Ever wonder what it would be like to meet your
musical heroes, and learn from the masters? Mike
Barnes kept a journal during a long weekend at
the Las Vegas MGM Grand last April, when he
joined Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp and got the
chance to meet some serious rockstars: guitar
god Jeff Beck and the Beach Boys with Brian
Wilson. Here are some highlights from Barnes’
experience. His complete journal is online at
Arrival and Welcome The RRFC HQ is
located in an industrial estate not far from
the strip and is fairly sedate-looking from the
outside. Inside, the walls are decked with rock
’n’ roll memorabilia, in a warren of rehearsal
rooms, a recording studio and the sizeable live
performance area with stage, backline, P.A.,
and multicamera recording system. Around
50 campers gathered with their instruments
for de-briefing and camp counselor/band
assignment in the main performance/
auditorium area. Welcome evening
entertainment featured the camp counselors
led by musical director Kip Winger turning in a
kick-ass performance of rock classics.
How RRFC Works Each day, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
was full of rehearsals and evening counselor
jams, with catered lunch and beer included.
Saturday and Sunday nights went later, with
every band performing at the MGM Rouge bar.
The RRFC camp counselors/band leaders/
musical directors were universally awesome:
talented, humorous, musically gifted, with the
patience of Job. They make the whole process
easier by sending out setlists in advance for
those who want to practice some songs so they
arrive ready to play.
The Gear RRFC is primarily oriented for live
performance and rehearsals. Rehearsal P.A.,
amps and keyboard backline, and headphone
amps were mostly courtesy of Electro-Voice
and Roland. Each rehearsal room was equipped
with P.A., four mics/mic stands, drum kit,
keyboard rig, and guitar and bass amp.
The recording room was basic but
optimized for rapid live recording with a
Roland electronic drum kit, pedalboards, and
Roland M-48 live personal mixer/headphone
The main performance area/auditorium
is set up like a small club equipped with a
raised stage, backline, and small-venue P.A./
amplification, along with live desk and multiple
fixed cameras and live HD video mixing system.
Saturday: Onstage With Jeff Beck
Performance slots for the day were drawn and
each band was allocated a time to perform
with Jeff in the main auditorium and have it
all captured in audio/video for posterity. We
landed a perfect middle slot—time for Jeff to
warm up and a couple of early bands to crash
and burn in nervous idolatry. All that remained
was to choose exactly which of the six songs
we now had under our belts in varying degrees
of competence to actually play. We agreed on
“Superstition” and “Rock Me Baby,” since these
seemed to be most unique to our band and had
decent keyboard parts for me!
Jeff, of course, delivered an insanely religious
set of uniquely Beck solo work and shredded
in biblical proportions as we all banished stage
nerves and relished the moment of musical glory.
Sunday: Good Vibrations Sunday
afternoon was the VIP performance and a
meet-and-greet with Brian Wilson and the
Beach Boys. We were all very fortunate to get
intimate performances that included “Good
Vibrations,” “I Get Around,” “Surfer Girl,”
and “California Girls.”
After the show, Brian generously posed
for pictures with the camp attendees, and the
posse all headed off to the MGM Rouge bar
for good-bye drinks and to setup for the final
RRFC band performances. Dave Fishof joined
us briefly on stage for the final curtain call and
to congratulate all the bands, and then it was
finally time for a last cocktail and hit the sack . . .
“Elvis had left the building.”
Interested in jaming with superstars?
Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp and our sister
magazine Guitar Player are teaming up with
guitar legends Joe Perry, Steve Vai, and
Eric Johnson, for an itinerary that includes
two performances, recording sessions, and
interactions with the Guitar Player editors.
For more information, visit rockcamp.com.