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There wasn't any real blues before Blind Lemon. Blind Lemon made the blues - Roscoe Holcomb

Author Topic: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?  (Read 905 times)

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Offline funkapus

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Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« on: February 24, 2013, 09:17:23 PM »
Hi.  I gather that for the folks on this forum, the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop is the big event of the year.  I'm wondering if anyone's been to both PT and blues week (as opposed to guitar week) at the Augusta Heritage Heritage Center (Davis & Elkins College, WV), and can talk about how they're similar/different?  I've never been to either, and I'd very much like to do one or the other this year.  Augusta's instructor list and class list is out.  The class list for PT isn't out yet; but from the instructor list, there's some overlap in who's teaching at each.  But the instructor list for PT is much larger, so I would guess there's more going on at Port Townsend.  That would make PT more appealing to me:  I figure that more instructors means it's more likely that there'll be stuff pitched to my level (someone who's really just starting to sort out fingerpicking).  But the other big factor is that I'm on the East Coast:  I'm a cross-country plane flight from PT, but a four-hour drive from Augusta; and that's a big cost difference, especially when it looks strongly like Congress is going to be giving me a 20% pay cut very soon.

Anyway, any compare/contrast thoughts would be much appreciated.


Offline Rivers

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2013, 05:00:59 AM »
Have never attended but the Augusta instructor lineup looks good. Given your goals you would get a lot from some of the instructors including Steve James, Eleanor Ellis, Paul Rishell.

However, as you say, the Port T lineup is longer and has more depth, what with Terry Bean, Lightnin' Wells, Del Rey, Dom Flemons, Jerron Paxton, Orville Johnson, Mary Flower & Eleanor, others.

The social side of camp is also important, jamming, skills transferral etc. I don't know how well Augusta works on that level but Port T has always been strong.

What a cruel dilemma!

Offline robdee

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 05:13:45 PM »
Funny should post your question. I've been to Augusta several times but never to PT and I've been thinking about making it out the west coast. I am in Toronto so Augusta is about 11 hours drive. I think getting to PT will be a lot harder!

Yes the faculty overlaps a lot. Many of the faculty are either at Augusta or have been. In fact, Daryl Davis is the coordinator for both Augusta and PT. Paul Rishell, Steve James, Robert Jones (sounds interesting!) and Eleanor Ellis among others are instructing guitar at Augusta. I took a class from Paul a few years ago and he really covers a lot of songs. More than enough choice for a guitar student (you can really only cover two classes IMHO). Guess it depends on what style(s) and interests you have too There are porch jams, slow jams, ice house jams, student band performances and of course, informal jamming. For me, it's about price and convenience of getting there. I could fly into Seattle but doubt if I'd make the 2 pm shuttle. 

Not sure what's going on with Augusta. It does seem a bit smaller and they have combined it with Swing Week again so maybe enrollment has been declining (? total conjecture). Swing Week at Augusta adds another dimension which may help in a decision. A couple of swing guitar teachers to sweeten the pot. Anyway, there is lots of jamming at Augusta. You need 3 lives to do the whole thing. The site is Davis and Elkins college. The dorms used to be a bit scruffy but they have been renovating (last there in 2011) so maybe there all upgraded now. I sure would like to get to PT some day. Anyway, the only bad choice is not to go to one of them!! As usual, YMMW

Offline funkapus

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 08:17:34 PM »
Have never attended but the Augusta instructor lineup looks good. Given your goals you would get a lot from some of the instructors including Steve James, Eleanor Ellis, Paul Rishell.

However, as you say, the Port T lineup is longer and has more depth, what with Terry Bean, Lightnin' Wells, Del Rey, Dom Flemons, Jerron Paxton, Orville Johnson, Mary Flower & Eleanor, others.

The social side of camp is also important, jamming, skills transferral etc. I don't know how well Augusta works on that level but Port T has always been strong.

What a cruel dilemma!
Well, I don't know if I'd call it a *cruel* dilemma, since I'm sure both are good options; a cruel dilemma would be if I had to pick a hand to lose or something like that.  :)


Offline funkapus

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 08:48:48 PM »
Yes the faculty overlaps a lot. Many of the faculty are either at Augusta or have been. In fact, Daryl Davis is the coordinator for both Augusta and PT. Paul Rishell, Steve James, Robert Jones (sounds interesting!) and Eleanor Ellis among others are instructing guitar at Augusta. I took a class from Paul a few years ago and he really covers a lot of songs. More than enough choice for a guitar student (you can really only cover two classes IMHO). Guess it depends on what style(s) and interests you have too There are porch jams, slow jams, ice house jams, student band performances and of course, informal jamming.
They both sound a lot alike.  I worry a little re: both places about the extent to which I'll fit in, at my skill level/competency/whatever.

Like I said in the "Introductions" thread, I think I'd call myself an advanced beginner.  With regard to blues, with flatpick, I'm comfortable playing basic rhythm in 12-bar and 8-bar forms, know moveable 7th chords (and if the tempo's not too fast, can throw in a 9th or a 13th for some color); and for soloing, I know the pentatonic/blues scales in different patterns.  But I only have one turnaround, in E; bass runs have to be practiced (I can't do them spontaneously so well).  And my solos using the pentatonic/blues scales tend to be really simple, diddling around spots in the scale and then going up or down to some other note I diddle around.  Fingerpicking, well, I've been working fairly hard on an independent alternating bass.  I can do the alternating bass fairly well; it's the independent part that I struggle with.  As a result, when I learn a tune, I'm still really learning *patterns*, rather than learning to play melodies independent of what my thumb is doing.  I want to change that, but I'm not sure how to get there.

Anyway, I wonder in both Port Townsend and Augusta whether there'll be many other folks at a comparable level, or whether there'll be lots of people playing brilliantly and I'll be standing there in awe going "uh . . ."


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For me, it's about price and convenience of getting there.
Well, yeah, that's a big factor, and much bigger for me this year than it was last year.


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I could fly into Seattle but doubt if I'd make the 2 pm shuttle. 
I went to a different guitar workshop not too far from Seattle last summer; I flew into Seattle the night before, stayed one night at a hotel very close to SeaTac, went back to the airport in the morning to catch a shuttle. 


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Not sure what's going on with Augusta. It does seem a bit smaller and they have combined it with Swing Week again so maybe enrollment has been declining (? total conjecture).
Well, I looked at Augusta last summer when I was trying to figure out where to go, but I didn't look at blues week because I hadn't started playing much of any blues yet.  I looked at the separate guitar week, and it seemed to be dying -- they had only two instructors, and it was obviously pitched for a small group of strong players.  This year, guitar week isn't even on the schedule.  But as far as blues week is concerned . . .I sometimes go to jams and fingerstyle practice at the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, and it seems like a fair number of folks from there go or plan to go.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 10:22:52 PM »
Hi funkapus,
I've taught at both Port Townsend and Augusta (Augusta once, Port Townsend many times), and I think you brought up a lot of good points in your last post.  I don't think there is a lot of instruction offered in flat-picked blues at these camps.  Most of the focus is on fingerpicked blues.  In some respects, you might be better off finding a good fingerpicking instructor where you live and spending the money you would have spent on camp taking lessons and building your skills for a year, and then going to camp next year.  I think because of the relatively brief length of these camps, it is harder for people who are close to beginners to feel like they are gaining much ground in one week (though the inspiration factor can be sustain you a ways down the road).  With a bit more facility and experience, you're better equipped to pick up new songs and techniques quicker.  One good thing about the camps, too, though, is that you may make friends with similar skill levels and interests whom you can play with.  It sounds like you're already hooked up with some group music-making situations where you live, which is great.  Best of luck with this.  Good things can come whichever choice you make.
All best,
Johnm   

Offline funkapus

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 01:16:21 PM »
Hi John.  Thanks so much for your response.

I don't think there is a lot of instruction offered in flat-picked blues at these camps.  Most of the focus is on fingerpicked blues.
Yeah, I mainly just mentioned the flatpicking stuff because I thought it would help illustrate where I am in my playing.

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In some respects, you might be better off finding a good fingerpicking instructor where you live and spending the money you would have spent on camp taking lessons and building your skills for a year, and then going to camp next year.  I think because of the relatively brief length of these camps, it is harder for people who are close to beginners to feel like they are gaining much ground in one week (though the inspiration factor can be sustain you a ways down the road).  With a bit more facility and experience, you're better equipped to pick up new songs and techniques quicker.
I think you're right that I would get more out of a camp after another year.  Apart from the educational value, though, I'm looking forward to meeting and playing with folks -- that inspiration factor you describe.  Last summer I went out to Washington, to one of the PSGW weeks.  I took a class on "beyond beginner" techniques and one on slide, and both were fun; but still more fun was jamming with folks every night until I could barely stay awake.  At one point I strummed rhythm on the one Rev. Gary Davis song I know chords to, while someone with much better skills than I have fingerpicked and soloed on top, and I don't think I've ever had a better time.

But yeah, I'm trying to find an instructor locally.  I've gotten a lot out of the little group lessons that happen before weekend jams with the Archie Edwards folks (when work lets me go); but I've gotten the most when the turnout's been poor and it's just me, or me + one other student, there; so I think I'd like private lessons, but I'm not sure who's got time for them.  I recently won a lesson from Eleanor Ellis, who's not too far away; I'm looking forward to that.




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One good thing about the camps, too, though, is that you may make friends with similar skill levels and interests whom you can play with.
That makes sense; and I guess it's also an argument in favor of Augusta, in that there's more of a chance of meeting such people who are from around here (so still more chances to play).  I wonder how many not-quite-beginners come to Port Townsend?  The 2012 class list seemed to have a lot of classes that, from their description, seemed aimed at beginners or near-beginners.

« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 01:22:01 PM by funkapus »

Offline robdee

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Re: Can anyone compare PT with blues week at Augusta?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2013, 01:35:49 PM »
Just came  across some more information on 2013 Blues AND Swing week at Augusta Heritage. The gist is that this year they're combining the two so that means students can take classes from either stream - something to consider and it's a slight difference from PT.

This year Blues and Swing Weeks will be combined into one event. Students may take classes from Swing and Blues instructors as they wish. BLUES & SWING WEEK is a Week-Long MUSIC "CAMP". Held on the campus of Davis & Elkins College in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. Adult & Young Adult Students learn about playing, singing, and/or dancing to BLUES & SWING MUSIC... old jazz from the 1930's & 40's and Blues from the same period. Advanced as well as inexperienced students are accommodated with our experienced staff. A fun week you won't want to miss!

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