Mark Farner & camper - photo by Michael Sherer
Do you play an instrument and/or sing decently? Do you have $10,000 to spare for extensive jamming, recording and musical sparring with some well known rock stars for six days at the Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp? If not, how about $7,500 for the next package down? No? Then what about $5,500 for the next one? Still no? Then just go to the performance at the end. That’s what I did.
For some back ground, the camp is held in various cities throughout the U.S., London, England, and the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. It was founded in ‘97 by producer and former sports agent David Fishof. This time it was in the country’s media capital, NYC. The club BB King’s, located in Times Square, was the site of the finale show. It intermittently featured the famous camp counselors, which was exciting for all. They were Mark Farner, the former guitarist and singer with Grand Funk Railroad. Rudy Sarzo, the bassist formally of Quiet Riot, Ozzy Ozbourne, Whitesnake and currently with Blue Oyster Cult. Then there was Kip Winger, the bassist and singer of Winger. Drummer Sandy Gennaro, who’s played with many artists, including the Pat Travers Band and Joan Jett, laid down a rock solid beat. So did Dave Uosikkinen, the drummer of The Hooters. (Not at the same time, though.) There was also guitarist and singer Jeff Foskett, who plays with Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. Guitarist, producer and song writer Mark Hudson, who’s also worked with many artists, including Aerosmith and Ringo Starr, was on hand as well. Spike Edney, the keyboardist and guitarist who’s played with Queen and others, pitched in too. Special guests included drummer Simon Kirke of Free and Bad Company, singer and song writer Nona Hendrix, formally of LaBelle, bassist Cliff Williams of AC/DC and guitarist Gene Cornish of The Rascals. The headliner was Roger Daltrey, lead vocalist of The Who, of course. The band Three Doors down also performed, and were quite good. (And young.)
Most if not all the campers were able to have their bands perform, and any one or more of the star counselors played with them sporadically. There were also songs that were performed only by the counselors, which certainly sounded the best. Mark Farner, for example, can be seen with a talented singing camper in the enclosed photo. My favorite features were hearing the counselors play “I’m Your Captain” by Grand Funk Railroad, with it’s writer, Farner, playing and singing it as well as he ever has since it came out nearly 40 years ago. The other was hearing The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends,” with Daltrey and Hendrix singing together, and playing off each other, quite effectively and soulfully. This song was also performed by the all star counselor staff.
The club was packed, and it was standing only in front of the crowded stage. The sound was good, but adjustments had to be made from band to band. Clearly, the campers were thrilled to be playing live in front of an enthusiastic audience in NYC, and with a pro sound system and mixing board/handler. They all played decently, with some standing out over others. All in all, it was a fun and eclectic show, and one that the campers will surely never forget. Was it all worth the serious price tag? You’ll have to ask them.