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Beef Of The Week #373: Frank Turner v Punk Rock

By | Published on Friday 22 September 2017

Frank Turner

Frank Turner has announced that he’s putting on his own outdoor event in the US next summer, called Campfire Punkrock. It’s not a festival, more a five day camping trip with Turner and his band. There’ll be food, music lessons, you’ll all write a song together, and it will only cost a minimum of $999. If you fancy sleeping indoors, the prices go up as high as $2499 for a luxury cottage option.

While four nights on a campsite for $999 inclusive of meals, non-alcoholic beverages, activities and some live music performances isn’t actually terrible value, a wide assortment of people were quick to point out that the whole thing didn’t seem particularly ‘punk rock’. In fact, if you consult the official list of things that aren’t punk rock, you’ll find these:

7. Events that are prohibitively expensive
12. Instrument lessons
32. Campfires
76. Luxury cottages

So really the beefing here comes down to the name. Had the event been called Frank Turner’s Old-Timey Music Education Camp, perhaps no one would have complained. No one would have bought tickets either, but that’s beside the point.

Actually, the venue for all this – the Full Moon Resort in New York State – puts on this sort of thing quite frequently, under the name Music Masters Camp, which is a lot snappier than my suggestion. Artists such as Dweezil Zappa, Richard Thompson and Steve Earl have also lain under the stars writing music with their fans.

Perhaps Turner didn’t feel right referring to himself as a ‘music master’. Certainly, had he consulted the list of non-punk rock things, he would have found that at number four.

Either way, Turner decided to name his version of the Music Masters Camp concept after his debut EP. First ‘Campfire Punkrock’ the record, now ‘Campfire Punkrock’ the event, it must have seemed like his whole solo career had been building up to this point. It really must have seemed perfect.

And it may well have been, had the cheapest ticket not been $999. And that’s before you factor in actually getting to the campsite. Because, in hindsight, putting ‘punk rock’ into an event’s name when the price point means your average fan is unlikely to be able to afford to attend is quite a silly idea.

The event’s website¬†describes the whole hurrah thus: “Ultimately, the common thread through the Campfire Punkrock experience is the integration of instructional and social elements, as well as personal interface with the artists – not only at workshops and jam sessions, but also at breakfast, lunch and dinner and throughout evening activities”.

26. Jam sessions

It continues: “Whether you are a musician or an enthusiastic fan, Campfire Punkrock is specifically designed to provide an inspirational and interactive experience, offering the opportunity to truly take a step ‘Beyond Backstage'”.

97. Considering oneself inspirational
137. Truly taking a step ‘Beyond Backstage’

Upon arrival there will be a “meet and greet, including open bar and served hors d’oeuvres, followed by gourmet dinner, camp orientation and an opening night solo performance by Frank Turner”.

57. Meet and greets
64. Hors d’oeuvres
82. Gourmet dinners
104. Camp orientations
236. Frank Turner solo performances (someone has pencilled this in at the bottom of my copy of the ‘things that aren’t punk rock’ list, I’m not sure it’s an official one)

Over the five days “you and your fellow PUNKROCKERS will help Frank Turner write a new song which will be performed by Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls at the closing night concert! Other activities include masterclasses, open rehearsals, ensemble workshops and specific instrument lessons”.

136. Referring to a group of people as ‘PUNKROCKERS’
61. Masterclasses
62. Open rehearsals
63. Ensemble workshops

The announcement was mainly met with ridicule on the social networks. And a little annoyance in some quarters. At least one Frank Turner superfan I seem to be Facebook friends with announced angrily that they were now entirely done with him.

But the ridicule and annoyance is unfair, reckons Turner.

“Like Peter Buck, Melissa Auf Der Maur, Todd Rungren, Richard Thompson and many others before me, I’m doing a Music Masters Camp next summer in upstate New York, in amongst the rest of my regular touring schedule”, he¬†told the NME. “It’s an all-inclusive package, four nights full bed and board in a resort, so it might not be for everyone, but it’s just one small event among everything else I’ll be doing next year – releasing a new record, with the usual run of tours, festivals and benefit shows that comes with thatBottom of Form. I work hard to make sure that what I do is accessible to everyone. If I don’t see people at the camp, there will be plenty of other shows where we can hang out”.

4. Referring to yourself as a ‘music master’
189. Doing anything that Todd Rungren has done previously