The Fur Peace Ranch
I was up early the next day, about 6:00am, and headed for the showers. After getting dressed, I grabbed my camera and set off to explore the property. John had told me of a cleared path that circled round the back. I passed Hillside Farms Studio and found myself hiking down towards a river. It circled around near a loop in the river and headed back. I came out of the woods at the back of the FPR Station and got some nice shots of the ranch with the sun coming through the mists. By this time coffee was out and I grabbed some and hung out with the other early risers.
After breakfast, we headed to class and tried to loosen up our tired and sore hands. I play without fingerpicks and the side of my thumb was a little sore. Jorma came in and we ran through West Coast Blues again to make sure that we were all on the same page and to answer all the questions we found we had after practicing half the night. We then started the next song, "I'll Let You Know Before I Leave", from the Quah album. To hear Jorma play it I'd guess it would take me the better part of a month to learn it. As usual, however, Jorma broke the song down into it's pieces and we attacked each part, one at a time, tying them together as we mastered each one. Well, perhaps mastered is too strong a word for some of us, but it was at least recognizable.
What can I say? We played, broke for lunch, and then played some more. While the weather was a little cool it was sunny in between the rain showers. At dinner, I automatically headed outside with my plate. Of the two tables there one was pretty well filled and one had just one plate on it. I set my plate down opposite it and went back in to get some lemonade. I should add that the dish that night was grouper. I normally don't eat any fish other than tuna but if it's cooked well I'll give it a try. When I came out I found that the plate belonged to Jorma! For lack of any ideas what to do I sat down. Jorma then called inside to Mike and G.E. to come on out. They did and I found myself sitting opposite Jorma with Mike and G.E. on either side. After a while we were joined by Vanessa and her sister Ginger, who helps manage the ranch and the store. I then tried to eat, keep rice from getting into my beard, and generally not do things like knock over my drink or cough my food across the table. Things I don't normally do but Murphy's law being what it is, I felt they were a real possibility. We talked about all kinds of things, growing up, kids, etc. I do remember looking at my plate at the end and finding it empty. I'm not sure if I ate it all or the cat grabbed it when I wasn't looking. The one common feeling that I kept getting from everyone is that they were all glad to be here and enjoying what they were doing.
After dinner it was back to picking. We finished up the song and were sent off to practice. Jorma wanted us to open the student performance on Sunday with a group rendition of West Coast Blues. For some reason I was looking forwards to this. I didn't have the song down to the point where I'd consider playing it solo, but as part of a group I could lay back on the parts that I couldn't yet hit. I did not, however have a clue as to what I was going to play solo. This was purely optional on the part of any student who wanted to but I was determined to play here for the first time in front of people. I also don't think my friends at work would let me live it down if I failed to perform. All I had to do is to figure out what to play. All the fingerpicking stuff that I thought I knew sounded poor now, because I could see what I wasn't doing correctly. Oh well, I had 'till Sunday at 3:30 to figure it out.
Murphy's Law did kick in, in the form of a dead battery in my camera! One of the guys in my class (also named Ralph) was heading into a town in West Virginia to pick up some more cassettes for his recorder. I hitched a ride with him (thanks, again, Ralph) and managed to locate some batteries that would work.
After the evenings class it was dry enough to fire up the campfire and a dozen or so of us headed over. I enjoyed many impromptu performances by firelight that night. It did get a little chilly, however, and we were torn between the desire to get closer to the fire and the knowledge that we were handling extremely dry wooden guitars in our hands. Here I felt a little overwhelmed by the talent around me and contented myself with listening. I also don't know how they played what they did with cold hands!
I finally fell into bed around midnight and again, went out like a light.