We’re all sipping on coffee here this morning at Flathead Lake Lodge. After the first night of our annual Crown Guitar Festival kicked things up a notch, bringing in people from all over world to enjoy world class guitar, food trucks, drinks and great company.
But it never takes too long to get into full gear at Crown, where music, food and gorgeous scenery waft in with the breeze. We’re waking up with James Hogan and Brent Mason in the Rock, Blues & Bop Workshop this morning. Just another one of the powerful workshop classes that Crown offers every year.
Today’s Rock, Blues & Bop participants are breaking out their electric guitars, and taking turns on the stage practicing the licks Hogan’s been teaching. He’s beaming as two young students blast away on their guitars, complementing their vast improvement over the short three day period. The course takes on a question and answer, and of course jam, setting as it progresses. Two hours in, students can ask questions or jam along with Hogan and Mason as they demonstrate different techniques, riffs, licks, and rhythms, all while participants pick their brains about anything and everything.
The vibe is that of a laid back group of friends, reflecting on the performances of peers from the night before. All encouraging, all complimentary, meant to help lift their fellow musician and acknowledge each other as an artist. Mason acknowledges the Command Sisters incredible performance from the night before. The conversation reflects the Crown mission of a non-competitive, ego-less environment. One meant to embrace every avenue of music.
The last half hour before the class breaks for lunch Mason and Hogan are joined by Master Mentors; drummer Brad Boal and bass player Adam Nitti. Participants take turns replacing Hogan and Mason on the lead guitars, with frequent breaks for instructions and feedback. 24 year old Ian Velikoff, a second year scholarship student, is eager to absorb the knowledge of the professionals surrounding him and sticks his hand up to be first on stage.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more inspired in my life by music, than when I’m here,” Velikoff describes the irresistible draw of the Crown Workshop during lunch break. “You get to see so many different walks of life, and styles of music. Everybody has such a unique personality on their instrument. Energetically you can feel how the different types of music affect you. It’s interesting being exposed to all these genres of music in such a short period of time by musicians who are just, well, incredible,” He pauses. “And the faculty is amazing,” he says smiling, “They always pick the most down to earth people.”
Nobody embodies this down to earth, instructional environment better than Hogan himself. His class is laid back, but packed with knowledge and direction. An instructor for 25 years, he has refined his craft of teaching complicated material. “The material is so intimidating, it just wouldn’t work if I was intimidating too.” It’d be easy to spend the class talking about his endless accomplishments, or demonstrating his amazingly professional skill level. But he doesn’t, he relates to every participant on a personal level, absolutely ego free. He puts them at ease by sharing about all the times he was around better musicians and the drive it gave him to work harder.
To experience a Rock, Blues & Bop Workshop for yourself, stay tuned for our 9th annual Crown Guitar Workshop and Festival 2018 registration information. Until then keep following our News and Events blog for updates of the super cool things we get to do all day.