Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Week With Chick Corea: Part 2 -- Disappointment

Table Of Contents
A Week With Chick Corea: Part 2
Chick’s first ever 5-day Master Workshop with John Patitucci (bass) and Antonio Sanchez (drums) held at Cranwell Resort in Lenox, MA from August 27 - 31, 2012

After paying in full by the May 1st, 2012 deadline and purchasing airline reservations, hotel reservations, rental car reservations, as well as concert tickets for the Chick Corea and Gary Burton performance at Tanglewood with the Harlem String Quartet, I was shocked and devastated to receive the following e-mail out of the blue from National Guitar Workshop.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: National Music Workshop

Date: Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Subject: Important Notice to All National Guitar Workshop Enrollees

July 6, 2012

National Guitar Workshop

It is with deep regret that the management of National Guitar Summer Workshop, Inc. d/b/a "National Guitar Workshop" (the "Company" or "National Guitar Workshop") announces that the Company is ceasing its business operations effective as of today, and that all camp sessions are cancelled.  Nation Guitar Workshop will soon file for relief under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in order to carry out an orderly winding-down and liquidation of its business.

Recent economic conditions have made it impossible for National Guitar Workshop to remain in business.  During the past several years, the Company has seen a dramatic decrease in student enrollment, and increased costs of operation.  Faced with growing operating losses, National Guitar Workshop management has diligently attempted to save the Company through a merger or other business combination, as well as by securing additional operating capital through borrowing and third party investment.  Unfortunately, however, none of these efforts has been successful, and management is left with no alternative but to immediately and permanently discontinue operations.

Upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, you will receive an official notice from the Bankruptcy Court, which will include the contact information for a U.S. Trustee who will assume responsibility for liquidating the Company's assets.  National Guitar Workshop management asks that you direct any inquiries to the designated U.S. Trustee.
With Sincerest Regret,
National Guitar Workshop Management

I sent this note to a few friends and posted this on Facebook, etc. as a response:

On Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 7:45 PM, Mike Prigodich wrote:
Looks like I won't see Chick Corea in August and I probably won't get my money back -- the company went bankrupt. I wonder if I can get any of my car rental, air fare, hotel, and tanglewood concert ticket money back. I could have paid for camp insurance which might have protected my money, but it was additional expense that I didn't think necessary at the time. Hind sight is 20/20. See below for details. That's thousands of dollars down the drain. I don't have extra cash to hire a lawyer and hiring a lawyer could end up costing even more than what I already lost with little chance of recouping the cost.

All of the workshop attendees were devastated by this horrible news. However, none of the attendees knew how to contact any of the other attendees to commiserate. Some of us started searching the internet for various forums to attempt to gather more information and band together to attempt to get our money back. Some of us also started contacting Chick Corea Productions staff to attempt to gain more information through Chick’s organization to see if they had any leverage or if there was any chance that the workshop could still proceed in spite of the bankruptcy. My credit card company gave me a temporary credit but the credit was eventually reversed when they received no response from National Guitar Workshop to their investigation inquiry.

I was randomly contacted by a guy in Brazil (Fernando Giuffrida) who was also planning on attending the workshop asking if I would keep him in the loop about any potential class action measures since as a foreigner he thought he would have an even harder time getting his money back than the local US citizens might. Fernando found me by Googling for information about the workshop and bankruptcy and saw one of my posts on The Gear Page forum. The Gear Page was a site that I saw mentioned on the National Guitar Workshop Facebook page as a place where people could discuss the NGW bankruptcy issue. Found out that a lot of other NGW students and teachers were also affected by various other workshop cancellations due to the bankruptcy. There were many summer camps for kids as well as other master classes by Pat Metheny and other world class artists. Turns out that Fernando is an endocrinologist who also happens to be a great piano player and just about as big of a Chick Corea fanatic as I am. One thing led to another and I mentioned my music and albums and he proceeded to buy my studio album off of iTunes and ended up loving it and becoming a fan of mine. Hey, at least something good came out of this mess, right?

I contacted Chick’s tour manager Kristopher Campbell who I’d met in December 2011 at Chick’s gig in Seattle (with Brian Blade and Hans Glawishnig). Kris said he wasn’t involved with the workshop but he would let Chick and the rest of Chick’s staff know about the terrible situation. 
BTW, here's how I met Kristopher Campbell. I had written Chick a new tune called Armando’s Birthday in honor of Chick’s 70th birthday since I was bummed not to be able to attend any of Chick’s month-long birthday celebration at the Blue Note in NYC in November 2011. When I saw that Chick was going to be in Seattle a week afterwards, I drove up to see the show and had the chance to hand-deliver Chick the sheet music after the gig. He asked if I had an audio recording of the song, but I didn’t have a hard-copy of the recording with me, so he introduced me to his tour manager Kristopher Campbell to get his e-mail address so I could send an electronic version of the audio for Chick to hear. I sent the audio and video to Kristopher to pass along to Chick, but never heard any feedback from Chick. But half a year later, that video got posted on Chick’s Facebook page for Chick’s 71st birthday by someone at Chick Corea Productions. That was pretty cool.

Here’s audio and video of that piece I wrote for Chick from my MPEG Live @ Jimmy Mak's album. See my web site for more details. Audio available for download on CDBaby, Bandcamp, iTunes, etc.

NOTE: Had to capture a screenshot of this. It's not everyday that I get to have one of my songs reposted on Chick Corea's official FB page on June 12, 2012.


I also contacted another Chick Corea Productions staff member Dan Muse who I’d met in September 2011 at the Return To Forever IV show in Eugene, Oregon where I officially met Chick Corea for the very first time in my life. (Well, I’d sort of met Chick once before in the 1990’s when I was in his way while he was trying to exit the building after a Chick Corea Elektric Band II show in Chicago and I ended up holding the door open for him, but I was too shy and dumbstruck to think of anything intelligent to say at the time, so I just grinned stupidly as our eyes met.) Dan Muse is Chick’s web site designer and also handles various other production duties (fan relations, liner note coordination, some marketing duties, etc.). Dan told me that Chick was going to try to see if the workshop could still happen somehow and to stay tuned for details as they became available. It was cool to hear that and great to have some feedback from Chick’s organization. BTW, I’m guessing it was probably Dan Muse who posted my video for Armando’s Birthday on Chick’s Facebook page. I think Dan is the guy that also handles the Facebook side of things in addition to managing Chick’s main web site.

NOTE: Dan Muse is also the guy that snapped this photo of me back in September 2011 when I met Chick for the first time at the RTF IV show.
Meeting Chick Corea for the first time
September 23, 2011, Eugene, OR
Return To Forever IV Tour
Also met Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Frank Gambale
Didn’t get to meet Jean Luc Ponty though.

Hope against hope
A few days later, all of the Chick Corea workshop attendees received this surprise e-mail from National Guitar Workshop, apparently sent at the request of Chick Corea Productions:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: National Music Workshop
Date: Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Subject: A Message from Chick Corea's Mgt. Office

July 12, 2012
Greetings ,
We are contacting you on behalf of Chick Corea Productions regarding the National Guitar Workshop program scheduled for August 27-31, 2012 at the Cranwell Resort in Lenox, MA.  Unfortunately, we have just been informed that National Guitar Workshop has ceased operations and will be filing a bankruptcy petition.  National Guitar Workshop has agreed to send this email to you on Chick Corea Production's behalf.  

Chick was engaged by National Guitar Workshop to participate in the workshop, and has no control over the business or operations of National Guitar Workshop.  We understand that you were looking forward to attending the workshop and are going to make every effort to see that the workshop proceeds as planned.  We are working on the details and hope to have further information for you in a few days.  We will be in communication with you as soon as we have further details.

Please be assured that Chick Corea Productions is making every possible effort to present the workshop as scheduled.

Chick Corea Productions

Up next: Part 3 -- Elation

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