October 25, 2008 — REO Summer Songwriter’s Retreat

I have been meaning to make a note about this excellent songwriting workshop which is held at a remote river-rafting resort in British Columbia, Canada. I attended in 2007 and 2008. This a truly inspirational setting in the Nahatlatch Valley about 2 hours by car from Vancouver. The sound of the river is always in the background, like a chorus (or maybe a bridge…). The class of 20 to 30 campers and 3 or 4 instructors are isolated for five days and nights with nothing to do except songwriting and riding the river. Past instructors include Steve Seskin, Pat Pattison, Bonnie Hayes, Jon Vezner, and Kathy Mattea. There are group sessions on all aspects of songwriting and the music business, as well as one-on-one critique sessions with the instructors. In the “song dissections” led by Pat Pattison, a camper (chosen by lottery) performs a song and the panel of instructors “takes it apart” in front of the whole class. This is both a humbling and enlightening experience – I highly recommend it. There are also ample opportunities for informal performances by both campers and instructors. Last but not least, the food is outstanding – if you are trying to lose weight, you will need extra will-power. REO owner Bryan Fogelman does a great job putting this all together. You can get more information at