lots of people come who have bluegrass backgrounds, for example. You will get pointed in the right direction from the get go and advance much faster. Besides, so few women show up that you will have no shortage of young aces volunteering to help you along.

    We'll expect to see you next year.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    OT to the discussion at hand but DIJ related. What guitars were Olivier, Yannick, Gonzalo, and Benoit playing? Jeff had a great sounding Holo.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Olivier, Benoit, and Gonzalo were all playing their excellent Olivier Marin guitars. Yannick was playing what appears to be an Eddie Freeman Selmer body converted to six strings with the second ugliest add-on rosette I have ever seen. Not much for looks, but whoa boy did she sound great!
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Gonzalo plays an Olivier Marin as well. Even allowing for the awesome talent involved, those guitars were some of the most impressive sounding instruments at DiJ.

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
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