Meet & Greet

Eureka! There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills! — California Gold Rush R…

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"Tom Moore" ("Powertronman"), singing a nice version of "Secret Agent Man" - 9 - 10 - 2016 :)

"Camp Lodestar", Wilseyville, Calif.

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At least this didn't happen at our Roundup in the Great North West Forest ,, :)

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Lol, I felt like that could happen when I was out there. I pulled over on my way there and not too far away to get something out of my boot (trunk in US lingo lol) and saw some well dodgy looking birds hanging around. Mean buggers they were. Well I found out later that they were Black Headed Vultures. WTF? I thought they only happened in Africa?

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A few somewhat belated thoughts about our California Gold Rush Roundup for 2016...

This one was a tough one for me. It simply could not have come at a worse time on the calendar for me this year. We all have stresses in life and in our jobs, in particular, so I don't mean to sound like I am the only guy who occasionally gets burdened by stress. But, this year's Roundup came at a time when my stress levels were in full bloom due to work obligations. While I hung with the crew on Friday night, and actually got a few songs in, most of my Saturday was spent working in my room on my computer preparing for an upcoming trial. Whenever I would stray from my room to see what was going on, I was plagued by the stress that I should really be back in my room continuing to work. That part of the Roundup totally sucked for me.

Then, the final insult came when, just this past Friday, my jury trial was continued for some months. So, I could have been playing the entire weekend with everyone else and was holed up in my room for nothing. Talk about being bummed. Oh well.

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A couple of years ago, I blew the transmission on my Suburban (for the second time) and I vowed not to sink any more money into it. So, I have been reduced to carting my gear around in my sedan until such time that I pick up another SUV. Thus, when I left my home on Friday morning, I didn't have a whole lot more room to put anything. My trunk was full of PA gear, my pedal board, and my duffel bag. In my back seat, I had guitars stacked up, my Executive amp, along with speaker stands, mic stands, etc. Good thing that no one was accompanying me or they would have been riding on the rooftop.

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One of the things that I was perhaps most apprehensive about was the new venue. The Clair Tappaan Lodge had become like a pair of old slippers to me. We knew what to expect there and we had the routine down. But, going to a new location that people would have to find and get to, dealing with new facilities and the uncertainties that they pose, and, perhaps most importantly, dealing with new people at the venue. I had traveled down to the Motherlode country a couple of weekends in the spring to search for the right venue and, on the last of those trips, visited Camp Lodestar. I had arranged to meet Jeff Clark, the manager for the Camp, and he showed me around the place. I found him to be pretty easy to work with during our discussions and it certainly didn’t hurt that he was a guitar player himself (I learned later that he had actually recorded a CD of his own which he shared with me as I was leaving Camp on Sunday) and that he was eager to see what this Gretsch guitar group was all about.

However, reading the thread about the Clarksville Roundup made it seem to me that maybe I was missing the mark by not having a venue that was like a musical Disneyland where there were lots of things to see and do. I had called Parabar and Joe Carducci months ago to discuss those concerns with them and they each assured me that, as long as there was a place to play music, the place would most likely be fine.

So, I have been pleased by the remarks of those at the Roundup, and then afterwards in the thread, who have affirmed that Camp Lodestar was, indeed, a good venue for the event. No one complained of being unable to sleep (which had occurred with a few at the Clair Tappaan Lodge) and everyone seemed to get on well with the food. In fact, the staff at Camp Lodestar was fantastic in terms of being willing to prepare meals for vegetarians and those with other particular dietary needs. One night, we had three pastas – beef, vegetarian, and gluten free. That struck me as really going beyond the call of duty. And the kitchen staff was invariably happy and desirous of making our event a fun one.


One thing that I noticed immediately when we began to play music Friday evening was that the Dining Hall where we played music, and which was the center of all our activities, was extremely lively. There was no need for any reverb on your amp in this room because there was an abundance of natural reverb. There were hard surfaces everywhere, so the sound bounced off the walls, glass windows, linoleum floor, etc., like a pinball at the fingertips of an overactive adolescent. The sound quickly became muddy and the natural instinct was, “Hey, I can’t hear myself very well; I’d better turn up.” When everyone in the band was doing the same, it quickly became a cacophony that was like a runaway train. Volumes increased to the point where it became uncomfortable to try to converse, or sometimes even just to sit and listen. No one was to blame; it was just the circumstances which induced the situation.

I shared this with Jeff, the camp manager, and he has been looking into various ways to treat the room to reduce the amount of reverberation. I know that they would like very much to have us return and so I have shared with him that this is a challenge that we need to see if we can address. But, the key, going forward, is that we have to be extremely sensitive to volume levels and to accept without passing judgment the suggestions or recommendations of others to turn down or to adjust the EQ to make the experience comfortable. We are there for the fun of playing music with each other, but, if the volume level begins to rob that pleasurable experience, then what is the sense? Some are more bothered by this than others. I will admit that, as a person who has lost some hearing acuity over the years due to the misfortune of genetics, I am sensitive to anything that will accelerate that process. Others seem to be able to withstand high volumes better than others. We will just need to collectively work through this next year if we return to Camp Lodestar.


In recent years, we have had some pretty special guests at our Roundups. Peter Asher was someone whom I have long admired and hearing his stories about the people whose careers he was directly involved with helping to create was mind blowing for me. John Sebastian was a tremendous guy who perhaps epitomizes, in some respects for me, the whole Woodstock vibe. So, having him at our little soiree when we were celebrating that event was pretty cool. Jim Messina had been a musical hero of mine from his days in Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and Loggins & Messina. So, to be able to meet him, learn more about his career, and to exchange ideas with him about guitars and music was a real treat for me.

In having the Roundup in my backyard for all of those years, I was able to boost the Saturday evening attendance with local musical friends so that the Clair Tappaan wouldn’t be empty when the guest was there. I don’t really have that same luxury, however, at a more distant venue. So, the fear of bringing a celebrated musical guest to a room with a small group of people in it has inhibited me from returning to the musical guest format. A Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member doesn’t want to play to a small house anymore than you or I do when we are gigging. So, for the time being, until I think that we have the chance to see our ranks grow at the Roundup again, having musical guests may have to be put on the back burner. And I also realize that not everyone is into having celebrity musical guests at our events. Some people feel like it infringes on the opportunity to play music. I have always tried to make the programs with our guests informative and entertaining so that people would not feel like it was lost time. But, I get that not everyone has the same vision for these events. We will have to return to this issue at some future time for re-evaluation.

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Saturday night’s events were great fun. As always, having the branding ceremony is something quite cool. The high fire danger in the area limited us to trying to create a fire hot enough with charcoal briquettes to heat up the iron to be able to brand the boards. The always affable camp manager, Jeff, brought out a leaf blower to turbo charge the fire to try to get it hot enough. Finally, he caved into pressure (all internally applied, I am sure) to get the fire hotter by throwing in a couple of logs. Once that happened, the fire got nice and hot. However, before that, a couple of people struggled to get the iron hot enough to brand their boards. In the end, everyone had nicely branded planks and Mel Waldorf even had a branded guitar!

The swagfest was, as always, a ton of fun. Joe C. pulled out all of the stops and shipped box after box to the Roundup. There was enough swag there where there was no risk of anyone going home empty handed, as has actually happened in the past on more than one occasion.

Rhythmisking was the lucky winner of both a Gretsch Roots Collection ukulele and the grand enchilada, a white Electromatic 5422 guitar! He became quickly glued to that guitar and was to be heard for the rest of Saturday night and Sunday morning sampling its delicacies in the corner of the Dining Hall.

A new Roundup’er, Powdog, brought a number of the amplifiers of which we have been fortunate enough to have witnessed the build process here on the GDP. First of all, a nicer guy you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere, and the guy can play drums too! (I love multi-talented people!) Powdog donated a 5 watt amp (patterned somewhat after the Fender Champ amplifier) to the swagfest and giffenf’s wife, Karen, was the lucky winner. giffenf seemed quite delighted with her win and was seen trying to quickly figure out how he was going to be able to negotiate some time on that amp from her. Congratulations to both Karen and Frank on their good fortune.

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Because I needed to head back to my office on Sunday right after breakfast so that I could get some work time in, I had to strike my gear on Saturday night. Regrettably, everyone else felt like, without a PA, why keep their gear set up too? So, they also packed up their gear to be able to load it up Sunday morning.

After Sunday breakfast, we took the group shot (hey! Where all all of the copies of those photos that people were taking? Why aren’t they here in the thread where we can download copies for ourselves? Come on, folks, post those pics up here) and then everyone seemed to pack up and head out. It seemed like one of the earliest departures from a Roundup that we have experienced in some time.

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After I left the Roundup, I traveled home the same way that I had come, which was on Highway 88 through the mountains back to Lake Tahoe rather than up to Sacramento and back home on the freeway. With a full load, my car swayed its way through the curves of that mountainous road, but the views made it all worthwhile. It seemed as if every turn in the road ahead revealed a new panorama or a new lake to view. Living near Lake Tahoe, I become pretty jaded about the notion that such a spectacular wonder of nature is so close by. However, every time that I pass by the Lake, I am reminded of how incredibly beautiful it is and how lucky I am to live so close to it. Passing by Emerald Bay only about a half hour from my house pretty much put the final exclamation point on a great weekend for me.

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The view looking out towards Silver Lake

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The road stretches out before you with a new surprise around every corner

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Caples Lake right alongside the Carson Pass Highway. Had there have been more time permitted, a dip in that lake would have been almost mandatory.

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Highway 89 which encircles the western shore of Lake Tahoe offers some spectacular views of the Lake. This one overlooking the first glimpses of Emerald Bay.

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And, finally, one of the most gorgeous sights known to man, Emerald Bay with its waters of the most incredible hues of blue.

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My many thanks to those who attended the event. I had a fantastic time albeit with less personal participation in it this year for me than in the past, but fun nonetheless. Thanks to everyone for bringing with them to Camp a positive attitude and one focused on the celebration of the friendships that we have managed to forge offline with other members of the GDP forum. To think that that little gathering back in New Jersey could have fostered so many of these Roundups and the friendships that we have all made through them is truly something special.

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"Tom Moore" ("Powertronman"), singing a nice version of "Secret Agent Man" - 9 - 10 - 2016 :)

"Camp Lodestar", Wilseyville, Calif.

– Geoffrey E. Stich

Whose Cowboy amp was that behind Powertronman Tom? The one that Powdog built is in front of him, but I hadn't noticed that we had multiple Cowboy amps at the Roundup!

EDIT: Okay, It dawned on me that the amp behind Tom is another of Powdog's builds. Probably not another Cowboy amp, but similar design.

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Great post, Bob and great pictures. It is truly some beautiful country up there! What a shame your work pulled you away only confound your weekend again. I'll bet next year you will have twice the fun and good times.

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Heres a vid of Scott doing his thing.

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Excellent footage, guys.

Great players all around.

Bob, I really got to get out there, it's too beautiful not to. And your comment about the friends we make offline is "nail on the head" correct.

I'm in love with the landscape, it's like stepping into another world.

Thanks for the coverage.

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Heres a vid of Scott doing his thing.

– LA_Manny

Beautiful

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Great post, Bob and great pictures. It is truly some beautiful country up there! What a shame your work pulled you away only confound your weekend again. I'll bet next year you will have twice the fun and good times.

– Sarah93003

Well, Sarah, if you and Vicki were to attend again next year, it would certainly increase the enjoyment quotient. Hope that you can make it next year, particularly now that we have located it closer to Southern California. It is close enough now where the Emperor of the Inland Empire might even be able to conveniently attend.

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Thanks for posting the vids Manny. I completely agree with you about escaping to the desert. I spent 10 years combing the south Mojave and Anza Borrego before moving to NorCal. Every bit as beautiful, just in a different way.

I now live about an hour north of Camp Loadstar on Hwy 49. Same general elevation and terrain. Hope I never have to leave. This is a pic looking out my shop window.

Thanks again Bob. I know it was a lot of work. Great location! You got jipped out of play time, but next year.....


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