SAW Notes

  • 02/11/2015 5:23 PM | Anonymous

    Mary Shapiro’s name is probably familiar to many in the SAW community.  And for good reason.  For more than a decade, Mary has been championing the cause of local musicians getting together and creating “peace through music” in the Washington, DC area.  After moving to Washington in 2000, Shapiro quickly helped create a community of musicians sharing songs and stories at Potter’s House, a coffeehouse and café located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.  

    But when Shapiro met Jeff Wolf, a fellow musician and public school teacher, the vision  of peacemaking really started to take shape.  Before too long, the two fell in love and married, settling down on Jeff’s sprawling piece of beautiful land within miles of route 66 in Marshall, Virginia.  And the opportunities the two have created are truly impressive.  When Jeff retired, he decided that his biggest passion was to support local musicians.  So, he did what any “gear nerd” would do: he decided to invest in some recording equipment and build a small but impressively outfitted recording studio in his home.  


    But it didn’t stop there.  Mary’s passion for creating community through music, along with the couple’s impressive amount of space and waterside view from their backyard, led to the creation of “Stillwaters Supper and Songs”, a monthly house-concert venture attracting some of the best local and regional talent.  The format is simple: the evening starts with a potluck supper followed by an open mic where all are encouraged to participate and (arguably more important) those in the audience encouraged to listen to each performer.  The environment is supportive, friendly and relaxed.  Following the open mic, the concert begins on the outdoor stage, or, in colder months, inside on a small living room stage.  Jeff’s technology and engineering skills really get to shine as he offers professional sound for the performers.  


    In addition to the recording studio and Stillwaters Supper and Songs concert series, Mary and Jeff have organized arts festivals on their property, inviting local artists and artisans to show and sell their work.  Another new venture was a one-day workshop for working musicians called “A Day in the Studio, A Night on the Stage” where experts in songwriting, musical performance, album production and graphic design facilitated sessions that walked attendees through each aspect of the music business.  “That’s something I’d like to do more of”, Mary commented when I asked what her vision was for the next five years.  Teaching is a common passion of both Mary and Jeff, and their commitment to creating community and supporting local artists is as admirable as it is obvious.  


    “Really, I just want harmony (here at Stillwaters),” Jeff reflected.  Mary and Jeff’s tagline for their concert series is “Building community and creating peace through music”, and it seems to be an ideology they not only believe, but a value that they try to live out every day.          


    To contact Mary Shapiro and inquire about Stillwaters, email mary@stillwaters-studios.com.  


    For more information about the recording studio, upcoming concert series and other events at Stillwaters, check out their website at http://www.stillwaters-studios.com/.  To purchase tickets for upcoming shows at Stillwaters, visit www.StillwatersSupperandSongs.eventbrite.com. 

  • 02/08/2015 11:24 PM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)

    Followed by a Wyatt Easterling Concert w/guest Tony Denikos

    Saturday, March 28th, 2pm-4pm Workshop, Break with Chili, Snacks, beverages provided-bring a dish/dessert to share if you like! 4:45pm Concert

    The Surge (The Barn)
    1988 Kirby Rd,
    McLean, VA

    Late to the party? WALK-IN REGISTRATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

    Register now:

    $30 Workshop only
    $20 Concert only

    Workshop and Concert - $40 to $50

    20% off of both events for SAW Members
    10% off of both events for BSA, NSAI and WAMA Members

    Bring your songs, bring your questions-this is a not to be missed event! What could be better? How’s about a Wyatt Easterling Concert? There will be a brief intermission after the workshop, beverages and light fare will be provided. The concert will follow with 2014 MASC Winner Tony Denikos opening the show. http://www.tonydenikos.com

    Topics:

    What makes a successful song?
    Structure of a song
    The Etiquette of Co-writing (Splits, demos, expectations)
    Demos/production, how to prepare for the studio (Full vs. guitar, piano/vocal)
    Publishing
    Music for Film and Television

    It is rare that we have a chance to work with one as successful and knowledgeable of so many facets of the music industry as Wyatt Easterling. Wyatt’s career has been full of chart-topping hits including cuts with Dierks Bentley, Joe Diffie, Billy Joe Royal, Paul Thorn, Neal McCoy, Sons of the Desert, Robbie Hecht, as well as writing and singing on "This Time I'm Takin' My Time" for Neal McCoy's album At This Moment. This collaboration launched more than 2 decades of gold and platinum winning releases with Easterling acting as songwriter, producer, executive and/or session player.

    Wyatt was also the A&R Director for Atlantic Records and later partnered with Miles Copeland (The Police & Sting) Bugle Publishing Group and Firstars Management

    You can learn more about Wyatt and his incredible life, as well as hear his music at: http://www.wyatteasterling.com/index.php


    “….I was delighted to hear that he'd stepped back over to the other side of the microphone after years of success as a writer and producer in Nashville! Even as a youngster I loved his songwriting and smooth vocal style but now he has matured into a legitimate triple threat - producer, writer and (this "and" should be in italics for emphasis) performer. Goodbye Hello, is a peerless collection of songs sung with quiet conviction and effortless style." Don Dixon

  • 01/20/2015 1:02 PM | Anonymous

    Here at SAW, part of our mission is providing ongoing educational and learning opportunities for our members.  The monthly Songwriter’s Toolbox event is an excellent opportunity for all our members to learn, grow, be challenged, inspired and encouraged.  


    We are very excited to introduce the new facilitator for the Songwriter’s Toolbox, Karl Straub!  Karl has an extensive musical background and a degree in Music Education.  He is also a performing songwriter with a variety of groups and teaches private music lessons.  With his former band, The Graverobbers, he recorded 5 albums of his original songs.  Several local groups including Last Train Home, Little Pink, and The Grandsons have also recorded Karl’s songs.  In 2013, he co-wrote a musical called “Hangtown Dancehall” with Eric Brace.  The soundtrack to the musical was released in 2013 and is available from Red Beet Records, Eric Brace's Nashville-based label.  The musical was inspired by the California Gold Rush.  It debuted in Nashville and has been performed at the Birchmere in Alexandria.


    Straub’s vision for the Songwriter’s Toolbox is to provide practical instruction (with a new theme each month) mixed with song critique.  The song critique will be framed in the context of what was talked about in the first part of the workshop.  Straub believes that the process of evaluating your own songs is something that each of us should be doing in our own homes.  Learning some of the “how” of critique can be a big help in achieving that goal.  “Everyone who shows up (to the Toolbox) should feel like they got something out of it”, Straub explained during a phone interview.  


    Future emphases for the Songwriter’s Toolbox will include topics such as melody, chord structure, and putting lyrics to music.  Straub believes it’s sometimes much easier to talk about lyrics than music.  However, if lyrics aren’t supported by a compelling and rich melodic structure, the words don’t get communicated effectively.  “If you’re writing a song, you have more than one job.”  Songwriters have to not only write words but write an equally compelling and complimentary melody.  “If you just want to write great words, go and write a story,” Straub commented.   If you want to write a song, to use Straub’s guiding philosophy, you must be equally compelled to write good music.  


    Straub also hopes to teach on the topic of being a productive songwriter.  “You don’t have to just sit around and wait for inspiration,” he says.  There are exercises and techniques songwriters can use to be productive, even under crushing deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise.  


    Straub’s first Songwriter’s Toolbox workshop will be Saturday, January 24th, at the Surge, 1988 Kirby Road, McLean, VA 22101, from 10am-12:30pm.  The Songwriter’s Toolbox will continue each 4th Saturday of the month throughout the year.  The events are free and represent just one of the many member benefits that SAW offers.  Donations will be accepted at the workshops to support the musician.  


    Get directions at the Songwriter’s Toolbox event page on the SAW website at: http://saw.org/event-1785051.   


    Catch Karl and his current band, the Karl Straub Combo at The Deej house concert in Washington DC on Saturday, January 31st, 8pm.  http://www.thedeej.org/


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Guitar lesson videos at www.youtube.com/user/karltstraub

    Read about/Buy/Listen to new/old Straubinical music, inc. 

    recent singles (Barbie Doll Apocalypse) and 

    new/old albums (Harlem Hayride, Soul Parking, etc.) 

    cleverbitsmusic.com/wpkarl

    Chat with Karl's sassy intern at

    www.facebook.com/karlstraubsintern.rhondamarvell     

    Karl posts music clips and talks about music at instagram.com/karlstraub

    ------------------------------

    The Open Stage is back! On this edition of the online radio show The Open Stage, SAW Board Member Michelle Murray will interview the new facilitator for the SAW Songwriter’s Toolbox, Karl Straub. Karl is a performing songwriter with a variety of groups and teaches private music lessons. In this interview, Michelle will talk to Karl about about his musical background and his vision for the Songwriter’s Toolbox. You can also hear some of Karl's music. Listen live on Friday, January 23 at 11 a.m. or anytime after that by visiting the Open Stage show page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-open-stage

  • 01/19/2015 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    There’s always much to celebrate at the end of a year....families come together to share meals and laughter, stories are told and music is sung, played and listened to from supermarket aisles to Doctor’s offices.  Whatever people’s traditions are for the end of the year, it seems they always involve music.  Music brings us together, creates a mood and brings a little spirit to our otherwise busy schedules.  


    Here at SAW, we spent a little time making music over the holidays as well.  Our Holiday Party on December 13 held at the Surge in McLean was a roaring success!  We enjoyed a potluck supper together, had a good time talking and networking, heard some corny jokes from our dedicated Emcee Paige Powell, and participated in a holiday-themed open mic!  Thanks to everyone for coming out and participating in this fun event!




    Also, on December 12, SAW member Stevie Wade Potter hosted a holiday-themed open mic at his “Acoustic Listening Room” event at Deja Brew in Haymarket, VA.  Several SAW members performed and were in attendance.  If you live west of DC, Steve’s monthly acoustic shows are a wonderful performance opportunity in a very supportive environment.  Steve schedules performers in advance.  If you are interested in performing at Deja Brew, please email Steve at steviewade@yahoo.com.      

  • 12/29/2014 11:16 PM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)


    Ricardo is pictured here preparing a meal as a part of the SAW Serves program.

    SAW members are saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Richard "Ricardo" White on Christmas day. Ricardo was a unique individual with a huge heart and a music all his own. As a SAW board member, he organized events feeding and entertaining hundreds of homeless through the SAW Serves program. Ricardo's family suggests that, in memoriam, people donate to SAW in support of that program. Please include “SAW Serves, in memory of Ricardo” in the comment section.

    There will be a memorial service for Ricardo on Wednesday, December 31st at 2:00pm at Bennett Funeral Home in Mechanicsville, VA. The address of the funeral home is 8014 Lee Davis Road, Mechanicsville, VA 23111.

    The SAW board also hopes to organize a special "Tribute Concert" with food, music and photos at some point in January or February 2015. More information about this event forthcoming.

    You may read Richard's obituary on the Richmond Times Dispatch website here. There is an online guestbook where you may enter comments on the Times Dispatch obituary page about Richard and his life.


  • 12/04/2014 12:16 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Michelle Murray, SAW Board Member


    I have known about TAXI for years, but until I attended my first TAXI rally, I never understood how helpful it could be in reaching my songwriting goals. I’ve been a songwriter for many years and I’m actively involved in the Songwriters’ Association of Washington. I’ve always wanted to get my songs used in film/television, etc., but never quite knew how to go about it, and it just seemed like a pipe dream that not many could really achieve. I didn’t know many people who had actually done this successfully. But then, through a SAW open mic that I host, I met SAW member and MASC award-winning songwriter Michelle Lockey, who has been a successful TAXI member for six years.


    In case you don’t know, TAXI is an Independent A&R company that was founded in 1992 by Michael Laskow to help songwriters, artists, bands and composers get their music heard by record labels, music publishers, and supervisors of film/TV projects. Record companies, publishers, and music supervisors call TAXI directly to find new artists and bands to sign and to find songs, instrumentals and tracks for TV and film placements.


    Before last year’s rally, Michelle invited me to a Skype song critique session with TAXI founder Michael Laskow. He listened to one of my songs and liked it, and said that he could hear it being used in a movie about the South, being played in jukebox in a diner. It was very specific and I had never thought about my song being used in that way, but it was very encouraging! After that session, Michelle told me about the rally and encouraged me to go. I’m so glad I took her advice. It was there that I first realized that there were thousands of songwriters doing what I wanted to do, and that it was entirely possible for me to do so too. No longer did this seem like a pipe dream, but a dream that was in reach, if I learned all I could and worked hard at reaching my goals. This was quite the eye opener since I never realized how many people just like me (that is, not celebrities) were doing this successfully.



    Lockey explained how TAXI has helped her songwriting career. “I joined TAXI Independent A&R in the fall of 2009.  Since then I have met hundreds of people in the music industry and formed new co-writing relationships.  I met most of these people through TAXI’s forums and Rally.  TAXI holds many classes at the rally and I began to learn more about songwriting for film & TV.” Over the years Lockey says her catalog of songs and her network grew.  “Connections from TAXI forwards as well as connections through the rally have opened up a whole new world.  My songs are consistently being signed by publishers and placed into Film & TV projects. TAXI was the launching board. I owe TAXI so much for helping me get to where I am today. I am now able to do what I love for a living and it is awesome!”  If you want to hear more of Lockey’s perspective on songwriting, check out her blog at: www.michellelockey.com


    This was my second year at the TAXI Road Rally, but the first year as a member. I had a good time at last year’s rally but this year was even better. To be around so many talented, supportive songwriters was just amazing. I've made so many new friends and collaborators, and made some great contacts too. What struck me about the rally is how supportive and encouraging everyone was to each other, whether it was industry VIPs giving advice or fellow songwriters providing tips and offering to collaborate.   Last year, I came home from the rally with a couple of goals: record a few new songs and try to get placed in a library. Happily, both of those goals were accomplished by this year’s rally.


    One of my goals going into this year’s rally was to find more collaborators. Another was to build on last year’s networking opportunities. I also wanted to learn more from the classes, which was easier to do in the second year.  The first year was a little overwhelming, so I was able to focus more on the classes this time around.  I accomplished all of those goals, and it turned out even better than I expected.  After this year’s rally I’ve set some new goals: write more songs and get started with home recording! So many of my fellow songwriters are more prolific than I, and that has been one of my challenges. I know now that I need to write on a regular basis, without worrying how “great/good” the songs are; what’s important is to just start writing. To that end, I finally decided to join a weekly songwriting challenge Facebook group founded by several TAXI members.


    Through the rally, I found at least five new potential collaborators, and made some important industry contacts. I spent many years as a solitary songwriter, but through the TAXI world, I’ve seen how many songwriters collaborate with each other and the advantages of co-writing with other songwriters. Not only does it increase potential contacts, but it can help you grow as a songwriter to work with others and learn from them. In the collaborations I’ve done so far I’ve learned a great deal, and hope to learn more with my future collaborators, including several songwriters from Canada!  New relationships with songwriters, formed through collaborations, can also lead to contacts with music library owners/publishers, as well as connections made by approaching those people directly.  


    In addition to meeting some wonderful new songwriters, I also learned a great deal from the classes and the music panels. Listening to the industry VIPs critique songs was a great learning experience -- to hear how their minds worked first hand was fascinating. I took many notes during that panel and didn’t even care that my song wasn’t picked. In fact, I was a bit relieved after hearing how tough they could all be! It was also inspiring to see how some people, right on the spot, got potential placements from the panel.  It was also interesting to hear the varying opinions of each panel member undefined in some cases, one member disliked a song, but another one loved it and want to place it.


    All of the classes I took were very helpful, but one in particular that really helped a lot was Casey Hurowtiz’s class on “Simple Song Structures That Sell.”  This class will help immensely as I start to write new songs. It was also nice to hear the perspectives of seasoned songwriters who have substantial success and experience in the field, including Chuck Schlacter’s class, “Building a Catalog is a Marathon, Not a Sprint,” John Mazzei, Matt Hirt and  Dave Walton’s “The 5-year Plan: A Film/TV Music Business Plan,” and Bob Mete’s class “The Pursuit of Excellence: Determining Winners From Others.” All these classes had helpful insights and provided good advice. 


    There is also the benefit of experienced members helping out newer people. One night in the lobby, several of the instructors I had met earlier went out of their way to encourage me in my relatively new journey as an aspiring film/TV songwriter. Their encouragement and support meant a lot. As one of the instructors said in his class, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s all possible because of this special gathering that is known as the TAXI Rally. It’s been a life-changing event for me this year and I can’t wait for next year’s rally for even more wonderful experiences!


    For more information about TAXI, you can visit their website at: www.taxi.com.    

  • 11/11/2014 5:46 PM | Anonymous

         Dave Mallen is an inspired man.  Ideas about the music business seem to inspire him the most.  It’s this zeal for new ideas that led Mallen to start Innovation Station Music while working towards a degree at the Berklee College of Music online.  For one of his classes he was assigned to create a business plan that addressed the future of the music industry.  Not wanting to just do the minimum, Mallen decided to see his business plan all the way through development.  The result was Innovation Station Music, a one stop shop for local musicians located in Arlington, Virginia.  

         Mallen has been making music for many years, first as a folksy guitar-playing singer-songwriter and eventually as a keyboardist, backing musician and producer extraordinaire.  He grew up in New Jersey in between Springsteen and Bon Jovi’s old stomping grounds.  That hometown vibe is something Mallen brought with him to D.C. when he moved here to attend American University nearly twenty years ago.  At it’s heart, Innovation Station Music is a strong proponent of hometown culture -- a concept that Mallen does not want to see lost among the highly transient and “fickle fans” in the D.C. crowd.  Innovation Station Music is a connecting entity that seeks to to create a strong music scene right here in the D.C. area.  Mallen wants to encourage musicians to stay in D.C. instead of moving to New York, Nashville, etc. to pursue their music career.  It’s this bold vision that begs the question, “Why not here?”.  As songwriters and music-lovers residing in the D.C. metro area, we couldn’t agree more!        

         Mallen started Innovation Station Music in 2006 while still at his day job as a Project Manager at a large corporation.  In 2008 he took the leap to work at his new business on a full-time basis.  When you meet Dave Mallen, it doesn’t take long to realize that Innovation Station Music truly is his passion project.  One of the signature products he offers as part of his Music Business Strategy consulting is the “Strategic Plan,” a 60+ page document catered to individual artists.  Dave loves to consult with musicians and share with them the knowledge and skills he’s learned from his extensive training and experience.  Mallen’s vision for Innovation Station Music is to comprehensively develop artists’ potential using four steps: Connect, Educate, Inspire and Stay.  To support this vision, Mallen involves himself in several local music groups and causes.  He started a  monthly music industry meet up called Metro Music Source which encourages musicians to network with one another while discussing topics ranging from finding gigs to promoting their music.  Additionally, Mallen is very active in D.C.’s Fair Trade Music movement, a “grassroots community organizing initiative with the goal of developing local, community standards for equitable relationships in live musical performance.”

         In addition to music business strategy services, Innovation Station Music offers a full service recording studio.  From large full band sounds to more intimate singer/songwriter records, Mallen seems to have done it all. So just what might Innovation Station Music have to offer you?  Perhaps you’re looking for someone to record a demo with or to produce an album of your songs?  Maybe you’re unsure of what the next step might be to help advance your music career?  Innovation Station Music can help with all of these ideas from album production to album release and beyond.  

         Mallen and Innovation Station Music have partnered with SAW in the past at workshops and other events.  It’s a relationship that Mallen sees as a good fit.  He and some of the artists he has produced have won multiple MASC awards and, in 2013, Mallen was nominated for the “Most Supportive of Washington Music” Wammie.  

         When asked, Mallen expressed that his wish would be to “educate every artist in the D.C. metro area and give them the tools and confidence they need to take their music to the next level.”  This begs a bold question for us, the songwriters and performing artists living here, “What are we waiting for?” 

    You can find out more about Dave Mallen and Innovation Station Music by visiting www.innovationstationmusic.com      

  • 10/28/2014 12:57 PM | Anonymous

    It’s a “ghoul of a time” these days as we prepare our costumes and homes for another Halloween night of trick-or-treaters.  What songs come to mind as you prepare your Halloween party playlist?  “Werewolves of London”, “Thriller”, “Witchy Woman”, “Spooky”, “Superstition”?  Whatever your idea of Halloween music is, chances are that one of the first songs that will appear on your playlist is the 1962 classic “Monster Mash”   written by Bobby Pickett.  Pickett was an aspiring actor who decided to capitalize on the the mashed potato dance craze and the growing cultural fascination with horror films.  Bobby was performing as a singer to make money and would often imitate other actors and characters during his performances.  It was Pickett’s impersonation of "Frankenstein" star Boris Karloff that inspired him to write an original song in the voice of Karloff.  The rest, as they say, is history.


    So why has this silly little hit song from over 50 years ago endured in our cultural landscape for so long?  Perhaps it’s the way Pickett managed to balance the creepy and kitsch in his songwriting.  By tapping into two cultural crazes: the mashed potato dance step and the renaissance of B grade horror flicks, Pickett was able to easily get radio air play with his song and take advantage of its “hit” status, especially since it was released in October just in time for Halloween.  


    So how do holidays and special occasions affect your songwriting?  Have you ever thought about writing a song about a season or a holiday?  Many artists are releasing Christmas albums these days.  Have you thought about doing something similar?  Or, if you have shows around Christmas, Halloween, New Year’s Day, etc., consider learning some of these old classics and adding them to your set list.  Or even write a song of your own!  


    Staying relevant and connecting with the audience is an important aspect of performing.  As songwriters, we have to try to write to as broad an audience as possible so that our words are relatable to more people than just us.  By using holidays such as Halloween as inspiration to write, we might just be surprised by what we come up with.  All of us have stories and emotions about major holidays...why not tap into that and use it in your songwriting?  You may just write the next “Monster Mash!”  

  • 10/01/2014 3:45 PM | Anonymous

    Enjoy our first video Blog entry!  In this video blog, Communications Director Nicole Belanus interviews Ray Naylor, a SAW member and host/producer of "The Performing Songwriter", an online show which features interviews and performances by a variety of songwriters.  It's really worth checking out and watching!  There may even be some opportunities for SAW members to appear via Skype on the show!  To watch other shows of "The Performing Songwriter", visit www.ustream.tv/channel/the-performing-songwriter.  You can email Ray at raysings@gmail.com.


    Interview with Ray Naylor - SAW Blog from Nicole Belanus on Vimeo.

  • 10/01/2014 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    Performers are needed to participate in SAW Serves opportunities at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Rockville, MD. Shows are Sunday afternoons once a month, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. The shows are hosted by Jeff Silberberg and he provides the PA. Jeff performs for about an hour and he invites “guest artists” to perform at least 15 minutes and no more than an hour. Performers interested in participating are invited to contact Jeff (jeffrey.silberberg@verizon.net, www.myspace.com/jeffsilberberg, 301-775-6468). The patients, visitors, and staff are very appreciative!

     

    The current schedule of dates and guest artists is listed below. Note that there are currently openings for guest artists for October and November.

     

    October 5, 2014           Guest artist needed

     

    November 9, 2014       Guest artist needed

     

    December 14, 2014     Alex Parez 


 

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