Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Drive-By Truckers visit Camp Amped!

(from Patterson Hood, DBT)


Today I had one of the most amazing days of the summer, the year, hell that I can remember.
I spent half a day at Camp Amped.

[Camp Amped is a two week long summer day camp for youth ages 11-17 at Nuçi's Space in Athens, GA. Students are taught and mentored by some of the most amazing people in Athens, GA who just happen to be some of the city's most talented and accomplished musicians. This year's instructors include Carl Lindberg, Dan Nettles, Claire Campbell, Ben Mize and Joel Byron. While at Camp Amped, participants form bands and have the opportunity to write, learn, and record new music. At the end of the two week long camp, students perform in their own rock show at the Grand Finale, which will take place at 7:00 pm on July 19, 2008 at Nuçi's Space.]

I was on tour and missed it last year and made plans to be off this year. The first hour I was there I sat in on a seminar called "Survival Skills" where we discussed some nuts and bolts ideas about how to survive doing music and being creative, what the pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

It's a well known fact that many talented people also have emotional problems. We also all know that at no time in our lives are we more emotional than those teenaged years. Many adult problems first come to the front during those years. What better time to teach someone some of the ways to avoid some serious pitfalls than at that age. Sometimes problems occur due to the outcast aspect of being creative. (Say being a songwriter instead of playing football which can be a treacherous path in some rural communities like where I grew up). Sometimes the link is the other way around. The kid is so shy or introverted he / she doesn't possess the social skills that make navigating the High School world easy. Either way it exists and there is frequently some kind of link between creativity and depression.

Remember, we're talking about young men and women at what is often that most awkward of ages. A time that can be crazy, hormonal, and full of all kinds of pressures from outside, and inside. A time when family relations are often at an all-time low. These are the kids that for one reason or another have decided to make music their outlet for the angst that so often accompanies being a teenager. And Camp Amped is there to try to help them.

It's a small thing, only 20 kids this year. Hopefully in coming years we can find a way to make it grow in size while still remaining true to what I witnessed this afternoon. It is well known that Nuci's Space's mission is suicide prevention. Suicide is the #1 killer of young men and women between 17 and 30. It recently overtook car wrecks for the top spot. If you haven't heard of them, please look up their site <> It is DBT's pet cause and we are all committed to spreading the word and doing what we can.

All that said, it wasn't by any means all serious, much less gloom and doom. The second hour I was there I sat in on a songwriting seminar. It was hosted by Ben Mize, an excellent Athens GA artist who is formerly Counting Crows' drummer. It was great. I mostly kept my mouth shut, as the counselors had it well under control, but the kids were incredibly talented and it was very cool to see what all they were working on.

Later, Neff, EZB and I played a show for them. I told the stories that inspired Nine Bullets (it's better to write a song about doing something stupid than to actually do something stupid) , Heathens, The Living Bubba and Buttholeville. Also played Miss Me Gone, Uncle Disney and A World of Hurt. I'm lucky enough that I survived my more troubled years and lived to get to do what I always dreamed of doing. Playing music was my key to getting through those times, long before I reaped any materialistic rewards from it. My mission today was to pass a little of that on. As I said, it has been one of my favorite days in a long time (and I've had some pretty great days lately).

I think EZB had some drum talk with the aspiring drummers, Neff showed a little pedal steel magic. I got to talk to several of the "campers" and was absolutely blown away by everyone I talked to and everything I saw. I sincerely hope I can be way more involved next year.



Have a great summer, and see you at The Rock Show.
Patterson Hood

More photos here.