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Songwriter's Toolbox Gets a New Facilitator

01/20/2015 1:02 PM | Deleted user

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:   

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


Guitar lesson videos at

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

recent singles (Barbie Doll Apocalypse) and 

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

Chat with Karl's sassy intern at     

Karl posts music clips and talks about music at


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:

Songwriters' Association of Washington is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.


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