‘It’s about the kind of work I do’: Yes/Asia guitarist Steve Howe previews his rangy new summer camp

After a busy summer of touring, both with Yes and with his solo group, Steve Howe plans to share some of what he’s learned in five decades of music making during his first-ever Cross Styles music camp, to be held in August.

Howe promises to bring a uniquely communicative style to the retreat, set for August 19-23, 2013 at Big Indian, New York’s Full Moon Resort. After all, Howe’s a self-taught guitarist, so he understands intimately the concepts of showing through doing — and of every musician’s need for individualism. “I didn’t like school, I didn’t like schooling,” Howe reminds, in an exclusive SER Sitdown. “I didn’t like the aggression, with them ramming things down your throat. I found that music was my release. I could learn at my own pace, learn stuff I wanted to — and develop my own style.”

The Cross Styles Summer Camp will feature daily two-hour master classes with Howe, who recently dropped his tandem membership in Asia for focus on personal projects like this. “Basically, what I’ll be encouraging people to do is not to fear that they don’t read music,” Howe says. “Being able to play without looking at bits of paper, that’s my goal. I rarely use prompts. So, it’s really about expanding the memory capabilities. Every student has to learn the skills of self control, and practice. That’s another thing I’ll be discussing. Telling yourself that you want to do that, having that belief — instilling that is a holistic approach that came to me naturally.”

Cross Styles will also feature talks from Flavio Sala, the respected classical guitarist. “I think that’s an important, very influential side of the guitar world that not everybody is exposed to,” Howe adds. “He’ll do his own master class.” Howe is joined by fingerstyle expert Ray Matuza, as well. “He’s an all-around guy,” Howe says. “He knows a lot about my playing, and a lot about Yes music — but he’s also a jazzy kind of guy, too.”

The focus, Howe adds, is not limited to the infrastructure of playing. He’ll also be discussing the larger lessons every budding performer needs to absorb in order to establish a career in music.

“It’s about the kind of work I do,” Howe says. “One class might lean more toward the acoustic style that I play, the Chet Atkins style. Another one might be about working in bands, and basically some of the electronic side. A third one might be a course about lifestyle, business — how to be a musician. You’ve got to have some people skills, you can’t hold grudges. You’ve got to be professional. So, I’m going to give an overview, if you like, of my 50-plus years in the music business — over three courses.”

Howe is continuing a tour through May with Yes that includes complete readings of three of the band’s 1970s-era albums. Howe left Asia in January, having toured with both groups since 2008. He’ll spend June presenting a series of solo dates, followed by Cross Styles — which will also feature an interactive history of the Martin guitar, to be presented by Dick Boak. Players of any and all experience and skill levels are invited, and non-musicians are too. Cost, which is all-inclusive, runs from $1,195 to $2,495. To find out more about the retreat, go to crossstylesmusicretreat.com.


Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
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