Songwriter’s Square – January 2016 Newsletter

Songwriter’s Square Newsletter – January 2016

Auld Lang Song

In this issue: Shelly Peiken, Marty Axelrod, Voice Teachers, 2015 Album Releases, Gig Guide and more!
January 17th Songwriter’s Square features three incomparable songwriters!

Kyle Vincent
Called the “crown prince of soft pop” by Goldmine, and “One of the best singer-songwriters to come along since the heyday of Tin Pan Alley” by Barry Manilow, Kyle will bring great pop songs and many stories form his amazing career!

John Wicks
Best known as the lead singer-songwriter from the UK rock and power pop band The Records, John continues to be a mainstay on the Los Angeles rock scene. He will be sharing new songs as well as his hits, and stories featuring the very dry Wicks humor!

Michele Vreeland
LA Women In Music’s Comet Award winner (2009), and LA Music Award for Female Artist of the Year (2010), Michele will share songs from her huge pop catalog, and share stories from the DIY world of singer songwriters.

With your host, Bill Berry!

Don’t wait! Order your tickets online right NOW! CLICK HERE!
20% off your online purchase when you use a promo code (bill, kyle, john, michele)

Songwriter’s Square 
Sunday, January 17th
Seating at 6:30PM – Show starts at 7:00PM

Always at the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre and Cafe
in Silverlake, 2106 Hyperion, LA, CA 90027

What’s Happening…
Our pal, funnyman Steve Goodie got FIVE (you read that right) of his songs on Dr. Demento’s Funny 25 for the year 2015. That’s 20% of the songs by Steve Goodie! And not only that, he co-wrote 2 more. That’s SEVEN out of 25 from the hilarious pen of Mr. Goodie. See the full listing HERE… Congrats to our favorite humorist Dylan Brody! He just received accolades as the Erma Bombeck humor writer of the month for January 2016! info HERE… In my humble opinion, the best album of 2015 was the soundtrack to Hamilton the Musical… And on a personal note, I got engaged to Jillian! Woo Hoo!

Spotify in Class Action Suit
Cracker and  Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowrey has has filed a class action lawsuit seeking at least $150 million in damages against Spotify, alleging it knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully reproduces and distributes copyrighted compositions without obtaining mechanical licenses. If the future of music is in downloading, so be it. But the Pandora/Spotify distribution blueprint is simply stealing. Get the full story HERE.

group photo of Bill Berry, Tracy Newman, Diana Weynand, Shelly Peiken, Tony Braunagel (photo by Linda Abse)
Grammy Seminar
Thank you to all who attended our Road to the Grammy’s seminar on December 12th. Held at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles, and presented by Diana Weynand (above, blue) and myself, the seminar was a look at how independent artists can get their work (be it as an artist, songwriter, engineer, producer etc) eligible for Grammy consideration. We had a Q&A with NARAS representative Rob Accatino, and a lively panel with Tracy Newman (in red), Grammy nominated songwriter Shelly Peiken (in black) and Grammy winning producer Tony Braunagel (right). Diana and I will present Road To The Grammys again in February for LAWIM (Los Angeles Women In Music). Thanks to Linda Abse for the photo!

Welcome Shelly Peiken!
Many of you know Shelly Peiken as a succesful songwriiter, having written songs for artists as diverse like Christina Aguilera, the Pretenders and Ed Shearan. She is also the author of the book Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, coming in March from Applause Books and of a blog of the same name. Songwriter’s Square Newsletter will be sharing Shelly’s blog every month with links to her archival writings as well. We are so proud to have Shelly as part of the Songwriter’s Square Newsletter team!
Here’s Shelly!

New Years Revelations
December 28, 2015
In the songwriting business, where some of our choices may not appear to have been the wisest in retrospect, I suggest to you that we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. Maybe we made those choices because we were listening to our heart and didn’t even know it.Circa 1996, Mercury Records’ Steve Greenberg asked me if I would write with a boy band he had signed. Steve successfully placed another song that Glen Burtnik and I penned–“We Could Be In Love”–with Lea (“A Whole New World”) Salonga. It wasn’t a mega-hit but it made a nice showing on the A/C charts.
Continue Reading Here

photo of Marty Axelrod
Marty Axelrod at Vicki Abelson’s “Women Who Write”
by Tracy NewmanFiction writer, Vicki Abelson has been hosting a salon called Women Who Write at her house in Montrose, usually on the last Tuesday of each month, for the past 10 years. The show features a singer/songwriter to open the show, then two or three people reading from something they’ve written, sometimes including Vicki herself, reading from her novel “Don’t Jump.” The readers are often celebrities such as Carl Reiner, Cindy Williams, Norman Lear, Garry Marshall, the late Jackie Collins to name a few. The singer/songwriters are often well-known and just as often great up-and-coming artists. This past Tuesday’s show (Dec 15, 2015) featured the brilliant Marty Axelrod (above). Marty is the songwriter we all strive to be. Memorable melodies and not one wasted word. He’s prolific, funny, moving, charming, gentle and an all-around good guy. I’ve known his work for several years, so for me it was a thrill to see the Women Who Write audience get to see Marty for the first time. He started with “What Jews Can Do.” The audience (about 60 women) fell instantly in love with him. He killed with “Nine Cats.” (The only videos I could find on YouTube are from a show I did called Artist’s Entrance, where I featured Marty, so pardon my self-serving mug.) Marty is a quiet performer, and they don’t use a mic at Vicki’s, but you could hear every word. We were all riveted. Do not pass up a chance to see Marty Axelrod. Besides performing alone, he’s in a dynamic group called The Tall Men Group.

New Years Resolution
So you want to get back to the basics, get your voice up to the level it used to be? Well here, my friend, is a list of some of the best (and affordable) voice teachers in town. Click name for email link!
Terri Weiss $85/Hr Van Nuys (818) 988-9424
Raven Kane $125/45 Min. (818) 545-3892
Ali England $125/Hr. $100/Class (626) 327-3497
Kyle Puccia $80/Hr. Silverlake (323) 839-6935
Kathy Rubin (above) $75/Hr./$65 Class (310) 594-1217
Ross Kalling $100/Hr./$60 Class (323) 377-9456
David Babich $80/Hr (discounts at: (310) 614-1601
Calvin Remsberg $85/Hr 818-909-7898 Van Nuys
Karen Gedissman 310-779-4853 Specialty: all styles Price Range: varied Location: SKYPE from anywhere
Jake Anthony 323-868-3897 Hollywood, CA
Paulette Campbell $85/Hr Beverly Hills & Santa Monica 310-657-8757
Annette Smith $80/Hr  (310) 541-2258 30015 Rancho Palos Verdes

Pulling Strings 
by Craig Lincoln
If, like me, you started learning chords from a ‘dots-on-the-grid’ chord-book, do you remember the struggle to get that full barre F-chord?  And how great it felt when you could finally strum all the strings?I sure do.  And the resulting big sound influenced my playing ever since.  That is, until James Lee Stanley  shared an insight he once had: “The breakthrough,” he told me “was when I realized I didn’t have to strum all the strings at once.”Letting that wisdom sink into my playing, I began to find chords that carried the song with fewer notes, sometimes just one or two.  This opened up whole new range of dynamic expression.  And those big 6-string chords sound bigger used sparingly and in contrast to a leaner harmony.Try this: Play the accompaniment of a favorite song as a guitar solo.  Keep the feeling of your lyric, listening for it in your playing.  Try fewer chord tones in different combinations and patterns, and allow your hands to experiment – you will find ways to make your accompaniment richer with more dynamic variety.And one last great tip:  Check out more of James Lee’s insights at

2015 Album Releases
2015 was a big year for new albums from local songwriters. These are the ones that got on my radar. I’m sure there were dozens more. Click the album titles for a listen/purchase link.
Shanna O’Brien –Focus On The Light (above)
Patricia Bahia – Save Your Heart
Vicki Abelson – Don’t Stop (book)
Penny Nichols – Golden State
Teresa Tudury – West Of Paradise
Christine Lavin & Friends – Live At McCabes
Tall Men Group – 2 Tall
James Lee Stanley – Straight From The Heart (the Musical)
Brian Woodbury – Pay Attention
Freebo – If Not Now When
David Kaufman – Scratch
Shannon Hurley – Switch It On
Logan Heftel – Acoustic Couch
John M – M-VI
Sabrina & Craig – Green
Kyle Vincent – Detour
Bob Malone – Mojo Deluxe

 by Peggy Glenn
That word has been drummed into us since were kids, right? I’m a big fan of sharing what I have and what I know (and who I know) with pals.My latest career is acting – yes, a new career at 71. Because people have shared this (bleeped or unbleeped, your choice) like wildfire (20 million views in all placements so far), I now have an agent. Watch it here Bleeped or Unbleeped.I’m constantly reminded of the many parallels between below-the-line actors and indie musicians: everybody watching out for each other, sharing, recommending and networking. Bill Berry is a shining example of sharing in our LA music community and a master at cross-pollinating the different music communities.  Bravo, Bill. Songwriter’s Square resumes this month. YAY!Share your gigs – ask a fellow musician to co-bill with you.
Share your fans – tell your fans about your favorite new find.
Share your venues – recommend a pal to your favorite venue.
Share your talent – so many ways to share your music with those who can’t get out to gigs.
Share your creativity – and bask in more – art, dance, movies, theatre, museums.
Share your love – hug people often. It’s a renewing resource.
Share smiles – it’s the most contagious action we do. Try it.
Don’t share your germs – if you’re sick, stay home. Someone will bring soup, I promise.
Don’t share your bad juju. Resolve to be public with praise and private with pissiness.
Don’t share your . . . can’t think of anything else to be selfish about.

The 100 Gigs Challenge
by Diana Weynand

It’s that time of year – goals and resolutions. Does the clean-slate concept still excite you? Or bore you? Are your eyes rolling yet? Are you drawing a blank on what to envision?The comedian, Steven Wright, said, “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” This cracked me up. But then I thought about my goal in 2014 to perform 100 gigs. Something about that number energized me. And throughout the year, it wouldn’t let me go. Once I started counting, I literally couldn’t stop. The numbers and counting became fun and motivating. And not just for me, but for others as well.We don’t always have control over the details of our lives. Sometimes we have to paint the broad strokes to create a grid of possibilities. We have to number the blank pages first – and then get to work. We have to trust that life will fill in the details along the path that we’ve outlined. I never knew where my next gig would be, but I knew I’d have one, and another and another. The end result was making and sharing music in more ways than I ever thought possible. It was a remarkable journey.So if you’d like to be more productive this year, pick a number and start counting! It doesn’t have to be 100 gigs. It could be writing 10 short stories, learning 30 new songs or shedding five pounds. Personally, I’m going for another 100 gigs. I’ve got one under my belt so far. Starting the count means I’ve focused my intent and started the journey. I know where I’m heading. Where are you heading? If you’d like some company and support along your journey, join my 100 Gigs Facebook page, HERE.

Thank you for reading.
I look forward to seeing you at a gig  or show in the coming months!  Much love, Bill

Copyright © 2016 Bill Berry Music, All rights reserved.