Steve Kaufman’s Kamps in June benefit ETCH

Tom KingFarragut, Our Town Arts

“That Steve Kaufman man can flat-out pick those guitar strings.”

A musical member of the Rotary Club of Farragut last week made that comment after the three-time World Flatpicking Champion played a very interesting and soothing version of What A Wonderful World by Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. It wasn’t bluegrass or country, but it was beautiful.

Music folks around here and the world know the name Steve Kaufman. He began touring, conducting seminars, workshops, clinics and concerts in 1990 and after five years he and his wife, Donna, began “Steve Kaufman’s Flatpicking Kamps.”

He was only 21 when he won his first national/international title and he’s the first-ever three-time champion. Since 1990, Steve has been labeled the “World’s Guitar Instructor.”

Perhaps you don’t know about flatpicking. This is the best description we found: “The simplest, broadest and most general way to define flatpicking is to say that it is the technique of playing a guitar with a flat pick (or plectrum), sometimes called a straight pick vs. the use of bare fingers, fingerpicks or a thumbpick.”

Their “Acoustic Kamps” are held in back-to-back weeks – June 11-17, Old Time & Trad Week; and June 18-24, Bluegrass Week – at Maryville College’s Alumni Gym. And each week they have concerts Monday-Friday evenings at 7 in the Alumni Gym. $15 at the door.

This will be the 27th consecutive year of the “Kamps” for the Kaufman’s. Musicians from around the world basically take over the Maryville College campus and stay in the college’s dormitories and in motels in and around Maryville. Kaufman has 50 world-class instructors lined up to teach approximately 550 students.

Every other year they have added more camps to their agenda. Here is a list of the individual sessions focusing on specific music and instruments: There are two Flatpicking Kamps, Fingerpicking Kamp, Old Time Banjo, Bluegrass Banjo, Old Time Fiddle, Bluegrass Fiddle, two Bass Kamps, a Songwriting Kamp, Vocals Kamp, Mountain Dulcimer Kamp, Celtic Harp, Resophonic Guitar and Mandolin Kamp as well.

These have grown into the largest Kamps of their kind in the world. Steve and Donna have received the Gold Award from a reader’s poll in Acoustic Guitar Magazine for running the “Best Workshops, Seminars and Camps” every year since 2002.

After his flatpicking selections were done, Farragut Rotarian Mike Singletary opened his fiddle case and tuned it up. The packed house at Fox Den Country Club enjoyed the sounds the two musicians produced on two bluegrass style songs.

Every year, in concert with the Alcoa Kiwanis Club, the Kaufmans donate the proceeds after expenses to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. To date they have donated more than $70,000, he says.

If you’d like more information about the Kamps and enjoying the 10 nightly concerts, click here.

Click here to hear Steve play “What A Wonderful World” and here to hear Steve and Mike play together.

Tom King is a career journalist and a past president of the Rotary Club of Farragut. If you want more information about Rotary or are interested in attending a meeting or joining, please email Tom. The club meets every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at Fox Den Country Club.


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