Hello to all. I hope you’re well. And I also hope to see you for this, our 20th Gathering!
BEFORE REGISTERING, PLEASE READ ON THROUGH
As has long been the case, the Gathering will technically run from 4:00 PM on Friday on through Sunday evening. This year, that’s October 28-30. However – this year is perhaps a good time to think about coming a bit earlier. While we did have a Gathering last year, many regulars couldn’t make it. Our Gathering the year before had to be virtual and while it was the best we could manage that in 2020, it wasn’t the same as the real thing. Again, this is the 20th! Let that sink in a bit. There’ll be a lot going on at HGG20. So again, maybe come a little early if you can.
Some folks will definitely be doing so because they’ll be part of a little theatrical presentation called The Andy Wahlberg Show! It will celebrate 50 years since our very tall and talented friend discovered a harp guitar while visiting his grandmother in Los Angeles. It’s going to be a hoot, much like Andy himself.
The Gathering is not taking place in a hotel this year. I thought we should do something different from our usual corporate hotel setting. We’ll be at Silver Lake, a conference/retreat center/summer camp owned and run by the United Church Of Christ. It’s in Sharon, Connecticut. I suppose we could say we’re having Harp Guitar Camp this year, except that we’ll be inside heated buildings and having our meals prepared for us. Silver Lake’s definitely not a hotel, but it’s really not much like camping either.
There are not a lot of private rooms. I recognize this might put some of you off but if that’s the case, you could book your lodging somewhere nearby and be at the Gathering only for the hours you want to be there. There is one motel* that’s exactly 2 miles from Silver Lake, for example. If that or some other nearby lodging is what you’re going to utilize, I wouldn’t wait too long to make those arrangements because late October is prime leaf-peeping time in New England.
Back to Silver Lake: You can look at the layout on their website, linked above. There are a number of bedrooms that have 3 single beds in them. These are the cushiest rooms. However, they won’t be going to whomever gets there first; we’re going to prioritize them first for couples with specific needs and next for couples generally. After that point, if some of these rooms are still available, then we’ll open them up to two people who are okay with sharing a room. We can’t put just one person in these rooms. I will do my best to make things comfortable for folks but it will require a bit of flexibility on everyone’s part.
There are a bunch of rooms that have multiple bunkbeds in them. Before you read the word “bunkbed” again let me say that if you’re in one of these rooms, yes, you’ll be sleeping in a bunkbed because that’s what’s there — BUT absolutely nobody will be in a top bunk unless that’s where they want to be!
What would make things considerably easier for me would be for those of you who’ve made good friends at the Gathering over the years to consider sharing one of the multi bunkbed rooms with those friends. Could 3 of you who are attending by yourselves share one of the multi-bunkbed rooms, for example? Could two of you couples share a room? If so, would you try to figure that out ahead of time? By which I mean: would you send an email to 1 or 2 of your friends and ask – hey, you going to the Gathering? Want to share a room? Then please let me know so I can keep track of things.
It’s possible that a few of the multi bunk rooms might wind up being available for just 1 person to use as a private room. I just won’t know until we get much closer to the date and I have a clearer idea how many people are attending.
Aside from a few of the multi bunk rooms which have a bathroom (toilet and sink only) in them, there are a bunch of full bathrooms in various configurations that we’ll all be sharing. Nancy B suggested that maybe we should all view this as an excuse/opportunity to get ourselves some new pajamas. Ya know, you probably needed to do that anyway! A best pajamas contest perhaps?
To be clear, Nancy and I are not grabbing ourselves one of the cushier rooms. And even though our beautiful new home is just across the mountain from Silver Lake, Nancy and I are staying at Silver Lake so we can have the whole experience! Warning – you might well hear me snoring in my bunk (with my new pajamas on, mind you). Which reminds me: Nancy says we’ll provide earplugs for whomever might need them!
There aren’t televisions. There’s not wifi throughout, though it is accessible at 4 locations on site. Cell service isn’t the greatest. Don’t know about you but I look at my phone far too much anyway.
I’m having trouble creating the button link that allows you to select which nights you stay SO please simply select the number you need. That will be per person/per night. So a couple staying 1 night would pay for 2. But please send me an email (email@example.com) and tell me which nights you’re going to be here for and I’ll enter that info into my spreadsheet. Thanks!
We’ll be eating at Silver Lake and you’ll need meal tickets to do that. Buy the appropriate number you’ll need using the link below. Your tickets will be in your registration packet when you get here. When you figure out the number of tickets you need, bear in mind that if you’re here on Thursday evening, you’re invited to a party and Nancy’s and my home. A number of you made a little side trip on the Monday afternoon after the Gathering last year and so you already know that it’s a great place to have a party. We hope to see a bunch more of you this year! We’re at 22 Old Route 7, just over Sharon Mountain. The party’s at 7 PM. Do let me know if you’re coming ahead of time, please!
I’m probably forgetting something but I’ll amend as necessary.
Best to all,
VISITOR’S PASS (GOOD FOR 4 HOURS
Lodging (per person/per night)
Linens (per person)
Meal Tickets (per person)
(subject to change)
All activities are on the 2nd floor in The Cedars unless otherwise indicated
FRIDAY, OCT. 28
4:00 Registration table opens / socializing until dinner
7:00 Opening remarks
7:30 The Andy Wahlberg Show!*
Followed by Open Mic until 10:00 or so
SATURDAY, OCT. 29
9:15-10:15 Fifty years of playing the harp guitar – a discussion with Andy Wahlberg
10:15-11:15 Travis Bowman’s back at the HGG!
11:15-12:15 Bennett & Gurley
(Two 15 minute slots are available to play during the lunch hour – see Steve Silva about signing up)
1:15-2:15 The Harp Guitar Year in Review
2:20-3:45 The Luthier’s Forum
2:45-3:45 Workshop with Randall Sprinkle (Retreat Center)
“I will teach an arrangement of Unchained Melody. This tune is an old favorite and you can use it in a lot of settings. The arrangement will be suitable for all levels of HG players.”
4:00-5:45 Andy Wahlberg teaches his Ensemble Composition Silver Lake**
SUNDAY, OCT. 30
9:150-11:30 Open Mic (The Retreat Center)
9:15-10:15 Workshop with Travis Bowman Here’s Travis:
“As a self-taught guitarist, most of my work has been accomplished by ear. My workshop will be based around using the harp guitar for complex arrangements of popular tunes. The harp guitar is an amazing tool for utilizing creativity in the most unorthodox means, and I aim to show you all of the tricks in my bag for achieving just that. I encourage players of all skill levels to attend. These extra strings aren’t just “bass notes”, they’re an extra branch on your tree of creativity!”
10:15-11:15 Workshop with Matt Thomas
“ For those not familiar with the unique capabilities of Bennett Tuning for sub-bass strings, Matt will discuss the basis for, and his use of this popular harp guitar set-up. The main feature of Bennett Tuning is, of course, the the re-entrant first sub-bass. Tuning the first (highest pitch) sub-bass string to be at a higher pitch than the lowest pitch fretboard string offers powerful harmonic options for the harp guitarist. Matt’s personal study of Stephen’s music gives him a unique insight to the way that “the maestro” leverages this innovative tuning to render amazing compositions. Matt will touch on how he utilized this tuning while creating his own tunes. Matt will also touch on some basic theory used by Stephen to construct melodies and incorporate in those tasteful subs in just the right way to achieve the “piano-like” harmonies common in Stephen’s work. He will also share tips on good everyday practice techniques to develop comfort with the instrument, with an eye toward building muscle memory and overall good playing habits.
11:15-12:15 ︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎ ︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎Building Blocks For Harp Guitar – A workshop with Martin Pleass
“After watching (obsessively) many harp guitar players at The Gatherings over the years I have been intrigued by the different approaches that we all use. We all have 12 notes and have 5 picking digits but it’s a diverse and complex subject among players. Seeking my own answers to the question, “What skills do I need to practice?” I have come up with a series of exercises for use on a regular guitar neck attached to a magnificent array of sub basses, not just for Dyer stylists but other designs as well. These exercises follow the ideas of the Carcassi exercises for the right hand but also the Hanon exercises for piano because they come from an approach of what is physically possible and in demand musically. I need some guinea pigs to try these out before I can possibly prepare Youtube clips and start any formal teaching of these techniques, so volunteers needed! Thanks.”
(P.S. These exercises are for a normal player’s hand in the guitar position and so are not for the use of super trebles where the player’s hand moves down and away from the other strings)
(Three 15 minute slots are available to play during the lunch hour – see Steve Silva about signing up)
7:00-10:00 Open Mic
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 26
7:30 Concert at The Center on Main in Falls Village (featuring Andy Wahlberg, Matt Thomas and Travis Bowman)
THURSDAY, OCT. 27
9:30 Rehearsal for and work on The Andy Wahlberg Show!
1:30- 4:00 more rehearsal and work on the show
7:00 Party at the Bennetts — Please note that it is HIGHLY recommended that you carpool! Parking is limited. Also – the lane we live off of is a bit tricky, so use great care coming in and going out! There’s no need to bring anything but if you feel the need to do so, then just bring some beverage that you particularly like. We’ll have plenty of food. My old friend Sid Mitra is attending the Gathering for the first time and volunteered to cook for us. (Which is only one reason why you’ll like Sid as soon as you meet him!)
FRIDAY, OCT 28
10:00 More rehearsal for and work on show
2:oo Last tweaking for the show
4:00 The 20th Harp Guitar Gathering officially begins!