By Jim D’Ville // Photos by Duncan Berry
There are tunes you sing for breakfast,
And tunes that you sing after noon.
But the best tunes of all, are the tunes that you sing,
The tunes that you sing in the dunes.
—Official Tunes In The Dunes Song
And the singing and playing begins shortly after the 100-plus campers cross Oregon’s pristine Salmon River on a pontoon boat and arrive at Camp Westwind. The 529-acre camp is situated on a sandy peninsula near the mouth of the Salmon on Oregon’s central coast. Now in its seventh year, Tunes In The Dunes offers an unmatched weekend of playing, singing, and exploring the unsurpassed natural beauty of Westwind.
The retreat kicked off on Thursday, September 14 with a benefit concert for Westwind held at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Performers included camp instructors James Hill and Anne Janelle, Aaron and Nicole Keim (The Quiet American), Steven Espaniola, The Hood River Trio, Andy Andrews, Bryan Holley, and this writer.
The retreat portion of Tunes In The Dunes began on a sunny Friday at Camp Westwind with a group sing-along on the deck of the camp’s main lodge overlooking a stunning view of the vast Pacific Ocean. Campers were then able to choose a Jam Genre group of their liking and begin rehearsing for a Saturday night performance. After a wonderful dinner of locally sourced foods, the campers were treated to an informal instructor concert. Saturday was a full day of ukulele immersion with multiple workshops on topics including Hawaiian falsetto singing, playing by ear, finger-style ukulele and vocal training. There was also ample time to hike on the beach, take a stroll in the lush coastal forest or simply relax. After another delicious dinner, this time featuring fresh caught Chinook salmon, the evening was spent presenting the Jam Genre acts during the open mic show.
Following a morning workshop session on Sunday, a final sing-along was held in the main lodge, after which, everyone chipped in to leave Camp Westwind in the same condition it was upon arrival. After many hugs with old friends and new, everyone walked through the dunes for the last time. Reaching the river, the boat transported the smiling campers back to their normal lives, but carrying with them many brand new magical, musical memories.
Music educator and facilitator Jim D’Ville is on a mission to get ukulele players off the paper and into playing music by ear. Over the last six years he has taught his “Play Ukulele By Ear” workshops in the United States, Australia, and Canada. Jim is the author of the Play Ukulele By Ear DVD series and hosts the popular Play Ukulele By Ear website www.PlayUkuleleByEar.com.