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Join The Jet Set at the California Gold Rush Roundup (REGISTRATION …

226

It would be great to hear some impressions from those who were new to the Roundup experience this year. I took unpaid leave this year and didn't take any photos and hadn't planned on writing any narrative about the event. So, if you have photographs, or if you have any thoughts about what you enjoyed, or didn't enjoy, what was fun, what wasn't, etc., then I'd love to hear them. We need to explain to other GDPers from those far-flung areas just what the California Gold Rush Roundup is all about.


As always, we made some great music. It was such a pleasure to have Parabar back on keyboards and vocals. He is truly an excellent player who is able to fit right in to virtually any style at will.

Did everyone get to see Mel Waldorf play with his friends, Rocky and Raviv? There are few people in this world who can radiate more happiness when they plan than our pal Mel! He is a bundle of energy when he plays and his enthusiasm is contagious.

And speaking of Raviv, what a treat he was. He is a seriously good and highly versatile player. I enjoyed listening to him all weekend.


I apologize to all GDPers who attended about my bandmate, Tom, walking off with some big prizes. I promise you that it wasn't a plant. He and his wife, Sue, were just lucky. I can tell you that they both loved being at the Roundup and wanted to stay even longer than the event lasted. They just didn't want to go home. And they both remarked about how nice everyone at the Roundup is. My guess is that they will definitely be back next year. And I am sure that Tom will have some more vintage surprises for us all again. How about that Telecaster and the Jazzmaster? And the 1967 Country Gentleman was no slouch either.


I must confess that I am anxious for everyone to get up and to play music. I want everyone who doesn't get to play out much to be able to play with other musicians. The Roundup experience is so nurturing and I think that those with less performing experience would have a great time if they could be backed by some of the stellar musicians that attend our Roundup. However, I have come to realize that not everyone feels compelled to get up and perform. Rather, they are quite content to sit and watch and listen and just enjoy hearing the great music.

On that note, however, I did have one person comment to me that it would be nice if somehow we had another location where the shyer members could get up and play. I would be interested in hearing any remarks about that suggestion. I know that afm_380 Joe set up some sound gear last year down in the amphitheater where we did the group photo and Carla and Linda played there. Perhaps there were others who did so as well. Of course, that is part of the issue -- with a second venue comes the logistical challenges of having to source a second PA, get power down to the amphitheater, and, of course, the risk of damage or loss to any equipment which remains there overnight.

I will have to give this issue some more thought, but it would be nice to know if others really feel that there is a demand for this that can't be satisfied by playing outside on the deck.

227

My second Round-Up and I have a couple of suggestions: First off I love the vibe and the experience! This is only a couple suggestions and not a complaint. It would be nice to have some “workshops” where people could get some playing tips/ gear tips.... stuff like that. It would also be nice to have a better grip on VOLUME during the event. I suggest only 1 drummer play at a time and someone actively “doing sound.” It was frustrating trying to do material and not being able to hear vocals.

228

Nobody should have anything but good thoughts about Tom and Sue...

229

My second Round-Up and I have a couple of suggestions: First off I love the vibe and the experience! This is only a couple suggestions and not a complaint. It would be nice to have some “workshops” where people could get some playing tips/ gear tips.... stuff like that. It would also be nice to have a better grip on VOLUME during the event. I suggest only 1 drummer play at a time and someone actively “doing sound.” It was frustrating trying to do material and not being able to hear vocals.

– Hipbone

Hipbone, if I said it once, I said it four times. I repeatedly told the attendees that we needed to keep the volume down because of how lively the room was. On top of that, when a player's volume was incredibly loud, I would speak directly to that person and tell them to turn down. I did that repeatedly over the course of the weekend. I can't do much more than that except ask any offender(s) to not return. I would not like to do that. I would like to hope that when I tell someone that their volume is too high, that they will promptly comply, even if that means that they can't hear themselves. If that is the case, then there is something wrong with them (e.g., they need to tilt their amp back, or set it on a chair, or stand directly in front of the amp, or the like).

As for riding the sliders, that won't work because the instruments are not in the mix; rather, only the vocals and acoustic guitar are going through the board. The solution is that all players need to turn down if the vocals can't be heard.

By the way, if you were playing and couldn't hear your vocals, then you should have kindly told the other player(s) that you were unable to hear your own vocal through the monitor because of their amp volume and that they needed to turn down. It often has greater impact when someone else on the stage tells you to turn down.

I agree with you about limiting the times when there are two drummers playing at once. That creates too big a sound in most cases. We don't usually have two drummers on a song, but we certainly did for stretches during this weekend and that contributed, no doubt, to the overall cacophony that masked your singing.

230

I love loud rock n roll. There was a wall of big-ass amps at the Roundup, all capable of playing outside gigs. Even the surf music sets were loud enough I had to step outside to have a conversation. It’s just too easy to get lost in the mix and turn it up.

I spent some time with Proteus outside on the back deck demoing some tiny 5 watt amps he brought with him. Thru a speaker cab they were all loud enough to play inside at a comfortable level.

I know everyone wants to bring their big amp. They use it regularly and know how to tweak it. I bring big amps. But maybe we would be ahead of the curve if we limited amps to 5 or 10 watts. They’re plenty loud without being painful and there are LOTS of little ankle biters out there to satisfy anyone.

I know it’s not very cool to tell adults what to do, but limiting an amp to something you could carry on an airplane might help in this particular situation.

231

I love loud rock n roll. There was a wall of big-ass amps at the Roundup, all capable of playing outside gigs. Even the surf music sets were loud enough I had to step outside to have a conversation. It’s just too easy to get lost in the mix and turn it up.

I spent some time with Proteus outside on the back deck demoing some tiny 5 watt amps he brought with him. Thru a speaker cab they were all loud enough to play inside at a comfortable level.

I know everyone wants to bring their big amp. They use it regularly and know how to tweak it. I bring big amps. But maybe we would be ahead of the curve if we limited amps to 5 or 10 watts. They’re plenty loud without being painful and there are LOTS of little ankle biters out there to satisfy anyone.

I know it’s not very cool to tell adults what to do, but limiting an amp to something you could carry on an airplane might help in this particular situation.

– Powdog

That is an interesting idea, Powdog. How many of us, however, own that small of an amp? I know that my smallest amp is 20w. Most gigging musicians use amps larger than 10w. But, this is an intriguing idea, for sure.

232

Bunch of randomized responses to this topic from me, in no particular order.


To me, through the great majority of the weekend, the volume level was solid, substantial, but rarely really "too loud." Certainly not by comparison to bands (or recorded music) I've heard in clubs.

There were, however, occasional (and, to me, mostly brief) spikes. But I was generally positioned at toward the right of the “stage area” (as seen from the "audience"), and may not have been in the beam of particularly directional amps. Some of the most piercing tones may have been more prevalent and painful in other locations than where I was.

I noted that the PA was prone to feedback at a particular frequency, and often on the edge. It sounded clean and clear - at the level it could attain without breaking into that feedback. And, in fact, it rarely broke into feedback, and then only for seconds. Even at that, it was not gamma-deathray radiation feedback. And there was certainly nothing which produced bowel-jiggling low end rumble. It sounded, in short, like a not-particularly annoying afternoon of garage-band jam.

The PA mains were positioned BEHIND the band, optimizing the opportunity for feedback from vocal mics. This had the virtue of unifying "front of house" and "monitor" functions, so that everyone in the room, performers and audients, heard the same thing from the PA. It also prevented the PA from being cranked up loud enough to overcome the battery of amps.

As an aside, I would say that even those guitar-amp rigs which occasionally rose above the wave into too-loud-itude sounded great. No one had an inherently unpleasant tone.

My observation was more that the more GUITARISTS who were "onstage" simultaneously, the louder and more chaotic things got. This seems axiomatic, but it's worth digesting carefully, because the very character of a roundup is to permit as many people as is practical to play and interact. Having more guitars onstage than any sane band would deploy is in the nature of the thing - and while I prize controlled combo interactions among a limited number of players who are carefully attending to each other - I also often like the massed chaos of too many guitars at these events. It means more people are having fun, some feeling freer to play without inhibition because the mistakes they fear they make are subsumed in the general roar - and the music becomes more about the doing, about the participation, than about how it sounds to the audience. Put another way, the audience has become the band. I saw an awful lot of grins when there were too many guitarists in the stew.

And anyone, at any time, has the freedom to put his guitar down and NOT contribute to the din. Drummer Bill Bruford got a writer's credit for a King Crimson live improv which made its way to an album because he made the musical decision not to participate in a jam he felt was working well without him. It doesn't sound at all odd on the album, of course, because we don't see him not playing. But an audience member would have seen him sitting at his drums throughout the song, head cocked and ear open in that attentive Bruford way, continually making the conscious decision, in service to the music, NOT to play. Making that musical choice is a way to contribute, and is always open to us.

But when there are five guitarists on stage, it's generally not in a context where they're all listening intently to each other and carefully crafting their parts to fit in and around, or seamlessly support, everything else that's going on. In that unlikely case, each player might either/both turn down to hear others, or to play much more dynamically and sparingly. In most cases of massed guitarmy assault, though, the amps are just as loud as they would be if there were only one picker on stage, and the result can either be a battle or simply a glorious mess. At the Gold Rush, I heard more glorious mess - like the final everyone-on-stage jam at the end of an awards show - than sonic battle.

No doubt vocals often got lost. Maybe forgiveably - it's a guitar event, not a sing-off - but it IS nice to hear vocals as the focus in a performance (unless I'm the singer). I'm kinda of the belief that a vocalist who's leading a song is sorta the leader for that song, and if he thinks the vocals are getting lost, he should make some of the universal musician gestures to turn everything the hell down so it falls under the vocal threshold. And since most roundup songs are not high-stakes performances, there's no reason not to stop a song which has descended into cacaphony and suggest a recalibration of everyone's volume.

Also...while massed-guitarist configurations were frequent (as is natural), there were also many more controlled and limited performances, with about the right number of players on deck. Some were the more-or-less rehearsed performances of RickyBob's surf band, some featured Mel and some of his accustomed sidemen, and others were really textured and restrained jazz-rock/fusion improvs that would have done any well-oiled gig machine proud. I mean, the Girl from Ipanema even came. Some of the ladies took the stage for beautifully delivered acoustic folk material. There was a lot of variety from the main stage, apart from all the interactive, involving acoustic sessions out on the porch.

On the surface of it, I like the idea of encouraging small amps - with the hope that at least some players would stay within the clean headroom of those amps, and that would limit the overall volume. I fear that in actual practice, though, all the small amps would be cranked to bejesus, and while the overall resulting volume level might not be overpowering, every guitar would sound overdriven, with the effect of still sounding loud because of the accumulation of pure grit. One virtue of Too-Big-Amps is that those who are so inclined can use the headroom to get a clean sound at a still-competitive volume.

I really enjoyed these two drummers together. Without a doubt, one of the high points of the weekend for me. I was surprised that they didn't sound too loud, nor did they make a mess. I understand they'd never played together, and obviously not had the chance to rehearse any of their division of labor. It was a continual treat to see and hear them listening to each other, organically finding things to do which complemented each other's work, mixing in colors and textures a single drummer simply couldn't, all while keeping things steadily (but not demonically) propulsive.

Maybe my single favorite musical interlude was when the surfing guitarists came to what they intended to be the end of a rippin' "Wipeout" - and one drummer simply refused to stop, then the other joined in the refusing, and the two of them collaborated for about 10 minutes on one of the best drum duo stomps I've ever heard. There was a little bit of drum battle, but it was more mutual encouragement than competition, and the range of cymbal and tom colors they ran through, the superimposed rhythms, the subtle pulses, the rolling thunder were just a hoot to hear. I loved it that the 250 guitarists onstage ended up standing there staring in confusion at the drummers, tentatively holding their guitars and wondering if they were supposed to come back in - or would ever get to come back in. In a weekend dominated by guitars, it was entertaining to see the proceedings held hostage by the ever-dutiful drum section. Priceless!

Also, by comparison to the Tobacco Barn at Nashville, there was nothing loud. If the Gold Rush was a bonfire, Nashville is a blast furnace.

233

Would it be possible to use the larger administrative cabin as a second venue?

I think it was being used by attendees as sleeping quarters, and I don't know what the space inside looks like....

234

The living room area of that cabin would make a nice intimate venue, but any PA would have to be tiny. Great for acoustic stuff, maybe REAL small amps, and hand percussion or a cocktail kit. Anything more than that would be too much.

235

Still a good thought versus the porch then...rehearsal space, etc.

236

I had fun, but if I can’t hear myself sing and others can’t hear the vocals I don’t have much interest in playing. It’s what I do, play and sing. I do feel the mains could be out front more and not behind the microphones. ... and the mix wasn’t that far off, just a little more volume on the vocals and it would be good. The mains looked very small to me 10 inch speakers max. Not sure of the output of the PA? Perhaps great for a surf band where someone screams wipeout and bingo... vocals covered.

Anyway, just my input.

237

1000w. The speakers were, and are, not the issue. They can fill a venue many times the size of that dining room.

238

The living room area of that cabin would make a nice intimate venue, but any PA would have to be tiny. Great for acoustic stuff, maybe REAL small amps, and hand percussion or a cocktail kit. Anything more than that would be too much.

– Proteus

Maybe limit the amp size to 10w or less for the Admin. house. It would be very cool to have a 2nd room for jamming, trying out gear, acoustic amps/guitars, etc.

239

The Administration House can't be used as a venue for multiple reasons. But, there may be the possibility that some of the other buildings could be looked into.

240

I didn't get to go this year, but if you want to maintain an alternate venue in the outdoor amphitheater next year, I can take care of it with my little PA, happy to do it. Mics, stands, DI boxes, power, no sweat, we'll get 'er done.

I think small amps are a good idea, but hopefully we're all mature enough to regulate ourselves. I have a small amp that can get loud, but it doesn't have to.

And I'll talk guitars or guitar playing with anyone who wants to talk about it, probably for longer than they want to talk about it, so workshops, discussions, brainstorming, collaboration, yeah, bring it on. If you need backup, I know a few chords and can help out.

And if Tim comes again next year, I'll arrange for some Atomic Fireballs.

241

My second Round-Up and I have a couple of suggestions: First off I love the vibe and the experience! This is only a couple suggestions and not a complaint. It would be nice to have some “workshops” where people could get some playing tips/ gear tips.... stuff like that. It would also be nice to have a better grip on VOLUME during the event. I suggest only 1 drummer play at a time and someone actively “doing sound.” It was frustrating trying to do material and not being able to hear vocals.

– Hipbone

Years back, we had just this. I organized people to give workshop presentations about setting up guitars, improvisation, chord soloing, arranging, etc. I got a huge pushback to that from one or possibly two attendees on the basis that it made the Roundup too structured. I think that even Curt chimed in from the other coast to tell us that Roundups should be unstructured affairs. (Ya see, even those who didn't attend were complaining.)

Not hearing too many say that they wanted to see these workshops continue, I abandoned the idea. I thought that they were great, however. I remember Parabar's presentation on song arranging was excellent and reflected that he had given it quite a bit of thought over the years. DrGretsch (Geoff Stich) and Yettoblaster (Steve Yetter) were both just great in their presentations about soloing. I had a local luthier give the presentation about setting up guitars and he was also very informative.

Perhaps the key now would be to have these workshops presented in one of the small amphitheaters so that those who want to continue to play music in the Dining Hall could do so uninterrupted.

242

I had a blast, and I really enjoy the loose format of the Roundup. I think volume becomes an issue because almost all the amps are sitting on the floor pointed at the performers' legs. That's why I bought a tiltback amp stand - I could hear myself at a lower volume setting, and the sound had some distance to diffuse in the rafters before assaulting peoples ears. Chairs raise an amp off the floor, but the amp is still pointed at the audience and not the player's ears.

As for vocal levels, heck, at the end of Saturday night we were singing without microphones. I can see why that wouldn't work for many performers, but at least for the stuff we were doing at that moment, hollering worked just fine.

Regarding workshops, they seemed to be going on informally throughout the Roundup, in that people were talking gear, pointing out features of their equipment to others, or just coming up and asking questions.

Also, I think that those attendees who are more seasoned should try to encourage less experienced players to join in. I'm happy to back up anyone if I know the song, and with advanced notice I can learn a song or two for the occasion.

For me personally, I look forward to the Roundup for seeing friends, catching up, checking out gear, listening to performers, and playing music, roughly in that order.

PS, I loved the two drummer sets!

243

I wonder how a properly sized Party Event Tent might fit over the Amphitheater space?

Those are easy to come by and would make it more a venue....as well as protection from the elements.

Add some lights and a second gear backline...

I remember LA Manny and Joe and the ladies playing some down there last year, Joe ran power down from the nearby cabin.

It was not used at all this past RoundUp.

244

I wonder how a properly sized Party Event Tent might fit over the Amphitheater space?

Those are easy to come by and would make it more a venue....as well as protection from the elements.

Add some lights and a second gear backline...

I remember LA Manny and Joe and the ladies playing some down there last year, Joe ran power down from the nearby cabin.

It was not used at all this past RoundUp.

– Twangmeisternyc

Do you have any idea what one of those party event tents costs?

245

I'll do the research...I think it would be good to give it a try.

Tent Shows go back a long way...

246

I imagine that it would have to be rented from a local supplier since they would come out and set it up.

247

Depends, but that would be best...need to see who is closest to Wilseyville.

Jeff might actually have a lead for us...I would surmise others have done something similar.

That Jackson Rancheria place down the road certainly has used somebody...

248

Can buy one online for less than $200...

My wife and I had a complete set-up back in the day.

Need to get the Amphitheater footprint from Jeff then work for the best option...

249

Ooh, I could sing Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" if we get a tent. I can stuff the tent with everything but a drum kit (I actually have one of those, too, but it'll need a little TLC to be playworthy; heck, I've got a year to get that together, so why not?). I can provide a full backline. Lights are the only thing I don't have, but a year's a long time to troll craigslist for bargains, so maybe by then....


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