In this issue: The Return of Songwriter’s Square, Mountain Music, Random Fandom, New Releases, and more!
Tis the season! A number of LA songwriters will be performing at holiday themed charity shows this month including the 5th Annual Cows for Christmas Benefit (with Ed Tree, Tina Ferguson, Bill Berry, Randy Miller, Jerry Strull, Dave Clausen, Dave Morrison, Corrina Carter, Blaze Carrico, Cynthia Brando, Wild Mountain Mystics, Barrett Tagliarino … and more!) theRock N Roll Christmas Show,(with John Wicks, Debbi Peterson, Freebo, Lois Blaisch, and way too many more to mention) and Terry Okey‘s Holiday Benefit Show with Fur Dixon, Annette Conlon, Billy Kent, Ted Wulfers, Alias Means and Dafni Amirsakis! Come all ye faithful fans of music and share good tidings with those in need. There are lots of other shows, some Christmas themed, in the Gig Guide, below.
The 7th Annual Holiday Song Share, at the rustic Old Oak Cellars in Pasadena, was put together by Brad Colerick and Dana Charnofsky and hosted by Lisa Turner (above withChauncey Bowers and Wild Mountain Mystics). The show was a well attended and joyous affair. Featuring performances by Marty Axelrod, Lauren Adams, Nick Smith, Tracy Newman, Dylan Brody, Jeannie Willets, Wild Mountain Mystics, Donna Lynn Caskey, John M, Gary Stockdale, Chauncey Bowers, H2nes, Bill Berryand many others, the event brought together many of the songwriter tribe to eat potluck, share songs and collect for Toys for Tots. Good to see friends and wish them a Merry or Happy [Name of Holiday]. Highlights abounded but one song that stood out to me was Donna Lynn Caskey‘s rendition of Do You Hear What I Hear? Just magical.
Happy Holidays! And now on with the show!
What’s Happening… FAR-West presenters Chrissie Natoli and husband Jimmy Joe are releasing a new children’s holiday album and successfully raised their goal on Kickstarter to help them get the show on the road. Woo Hoo! Check out the music and rewards HERE… Did you know that Cynthia Carle released a single of her terrific song Angels? Well she did, and you can download it just in time for Christmas, HERE… Marina V just released a new CD called, Russian Bootleg Vol. 2. Featuring songs all sung in Russian including originals and a rocking version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”! You can order it and find out more HERE… Congratulations to Ron Sarfaty celebrating the two year anniversary of his concert series Sunday Night At The Bookstore! Helping him celebrate will be the artist that started the series, John Batdorf, live on Sunday, December 13th. Get all the info HERE…
Grammy Seminar â€œRoad To A Grammyâ€, a seminar on the independent musician’s guide to all things Grammy, will take place at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles on Saturday, December 12 from 2:00 – 4:00PM.With the music landscape changing, opportunities for independent artists and songwriters are growing. Hosted by Diana Weynand and Bill Berry, and featuring a panel of artists, the seminar will cover the how toâ€™s on making your independent album eligible for a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) Grammy Award nomination in the coming year. Come and join us and one day, you may be hearing the words: â€œAnd the Grammy for best Americana album goes toâ€¦ (your name here).The seminar is free. Seating is limited so please reply to this email if you would like to attend. The Los Angeles School of Songwriting is located at:4001 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
New Gear AudioImmersion
The Polish firm Zylia has created a prototype for a ball-shaped device they hope will revolutionize the music world. It simultaneously records live sounds from various sources on separate tracks with a single piece of equipment.
Cool idea. How does it work? Read more HERE.
New Releases Focus on the Light Shanna O’Brien by Diana WeynandHow do you produce a CD? If youâ€™re Shanna Oâ€™Brien(above – at her CD release show), you focus on the light.
Not the light shining down on the music stand. The light in our hearts
that unites us all. After four long years, Shanna released her second CD, Focus on the Light. She faced many obstacles along the way including a serious medical condition that not only stopped her producing the CD, but stopped her singing for several months. And for a songbird like Shanna, thatâ€™s a little like not breathing.So how did she get through? A walk in the woods? Singing in church? Or maybe dreaming of an elephant? While seemingly disparate, each of these experiences connected Shanna to her lifeâ€™s purpose. When she was a child, a special walk in the woods made her feel deeply connected to people, nature and life. After performing in church as a child, she deepened that connection. Says Shanna, â€œThen and there I felt like singing was my purpose, my calling. It was my way to keep that connection going.â€There was a time, Shanna explains, when her motivation to sing was ego-driven. But when she let all that go, and pursued music for the pure love of it, all the doors opened. â€œMusic has taught me so much about myself,â€ she says. â€œWhen I give without attachment to the results â€“ itâ€™s the purest form of creativity.â€In the title track of her CD, Focus on the Light, Shanna sings of a dream she had when she was recovering. In the dream, an elephant carried her and said, â€œFocus on the light and you will be alright.â€ And thatâ€™s just what sheâ€™s done. In finishing this beautiful CD, she has stayed connected to her deeper purpose. And when you listen to it, youâ€™ll feel like sheâ€™s shining a healing light directly on you.
Listen to tracks and purchase Focus On The Light HERE.
Use your â€œHeadâ€ by Craig LincolnI am always surprised at the mild scorn some guitarists have for the capo, probably because they view it as â€œcheatingâ€ â€“ a crutch for beginners who canâ€™t play sophisticated chords.But a capo at the seventh fret of George Harrisonâ€™s acoustic guitar created those distinctively bright, uplifting sounds that led producer George Martin to call Here Comes the Sun â€œâ€¦one of the best songs ever written.â€Iâ€™ve known expert guitarists who can play those wonderful licks without a capo, but the results are flat, awkward, and lack the easy optimism of Harrisonâ€™s simple, â€œsunnyâ€ arrangement.Try this: Capo up at the seventh fret, tune carefully, and then play some of your favorite guitar accompaniments. Make sure to lock in your groove, and listen with fresh ears. Iâ€™ll bet the higher, brighter sound, and the new â€œfeelâ€ under your fingers inspires some new listening, and maybe some new creative impulses!PostScript: While the standard pronunciation is â€œkay-po,â€ one prominent member of our songwriter community insists on â€œkah-po.â€ Who is it, and why? (Thereâ€™s a clue to the â€œwhyâ€ in the title.)
Songwriter’s Square is Back!
That’s right, after a lukewarm response to continuing the show, we’re doing it anyway! Mark your calendars for every third Sunday of the month. January 17th will feature pop music masters Kyle Vincent, Michelle Vreeland and John Wicks. At the under new cafe managementLyric-Hyperion Theatre in Silverlake. See you then! Ticket info next newsletter.Songwriters, if you are interested in performing at an upcoming show, email me and let me know!
Our good friend Art Podell‘s KPFK 90.7 (Los Angeles) radio show features lots of local songwriters. Roots Music and Beyond will present a Winter Solstice show on Saturday December 19th from 6:00AM – 8:00AM. Too early for you late sleepers? Listen to the show on your own time at Art’s websiteHERE.
Music In The Mountains by Tracy Newman
Every year, a group called SongMakersputs together a retreat for music lovers of all adult ages. Usually they take over Camp DeBenneville Pinesin the San Bernardino Forrest for the event. They invite a performer to headline and run workshops if possible. On the weekend of Nov 6-8, 2015, I had the pleasure of being that person. I didnâ€™t get paid but the room and board were free. The food was very healthy and tasty, and the cabins were warm and wonderful. It was very cold day and night, so the warm rooms were much appreciated. The main gathering place, (Homet Lodge) is the dining hall and has one of those huge cozy fireplaces, and a round-the-clock coffee machine. The workshops were all day Saturday, and a few on Sunday. I ran a song improv workshop and a songwriting workshop. They were both full and productive. The general vibe of this event is like one big hootenanny. Janice and Andy Gelencser were my contact people â€” they host a great house concert in Claremont I feel like the entire audience from the house concert I did for them on May 2nd of this year came to the mountain weekend! By the way, I brought a whole bunch of CDs – including â€œI Can Swing Foreverâ€ my CD/Coloring Book for children, and sold out completely. So, I actually did make money that weekend, which was an added bonus to a really fun time. A thrill for me was seeing Louise Dobbs, part of a group called The Harmonistas, singing my song â€œTable Nineâ€ at the big Saturday night show. Hereâ€™s the video of that performance. Thank you, Louise! And hereâ€™s me during that same show, doing the Christmas song, â€œMama, I Know You Ainâ€™t Santa,â€ which I wrote with my friend Lynne Stewart. Merry Christmas everyone!
Merry Christmas Tracy! – Love, everyone
Ramadan Fandom by Steve WagnerThe first time I heard Foster & Lloyd was on the American Airlines in-flight radio. It was Christmastime 1989. The song was “Suzette” and, had I not already been up in the clouds, I would have undoubtedly begun floating in that direction. “Suzette” was the perfect marriage of country and power pop (my two favorite things back then). I looked into this mysterious (to me) duo and discovered theyâ€™d made three albums on RCA before calling it quits in 1990â€”each full of catchy melodies, hooks, and a dash of humor (Their second disc is called Faster & Llouderâ€¦ get it?), along with sweet pedal steel, cracking snare drums and big guitars. F&Lâ€™s is a small but totally infectious sing-a-long catalog.
Kristmas Karma by Peggy GlennBest gift to a musician? A new place for them to play and a new audience.
1. Recommend them to your favorite venue.
2. Invite a few friends over for cookies and coffee and MUSIC. Yes, stage an impromptu house concert. Do it on a small scale. Itâ€™s intimate and the connection between musician(s) and audience member(s) will be forever.I found Streetlight Cadence(above) at the TAXI Road Rally on November 4th, and by December 6th, they were playing in my living room to a dozen people. Combine the couch and a few folding chairs and a batch of chocolate-chip cookies just coming out of the oven, and youâ€™ve got magic. Itâ€™s â€œfound moneyâ€ for the musicians, and itâ€™s pure joy for the audience.And just like the Clairol commercial, â€œtheyâ€™ll tell two friends, and theyâ€™ll tell two friendsâ€ etc., and there you have it â€“ audience building and an easy peasy house concert. AND â€“ an audience for that venue that decided to hire them on your recommendation. What goes â€˜round, comes â€˜round.
Songwriting Retreats by Penny NicholsConsider a trip to a songwriting retreat! I just got back from teaching at 3 great songwriting retreats: Moab Folk Camp happens in the beginning of November in Moab UT. We take over the whole little town of Moab and amidst the beautiful red rocks, Colorado river, golden trees and blue skies, we study songwriting with Cosy Sheridan, this time Brooks Williams, banjo player Mike Iverson, Charlie Hall of Colorado Roots, Cara Luft from the Wailin Jennys, myself and a host of other cool folks, including landscape painting classes with Chad Niehaus. Next, Lamb’s Retreat mid-November in Upper Michigan, on the banks of Lake Michigan, land of sky-blue water, all dressed up for winter, waiting for the snow, with Sonya-Disappear Fear, Tim Grimm, Natalia Zuckerman, me & Nashville genius; WT Davidson, and founder John D. Lamb, awesome songwriting assignments! Finally; the fabulous Esalen songwriting retreat with John Smith overlooking the ever-inspiring Pacific along the cliffs in Big Sur. Missed all the fun? Come to WinterSongs West January 14th-18th with Tom Kimmel, John D. Lamb, Me, Ed Tree, Susan Marie Reeves and a host of great songwriting coaches in Cambria, CA. Check it out atHERE. See you round the camp fire!
To you and your family from all of us at the Songwriter’s Square Newsletter: Peggy Glenn, David Holmes, Craig Lincoln, Jillian Mitchell, Tracy Newman, Penny Nichols, Art Podell, Todd Lincoln Richards, Hillary Rollins, Steve Wagner, Diana Weynand,
and Bill Berry.