Frank Vignola will headline the Folk Project’s ‘Acoustic Getaway’ over the Memorial Weekend.
Besides enjoying concerts, workshops, meals and lodging, patrons of the Folk Project’s Memorial Weekend “Acoustic Getaway” may witness history:
Frank Vignola in sneakers.
A consummate showman, the jazz guitar virtuoso dresses impeccably when he takes the stage.
But one of the charms of this festival series–a spring/fall combo with roots stretching to 1971–is its casual nature, in nature.
Great musicians will kick back with admirers at a rustic camp near Hackettstown, from Friday through Sunday, May 23-25, 2014.
Frank and his sidekick Vinny Raniolo will lead daytime workshops and headline an evening concert on Saturday. Weather-permitting, the guitar-slingers also might break out their leisure footwear for a quick hike.
“With our suits and ties,” Frank hastened to add.
THREE-DAY VACATION FOR $200
Boasting some 40 workshops by various artists, the Acoustic Getaway promises insights for musicians and non-musicians alike. Three concerts will cap the experience.
Performers include Grammy-winning songwriter Julie Gold (From a Distance), Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter James Keelaghan, and David Massengill, whose songs have been covered and recorded by Joan Baez, the Roches and Nanci Griffith, among others.
Victoria Vox, a hot name on the ukulele circuit (by definition, a short circuit), should add spice. Piedmont blues will be covered by MSG – The Acoustic Blues Trio, and chanteuse Victoria Dupont, a newcomer, has been chosen by Folk Project members.
Admission for all three days–including lodging and meals–is about $200. (A little less for Folk Project members, a little more for non-members.) A Sunday-only pass costs $65. Children and students get discounts. Overnight guests can choose cabins or tenting areas. Online registration is required. Here is the schedule.
“Think of it as a very unique three-day vacation. Where can you get a three-day vacation for $200?” said Mark Schaffer, who organizes the spring and fall Acoustic Getaways with his wife, Robin.
“The experience of spending a day in these workshops is what makes it special,” said Mark, a regular at The Minstrel concert series in Morris Township. “You can be at festivals with 2,000 people, but this one is limited to 160 people. You live with the performers, you dine with the performers. You can’t get closer.”
That suits Frank Vignola just fine.
‘LAUGHING AND SMILING’
“It’s going to be great,” the guitarist said. “The Minstrel project is a great organization. It’s all nonprofit. These people just love music and believe they should share it with the community.”
Frank got his first taste of jazz from his father’s record collection. Idols included Bucky Pizzarelli (with whom he will perform again this summer at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival), Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and especially, the late Les Paul, with whom Frank performed many times.
“That was a pretty awesome thing,” he said.
During shows, Les Paul fired off wisecracks as easily as guitar licks. That lesson wasn’t lost on Frank, also a fan of the late comic pianist Victor Borge.
A typical performance by Frank and Vinny weaves precisely choreographed shtick with dazzling fretwork that veers from jazz to rock to classical.
“The music we play is very serious and very complex. But in a two-hour show, it’s nice to break it up with a few bad jokes,” said Frank, 48.
“I enjoy the music part more. But I also enjoy seeing people laugh a little, and seeing them feel a bit lighter when they leave. When they’re laughing and smiling, we’ve done our job,” said the Long Island native, who lives with his wife and four boys in Warwick, NY.
Frank plays approximately 200 gigs a year, and posts online guitar lessons in between. He will lead festival-goers in a pair of jam sessions on Saturday.
Although he has composed a few tunes of his own, Frank said he prefers exploring creations by the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, whose melodies have endured for centuries.
Still, he could be persuaded to pen more songs, if the check had enough zeros.
“A movie soundtrack, that would be an awesome project,” Frank said.
Victoria Vox will perform and teach workshops at the Acoustic Getaway.