The hugely anticipated ‘Play by Dave Grohl’ Music Camp in Berlin, presented by BIMM Berlin and Sony, was held on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November, and to say it was a success is an understatement. Across the weekend, six young musicians worked alongside BIMM tutors to record the 23-minute instrumental song ‘Play’ by the legendary Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana.
In his original recording, Grohl played the track’s seven instruments – separately, live and from memory – in a one-man-band recording session. At the camp, two guitarists, one bass player, one keyboardist, one drummer and one percussionist – selected in a groundbreaking competition – received expert tutoring from BIMM Berlin staff members including Maya Shenfeld (Creative Project and Pre-Production Tutor), Martin Stumpf (Songwriting, Bass and Performance Tutor) and Randy Black (Drums and Live Performance Tutor), as well as BIMM Hamburg Songwriting and Performance Tutor Rick McPhail of Tocotronic, who was also Band Coach. Each competition winner learnt their part individually, before they played together as a band.
None of the participants had met before the weekend, and each confessed doubt they’d manage the song in full. But that they did, with all 23 minutes recorded live, without any overdubs.
The weekend’s process will be made into a documentary. A short clip was shared across the Foo Fighters’ social media accounts, along with the comment: “Germany!! This is SO amazing. Thanks so much for making the #PLAY music camp happen in Berlin. Thx to noisy Rooms, BIMM Berlin Musikhaus Thomann nhow_Berlin D’Angelico Guitars HEAD OF PR and everyone involved who supported this weekend. Most of all, our respect & thanks to the talented young musicians & mentors!”
Fellow musician and actor Jack Black also weighed in, replying to the band’s post on Instagram with the perfect comment:
Just like the musicians, tutor Randy had a great time, saying: “I felt like a kid again working on Dave Grohl’s ‘Play Music Camp’ project in Berlin. Back when I was a young aspiring drummer, this was the way it was done!”
“This was a great experience for the kids involved because they were thrown into a situation where they worked together with BIMM tutors and other musicians, not just playing and recording with modern software instruments which is more and more becoming the norm.”
“Over the two days, you could see and hear how the six young musicians grew into a real band. It was inspiring to witness the synergy that had developed, which resulted in a great final performance/recording. Hats off to all involved!”
Tutor Maya Shenfield was equally complimentary: “Dave Grohl’s initiative, as well as the workshop organised by Sony Music and BIMM Berlin, was unique in that it offered a great opportunity for young and up-and-coming musicians to step out of their practice rooms, connect with others and receive lots of support and feedback from experienced musicians.”
Grohl’s own recording of ‘Play’ was filmed and made into a two-part mini-documentary, which he directed with help from his Sound City/Sonic Highways collaborator Mark Monroe, and released in August 2018. The aim of the ambitious project was to celebrate the joy of playing music, acknowledge the “rewards and challenges of dedicating one’s life to playing and mastering a musical instrument”, and to promote music education. In Grohl’s words: “Like any kid, the reward is just to ‘play’.”
Discussions will now take place about a possible – even bigger – event to run in 2019. Watch this space for more details.
Check out what the Foo Fighters have shared about the event at: