Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bongo Camp

Almost everyday I get offers to attend a variety of educational camps, each devoted to a particular musical instrument, mostly guitar. These camps offer instruction and guidance, and the cost is not cheap. Plenty of folks must attend these camps or they wouldn't tout them the way they do. So I'm thinking this would be a great opportunity to start my very own musical instrument camp. Guitar, piano, voice, and woodwinds seem like they're already covered by a great many fine-sounding organizations, but no one offers a bongo camp. This could be a big moneymaker and a way to give something back to society.

The instruction will have to be specific, like blues bongos, country bongos, classical bongos, jazz bongos, and the ever popular folk bongos. It will be necessary to hire instructors for each discipline. These people should have a working knowledge of their field and not have served any recent prison time. Mostly though, I think the key is for the staff to dress in the attire of their discipline. For instance, the jazz bongo instructor should always wear sunglasses (or shades, as the hipsters call them), a beret, and chain-smoke, and maybe have a bit of a drinking problem.

The classical bongo expert should dress formally and not associate with the students or instructors of the other disciplines. He or she should consider themselves to be a cut above anyone associated with the camp and not tolerate a disturbance as paltry as a sidewards glance during the camp's final concert. Arrogance and a black tie are required for this position.

It will be necessary to find an elderly black person to teach the blues bongos. It would help if this person (man or woman; the bongo camp is an equal opportunity employer) had a world-full of trouble, complete with a no-good cheatin' spouse, and at least vacationed in Mississippi. And could explain exactly what mojo is and how to get it workin'.

The folk bongo teacher should have taste-tested exotic coffees, dropped out of an overpriced university, and have endured at least one Peter Paul and Mary sing-along.

The country bongo specialist is where it might be beneficial to waive the no-recent-prison-time requirement. In fact, prison time should be mandatory for this field, lending an air of authenticity to the discipline.

I'll be placing an ad for bongo staff in an upcoming issue of The Auto Trader. My thinking is that everybody needs repair work done on their car or, at the very least, an oil or tire change, and must sit in the waiting room while the work is done. It's an area where a variety of personalities come together, if only for half an hour or so. The Auto Trader is distributed to almost every muffler shop, oil change place, and service station in Chicago. It's my hope that this type of thinking-outside-the-box will make the bongo camp a success.

I'm presently looking for a camp site. "Scouting a location" is what they call it. I have my eye on a vacant building that used to feature a somewhat successful Chuck E Cheese. They left behind some picnic tables and benches that would be of great value to the bongo camp.

My friend, Chad Dewiddle, who worked in the drum department at Music World and was acquitted of all charges relating to his controversial dismissal, has a stockpile of high quality monogrammed bongos (currently stored at his parent's house). These are not the cheap kind of bongo drums so often seen at yard sales. The monogram says "Music World Beat" so as not to be confused with the ones they used to sell at Music World before their inventory problems surfaced. They will be carefully transported to the camp by Chad's friend, Jim Jaster, who owns a truck and has assisted him with many ventures throughout his employment at Music World.

Here's something that shows how things are already coming together: Howard Pollack, the legendary air guitarist, has volunteered to teach "air bongos." He doesn't actually play any real instrument, but feels that the transition from air guitar to air bongos should be relatively seamless. I believe him; he frequently imagines he's people other than himself, and owns a pair of black leather pants, and once met The Captain and Tenille. On more than one occasion, I've heard people refer to him as "groovy." It's this kind of hipster generosity that the Bongo Camp needs in order to survive the cutthroat world of musical summer camps.