Well, if your kid comes home today to excitedly explain that Scott Sharrard, guitar player for the Gregg Allman Band, taught him or her a few things today, fret not.
This week, Kingston’s Barcone Music hosted its first ever Rock Camp at Coleman Catholic High School. The kids learned how to jam on oldies-but-goodies like “Twist and Shout,” “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Wipe-Out,” “Come Together” and “Walk This Way.”
According to fifth-generation family member Melissa Barcone, there is no real organized milieu for kids this age to come together and simply “learn how to be in a band.” Key concepts such as cooperation, listening to each other’s instruments and learning how to create a cohesive sound top the list of lessons imparted at camp, as well as seminars on how to digitally record, setting the stage, and how to produce their own rock show. At the conclusion of camp the kids, some of whom have formal music training but some of whom don’t, host a rock concert performing three to four songs together. The show will be recorded onto a DVD for them to keep.
Milwaukee-raised Scott Sharrard is a guitar player for the Gregg Allman Band, the side venture for the Allman Brothers Band co-founder, keyboardist and guitarist Gregg Allman, went to band camp on Tuesday to teach the gang a few things about how to play together. He first explained to the dozen of pre-pubescent, shaggy-haired boys (and three girls) clad in T-shirts and knitted ski caps that the guitar’s role is a “rhythm section instrument” meant to accompany the singer, and be sensitive to other instruments. Just as any French chef worth their salt will explain that carrots, onion and celery start off any good soup or sauce, Sharrard described the perfect “tripod” as drums, guitar and bass — “Lock those three things in, put anything on top of it, and it will sound good.”
“When I first heard the Greg Allman band, I could hear what wasn’t there, and I could put it there, and be sensitive to everything else there,” explained Sharrard. “You have to listen for what isn’t happening and ask, ‘How can I make them sound better?’ That is the number-one principle.”
Sharrard described the difference between the Allman Brothers and the Gregg Allman Band as “totally different beasts,” noting that Gregg Allman is a “fiery guitar player” and that the Allman Brothers were a “bluesy version of a jam band.” He said that Gregg Allman Band is a lot less “jamming” and a lot more funky.
The adult camp instructors were interested in Sharrard’s opinions on “gear-geekery,” such as “tube screamers” and “zen drive” pedals. He also told campers to familiarize themselves with the volume control on the guitar itself rather than rely on the amp’s knobs to adjust volume. And the interest of every camper was immediately piqued once Sharrard strapped on his Gibson 336 guitar and started to strum.
Sharrard also talked to them about practicing, practicing, practicing. “If you can see every day you have to reinvent yourself, then you can see how you have to re-learn.” Sharrard also emphasized that a musician’s best tool by far are their own ten fingers — a point well-received by campers, who nodded their heads in agreement.
“I like how Scott said that his hands are his guitar,” said 12-year-old James Rood of Kingston. Chris Cutolo 15, of Hurley who was self-taught on guitar until he took lessons agreed that the most important lesson he heard was about “not letting anything get in the way of your hands.” Cutolo said that band camp taught him how to “learn to listen to other instruments” and how to follow along and not get lost.
Like many of the campers reported, drummer/guitarist Kenny Palladino 13, of Accord said that he learned much of his musical technique from his own father. “My dad influenced me. I play with him at home, and he has a jam band.” Palladino said rock camp was an excellent opportunity for him to play better with others, and to see how enjoyable the process can be.