SAW Notes

  • 09/09/2014 3:25 PM | Anonymous

    The NERFA/SERFA jointly-organized conference (endearingly referred to as “SNERFA”) was held in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday, September 6.  The conference offered a day of networking, helpful workshops and some stand-out performances in the artist showcase.  An added bonus was the close driving distance to most of us in the DC metro area.  Although attendance may not have been what some organizers were hoping for (the turnout was about 65 people), the program was well planned and organized.


    I had the opportunity to attend the conference and thoroughly enjoyed meeting some new people and gaining new insights about promotion, using social media and submitting materials for contests and reviews.  The “On the Griddle” workshop was a highlight.  The workshop consisted of a panel of music industry experts who would listen to the first 60 seconds of a song submitted by various conference attendees.  The group would then discuss the song’s potential to draw in the listener and potentially get played on local and national radio syndicates.  The organizers chose their panelists well: folk DJs Peter Jones (WTJU-FM), Anne Williams (WNRN-FM), along with Michael Jaworek (The Birchmere) and Scott Moore (Focus Music) deftly moved from praise to constructive criticism, ensuring an objective stance on each song.  


    Other workshops offered were “Blues, Banjos and Ballads: A Musical Conversation on Regional Folk Traditions”, “Online Communications and Promotion”, “Why Free Pays”, and a presenter’s open forum.  


    The conference ended with the ten selected performers and groups performing 3 songs each in a three and a half hour showcase.  The performance styles ranged from upbeat traditional bluegrass to beautiful, haunting folk ballads to contemporary guitar virtuosos.  The ten finalists were Beggar’s Ride, Rj Cowdery, Lynda Dawson and Pattie Hopkins, Friction Farm, Susan Greenbaum, Jacob Johnson, Lulu’s Fate, Kipyn Martin (an MASC 2014 winner), Grant Peeples and Simple Gifts.    


    All in all, the day was well planned and executed and those in attendance all seemed to enjoy the day.  The “SNERFA” team hopes to host more one-day conferences in the future.  Until then, check out the SERFA and NERFA websites for their upcoming conferences at www.nerfa.org and www.serfa.org.  

  • 09/09/2014 1:57 PM | Anonymous

    This article was written and submitted by Skip Chaples.


    Eight years ago a young man studying music at NOVA was tragically shot to death. His parents wanted something positive to come from it. Three neighbors who knew their son stepped forward and established the Aaron Brown Chapter of Guitars not Guns in northern Virginia. Over the years the chapter incorporated as GnG NCA, enhanced the program format and curriculum, and branched out to include DC and the neighboring counties in Maryland.


    GnG NCA’s affiliation with Guitars not Guns ended in early 2013 and a new organization, Music for Life, took form. The three neighbors, Skip Chaples, Betsy Stone and Gloria Dawson began their music program journey in 2006 serving 24 students at three northern Virginia locations. They integrated their work with others serving the community and adjusted their program and curriculum as necessary to best address current needs. Their new organization, Music for Life, served 579 students at 38 metropolitan DC area locations in 2013. They’re on track to exceed 700 students in 2014.


    Music for Life helps those burdened with adverse circumstances become successful.  The program provides skills and guidance necessary for students to overcome their circumstances and become contributing, self-sufficient adults. Their focus is on improving lives; music education is the vehicle they use. While their students may enjoy a lifetime of guitar playing, most will not pursue a career in music. The discipline, confidence and social skills students learn in Music for Life will serve them well regardless of the career path they choose.


    Music for Life expanded their original offering of acoustic guitar lessons to youth to include drumming instruction and classes for underserved adult populations, and soon will offer electric and bass guitar lessons. The organization also donates to other music organizations committed to the inclusion of low-income students in their classes. Other significant accomplishments during 2014 include music instruction to 17 adults coping with mental illness in a job training facility, an “Introduction to Music “class for teens in foster care, supporting NAMM with guitars, drums and teachers to provide a music learning experience to over 100 youth at an underperforming DC school, operating a guitar summer camp in a low-income housing project, and providing drums for therapy sessions at a girl’s juvenile detention center.


    Music for Life operates, in their student’s communities, a music program that stimulates their educational interests and builds their confidence so they can overcome the barriers and deal with the stresses inherent to their situation.  Studies show that bringing programs into neighborhoods is the most effective way to reach those who are not engaged,  improve their attitude and reduce crime and gang activity. Research also shows a strong correlation between music education and a person’s success in life. Those involved in a quality music program tend to do better in school, score higher on standardized tests, are less likely to engage in risky behavior, and more likely to take advantage of positive opportunities made available to them.  In addition to its educational value, learning music also releases stressful emotions that can’t otherwise be expressed. Music is particularly powerful because it appeals to people of any age, gender, race, religion or cultural background.


    Despite the proven, positive effects on a person’s well-being and success, financial pressures on both government and families are making music programs less accessible and/or affordable to an increasing number of people. You can help Music for Life fill this void by volunteering to teach one hour each week. Beginner classes address the basics and prior teaching experience is not required. There are immediate needs in Arlington, Chantilly, DC, Fairfax County, Herndon, Leesburg, Manassas and Sterling.  Music for Life hopes to also start new classes in Montgomery and Prince George Counties. If you’d like to learn more or can help, please contact Skip Chaples at skip.chaples@musicforlife.org or visit the website www.musicforlife.org.

  • 08/19/2014 11:30 PM | Anonymous

    When first meeting SAW board member Ron Goad one can’t help but be drawn in by some sort of cosmic energy.  His passion and enthusiasm are contagious and his lust for life refreshing.  But there’s more to this man’s story than his jovial remarks, warm smile and insuppressible enthusiasm.  


    I recently sat down with Ron over lunch and asked him to share a bit about himself and his impressive array of experience with SAW.  It was a dizzying conversation at times as Ron tends to quickly shift between thoughts and stories from the past to excitement about one of the several open mic events he sponsors.  And that’s how so many at SAW know Ron....for his unrivaled support of songwriters and passion to get them connected to venues and to one other.  Though Ron describes himself as a “hell raiser, practical joker and juvenile delinquent”, those in the SAW community know him as a loyal supporter, passionate advocate, and a fun guy.  He’s so supportive, in fact, that he is the only person to have received the “Most Supportive” Wammie five times in a row.  (He’s actually been the recipient of that award six times in total.)  


    Mr. Goad is one of the few true natives of northern Virginia.  Born and raised in Front Royal, Ron was attracted to music at an early age.  He made his first public appearance in 1956 on a street corner as he performed an impromptu version of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and a Groucho Marx song.  His eyes grin with delight as he tells me that he received two quarters for his bravado.  It seems a star was born that day.  


    Ron’s energy was well-suited to the drums, and he soon got his start playing in rock and roll bands in the 1960’s.  While attending Madison College in Harrisonburg, VA, Ron organized a concert featuring The Youngbloods which Ron only did “because someone had to do it”.  “The Riot”, his first band, enjoyed local gigs for several years.  Then, in 1983, Ron and four of his friends from those early days formed “Nightmusic”, a band that has survived these 30 years and which Ron estimates has played at over 700 weddings.  An early stroke of genius inspired the band members to dress in full tuxedos borrowed from a local school’s music department...a look that has become their trademark to this day.  


    Ron’s professional background reflects his quick wit and sense of adventure.  Though he was at one time a Realtor, Ron’s greatest achievement was teaching high school 


    English in Fairfax County Virginia for 30 years.  While teaching at Centreville High, he judged a Battle of the Bands contest in which Dave Grohl (who would go on to achieve superstar status as a member of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters) participated.  He is still in touch with many of his former students, who undoubtedly have many stories to tell about their former teacher, the quirky lover of word play and bad puns.  Ron’s passion for creative writing helped lead him to songwriting.  His philosophy for songwriters, “To convert songwriters into cover artists and cover artists into songwriters”, sounds like the view of a man passionate about the written and spoken word.  Ron’s view seems to be that we always have a little bit more to learn about writing, and that by studying other’s work we come to a deeper understanding of our own voice.  Some of his favorite “voices”?  Brandi Carlile, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, John Hiatt and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few.     


    Ron has been a SAW board member since 2002 and a SAW open mic host since 2004. He currently hosts three open mic’s: Brewer’s Alley in Frederick on Mondays, the Epicure in Fairfax on Wednesdays, and The Athenaeum once a month in Alexandria.    


    Ron’s philosophy on life is best summed up in his own words: “I love meeting people with potential and doing whatever I can to help them.”  Well put, Mr. Goad.  We are so lucky to have you in Washington.  



    --Written by Nicole Belanus, SAW Communications Director


  • 07/22/2014 5:45 PM | Anonymous

    The summer months are the perfect time for the working songwriter to tackle the things that just don’t seem to get done during the “busier” parts of the year.  Much like New Year’s Eve, many of us start to make our “to do” lists when the warmer weather arrives fully expecting that this summer we will make the most of our slightly more relaxed work and family schedules.  Yet how often do those lists go largely untouched?  Did we end up repainting the family room, cleaning out the attic, or catching up on other household chores that we’ve put off for too long -- or did the summer just breeze us by yet again?  As songwriters, we all probably have “to do” lists related to our music.  If we don’t want this summer to pass us by without taking on some of our goals, we’ll have to make the most of our “lazy days” this summer.  


    Here we are in mid-summer and now is the perfect time to re-examine our goals as songwriters.  Some goals might be small: to restring your guitar, for example.  Others, no doubt, will be much larger in scope: to finally start that song collaboration or record that album.  Once we are able to pinpoint what it is we really want to get out of our songwriting (getting more gigs, working on an album, submitting a song to a contest) we should start to be able to break down the seemingly unattainable goal into smaller tasks.  (I know, I know...we musicians don’t tend to be too organized...but a little planning will go a long way!)


    By spending just 20 minutes every day on our chosen top priority (too many and they won’t get done!) we should be able to cross off that long-awaited goal in no time.  For example: want to submit to a contest?  Our Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest is open for submissions through September 15th, so you have plenty of time this summer to work on your song and get it ready for a rough recording before then.  How about starting by going through your repertoire and choosing what you consider to be your top 3 songs?  Then play them for your friends, family, coworkers, other songwriters, strangers, etc. (anyone willing to listen) and have them vote for their favorite.  It’s always a good idea to get outside perspective...we tend to be so close to our art that it’s impossible for us to be objective.  Once you’ve gotten feedback from others, make your final decision(s).  (MASC lets you enter multiple songs!)  If you don’t have a budget for studio time, record your song using Garage Band, Audacity or another program on your computer.  If you have access to a studio or a friend who has better quality recording equipment, see if you can exchange recording time for a favor that you can provide for them.  Then listen to your recording to make sure that it sounds clear and share it with your friends and family.  If others can understand your words and consider the quality as “passable”, then you’re ready to submit!  


    So get out a pen and paper, songwriters!  Start listing all your dreams and goals and choose one to focus on between now and September.  You’ll be amazed at what you can get done by just focusing your time on something that excites you!


    Written by Nicole Belanus

  • 07/22/2014 5:41 PM | Anonymous

    Have you noticed that there’s an awful lot of acronyms these days?  It seems like every organization, business, government office and neighborhood coffee shop has their own share of insider’s lingo.  If you’re like me, you don’t often think about the meaning behind some of these monikers because they’ve been around for so long.  Let’s consider for just a moment what we identify with when we use the name “SAW”.  


    Firstly, we are “songwriters”.  We share a unifying experience, interest, livelihood and passion.  This first word unites us with millions of others who share that passion.  Second, we are an “association”...we are organized into a cooperative whole and have a connection to each other through formal membership.  Lastly, “Washington", is our common ground and local community.  


    These three words communicate some of what we are about, but not all.  We each have been members of SAW for various amounts of time and may have very different connections and experiences of what the association is all about.  For some, it’s a small group of folks to enjoy an open mic with every week.  For others, it’s an online Facebook community for making new connections.  For still others, it’s where we volunteer our time as a board member or support local events.  There are probably as many meanings and experiences of SAW as there are members, and perhaps that’s the beauty.  We come together, united by the three words in our name, but also as persons excited and passionate about community.  Artists can have a difficult time reaching out to others and sharing what they do with the world.  It’s a vulnerable place to be.  But when we unite ourselves with others who share our passion and interests, we find a supportive group that cares about many of the things we care about and that understands our individual need to contribute to something.  And that’s what can’t be communicated in a name -- that connection and contribution.  It‘s something that needs to be experienced and shared.  


    Whatever SAW is for you, we hope it continues to be a meaningful connection where all are encouraged to contribute to the ongoing song of life.


    Written by Nicole Belanus

  • 07/13/2014 10:36 PM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)

    A beautiful sunny day on June 14th provided the perfect backdrop for SAW Community Day. Inside the Surge, a full slate of activities, concerts, and workshops kept members and guest busy. Consider this amazing lineup of events, all free for SAW members:

    First Impressions, on-the-spot feedback on SAW members’ recorded original songs. Panelists included Scott Moore of Focus Music, NERFA, and more; Michael Jaworek of The Birchmere; Jesse Palidofsky, Carroll Cafe Booker; and Steve Gnadt of Focus Music and Concerts at the Historic Cooper’s House.

    Performance by  Tony Denikos, Grand Prize Winner of SAW's 29th Mid-Atlantic Song Contest

     Lyric Workshop and Performance with Naked Blue

    Guitar Workshop with Reid Schoenfelder

    Speed Networking, Open Mic, Dinner! And more!

    Throughout the day, the song circle outside under the trees was a constant lure. Many a fine song was sung and heard. All in all, a fine reminder of why we love SAW.


    A beautiful sunny day on June 14th provided the perfect backdrop for SAW Community Day. Inside the Surge, a full slate of activities, concerts, and workshops kept members and guest busy. Consider this amazing lineup of events, all free for SAW members:

    First Impressions, on-the-spot feedback on SAW members’ recorded original songs. Panelists included Scott Moore of Focus Music, NERFA, and more; Michael Jaworek of The Birchmere; Jesse Palidofsky, Carroll Cafe Booker; and Steve Gnadt of Focus Music and Concerts at the Historic Cooper’s House.

    Performance by  Tony Denikos, Grand Prize Winner of SAW's 29th Mid-Atlantic Song Contest

     Lyric Workshop and Performance with Naked Blue

    Guitar Workshop with Reid Schoenfelder

    Speed Networking, Open Mic, Dinner! And more!

    Throughout the day, the song circle outside under the trees was a constant lure. Many a fine song was sung and heard. All in all, a fine reminder of why we love SAW.

    A beautiful sunny day on June 14th provided the perfect backdrop for SAW Community Day. Inside the Surge, a full slate of activities, concerts, and workshops kept members and guest busy. Consider this amazing lineup of events, all free for SAW members:

    First Impressions, on-the-spot feedback on SAW members’ recorded original songs. Panelists included Scott Moore of Focus Music, NERFA, and more; Michael Jaworek of The Birchmere; Jesse Palidofsky, Carroll Cafe Booker; and Steve Gnadt of Focus Music and Concerts at the Historic Cooper’s House.

    Performance by  Tony Denikos, Grand Prize Winner of SAW's 29th Mid-Atlantic Song Contest

     Lyric Workshop and Performance with Naked Blue

    Guitar Workshop with Reid Schoenfelder

    Speed Networking, Open Mic, Dinner! And more!

    Throughout the day, the song circle outside under the trees was a constant lure. Many a fine song was sung and heard. All in all, a fine reminder of why we love SAW.

  • 03/30/2014 11:26 AM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)

    Patty Reese is hosting a weekly songwriter series at the restored The Old Town Theater in Historic Old Town Alexandria. This weeks featured artist is Laura Baron! Laura is a DC singer songwriter known for her powerful vocals and passionate delivery. Laura has received many awards from the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest including three Gold Awards. Her Wammie nominations include Songwriter of the Year. Laura’s compositions move easily from contemporary folk to blues to swinging jazz. Her 2013 release Heart of The Great Unknown, produced by Marco Delmar features Laura with many of DC’s finest musicians.

    Also performing Tuesday night are SAW's own Kevin Dudley, Jean Bayou and Patty Reese. Venue information at http://www.theoldtowntheater.com/. Join the Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/1469476109931071/

    $10 admission

  • 03/25/2014 3:18 PM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)
    Looking for the March 2014 SAW Notes publication? Here it is.
  • 03/21/2014 11:43 AM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)

    SAW members may be interested in this news item from Bias Studios, a long-time sponsor of the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest:

    Bias Studios’ new video service will be taping the Tom Principato Band’s performance at The Barns of Wolftrap on March 20th.  Other video projects in various stages of completion include the Texas Chainsaw Horns with the Hot Mess Burlesque at Bethesda  Blues and Jazz Club at their Feb. 28th gig, and, as Bobby Fagel predicted, now it’s just a memory and a couple of subpoenas.  Grammy Award winning Afro Bop Alliance with Roland Vasquez, live in Studio A February 8 and 9 will be available for viewing soon.  And we also have the upcoming video of Afro Blue performing April 7th at the Cramton Auditorium for the Howard University Alumni Jazz Concert.  

    Studios A, B and C have been hopping with audio work as well with Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet, Jim Ebert and Sean Russell producing and engineering a project for Swell Daze, final mixing and mastering for Afro Blue’s next release.  South Rail’s new EP, produced in L.A. by Don Was, mastered and mix tweaks were done at Bias. Smithsonian Folkways has just released a new Seldom Scene cd recorded in Studio A “Long Time. . .” with Pete Reiniger engineering.  A video of the Scene’s song “Wait a Minute, “ was filmed mostly in Studio A with insider perspective from The Punch Brothers’ Chris Eldridge (Ben’s son).  Other guests for the sessions were John Starling and Emmylou Harris. Watch at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKukd7rWZrs

  • 03/17/2014 10:41 PM | Steve Coffee (Administrator)

    (In Part I, songwriter Jon Carroll introduced his analysis of Lou Reed's "Dirty Blvd.")

     

     

    Now with some notes, just for fun:

    (And it need not be said that these thoughts, interpretations and suppositions are this writers alone. Its perilous to analyze songwriting. Most writer dont enjoy doing it to their own work, and I apologize if the reader is repelled by this overstep. On the other hand, step offits just a song, a really good song.

     

     

    Dirty Blvd.

    (Lou Reed)

    Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel

    He looks out a window without glass

    (The stage is economically set within 5 seconds with these first two lines.Taken literally: abject poverty. Figuratively, it might suggest there is no lens or protective layer of shelter between outside and in: One reality. Pedro doesnt live IN the Wilshire (will share?) Hotel, he lives out of it.

    The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet

    His father beats him 'cause he's too tired to beg

    (Further establishing the environment as deprived, abusive, flimsy to the point of ephemera)

    He's got 9 brothers and sisters--they're brought up on their knees

    It's hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs

    (The begging is reiterated as we learn there are many others there, and they are brought up on their knees, raised to believe that they are lower and worth less than most)

    Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man

    but that's a slim chance he's going to the boulevard

    (Back to Pedro, he dreams. To wit, his pathetic visionary aspiration is to one day murder his parent. And our credibly world-wise narrator dryly and jarringly dashes even that demented hope as futile, pointing out that Plan A is sadly:

    He's going to end up, on the dirty boulevard

    He's going out, to the dirty boulevard

    He's going down, to the dirty boulevard

    (The signifiers here are quick and potent: end up, going out, going down)

    This room cost 2,000 dollars a month, you can believe it man, it's true

    Somewhere a landlord's laughing till he wets his pants

    (Reed introduces what will be a recurring device here and elsewhere throughout the album, using defecation as a handy expression of a total lack of dignity and respect.)

    No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything

    They dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

    (Here again is the insistent mention of dreams, a term for aspirations, but now they lead irrevocably back to the dirty boulevard, perhaps as Robert Frosts After Apple Picking refers to the hauntingly perseverating images which cannot be dispelled by an exhausted laborer at the end of a long day)

    Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em

    That's what the Statue of Bigotry says

    Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death

    and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard

    (Boldly animating--then desecratingundefinedthe Lady in the Harbor, taking four lines to further dehumanize the immigrants to so much rodential detritus thereby conflating to national policy the landlord laughing while he wets)

    Get em out, on the dirty boulevard

    Going out, to the dirty boulevard

    He's going down, on the dirty boulevard

    Going out

    (Now we are introduced to the third act which offers some specificity to the job descriptions on the boulevard. Going out is a streetwalkers standard pitch, while going down is often at offer)

    Outside it's a bright night, there's an opera at Lincoln Center

    Movie stars arrive by limousine

    (We stay out, outside Pedros world, and the privileged and well-heeled are antithetically busy in theirs. Their night is bright, although Lou slyly and seductively reforms the word limousine into the name of a drug like mescaline or Dexedrine. Just as this listener is thinking this, the following lines affirm the theme):

    The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan

    But the lights are out on the mean streets

    (No explanation required.)

    A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel

    He's selling plastic roses for a buck

    (I discovered that The Robert Frost poem alludes to “stem end and blossom end” as well as other salient images and themes that correspond not too remotely.)

    The traffic's backed up to 39th street

    The TV Whores are calling the Cops out for a Suck

    (A vivid scene,with metaphors for those who are looking. Economical phrasing right down to numbers and acronyms.)

    And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming

    He's found a book on Magic in a garbage can

    He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling

    "At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"

    (The cracked ceiling: figurative, literal with multiplied metaphoric weight and now, after all, Pedros dream and hope, is to disappear)

    And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard

    I want to fly, from dirty boulevard

    I want to fly, from the dirty boulevard

    I want to fly, fly, fly, fly, from the dirty boulevard

    I want to fly away

    I want to fly

    (The Doo-Wop style backsing remember the doot da doot in Walk On The Wild Side--function as Greek Chorus and Uriah Heep, ushering the listener, and Pedro to whatever comes next. Another voice (a grown man) assumes Pedros persona with the vociferous desire: I wanna fly)

    This song is a wonderful example of how a simple, thoughtfully considered lyric can achieve amazing and transporting results.

    ManyThanks, Lou.

    ~JC

 

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