Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Camp Jammin' and Dreamin' Wild

Field of Dreams is an underrated film...in my humble opinion.  It's somewhat tainted now because people just seemed to turn on Kevin Costner after making Waterworld which was seen as rather indulgent. I think he and his back catalogue have been unfairly treated since then (let's just not mention The Bodyguard).

Anyway, this post isn't about KC. It's about an extraordinary (and true) story I just came across courtesy of The Word that sort of reminded me of Field of Dreams.

Back in the seventies Washington farmer Don Emerson decided to encourage his two sons in their musical ambitions. Most people would probably buy their kids a guitar or pay for extra piano lessons. Not Don.

He decided that he would convert a substantial amount of their family farm into a concert venue and recording studio exclusively to showcase the talents of his two sons. He decided to call it Camp Jammin'. This included a ticket office, green room, public toilets and snack concession stand. Not content with that he also started a record label so his sons' recording work would be released.

What you're probably thinking is that the sons were borderline average or worse still, talentless, and this was just an over indulgent parent but in fact they worked hard at their music and produced an album - Dreamin' Wild. Dont judge that cover too much - it's of its time. There were many worse covers produced on a far greater budget.

Photo from here

Even in the seventies, for a record to gain recognition you needed a substantial distribution, publicity and marketing machine and the Emerson boys didn't have that and pa's money wasn't limitless. The record didn't sell far outside the immediate neighbourhood. The boys, Donnie and Joe, made other careers, Donnie in the music industry and Joe as a farmer.

But now, over thirty years on the record has reappeared. It got onto the radar of a few people in the industry.

Douglas McGowan from Yoga Records said "The album looks so goofy that you almost feel sorry for it - and then the music is basically perfect."

Folk music devotee Ariel Pink said "The track Baby has been a staple on just about every playlist and mixtape I've assembled in the last three years. It is nothing short of sublime." 

Camp Jammin' still exists and the boys played there for their father's 80th birthday. His faith in his sons has never dimmed although building Camp Jammin' and trying to get his sons a future in the recording industry almost cost him his farm and livelihood.

Dreamin' Wild is going to be re-released by Light in the Attic Records on 2nd July. It's not really my cup of tea but it's a great story.



Nota Bene said...

Build it and they will come....eventually

King of Scurf said...

NB: Damn! Why didn't I think to include that line!?

nursemyra said...

I listened to "Baby" and really liked it. Sounds like the sort of music an indie band now might play.

Terra Shield said...

A really good story indeed. I'm kind of glad that the dad is still alive to see this, even if it's 30 years later.

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra: I prefer my music a bit more substantial.

Terra: Patience is a virtue.