Questions regardng song school

Some general questions about song school from a newbie:

Roughly how many people attend song school?

If we are planning to camp for song school where can we park our vehicle, i.e… a Toyota Tacoma? Does it require a separate pass for parking?-probably a little late to think about this now but it just occurred to me that I don’t have a parking pass specifically for song school. Can we bring our vehicles close to where we camp, at least to unload them?

In addition to camping gear what other items might one need for school. Obviously an instrument, music and notebooks, pens and pencils come to mind. Anything else I might forget to pack…? Can we charge electronic devices there…phone, laptop, tablet or do we leave those at home? Do I bring the beater guitar or the good one?

Thanks for your input. :cheers

David Harris

Hello David,

I can help answer your questions, I’ve been to Song School many times. After a layoff of a few years, I’m coming again this year.

For your first question, a PB staffer can answer accurately. I think it was limited to 150 people in the past, but might have been bumped up to 175 a few years ago? At any rate, it’s somewhere in that ballpark. It’s a small group of people in a large, beautiful setting. You will have no problem going off and finding some solitude to work on a song, or just sit and contemplate.

Vehicle: again, a PB staffer can correct me if I’m wrong, but in the past, you can have your vehicle at your campsite IF you camp at the main campground. If you camp backstage (a smaller area), vehicles are not allowed. You park at the gate, unload, then move your car. Are you staying for the Folks Festival? If so, then you’ll need to buy a parking pass for your vehicle if you’re camped in the main campground. Vehicles are not allowed in the backstage campground.

Now for the last question-- stuff to pack: the most important thing is to bring beer and wine for the Song School veterans who answer your questions. Just kidding. Sorta. But seriously… the basics are a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, instrument, notebook and pens, and something to record song ideas on (handheld recorder is my preference, laptop or cellphone works too). And…

You should assume it will rain at least one day. So be prepared.

Regarding clothing, I used to tell people that it gets cold at night, so bring a hoodie or fleece jacket, wool cap, etc. But global warming has escalated the last couple of years, so that’s almost obsolete advice now. Now all you need is a flannel shirt and jeans at night. Check the National Weather Service forecast website on the day you pack:

btw, I mention night clothing because at night folks gather in song circles and pass their songs around. A lot of magic happens at night. You won’t get enough sleep, buy you’ll get memories that you will never forget. And a light hangover from the bottle of whiskey that was passed around with the songs…

If you’re coming from out of state, don’t worry about bringing food and drink. You can walk 1/4 mile into town and buy food at the local grocery, or eat at one of the restaurants. And there are liquor stores where you can buy beer and wine for the people who answer your questions.

Looking forward to meeting you in a few days!

-Rob Roper

I forgot to answer your last two questions. Yes there are charging stations for phones and laptops. I’ve never used them myself, but I’ve seen other people using them.

As for guitar, I’ve brought one of my main guitars. I’ve never worried about theft there. Everybody is cool. I’ve never heard of a problem there. If it’s a new instrument, however, you might worry about the temperature and humidity changes. So I’d bring one that can handle going from 50 to 90 degrees, and 0 to 100% percent humidity in the same day.

Thank-you very much Rob. Good and useful information from a veteran!

Thanks for the reminders about the weather and guitars. I live in Colorado so I am aware of the large temperature swings from day to night. It can be tough environment for wooden instruments.

Once I was at a retreat in early June and I got in the habit of leaving my acoustic out of the case in the passenger seat of my truck. Fine for the first few days, but as it got warmer during the week I came back to my truck one day, picked up the guitar and the strings were so loose that they didn’t even produce a tone, just a rasping sound when I ran the pick across them! I put it back in the case, took it indoors and it has been fine ever since…no permanent damage, but a good warning!

I will heed your advice to keep the veterans well hydrated as well!