I’m gonna start a little series of posts that I call “Faces from Camp MMW 2009.” In this series I will show a great photo I took of someone I met at camp 2 years ago and tell a little bit about them. The first photo to kick this series off: Mr. Dean Stevenson!
There are several things about Dean that make him a unique camper. First and foremost, he’s probably the only vocalist who has ever attended camp. Since MMW is an almost exclusively instrumental jazz band consisting of keys, drums and bass it is odd to think that a vocalist would flourish in this environment. However, Dean proved us all wrong by being able to contribute at all times in some way, shape or form simply by using his voice. Half the time he didn’t even have a microphone.
Secondly, Dean traveled from Tasmania, Australia to attend camp. This easily makes him the camper who traveled more miles (or kilometers) than any other camper in the history of Camp MMW. The story he told me is that he first heard about the camp in early 2008. Being an enormous MMW fan, he was set on making the trip for the first ever Camp MMW. Unfortunately, money was too tight for his family of 4 and he had to bypass the trip in 2008. (His wife would later tell me that when he found out John Scofield was the surprise guest that year, he was inconsolable for many weeks after.) But in 2009, Dean saved up the money, made the trip and we were all happy to have him. Not just for his great vocal abilities but for his wonderful attitude and energy. Talking with Dean at lunch time or jamming with him after a concert, he always made you smile. He always made you better.
After Camp MMW 2009 ended, Dean’s wife, Danielle, traveled to New York to spend a week in the Big Apple with her husband. Two days after camp ended I was back at work (I work as a doorman at a times Sq. hotel when I’m not practicing bass or blogging) and who do I see walk right in front of me? That’s right, Dean and Danielle. Of all the streets in all of New York City for them to walk down at that exact moment, they walked down mine. Coincidence? I think not!
After introductions were made I asked them where they were staying. They told me that they had a room at a dumpy little hotel downtown for the next two days but didn’t know where they would stay for their remaining week in NYC after they checked out. I told them:
“Look, my girlfriend and I are flying back home to Seattle to visit friends and family for a couple weeks. If you’d like, you could stay at our place in Brooklyn for free. All you have to do is take care of our cat Sophie.”
“Really?” They replied. “I don’t know, we wouldn’t want to impose.”
“No worries at all.” I said. “If anything you’re helping us out, this way we know our cat won’t get lonely. Friday is my day off, we fly out on Saturday. Why don’t you come by the apartment on Friday and I’ll show you the place and give you the extra set of keys.”
“OK” they said with their charming Aussie accents. “If you’re all right with this, we’d love the opportunity.”
I gave them specific subway directions to my place and told them it was great to run into them. I saw them on Friday and gave them the run down of the place. In the back of my mind I admit I was a little nervous to let two people I’d known less than a week in my home but I pride myself on being a good judge of character and if I know anything about people’s character, I know Dean and Danielle’s are solid gold. I gave them the keys and told them to swing by anytime on Saturday as we would be leaving early in the morning for JFK.
Two weeks later my girlfriend and I get back to JFK from a long and much needed trip away. On the cab ride home, I admit I was a little worried that our apartment wouldn’t be in good shape. In the back of my mind I entertained scenarios of D&D freaking out and thrashing the apartment when they saw that the water in the toilet flowed the opposite direction. However, when we got home, not only was everything spic and span but there was a little tree (which has since died unfortunately) some exotic Tasmanian rock salt called “Red Kelly’s Tasmania,” a double disc CD set of Tasmanian bands, (many of which I have become quite fond of) a signed copy of Dean’s latest CD release, (also which I have become quite fond of) and a very nice thank you note cordially inviting us to stay with them should we ever find ourselves in Tasmania. Needless to say, the most valuable thing they left us was a friendship.
Dean Stevenson and I still keep in touch via email. He lets me know when he’s got big shows coming up or if he’s got a new song on the web or a new video on youtube. If you would like to check out his work click for his website, his myspace page, or one of my favorite of his youtube videos.
This post is just more examples of how much more Camp MMW is than just a beautiful week of great food, great music, and great people. The experiences and friendships you make in this beautiful environment will last you a lifetime. I promise!
Now, back to practicing!