Friday, July 14, 2017

Pete Wernick Jam Camp at Silver Bay - 2017

Silver Bay

The Silver Bay YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Center, located on the edge of the small hamlet of Silver Bay along an otherwise isolated section of Lake George, in the Adirondack Mountains of New York,  provides a ideal venue for a Pete Wernick Jam Camp. Founded as a lake resort in 1902 and bought by the YMCA in 1904, the complex contains buildings typical of Adirondack resort architecture from the beginnings of the last century. The full featured, yet simple, resort offers quiet, many jamming and practice locations, and a large auditorium suitable for group meetings and performances. What a place for Pete Wernick, internationally known as Dr. Banjo to hold, perhaps, one of the largest and most ambitious of his well-known Jam Camps!

Pete Wernick - Dr. Banjo

Pete Wernick has been a force in bluegrass music since he was in high school in New York City, when he hosted a bluegrass radio program on WKCR-FM, a non commercial student run radio station hosted by Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. in sociology. Here's a recording of Pete interviewing banjo pioneer Don Reno at the first multi-day bluegrass festival, held in Fincastle, VA in 1965. In 1978 Pete, along with Tim O'Brien, Charles Sawtelle, and Mike Scap, soon replaced by Nick Forster, formed Hot Rize, a ground breaking and popular bluegrass band which toured full-time until 1990, just before Sawtelle, sadly, died.  The band still makes reunion performances with Bryan Sutton in the guitar slot. In addition, Pete was a founding member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), serving as its president from 1986 until 2001. 

Pete has been hosting music camps since 1980. Over the years they have evolved and spread across the nation and around the world, with a number of Wernick certified instructors offering camps at festivals and in a variety of non-festival locations. You can find the locations of camps and classes here. Pete is also the author of a couple of important books as well as having produced a number of instructional videos covering bluegrass banjo and jamming. He has been, along with his wife Joan, a tireless crusader for bluegrass for the masses. His approach is heavily grounded in music for and by the people, although he also offers band camps and coaching for professional bands seeking to improve. His web site, at is extremely useful, filled with history, free learning materials, information about camps, and more.

Hot Rize - Just Like You - 1987

We drove over to Silver Bay for a day visit, arriving as the morning meeting was assembling. Pete's Jam Camps generally follow a pattern of large group meetings. Sometimes large group instruction or presentations on the history and background of bluegrass are delivered as well as general information for the good of all. At Silver Bay, the meeting place was a large and beautiful all wood auditorium holding up to 700 people, which swallowed the Jam Camp, but still provided a good center for meetings.

Morning Meeting in the Auditorium

Typically, at a Wernick Jam Camp, the various jams, often grouped by relative skill level or choice, move to places where they can practice their skills under the guidance of staff members. At Silver Bay, many quiet, secluded places, both indoor and out, provide a setting where people can experiment and extend their skills, while the staff faciltators, all bluegrass professionals who both teach and perform, provide support and help.

Bob Amos with a Group

Pete Wernick in front of the Main Building

Jam Group in a Quiet Space

On the Boathouse Porch with Ellen Carlson

After a delicious buffet lunch in the Silver Bay dining room, the entire Jam Camp, both staff and attendees, turned out for a group photo in front of the Auditorium.

Photo Album
Here's a Link to a Google Photo Album. 
The pictures are free for your personal use. 
If you use them online, please give me a photo credit

Jam Camp Class Picture

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