Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp – Connecting youth to music

Got something to say but can’t express it?

The ability to express yourself in a positive and creative way in society is sometimes difficult with fewer outlets for young people to express the frustrations of modern life.

Many engage in drug and alcohol abuse bullying and violence as an outlet. Whether it is through interacting with others in a creative way or finding an outlet for their creativity, Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp helps to discover the fun, joy and pleasure that music can bring.

Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp is a fun and challenging, two day and one evening, highly interactive workshop, where participants will gain both theoretical and practical music industry skills from trained and experienced music industry professionals. The skills will then be practically applied during the public concert at the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival.

Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp is designed for all instruments and is for students from 12 – 25 years with an intermediate ability level for instrumentalists and beginner to intermediate level for vocalists.

Students with learning difficulties are encouraged to attend. Participants will be required to bring their own instruments. Drum kits, amplifiers, PA. Systems and Microphones will be provided but bring your own if you prefer.

Blues Boot Camp also deals with performance skills, industry skills, song writing, Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). Our experienced, professional tutors have the knowledge to deal with and answer questions on every aspect of performance and the business side of music in a practical and useful way.

In the 19th century West African slaves were sent to America, Europe, and South America and began to use European instruments, combining them with their own traditional folk music. The earliest recordings we have of this music are from the early 20th Century.

This is the place this Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp will explore. It is a place that combines a simplistic form of music (e.g.: 12 bar blues) with freedom of expression.


Arguably the ‘blues form’ is the basis for all for styles of contemporary western music. Whether it is pop, rock, rap, hip-hop, jazz, soul, or funk, the roots are traced back to West African Tribal music. The communal, “call and response” influence of West African Tribal music is vast and significant and therefore worth understanding its application to contemporary music.

While having knowledge of the rules and theories of music is important, the ability to express yourself is equally so. Through Blues boot camp participants will gain a basic understanding of the mechanics of the blues and gospel forms of music as well as practical ways to apply this knowledge to modern forms of music. It encourages freedom of expression, combining knowledge and emotion, and fosters cooperation, social/community connectivity and team building.


VENUE: Radcliffe’s, 2-10 Radcliffe Street

DAY 1 – Wednesday July 25, 2018

09.00am Participants arrive. Prepare instruments, get seated in venue.

09.15 am. Introductions. Briefing and outline of the Blues Boot Camp.

OH&S instructions. Brief students on methods and outcomes for Blues Boot camp.

A brief history of blues music and the origins of music, call, and response, chord progressions in blues and contemporary music. Singing the news. Circle of chat/sound with all participants and tutors. Pass the Beat activity.

09.45am Entire ensemble and Tutors – Writing an original composition using the 1, 4, 5 chord progression. Singers – Lyrics/melody.

10.45am Morning break (15 min)

11.00am Choose members for ensemble groups and work on songs from pre-planned list for performance. Practice sessions with tutors.

12.00 noon. Workshops.

Guitar/Keys. 3 ways (inversions) of playing the same song. Building a solo..

Rhythm section. ‘The groove is king’.

12.45pm Lunch

01.30pm ‘Preparing for performance’. Ensemble groups practice sessions. Ensemble groups each choose a song (not from pre-prepared list) for performance.

02.30pm Song writing, including lyrics and basic chord structures.

03.30pm Practice sessions – all ensembles and groups.

04.30pm Social Media workshop – promote your/our gig with Michael & Tutors.

04.50pm De brief of the days’ work, Instructions on what to prepare for tomorrow.

05.00pm   Finish.

DAY 2 – Thursday July 26, 2018

09.00am Participants arrive.

09.15am Group get together – Revise yesterday’s work, questions, requests from participants.

09.30am Workshop. Vocal and Stagecraft, Choir & harmonies.

10.30am Morning break (15 min)

10.45am Relocate to various practice spaces for rehearsal. Groups/trios/duo/solo.

12 Noon Lunch

12.45pm Blues Boot Camp Games. Equipment Olympics. Including OH&S.

01.15pm Choose the order of songs for performance. Final practice sessions.

02.30pm Performance dress rehearsal. All participants all tutors..

04.45pm Group discussion of performance format, presentation, and clothes to be worn for performance.

05.00pm finish

DAY 3 – Friday July 27, 2018

Arrive at venue (Radcliffe’s) by 12.00pm for sound check and dress rehearsal.

4.00pm Performance to public audience, parents and relatives by entire ensemble and various groups (duos. trios, quartets etc. that will form over the duration of Boot camp.

Show finishes at approx.6.00pm

Please note: Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp is a Drug and Alcohol free event.

Winter Blues Festival Boot Camp, Echuca – TUTORS 2018

Michael Pollitt –Leader

Apart from running  successful marketing campaigns on social media, performing as “Mr. Black and Blues” (Nationally and Internationally) and running a record label, Michael was a mentor /tutor for students during the highly successful 2014/15/16 Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society (MBAS) Youth in Blues program. He generously shares his knowledge of many things musical. His guitar playing was once described as rooted in the tradition of blues music but innovative and contemporary. The last few years have seen Michael win accolades such as: Australian Artist of the year, Best Australian Blues Album for “Blow these tracks – Live on The Blues Train with Chris Wilson”, and Best Australian Album for “Long road home”, by Rhythms Magazine Readers Poll.

Kelly Auty

Vocal specialist. Kelly delivers inspiring shows with her earthy and powerful style of singing. She teaches singing and stage-craft to all ages in education centres, schools and privately. Kelly is known for her successful work with young people who want to develop confidence; as well as comfortable, safe singing techniques. Trained classically and in the Jo Estille figures for voice model, Kelly delivers her singing workshops in an engaging but fun and relaxed manner. She also developed and ran a highly successful program called ”Noisy Girls” over several years for disadvantaged young women for the Thornbury Women’s Neighbourhood  house and Preston and Reservoir Adult Community Education centres.. Kelly was the MBAS Australian Blues performer of the year in 2017

Ben Wicks

Ben has firmly established himself as the go-to bass player in Melbourne for session work over his career. Ben has honed his chops and ear as a bassist touring Europe, North America, and Australia with acts including Dan Sultan, Charlie A’Court (Canada), Irish Mythen (Canada), Geoff Achison, Jesse Valach, and the Justin Yap Band. Ben has also spent a lot of his life in the studio, and has appeared on numerous recordings released by Melbourne blues and roots bands over the years as an independent musician and from being an in-house musician for The Aviary Recording Studio in Abbotsford VIC. Ben is a current member of the Justin Yap Band, contributing as a crucial part of the band’s sound, and runs the Blues Roulette at The Catfish in Melbourne as part of a constant rhythm section with Cameron Smith and a rotating lineup of local and international guests.

Nick Karaffa

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, harmonic player, singer and actor. He is the epitome of the all-round musician, the rhythmic soul of the band and a fine vocalist too.

As a much sort after drummer/percussionist/vocalist Nick can be seen regularly performing around town and interstate with luminaries.

Nick also records and produces with bands and other songwriters across Australia.

Including: Blackfeather, Kelly Auty , Rocky and the two bob millionaires, David Cosma

This year’s “Winter Blues Festival” Boot Camp contact Peter Williams,

0427 083 286 or Email: [email protected]