2003   APRIL 17   #107

Girls Of Camp Bryn Afon - We Welcome You / A Jolly Bunch from Camp Bryn Afon / A Day at Camp Bryn Afon

In 1985, I went to a rummage sale in Winnetka, IL, one which has long been billed as the biggest annual one day rummage sale event in the world. As always, I spent 95% of my time there digging through the records in their small, but packed music room.

I came away that day with a treasure trove of items, one of the best "hauls" I've ever made. But it soon became clear that the best item of all was a non-descript, sleeveless item which was called "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon". Within that simple looking package was 40 minutes of the most evocative music I've ever heard. The girls of this camp, perhaps 50 to 70 of them, sing 37 short songs - folk songs, pop songs from every era through the early '60's, football fight songs - rewritten to be about life at the camp, special events, and the camp itself. The singing is accompanied by some great, stride-influenced piano playing, and the whole effect is heightened by the echoey room the album was recorded in.

Over the past 17 years, I've no doubt listened to "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon" more than any other album in my entire collection, and I'd certainly rank it in my top five favorite albums of all time.

I could write pages about this album, but I won't, at least not here. However, over the years, I've managed to learn a great deal about the camp, which was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, about the album, which was recorded in 1965, and about the girls that sang on the album, having made e-mail and phone contact with several of the women who went there. I've been lucky enough to visit the camp which now sits where Camp Bryn Afon did (which has most of the same facilities), and have been in the building where this album was recorded. I'm now preparing a CD release of the album, complete with pictures from the camp in that era, and a short history of the camp.

In this sampling from the album there are three tracks. First is the opening track from the album, a welcoming song set to the tune of the Ohio State Football Fight Song. Second is "A Jolly Bunch from Camp Bryn Afon", set to the jazz tune "The Darktown Strutter's Ball". Finally, there is "A Day at Camp Bryn Afon", set to the '40's tune "Let's Get Away From it All".

A CD of the "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon" is now available, complete with a booklet filled with the story of the camp and the album, as well as many pictures from Camp Bryn Afon. For purchase information, please contact me at Rasmaster@aol.com

- Bob Purse

TT-2:55 / 2.7MB / 128kbps 44.1khz
from the LP, "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon" (1965)

(Image courtesy of Bob Purse)