Story by Billy Amendola • Photos by Paul La Raia
This past Labor Day weekend (August 30-September 3), New York City rocked for five days and nights as the Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp came to the Big Apple. It would be well worth the price of admission just to hang out with the great Simon Kirke, of Bad Company/Free fame. (And check him out on the Jim Capaldi tribute DVD, Dear Mr. Fantasy.) Not only did campers get to hang out, jam, and play in a band with Kirkea counselor alumnithey got to do the same thing with Mountain’s Corky Laing, Yes’s Allan White, Springsteen/Conan’s Max Weinberg, and returning counselor, session man, and Drummers Collective teacher Sandy Gennaro.
Now, if you’re a drummer, you want to learn from these masters. And if you’re a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, or vocalist, you want to play and sing in a band that is driven by these groovers. The Fantasy Camp isn’t cheapit’s $8,000 for the weekbut if you’ve got the money, you’ll find the experience well worth it. So start saving up!
The next show is in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and House of Blues, this coming November 7 through 11. It will mark producer David Fishof’s 10th anniversary of the camp.
This was my third year in a row covering the NYC camp, and in that relatively short period of time I’ve witnessed the talent of the campers really improve. At this year’s camp there were more drummers than any other type of musiciansresulting in each band featuring two drummers. We like that! Let’s speak to six of the campers who attended.
Manuel Gerardo Ruiz Rodríguez, from Mexico City, is seventeen years old. Manuel was an attendee at the 2006 Modern Drummer Festival, at which he won a door prize that included a free trip to the Fantasy Camp. “The Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp is the best experience that I ever had,” Manuel says. “It really is a dream come true! Thanks to my counselor, Sandy Gennaro, David Fishof, and Modern Drummer for this great experience.”
One particularly special camper was Sergeant Jason Uselton, who came as a guest of Fishof while on leave from the war in Iraq. Says Jason, “The camp is one of the coolest things that I have ever been involved with. To play alongside some of the people that made me become a drummer was awesome. Being on stage and having Paul Stanley singing and performing with the founding members of Mountain was justamazing. I put a music career on hold for my family and would love to get back to doing it professionally someday. Spending time with Simon Kirke, Max Weinberg, Corky Laing, Sandy Gennaro…I could go on and on. And getting an email from one of the editors of Modern Drummer was really cool! I’ve read the magazine for years, and I found out about the camp in one of the issues. Between my family, the army, and the drums, it’s all I live for.