Almost Famous Corporate Campfire

by 25 Jul 2007

While it’s almost every kid’s dream to be in a rock band at some stage of their development, it could easily be argued that everybody has known at least one person who actually lived that dream. As such, sitting in a nest of speakers, electrical cords, guitars, keyboards and drum kits immediately evokes warm childhood memories and somehow a sense of simpler pleasures and ambitions.

This was the rather unexpected response Human Resources found itself having when we sat down with the crew from Almost Famous to road test their corporate teambuilding offering.

In its simplest form, Almost Famous was an intimate jam session facilitated by real musicians. As it is facilitated by real musicians, there’s a level of professionalism about the jam session that was always absent during my childhood memories of bands in garages.

As the tunes were played with precision and vigour, it was this air of successful execution that produced a warm glow within all participants’ sense of being. We all felt like we were part of the gang and better than that, we rocked!

Human Resources had reservations about the format before we started. Logistically, we needed to get away from the office as our meeting rooms are insufficiently sound proof to deal with the awesome power of rock ’n’ roll. As with all road tests, we rely on volunteers and so we were surprised that the uptake was quite high given the prospect that the participants could find themselves singing. The prospect of the publisher singing with a microphone was something the rest of the group didn’t need to be exposed to.

However, upon entering our makeshift studio, a tiny Paddington terrace, we soon overcame any anxiety as we were told we only had to participate if we wanted to and the crew from Almost Famous got the room warmed up with three or four songs that got everybody’s toes tapping.

Before long, my team was singing Beatles classics and previously undiscovered talent was being showcased by those who could play guitar or hold a beat on the drums and so on. Singing along was no issue as lyrics for more than 500 songs were provided.

It sounds crazy, yet somehow it just works. The two-and-a-half hours we spent with the Almost Famous team was an amazingly bonding experience that I can’t help think taps into something far more primal than we are usually exposed to at work. There’s no doubt that as a team we could not help but be more drawn together.

Another option available for Almost Famous is to have a genuine musical star join in the jam, be it someone such as Jon Stevens, Missy Higgins or an idol finalist. Our experience was the more intimate of the offerings from Almost Famous and would suit teams of probably up to 25 people.

Intrigued by the event and by way of mutual association, Human Resources magazine went along to a larger manifestation of Almost Famous’ offerings. this time being held as the high point of a two-day management conference.

With around 100 people in the room (although you could have fewer) this event was quite different to the intimate experience we had shared with the group. However what it lacked in intimacy, it made up with the energy of preparing and performing a full-blown rock concert. Modelled along the lines of Australian Idol, this event again kicked off like a rock concert before the room was divided into various working parties that got all present involved.

Parties included the talent, roadies and production managers as well as hair and make-up assistants. Those who were to perform were professionally made up to be rock stars and everyone was only taken to a level of involvement they were comfortable with. Individuals were exposed to the whole production of a rock concert, from rigging up lighting through to overcoming stage fright.

Again, it brought a side of individuals to the fore that might not usually be obvious in the workplace and as such could not help but be seen as a real hit for the organisation involved.

Almost Famous is the brainchild of Jeff Lenham, a trained jazz musician and veteran of more than 2,000 live shows, and Paul Christie, one of the foremost musical industry figures in Australia. They have at their disposal a wide range of highly talented professional musicians including some of Australia’s biggest names within the music industry.

For more information, contact Almost Famous Corporate Teambuilding & Events. Tel: (02) 8220 2060. Web: www.almost-famous.biz.