Blues Boot Camp is the fun, challenging and highly interactive blues workshop for 12 – 25 years olds who want to gain music industry skills from trained and experienced music industry professionals. Forté chat to Wayne Jury, the man behind the program.
It’s great to see the return of Blues Boot Camp again, this year running in April! For those new to the region, can you give us a quick rundown of how the program works, and why it has continued to be so successful year after year?
Blues Boot Camp is not just fun, it can be challenging. We run two full days (9am to 5pm) of highly interactive workshops where we work on both theoretical and practical music industry skills and of course performance. We all (tutors/mentors and participants) work towards putting on a show and along the way we have fun, discover the challenges and figure out how to overcome them.
I think the success of Blues Boot Camp is due to the dedication and willingness of the tutors to pass on useful information to the participants. The tutor’s industry and performance experience adds up to nearly 200 years… yes 200 years! That is such an awesome wealth of information and experience, and the students have complete access to it.
It’s about how blues is the basis for all for styles of contemporary western music.… pop, rock, rap, hip-hop, jazz, soul, or funk, the roots are traced back to West African Tribal music. We get a basic understanding of the mechanics of blues and gospel music but also learn practical ways to apply the knowledge to modern music. It’s a real hothouse of creativity with the tutors Sarah Carroll, Andrea Robertson, Dave Robertson, Tim Neal, Ethan Farmer (and me!), interacting with the students to create a powerful vehicle of expression. Music is an incredibly powerful force!
With performance, song writing, teamwork, business skills and social media, as well as playing music and working towards putting on a public show at the end of the third day.. how do you fit it all into two days and one evening?
Ha! I ask myself the same question every time we start a new program. We work hard is the short answer, but it’s not just about that. People love finding their ‘element’, the creative place that doesn’t push them into a ‘box’; that individuality that defines each of us. I try to facilitate people finding their place and when they do, the energy of that discovery motivates them to achieve more than they thought possible. It’s a powerful thing.
How you go about choosing the seven industry professionals that teach in the program?
It’s not only about being great at your craft, and all the tutors at Blues Boot Camp are very good. They also need to be good communicators and listeners. I always like to choose locals, and we are lucky to have some locals that also have tons of experience in the industry. Ethan Farmer is the youngest tutor I have had on board (19) but he is not only a talented guitar player, but a clear communicator. You know it’s also great to have some ‘young blood’ on the team to keep us oldies on our game.
The program is offered to those from 12-25, is this more suited to someone who has some background in music, or can anyone, of any talent, join in?
It’s not for people who have never touched an instrument. Although we have participants with varying levels of ability, we find a role for everybody. It’s a bit easier with singers but unless you can play a bit it may harm your confidence. A few chords or a scale or two is useful.
More on participants, what are the major differences you see between the ages, do participants come back year after year for you to see them develop?
There are no generalisations I can make about any age group. At Blues Boot camp we are all musicians with something to offer. There are people who return three or four times and it’s so good to see their development, but what amazes me every time is how people can develop their confidence and skills in just two days. It’s a hot house of creativity.
The Blues Boot Camp began in 2009, what are the major differences that you’ve noticed between then and now, and what changes do you hope to see?
There are a lot more girls doing Blues Boot Camp than when it started in 2009. I think last year for the first time there were slightly more girls than boys. Also as tutors, we have to keep pace with changing technologies and social changes that affect the industry. The way people consume both recorded and live music is changing. To survive, musicians have to adapt to meet the needs of the listener, hopefully without compromising their artistic integrity. There are also more musicians out there competing for the same gigs which makes finding your unique ‘element’ even more important. Blues Boot Camp is always evolving to meet current demands and help participants with skills to put them in the game.
Do you think that blues could make a comeback for younger audiences, do you hope that it does?
Blues has never been part of the ‘mainstream’ except perhaps in some Southern States in America and for a brief period in Britain in the 1960’s but the legacy of Blues music is profound in the way that most forms of modern music we listen to today have their origin in blues music. Blues music, in its purer form, has a comeback now and then but it is always with us in the way it has influenced contemporary music. I hope that music keeps evolving and each new generation is able to add their influence to the story and new genres will appear, as they have done since the beginning of human existence.
Blues Boot Camp will be held at the Potato Shed in Drysdale, on April 9, 10 & 11 and is available to students aged 15 to 25. Check out www.bluesbootcamp.com.au for a video and more info.