As always, Chicago this year was great. From the location to the housing to the great people at Judson who take care of us, it seems that every year our Chicago campus is usually my favorite.
The faculty this year included Matt Smith, Dennis McCumber, Cass Faulconer, John Horne, Murali Coryell, Mike Cramer, Shawn Purcell, Jeff Beasley, Dave Tiede, and several more amazing instructors.
The week began with meeting Amanda Monaco at O’Hare and then directly heading down to the Jazz Record Mart. I had been there several times before and I knew that I had to put a time limit on our visit otherwise we would be there all day. I ended up with a Paul Motian album and an early Jerry Bergonzi album.
The faculty arrived on Saturday and we had a nice hang before the students arrived on Sunday. This year’s group of students were some of the most talented I had ever seen at NGW. We had two students from Mexico, one from Italy and one from France. All of them had decided to come to Chicago to get the chance to see our guest artist, Buddy Guy.
One of the most memorable moments of the week was the night of the first student concert. That afternoon the power went out for about half of the campus, which of course included our performance space. At the last minute we decided to have the concert in a large classroom with minimal amplification and with the drummer only using a snare and a splash cymbal.
It was one of the most memorable student concerts ever.
Everyone who came had such a great time. The students played great and many of them came up to me at the end of the week and let me know how great of a time they had.
On the 16th we headed down to Buddy Guy’s Legends to spend some time with the man himself. As we arrived at the club, Buddy was sitting at the bar waiting for us. Many of the students had to look twice as they walked in, not believing that he was just hanging out.
Buddy Guy at Legends Photo Courtesy of GuitarVibe.com
Buddy spent some time answering questions and telling stories about his life in music over the last 6 decades. After he answered questions, he went back to sitting at the bar and proceeded to make sure everyone who attended had the chance to say hi, get an autograph or get a picture taken. It was great to see someone at his level take the time to do this.
After all the autographs were signed the jam for the students started. Buddy continued to hang to check out the first few bands and you could tell he was digging it. It was an incredible thrill for everyone involved and I hope to talk to Buddy (and Isabelle) soon to bring him to another campus.
Another cool thing about this week was that Zack from GuitarVibe was attending as a student to document the entire week. He did an amazing job of writing about the experience from a student’s perspective. You can also check out some videos he shot on his YouTube channel.
I am already in Austin (very hot) and today we have the great Jimmie Vaughan on campus. It is great being able to travel in the summer and see all of the students, but I am looking forward to going home on Saturday.