By Gail Dreifus

I was coming back from Joe Craven’s” Rivertunes” camp and frankly I wanted more.  More chances to hang out with musicians, meet new people and set aside time to write and play music.  However, I did not want to drive a long distance again in pursuit of my musical desires so the obvious answer to my passion was to create my own songwriting retreat in my neighborhood.   The light bulb went off and I thought about the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort as the perfect venue to hold this retreat.  I got together with a few friends that were on board and we launched the idea to the owner of the “Bug”, Doug Shaw.  He gave it his blessing and off we ran.  I was delighted that Joe Craven, Keith Greeninger, Jamie Kelley Curtiss and Rick Turner said yes to me.  I had the green light that was the initial line-up for year number one.  We also hired two recording engineers to record our participants.   Our first year 26 people joined us and I would have to say, we all had a great time, wrote some awesome tunes and now that we are in year five, we are capping the growing attendance at 80.

YSR has become a family that I look forward to seeing and hearing every year.  I am proud of the fact that we have beginning songwriters to advanced, people that can play an instrument or not. What we have created is a place that is safe to take a risk to write, perform at open mic, record or just relax outside of Yosemite.  YSR is a chance to surround yourself with your tribe of all ages, it is not a place to show off but a place to share-off.

When I look back to the beginning of YSR to now, I have great memories of all the instructors, the songs recorded on SoundCloud, the fabulous meals at the June Bug Café, jokes, hugs, the respectful audience at the open mic, and  the closing campfire.  What I have learned from starting YSR is that if you have an idea go for it and make it happen. I want to close this Blog with a thank you to all of the people that have come to YSR, instructors, raffle donations, people that have given me the opportunity to give out scholarships to everyone that needs them, the Bug staff for working so hard, and Adam Burns (the right hand). I look forward to October every year but I have yet to personally have the time to write a song there!

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