By November 6, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Yosemite Songwriting Retreat


Acoustic View
By Aaron Rowan

I turn this month’s column over to one of Modesto’s great musical gems, who would like to share her recent experience at a wonderful new songwriter conference.

Yosemite Songwriting Retreat
By Francesca Bavaro

A few months ago, I had the honor of winning the MUMfest songwriting contest. I was elated, proud and humbled. Then, on top of that I was surprised with a gift. A gift I didn’t even know the extent of. I won a stay at the Yosemite Songwriting Retreat for this past weekend. I had just been researching it but decided I couldn’t afford it and I thought it, ‘It must have been fate!’ And if that is the case, then fate is wonderful. The Yosemite Songwriting Retreat was a whole new world for me.

All of the people there created this huge melting pot of experienced songwriters with a history to the few who had never even written a line before. It was truly magnificent to see a community of people so supportive to someone they had just met a few hours ago. The age range of everyone there was really interesting to me. I was the youngest at 22, but it just kept going! Everyone got along so well, no matter what their age or experience.

They offered little master class sessions on Saturday and Sunday by the guest teachers they brought out from across the country. Peter Rowan, Terre Roche from the Roche Sisters and Keith Greeninger. They played mainly folk music, which I’ve never dived into, and it was eye opening. They’re songs were so hauntingly beautiful, with intricate lyrics that went beyond telling stories. So from them I was inspired to write and I got two songs out of the weekend that I love.

We stayed in a dorm style room, and my roommates were fantastic. Three beautiful women, different in age, style, and experience. But at nighttime everyone would come together after hours to jam and explore each other’s musical flavors. There was bluegrass as well as the folk music and that was certainly entertaining. I loved hearing all the root songs and the instruments plucking away vigorously. I was slightly at a loss all weekend because I didn’t bring my keyboard but I don’t think it would have fit in anyway. I enjoyed just being a listener and taking it all in that weekend.

Overall, I would say that this experience was one of the best I’ve had. For one weekend, strangers came together and became this tight knit family. The atmosphere was wonderful, the commodities were great, and the music was perfect. Gail Dreifus, the woman who runs this shindig, is an amazing person for doing this. She was like a proud mother watching all of us get up there for the open mic nights. I hope she continues to find happiness in bringing others complete bliss. Also, thank you to Aaron Rowan. Thanks to him, I got to go! I would definitely recommend everyone who loves songwriting to go. Next year will be here before you know it. Go write some songs!

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