Imagine, if you will, a jam-friendly country paradise where the mood is peaceful and relaxed … where live music is offered up in numerous flavors in the most intimate of settings … where everyone – musicians, music lovers, players/students/listeners – is cool … where the trees come to life and dance to the music with rainbow-colored koala bears and happy gnomes … and the food is really good, too.
Nope – stone-cold reality, my friends. Well, except for the dancing trees and koalas and gnomes (I made that part up … not that they couldn’t exist, mind you). But you will find everything else mentioned above and more at Full Moon Resort located in the town of Big Indian, nestled in the heart of New York’s Catskill Forest Preserve.
Full Moon Resort’s “Music Masters Camps” are all about getting close-up and personal with the artists and their music. And, as we discovered in the following conversation with Full Moon’s Michael Densmore, the camps have proven to be as much of a hoot for the featured artists as the campgoers themselves.
It sounds like something very cool is happening here …
So which came first, the vision or the site?
MD: The vision. (laughs) My business partner Henry Stout and I were introduced by a common friend back in the mid-90s. We’d each expressed a similar vision of creating a kind of gathering place – a farm-like setting in the mountains – that would serve as a backdrop for intimate music and arts-related retreats and events. We both had a background in music production and presentation: Henry ran a top rehearsal studio in New York for many years; I was involved in concert management at some venues across the Northeast – most notably the Ritz in Manhattan, which is now known as Webster Hall.
And was there an existing operation on the property when you discovered what is now Full Moon Resort?
Yes – we took over a facility with various lodges and barns that was in operation. We bought it and reinvented the whole property – basically brought it back to life with our idea to do these musician- and artist-related retreats.
I believe I saw on the website that there’s over 100 acres?
Yes – with fields, meadows, streams, mountains rising up all around … it’s just absolutely lovely. It has a farm-like atmosphere combined with the quality of a country inn, so there are various lodges with accommodations and what-not, along with camping areas. We have a full-scale catering operation … all the essential ingredients exist to do the kinds of things that we do.
Besides the Music Masters Camps, what are some of the other events that you host at Full Moon?
A lot of the financial underpinnings of the business actually come from a country wedding business that we do. But the music programs are something that we have a particular love for.
So you and Henry acquired the site and had Full Moon up and going by …?
This coming summer will be our 14th year of operation.
And the Masters Camps themselves?
The music events have really taken root during the past five years or so. The vision of doing intimate music retreats and camps and that sort of thing were there from the beginning, but we had to be able to find our way … to come up with a program that really worked in a rural setting.
We were doing other, smaller things but the very first camps to actually take root were Medeski Martin & Wood and Jorma Kaukonen. From there, we began working with a fellow named Dan Heaps who I had met in New York some years before.
Dan had a pretty prominent background in the music business as an artist manager and record company executive. He brought Dweezil Zappa into the camp –
Yes! Dweezil was great. And from there, Dan began booking other touring and recording artists who were expressing an interest in this type of experience … that’s a little bit of a genesis in how this has taken root.
Click HERE to read the rest of my feature on Full Moon Resort’s Music Master Camps at Relix.com