Music in the Mountains 2017

By Janice Gelencser

Music in the Mountains is a coordinated effort between Songmakers and Camp deBenniville Pines. It is a long time annual tradition which takes place the first weekend of November. This year, the event will be November 3rd-5th. At 6,800 feet above sea level in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains near Angelus Oaks, this crisp fall weekend is a perfect place to sing, jam, attend workshops and meet other musicians from all over Southern California. The main lodge with the large fireplace and cozy hearth is a gathering place for reading and relaxing while sipping hot drinks from the beverage bar which is always available.

The planning committee has been working hard to bring a great weekend of workshops and activities. Our headliner, John Zipperer, will open for the evening concerts and give two workshops, one on acting for singers and the other on vocal performance. Other tentative workshops include: slide guitar techniques, flamenco guitar patterns, analyzing song lyrics, Mexican songs and accompaniments, a 60’s singalong and a forum on using the lyric apps “OnSong” and “Songbook”.

Lodging and six delicious meals are included in the very reasonable price of $130 per person. Upgrades for Craig’s Cabin/Cabin 6 are $35 extra per person and double beds in cabins 5,7 and 8 are $35 per room. This year, the camp will be open on Thursday, November 2nd for folks to enjoy the camp facilities with no meals or activities scheduled. The cost for this extra day is $20 on top of the registration fee.

For more information and registration details, please visit the website at:
Camp deBenniville Pines

See you at the camp!

Music in the Mountains – 2016
By Janice Gelecser

The eighty-five people who attended Music in the Mountains at deBenneville Pines Conference Center near Angelus Oaks last month experienced a weekend of warm, clear weather in a beautiful setting. The cozy clean cabins, the friendly staff, and the excellent food made it all perfect. The recent modernization of the lodge and infrastructure has made the camp facilities safe, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

There were activities going on all weekend. On Friday after dinner, Carol Burton and Mary Hendricks led us in an evening of Cajun Dancing. With their expertise, they taught us dance moves to lively music with Louisiana roots. Our headliner, Tom Corbett, was a bonus to the weekend. He opened for the Saturday evening concert and led a Beatles and Monkees sing along as well as a Bluegrass sing along. What an amazing entertainer he is … friendly, fun and a serious flat picker! People loved having him there.

In addition to lots of open jamming, there were a variety of workshops for folks to attend. Many Songmakers volunteered their time and talents to lead these workshops. As he does every year, Joel Zimmerman started our day with his popular early morning mind/body warm-up session. He also led a beginning violin workshop. There were enough violins available for all participants thanks to Bob Hall who lent some of his violins for the workshop. Jeff Linsky led a jazz chords workshop showing his attendees that jazz chords aren’t as scary as they seem. Brad Elias shared his skills in songwriting with some hands-on exercises in developing lyrics, melody and arranging a song. Sylvester Johnson’s session on “Voicing Inner Power” gave his participants ways for stretching the voice and relaxing the throat muscles for resonance and projection. Ric LeShever was back again this year for his popular blues and boogie session where he taught some cool blues licks and a second open jam session. Bruce Farwell led a workshop on finger-style techniques for guitar which helped intermediate players expand their playing to include alternating bass rhythms and some arpeggio patterns. The planning committee provided a time for making some sturdy homemade rhythm instruments including drums, tambourines, sand blocks and maracas. Some of these instruments were used in the singalong sessions during the weekend. The 60’s sing along time that Louise Dobbs led continues to be one of the most popular sessions of the weekend. Doug Kerr helped out by projecting the words on a screen. Many people enjoy singing songs from this era and appreciate that it does not require an instrument to participate. Finally, Ron Bloom and Carol Schryver, AKA “the MacMammals” offered a collaborative clinic on song presentation and arranging which aided the participants in creative ways of enhancing a song and sparking up its presentation.

In response to the evaluations from last year, the committee made some changes to the weekend. The evening concert, which tends to be quite long, was shortened by holding a lottery for the campers who wished to perform. The entertainment included a variety of talented musicians. Alan Ferenz and Bruce Farwell shared emcee duties for the concert. The sound system that Songmakers recently purchased was used for the performance with Andy Gelencser, Karl Liscovski and Doug Kerr managing the sound.

Sunday morning “Songs of Meaning” was held in two different rooms this year with Mary Hendricks leading one and Doug Kerr leading the other. This made the circles smaller so everyone had a chance to share a song in the two hour period that was provided.

The committee which includes Doug Kerr, Linda Szitkar, Mary Hendricks and Janice Gelencser will be working throughout the year to bring you another great weekend in 2017. If you have ideas for the workshops, headliners or other suggestions, please contact Janice Gelencser at We look forward to seeing you there in 2017.