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Author: Force, Futch, Stephens, Zimish, Batti, Ford, Piazza
Date/Studio: 2007 GOTG Park, Colorado Springs, CO
Engineer: Rick Laurenzzi
Producer: Robert Force & Manitou
Original Release: Manitou, In the Garden of the Gods (BSR309)
Current Release: Manitou, In the Garden of the Gods (BSR309)

celbrationCelebration was recorded toward the end of a three-hour-long recording session in the Garden of the Gods Park at the foot of Pike's Peak, CO. As the session progressed each of the musicians would throw out an idea for a tune, a simple sketch of key and tempo. Then we would agree on a direction and start. At almost 10 minutes, this is the longest tune on the CD. It was like we just could not let go.

The tune took its form after we had been playing together almost two hours. It was-- and is-- a celebration of the fact that we had successfully and to our mutual delight explored five other themes, the previous one in a minor key. Now, moving back into a major key, we were aware of the fact that we were wrapping up, letting it all go as the sun was beginning to peek over our edge of the canyon.

This tune is off of the Manitou CD In the Garden of the Gods. For a number of years I had been attending a small folk festival put on by the Ford family in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Every year Bud III would lend me a Vespa motor scooter from his collection and I would putt the few miles up to the Garden of the Gods Park to spend time in that wonderful, unique, spiritual place.

In one part of the park between two towering, blade-like red spires was a natural amphitheater. How fun, I thought, it would be to record here using the natural echoes. The talent that had been coming to the Manitou Mountain Music Festival was awesome. Every year I'd get up on stage and get to play five, full hour-long sets over the weekend-- a luxury in this latter day and age where performers only get a fifteen-minute cameo at folk festivals. I got to play all of my tunes and many of those folks gladly jumped in to back me up as we flowed on and of the stage during each other's sets.

One year my friend, Rick Laurenzi, was making a movie about weight loss (Dropping a Ton and making it Fun). He had acquired a bunch of camera and remote, in-the-field recording gear. The stars were right. I asked several of these people I had been playing with to record with me in that spectacular place. Yes! We got up (an unnatural act!) at seven in the morning to get to the Garden and set up equipment. By nine we were recording. By noon, with the hot sun now banishing the cool shadows of our alcove, we were done. Rick had left the Mac computer running the whole time.

What strikes me about the session is that we were all there to listen to each other-- not just to make up our own riffs for others to follow. Everyone there had previously played with someone in the group but we had never played all together. As a result, the entire album came out magical. A camera crew was shooting the event.

Maybe one day that footage will see the light. For now, there are a few YouTubes out there that capture some of it. Net-search under Manitou Music Garden of the Gods. Bing Futch preserved a lot of the footage on his Dulcimerica podcasts. In particular, Episode 30 In the Garden of the Gods: Manitou, is where a 10-minute video of one of the tunes, Boy On Rock, is archived.

Celebration features four dulcimer players-- Quintin Stephens, Bud Ford III, Bing Futch and myself. Dave Batti is on bass. Roger Zimish on guitar and Judy Piazza on hand drum and flute.

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