AMP Camp 2008 - The week in review

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AMP Camp 2008
March 9-14, 2008
Misty Lake Lodge, Gimli, Manitoba

The third installment of the Aboriginal Music Performers Camp (AMP Camp) was amazing and intense! The talent was outstanding, the instructors went above and beyond the call of duty and the programming often lasted 12-hours or longer. Over the course of one week we saw strategies solidify, performances take giant leaps forward and community members become stars.

This year was a little different than previous years as the agenda drifted away from the “business in the morning, creative development in the afternoons” format and into a diverse schedule with concurrent workshops and opportunities for the participants to bite into a broader range of topics and skills in smaller group settings. A number of one-on-one consultations were also made available with the instructors throughout the residency.

The week began on Sunday afternoon with the group meeting each other for the first time at the Manitoba Audio Recording Industry Association (MARIA) office in downtown Winnipeg. After an hour-long delay due to flight cancellations in Toronto, the participants and instructors boarded a charter bus and began their one-hour trip north of the city to the Misty Lake Lodge. After checking in, getting settled and sitting down to their first meal, the group then gathered to go over the agenda and review the expectations of the instructors and project managers. The faculty later completed Sunday’s programming with a musical introduction to the participants, playing a couple songs “in the round.”

Monday morning began with a warm-up session that introduced the group to a series of stretches and exercises that they could easily complete while on the road or in a small holding room before a performance. This helped the group prepare their bodies for a full day of work and the sessions would be repeated at the beginning of each day for the rest of the week. The first workshop on Monday provided the participants with an opportunity to examine their current status and really consider what they wanted to focus on in the workshops and one-on-one consultation sessions. One of the main tasks for the group was to identify their three main goals for their music careers. This also helped the instructors figure out how they could best help the participants throughout the week. After lunch, communications professional Heather Kelly lead a workshop about strategies, tools, resources and best practices for music marketing and publicity. The group received a comprehensive handout from Kelly, which included plenty of budgeting and planning templates along with a number of other tip sheets and examples. The third set of workshops was scheduled from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and provided four options for the artists. The workshops were Folk Song Craft with Heather Bishop, Rock Song Craft with Derek Miller, Rhythm Nations with Sal Ferreras and a workshop about communicating with sound techs lead by sound professional Matthew Mayor. The sound tech workshops were really cool and prepared the participants for the Performance Panels each evening. Curt Young, Evan Reeve, JC Campbell, Tracy Bone, Lindsay Knight and Geronimo Inutiq were the first participants scheduled for the Performance Panels, so naturally they participated in the first round of sound tech workshops. During the Performance Panels, the instructors provided advice and direction on technique, song selection, stage presence and the ability of the artist to engage the crowd. This format would be repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday night for the rest of the group.

Tuesday morning’s main workshop featured an in-depth discussion about Aboriginal radio and how these stations differ from their commercial and public counterparts. NCI FM’s Dave McLeod lead the discussion and the group benefited from additional comments from CBC Radio’s Wab Kinew who was collecting material for an episode of Shaken Not Stirred. A number of the artists also took advantage of the one-on-one guitar lessons with Doug Cox and marketing consultations with Heather Kelly during this morning time slot. After lunch, there were three workshops and two marketing consultations available. The first workshop gave participants the opportunity to ask Doug Cox and Sal Ferreras how business is done in the folk festival world and what Artistic Directors expect from the artists they hire. The second gave the rockers in the group a chance to receive creative advice and learn from recent Double Trouble Band collaborator Derek Miller. The third option was an introductory vocal coaching session with Heather Bishop. After an hour-long break between 3:00 and 4:00, the group got back to work with workshops entitled The History of Aboriginal Music and Hip-Hop Performance Lab, while the second group of artists learned how to communicate effectively with sound techs before their Performance Panels after supper.

Booking agent Todd Jordan joined the group on Wednesday morning, leading a workshop about booking agents and touring alongside Kinnie Starr and Heather Bishop. This discussion started in the mainstream realm and worked its way to the opportunities in the Aboriginal community (ie. conferences, Treaty days, festivals, etc...). To top it all off, the group learned about all the funding available for touring at the arts councils and music funding agencies across Canada. In the opposite side of the building, Derek Miller offered a second Rock Lab, giving another group of participants the chance to work on new creative directions for rock songs in progress. After lunch Doug Cox offered a workshop about Chart Writing, while Heather Bishop elaborated on the introductory vocal coaching session with one-on-one instruction for a full slate of eager participants. The first group of participants also joined Sal Ferreras for an exploration of song structure and percussion in the Song Lab from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. After the break from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, a second group of artists entered the Song Lab with Sal Ferreras, the one-on-one vocal coaching continued, Kinnie Starr lead a Hip-Hop Song Craft workshop and the third and final group of participants worked with Matthew Mayor in the Sound Board and You workshops.

By Thursday, the group was buzzing and Geronimo Inutiq proposed the idea that the Misty Lake Lodge may be situated on a “ley line,” which would explain why the AMP Camp experience was so inspiring and magical.

The programming on Thursday began with a new set of stretches and exercises. Shortly after warming up, the group moved into the first workshop entitled Beyond Gigs and CD Sales. This workshop was lead by Doug Cox, Heather Bishop, Sam Baardman and Kinnie Starr and the discussion touched on a number of opportunities that the participants could pursue in order to diversify their income in the music industry. Doug Cox talked about his instructional DVD company and work as a session musician, Kinnie Starr talked about her opportunities to teach along with the support that her music publisher provides, Heather Bishop shared her reasons for crafting children’s songs and how she operates her own record label, and Sam Baardman discussed his work as the head of an music industry association and the opportunities for arts administrators and consultants. The final set of workshops was schedule for the slot between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. These sessions included Music and Chord Theory with Doug Cox, the third and final Song Lab with Sal Ferreras, and one last vocal coaching session with Heather Bishop. After the workshops, a two-hour break was scheduled to provide the participants with a chance to rehearse and prepare for their performances later that evening. The Grand Finale began at 7:00 pm and each participant performed one song. The show was flawless as everyone was ready well in advance of their performance time, able to explain their needs to the sound tech while on stage, and equipped with a number of new techniques and abilities to engage the audience.

An evaluation session for AMP Camp 2008 was held on Friday morning. This provided the project managers and instructors with an opportunity to get feedback from the participants on all parts of the week. After completing a written evaluation, everyone also had the chance to explain what helped them the most and how the project could be improved for future groups. After a light lunch, the group packed up and made their way back to Winnipeg for rides home or flights across the country.

AMP Camp 2008 is made possible through a working partnership between MARIA's Aboriginal Music Program and the Music Section of the Canada Council for the Arts. AMP Camp provides Aboriginal recording artists with the opportunity to develop their understanding of the music industry along with their ability to succeed in it.

This year's faculty included Juno nominated recording artist Kinnie Starr, Order of Canada recipient Heather Bishop, world renowned percussionist Sal Ferreras and world class dobro player Doug Cox. The group will also receive instruction from Juno winner Derek Miller, communications professional Heather Kelly, radio executive Dave McLeod, booking agent Todd Jordan and training consultant Sam Baardman.

The participants included 23 outstanding artists, representing Aboriginal communities in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. They came from electronic music, blues, hip hop, country, rock, gospel, roots and pop backgrounds.

The participants are:
Barry Morin Jr., Saskatchewan
Buddy Cardinal, British Columbia
Cheryl L'Hirondelle, British Columbia
Conrad Simon, New Brunswick
Curt Young, Alberta
Leanne Goose, Manitoba
Desiree Dorion, Manitoba
Eddy Robinson, Ontario
Evan Reeve, Manitoba
Geronimo Inutiq, Quebec
Jared Big Canoe, Ontario
JC Campbell, Manitoba
Violet Naytowhow, Saskatchewan
Karen Donaldson Shepherd, Alberta
Lindsay Knight, Saskatchewan
Marcel Gagnon, British Columbia
Mary Mahler, Manitoba
Niska Napoleon, British Columbia
Rayne DeLaronde, Manitoba
Sarah Decarlo, Ontario
Shakti Hayes, British Columbia
Terri-Anne Strongarm, Saskatchewan
Tracy Bone, Manitoba

The Aboriginal Music Program would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Manitoba Culture, Heritage & Tourism, Employment Manitoba, Manitoba Film and Sound, the Manitoba Arts Council and a contribution by MARIA through the Manitoba Music and Motion Pictures Development Project.

Please visit our Photo Gallery for pictures from AMP Camp 2008:

A PDF copy of the AMP Camp Program is available for download here:

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