Your Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy (Come to Life)

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNIFER HAMMER

THE DREAM. WE’VE ALL HAD IT, some of us while we’re still awake, standing in a crowded arena or, perhaps, in the back of a theater. You’ve swapped places with Madonna, Jimmy Page, even Frank Sinatra-and throngs of adoring fans are now cheering, screaming, fawning over your every hip shake, each intonation in your angelic voice or shredding guitar lick.

David Fishos had the dream. Having launched and managed the Ringo Starr All-Star Band tour for more than a decade and, before that, the Monkees, he’s worked with some of the biggest names in music as a touring manager. Yet Fishos often stood in the shadowy wings of a concert arena, thinking: What if the fans could get the full rock experience?

Then one day, he made it happen. He called seasoned musicians Nils Lofgren (guitarist for Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, CSN), Mike Love (Beach Boys), Rick Derringer and Clarence Clemons and invited them down to the Dorado Hotel in Florida to interact with “everyday folk” who formerly only dreamt of playing professional music.

In true rock ‘n’ roll style, Fishos lost his shirt on the venture. However, the star musicians as well as the attendees had the time of their lives. To boot, he received a significant amount of publicity-enough to push him in to a follow-up “camp”-which are still occurring today. (He still isn’t making money, but insists “someday it will be profitable.”)

Since then, Fishos has produced dozens of camps in locations such as San Francisco, Philadelphia, London, New York and Los Angeles. In May he executed one at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas that featured Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue fame… mostly). At each one, Fishos plunks everyday folk in the middle of their ultimate rock ‘n’ roll fantasy.

“It’s the whole first-class rock experience,” says Fishos. “We use top-tier recording and sound equipment, first-rate facilities, and I bring in the biggest names in music, who work one-on-one with the campers.”

Each camp session will bring in a few bigname acts, who sit in with each of the “bands” carefully organized by Fishos prior to camp. With approximately 60 people attending each camp, Fishos blends levels of talent and instrumentalists in bands, each of whom will write and record their own song over the course of the fourto six-day event (campers can opt for either length). Each band has a dedicated “rock counselor,” who is also a seasoned industry professional. But the magic happens when you take the stage and say Roger Daltrey (who has participated in six camps) decides to share a microphone with you on harmony. Or, Slash (Guns N’ Roses) stands inches from your face, mimicking your guitar riff.

Surprisingly, the camp isn’t just about putting a smile on the face of Baby Boomers looking to relive their dreams. Fishos says that there are the occasional teenagers who show incredible promise, as well as more and more women signing up, sometimes in groups. Yet, one group’s enthusiasm surprised even Fishos.

“The rock stars actually love coming to camp,” says Fishos. “First off, they get to jam alongside other rock stars they’ve loved or admired. You have to remember, playing in a band is a very lonely life. They’re not like ball players, who get to compete against other teams every night. So it’s nice for them to play together. Also, it reminds them of what it was like when they were starting out. They get off on feeling that excitement again.”

Fantasy Rock Camp has garnered the attention of Nightline and The New York Times, as well as major television producer Mark Burnett, who is launching his second season (on VH1) of a show that covers the camps.

Coming down the pipe are camps in Woodstock, N.Y. (August), and a very special San Francisco experience; Fishos has inked an agreement with Heart and Def Leppard to allow band campers to open for each act at a major venue in the Bay Area.

“I don’t know how many people will have the opportunity to be at work on a Monday, and when someone asks what you did over the weekend, you can reply ‘I opened for Def Leppard.'”

In the future, Fishos hopes to launch camps in Hawai’i. For now, check the web site for locations. www.rockcamp.com Cost is $5,000 $7,500 depending on length of camp. Includes all equipment, but not hotel/airfare.

Insider Rock Experience on Maui

Jorma Kaukonen has been on your radio for more than 50 years. At the helm of 1960s iconic Jefferson Airplane as well as Hot Tuna, he’s known throughout the rock ‘n’ roll insider circles as the king of guitar finger-picking.

His “second act” has been the Fur Peace Ranch-a rock ‘n’ roll camp for serious musicians who come to his Ohio residence to better their chops.

For two weeks in January 2012, he will set up his Fur Peace camp abroad, this time at the Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui, and teach an intensive series of workshops open to anyone with the will to learn. Beginning Jan. 16, he and Marjorie Thompson will teach a “Level 2” series of classes to those looking to hone their performance skills and instrumentation on the twinkling shores of Ka’anapali Beach. Week two begins Jan. 23, where Kaukonen will introduce his first-ever songwriting seminar, sharing with participants how he brings the magic in his mind to the page, and eventually to album.

Visit www.FurPeaceRanch.com for more information

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