Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Songwriting in his soul..."

I read and enjoyed the following article about a singer/songwriter's slow & steady career... very inspirational...

Vail resident has songwriting in his soul
Thelma Grimes

San Pedro Valley News-Sun

When it comes to his albums, concerts and music being played on various radio stations throughout the country, Andy Hersey said it's not about notoriety; it's about staying true to the art that is songwriting. Hersey, who grew up in Vail and graduated from Benson High School in 1985, continues to work on his music and travel from state to state and country bar to country bar, singing what he calls true poetry.

"To be in this business, it takes tenacity, it takes endurance, especially if you are going to be singing your own stuff," he said. "It's very heartening knowing there are still audiences that love the poetry of a song. They love the songs about real life."

Hersey, who got into the music business after spending a short time after high school at a trade school in Oklahoma, said when he is in front of an audience singing the songs he wrote, it feels good even if the words meant something to only one person in the audience.

"You have to believe in the music, especially when you are 1,000 miles away from home and no one is really listening," said the nearly 40-year-old singer. "At that point all you have is your art."

With his album 'God and Country,' which was recently released, Hersey continues to gain attention, recently making an appearance on Good Morning Arizona."It was a great experience for me. It's not like the bars where you hear beer bottles clinking. Television is a much more sterile environment," he said. "I just wanted to get on there and sing my music and really represent Arizona."Hersey says many of the songs on his new albums are his own reflections on life, noting that one of his favorites is about an old horseshoe that knew a lot about life.

That song is just one of many hits on his new albums, where Hersey displays a little of bit of old country with a Merle Haggard feel. Throughout the interview in Vail last Wednesday, Hersey, whose voice was low and hoarse from the show the night before in Chandler, talked about his idols and how most of them are songwriters. One of Hershey heroes is Kris Kristofferson, he said, noting that he tries to avoid the direction today's country music has gone. He said most of his music is played on community and college radio stations. Hersey said he's glad his music is played by radio stations that specialize in playing performers and instrumentalists like Vince Gill and Alison Krauss.

"When it comes to my music, I never want it to lose its soul," Hersey said. "I never want to lose the art that goes into songwriting. I'm not saying my goal is to hear my voice on mainstream radio, but I really wouldn't mind hearing someone like George Strait singing one of my songs."

In talking about a career Hersey is obviously passionate about, he said there are so many angles to the music industry. He explained that he has the concerts and a Web site that sells merchandise, but the goal is selling his songs to some of the better country singers in the industry. Hersey said he could have never made it alone, noting that when the budget allows, he travels with a great band.

Hersey said he also has to thank his supportive family, including high school sweetheart Danielle and two sons. "I have a great wife and great kids," he said. "That's one of the most important things to have when you are a struggling artist. When a singer has something he can go home to, it makes it so much easier."

Hersey said he has to thank everyone who worked on his latest album from the photography to the music, noting that he's already thinking about his next CD. But the next group of songs will have to be written while he is busy with shows during the coming months. He performed locally at Montgomery's Grill and Saloon on Friday and on Sept. 1 will perform at the Steakout in Sonoita and on Sept. 2 at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. He also has several shows booked throughout Texas in September. Log onto his Web site at
Copyright © 2007 Vail Sun

5 Ways To Make Your Digital Songwriting Life Easier

I don't necessarily agree with some of the hints/suggestions and conclusions, but this article, from the Musician's Notebook website, is worth a read: 5 Ways To Make Your Digital Songwriting Life Easier

By Joel Falconer

Recently, Arjun Muralidharan of The Good Musician recommended a system of organization using a supply drawer so that musicians could ensure their songwriting materials were always handy. His system is a good one, but as I thought about the way I work with my band Midnight.Haulkerton, and when songwriting alone, I realized that over time I’ve become an almost exclusively digital writer, and a bit of an embodiment of “the paperless office” in practice.

1. Prepare a system of organization that is scalable
Organization is still important - if not more so - in the digital realms, so I have a folder system set up that keeps recording project files, lyrics, biographies and various promotional copy, images, tabs and notation all separate and highly organized. Over time, any creative person generates a mass of material so it’s vital that intellectual property be organized stringently from the outset.
For instance, my music folder is split like this:
- Music
- Albums
- Album 1, 2, etc
- Lyrics
- Recording Projects (Logic files, etc)
- Notation
- Promotional Material
- Copy
- Graphics
- Marketing Plan
- Various
- Lyrics
- Recording Projects
- Notation
- Music Marketing Campaign (General)

This structure accomplishes several things:
1. It keeps material from various albums separate. If there are many songs in your collection, this is invaluable.
2. It keeps “Various” unsorted songs in one place, out of the way of your albums.
3. It keeps lyrics, recording projects, and notation separate so that you can find each component more easily and as your collection expands, files are not permanently lost.
4. It keeps paramusical elements organized by project so you don’t use the wrong art for the wrong album or website.
5. It keeps the overarching master marketing campaign separate from the marketing campaigns from each album.
I have a friend with several thousand songs on his hard drive, but he hasn’t even implemented alphabetical folder organization - it’s impossible for him to locate anything he’s written unless he knows the exact title already.

2. Keep the best applications handy to capture ideas quickly

Of course, Arjun didn’t only discuss the method of organization, but the tools for the job. Ideas disappear as quickly as they come, so the best applications are needed to capture them. Here’s what I use:
Pages or Word are great for writing lyrics.
Keep a good tabbed browser such as Firefox handy so you can look for inspiration or use a
good rhyming dictionary. Reason and Melodyne for capturing musical ideas quickly in notated/midi form.
Logic Express to quickly arrange a song structure and have it ready to come back to for further writing and recording.
Skype - I love collaboration, and many of my collaborators are in various places far from here. Skype solves this problem.
iTunes, because sometimes that melodic idea is just out of reach and some musical inspiration from your favorites can help.

3. Keep logs of your communications
Like I said, I use Skype a great deal for international collaborations on lyrics and sometimes, melodies. While it’s a good idea to send copies of those collaborations by email after the session for backup (and, of course, as a courtesy) it’s also important to keep chat logs. You might want to go back for a line or verse you didn’t like at the time, or you might just lose the lyric in your Word document. Either way, logs of both your collaborative chats and emails are essential.

4. Don’t unwittingly relinquish your intellectual property rights
According to Tom’s Hardware, instant messaging programs like Windows Live Messenger and AIM stipulate that anything transmitted on their network becomes their intellectual property. This is why I specifically mentioned Skype above - you get to keep what you create! This is important, so let me repeat for you skimmers:
As a musician, there is nothing more valuable to you than your intellectual property. It may sound horrible to the idealist hobby musicians of the world, but the intellectual property rights to the song are more important than the song itself.

5. If you haven’t shown everybody, don’t show anybody.
Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration. As a matter of principle, when working in the digital world, only share unreleased songs with your trusted collaborators or people who have signed a non-disclosure agreement with you. Preferably, those who are your trusted collaborators will have signed non-disclosures too. It takes two minutes to do this by email and protects you. Don’t make the mistake of trusting too much, because I promise you that it WILL bite you in the ass at some point or another. Get an NDA, no matter how much you trust the person you are dealing with.
Sounds draconian, huh? No - it’s just a standard industry practice for professional musicians. If you don’t do this, you’re crazy. If you don’t do this, you WILL get your intellectual property stolen, trampled on and will miss out on all the profits of your own work. Don’t wait until you have been screwed over to start protecting yourself. Every musician with a career does this, so if you want a career, you need to do it too.
These tips may save your career one day, from all kinds of catastrophes: good organization may prevent the loss of a hit song, and good protection stops some charlatan from running away with your song and making money off it for themselves. Commit them to memory, write them on your skull with a tattoo needle - just make sure you don’t lose your career to digital mishaps now that you’re working in a digital environment.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Songs from Scratch (#2)

Okay, I uploaded a song for the Minnesota Public Radio Songs from Scratch program for the Afternoon Song. My blurb is here and the playlist is directly accessible here...

Let me know what you think (those lyrics were tough to work with man)...

May the Muse be with you...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some Songwriting News...

Read about George Michael serving his community time by teaching songwriting here.

"The 'Careless Whisper singer - who was sentenced to 100 hours service in June for being unfit for driving through tiredness and taking prescription drugs - gave residents a masterclass in songwriting during his time at London's St Mungo's homeless hostel last Monday."

And, totally unrelated, when published poet Phoenix Cole was asked what she might do if continuing to write poems doesn't work out, she said: "I think next I'd like to try songwriting. Songwriting is not that different than writing poetry, and people seem not to be as afraid of songwriting. And there is the music. I'd like to get rid of this monster first, though."

And, also unrelated, Paul Reisler, a songwriter and workshop teacher, offers this nugget on Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers blog, from this article in Acoustic Guitar magazine:

"In the kind of lives we live, with lots of stuff going on and lots of noise, it’s increasingly difficult to pick out the piccolo from the wind section. What we’re really doing is that kind of selective listening. I always like to say that composing music is merely remembering it before someone else does."

Let's see "masterclasses" and "music" and "monsters"... "mmm"...

May the Muse be with you...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Flight of the Conchords (Episode 11)

I'm a Lord of the Rings geek, along with computers and recording and music/songwriting, so when Flight of the Conchords did a Frodo song on Sunday night's episode, I split my sides laughing... Here's the clip and I hope you enjoy:

Who needs words? Whistle while you songwrite!

Very cool-feeling song with a whistle as its hook and a story from the Boston Globe about whistling... You know, I can't whistle, so if this is a fad, I'll have to wait it out...

Check out the video for Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John...

Finally! Whistling is cool again
A Swedish pop band resurrects a retro musical technique, and Boston goes with the flow

By Ric Kahn, Globe Staff | August 26, 2007

Barring an outbreak of chapped lips, or something equally unforeseen, Swedish pop sensations Peter Bjorn and John will take the stage Sept. 7 at Avalon in Boston before a crowd full of heads bopping, bodies bouncing, and hands clapping.

And lips puckering.

It promises to be a tooting tribute to the trio with the international hit single "Young Folks."

The song is built around a whistling hook so addictive that it has helped regenerate an art form long relegated to the realm of dog-walkers, bird-watchers, and the TV-hawked tunes of Roger Whittaker. (Those of a certain age will remember the incessant pitching for Whittaker, he of "Mexican Whistler," "Australian Whistler," "Irish Whistler," you get the idea.)

Like a crew of construction workers shrilly signaling their approval of a pretty passerby, "Young Folks" has drawn attention to whistling as one of music's most delicious techniques.

Here's what the British website teenfirst ( had to say about the indie anthem: "For so long the whistle has been in decline. . . . Now the whole world whistles with Peter Bjorn and John."

Professional whistler Linda Parker Hamilton, owner and moderator of the worldwide online whistling forum Orawhistle, says "Young Folks" has created more buzz around whistling than any other song in the last 50 years, or since the title track to the movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was released in 1957.

"It's definitely very catchy," says Hamilton, 55, who recently found herself in a Toronto hardware store when "Young Folks" popped into her head. She was moved to whistle along.

That's how it plays in Boston. A year after the song was first released, folks young and old are still whistling it like mad: on subway cars and street corners; at house parties and in dance clubs.

At some music venues like Great Scott in Allston, "Young Folks" has turned the puckered lip into as much of a symbol of the indie pop scene as fist-pumping is at a punk concert or moshing is at a hard-core show.

Jeffrey Sullivan, a 27-year-old travel consultant from Somerville, has been swept up by "Young Folks" whistlemania.

He whistles the song in the shower, on bike rides, at nightspots. He constantly notices the song breezing by him from others, on the sidewalk, in the office.

"It's a carefree song," Sullivan says. "Around Cambridge and Somerville, I always hear people whistling that."

Naomi Blumberg and her boyfriend, Joey Shapiro, were in a Somerville shop several months ago when they traded knowing looks. "Young Folks" was playing in the background, and one of the customers starting whistling it.

"It's gotten to the subconscious point," says Shapiro, a 27-year-old Somerville barista. "You hear the tune and start whistling."

Blumberg says she can hear Shapiro whistling "Young Folks" before he even reaches her Somerville apartment. She wishes she had his powerful projection because she fancies the song, too, but her attempts yield more of a wispy sound.

"I'd like to join in the fun of all the whistling," says Blumberg, 30, assistant curator at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College.

Clubgoers say "Young Folks" and its accompanying whistle-alongs have become a signature sound on Friday nights at Great Scott, a venue of live acts and recorded Britpop known as the pill.

When the song is spun, they say, denizens immediately jump on the dance floor, where they use their lips for more than smooching and sucking on Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys. They're whistling to a song about a guy and a girl trying to connect.

Back in the day, whistling was like that: a major part of the American music experience.

During the 1930s and 1940s, music historians say, many big bands incorporated a special whistling segment into their horn sections.

Then the simple, soothing whistling aesthetic was drowned out by everything from the hubbub of urban life to blaring TV shows to raging guitar solos.

Orawhistle says whistling is embedded in more than 350 popular songs, from Guns N' Roses' "Patience" to Pat Boone's "Love Letters in the Sand," and from Queensryche's "The Lady Wore Black" to Perry Como's "Magic Moments." Still, the style has been largely seen as something of a musical sideshow.

On "Young Folks" -- in which a female cameo sings the girl's part -- the whistling serves as the soul of the song.

Paired with a primal pentatonic melody, it's the distinct and wistful flavor of the whistle that lets the song float above the typical clutter on the airwaves, songsmiths say.

"It stands out as different," says Jack Perricone, chair of the songwriting department at Berklee College of Music. "We're all searching for sounds to intrigue the listeners."

In Boston, a college town with an indie-music streak, they've listened hard and long to the song: on TV, in a "Grey's Anatomy" episode; on the Internet, via a mixtape rendition by hip-hop star Kanye West; on the radio, from massive airplay on stations like WBOS, WXRV, and, especially, WFNX, according to Billboard magazine.

Brad Searles, author of a Boston-based music blog, Bradley's Almanac, says "Young Folks" has compelled him to whistle along in the car like no other song since he was a 10-year-old in the back seat of his parents' auto trying to emulate the sounds on Peter Gabriel's 1980 tune, "Games Without Frontiers."

He says he finds it almost impossible not to whistle along with "Young Folks."

"Yeah, I can't help it," says Searles, now 37. "It's just catchy as hell."

He believes that most anyone who hears it gets trapped by the tune, and is obliged to whistle, too.

"If they say they haven't," the Allston resident says, "they're probably lying."

That's because the utter freshness of the sound, along with memories of whistling it might trigger, causes a body to bolt to attention when the song plays.

"It will grab a lot of parts of the brain," says Suzanne Hanser, chair of Berklee's music therapy department.

Also, though not all of us can play along with a guitar or piano solo, most can whistle.

The ability to hear the tune over and over and over by whistling it is another reason why the song stays stuck in our heads.

"The very repetition hardwires it onto our brain," Hanser says.

Even those unfamiliar with the never-ending "Young Folks" effect seem smitten with the song the first time they give a listen.

Adena Atkins, a 24-year-old songwriting major at Berklee, hadn't heard the song until a reporter recently played the "Young Folks" music video for her lyric-writing class.

Now, Atkins says she'd consider using whistling as a musical vessel on a future recording.

"After hearing that, it's part of my consciousness," says Atkins, who writes progressive folk tunes on the piano. "It's an interesting sound that's as valid as any other."

Susannah Buzard, 32, of Somerville, is not a whistler by nature, but loves the song.

So when Peter Bjorn and John played the Paradise in May, Buzard, a learning specialist at Lesley University, was there and couldn't help but whistle as well.

If form holds true, she'll be at Avalon next month, her eyes gently closed, her mouth slightly parted, a trilling salute to Peter Bjorn and John and the wayward whistle.

The Higgins Family

And this family of singer/songwriters is Canadian... Check them out!:

Family harmony

By Sheila Reynolds

Much has happened for The Higgins of North Delta in the past few years – more live gigs, world travels and considerable media attention. But the biggest development perhaps has been earning the attention of record label representatives both here and in Nashville.

The trio – consisting of siblings John, Eileen and Kathleen – is currently in a “really sensitive” period of negotiations.

But, as Eileen notes, there’s virtually nothing more they can do to make things happen.

“At the end of the day, all the three of us can do is write songs and sing music and perform our shows,” says the 21-year-old. “That’s the meat and potatoes of what we do. If things come through, if things don’t – if you believe in it, you’ll stick with it and it’ll happen.”

That persistence has begun to pay off for the Celtic/country singers, who have been in the recording studio working on their first full-length CD.

Scheduled for mass market release in the fall, an advanced pressing is available now on the group’s website and at live shows.

The album includes two popular songs – Factory Girl and Walk Me Home Tonight – from The Higgins’ 2004 EP Wild Minds. The new tunes, including Hey Jamie and Sound of Summer, are all-original, except two: Factory Girl and the Emmy Lou Harris cover, Rhythm Guitar.

“This CD is totally representative of where we’re at and where we’ve been for the last few years,” says the blond-haired Eileen.

Work on the album began last year, but was interrupted by a December trip to Nashville, where they showcased their sound for industry representatives.

“It was kind of done in two chunks,” she laughs about the album.

“We’re really proud of it. I guess you have to think of it like you’re a professional songwriter, even though I don’t think I ever will think like that.

“When you get label interest from people in the industry who are really impressed with your songwriting and you know the idea was totally organic and within the three of us, it does give you a sense of pride.”

The Higgins – three of seven brothers and sisters – began singing together when they were small. Kathleen, now 18, performed her first gig when she was just seven.

However, things took a more serious turn, personally and professionally, when John broke his back in 1998 and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair. He took the time to learn to play guitar, he and his sisters teaching one another to strum. After his recovery, the group worked even harder to develop their already distinctive harmonies and discovered they also had a penchant for songwriting.

Back then, the group also included sister Mary. But as things began to pick up for the band with the signing of a management deal, the second oldest Higgins sibling decided to pursue other interests, bowing out of the band in 2004.

“It was a really good thing ultimately,” Eileen says. “At first we were like ‘whoa, this is going to be so different’ but you want everyone on board to be wanting it as much as you do.

“It was really wonderful. John and I and Kathleen, we really found we worked differently ... we started writing a lot more.

“You grow with having to change – and we did.”

Since then, Eileen has picked up the mandolin, which Mary used to play, and Kathleen and Eileen now share lead vocals.

Change and the passage of time has also brought maturity – both of mind and music.

“There comes a time where you go from being more amateur in your outlook and more naive in a way and you learn more as you get older, and that’s definitely been the case with us.”

The Higgins have been on the road much of this month, playing various venues in Washington and the B.C. Interior. They’ll return to the local scene Sept. 2 during the Summer Nights concert series at the PNE Mainstage in Vancouver. For more information, check out

Copyright © 2007
Surrey Leader

Natchez artist dives into first full album

I just enjoyed this article and the insights into songwriting...

Natchez singer, songwriter Wesley Strebeck perfects a song in his bathroom studio. Strebeck uses the quiet space as a song-writing getaway. He is in the process of recording his first full-length album, which is due out later this year.

Natchez artist dives into first full album

Published Sunday, August 26, 2007

"She’s so wonderful, she’s my drug and addiction.” At first glance, these eight words conjure thoughts of hopeless love — or maybe some poor soul’s attempt to describe it.

But when singer, songwriter, guitarist Wesley Strebeck penned that chorus, his mind was far from any romantic notion. For Strebeck, “she” is not a female, or even a person. “She” is America ’s culture of full schedules and empty minds.

“I don’t feel like people do enough thinking these days,” Strebeck said. “Our culture is so geared toward go, go, go constantly. Most people spend so much time addicted to schedules, they don’t have time to think about what’s important, what’s true.”

With that message as his theme, the 23-year-old Natchez native began recording his first full-length album in Nashville a few months ago. Strebeck describes his music as singer-songwriter folk, mixed with a few pop elements.

“I’m a product of Generation X,” he said. “It’s impossible to escape my pop roots.”

Strebeck said music has always been a big part of his life. He grew up in a musical family and started singing in his father’s church at a young age. After playing with several bands in high school, Strebeck struck out on his own as a solo act in college.

“I got confirmation about my music from different people,” he said. “We decided to get serious about this a year ago.”

Strebeck often uses “we” when talking about his musical career. His wife of two years, Claire, and 9-month-old son, Knox, are an integral part of Strebeck’s life and his music.

Like thousands of artists before him, Strebeck struggles to balance his full-time job, his family and his music.

“It’s definitely a struggle when you have a baby,” he said. “You have to think completely different.”

Strebeck said he often uses his bathroom as a getaway from the commotion that a 9-month-old brings to any house.

“I do most of my writing in there,” he said. “It’s the only place that’s quiet.”

Sitting on the bathroom’s hardwood floors with guitar, pencil and paper in hand, Strebeck works to put his thoughts to music.

“Usually, a guitar progression comes first,” he said. “Then I just build on top of that.”

The songwriting process itself seems to excite Strebeck more than actually performing his work.

“Over the past year, I’ve really been intrigued by the process,” he said. “I try to focus on the truth you can bring out — the emotions you can evoke. It’s almost like a little road taking me somewhere.” Strebeck and his wife both describe his lyrics as thoughtful and reflective.

Strebeck said one of the biggest influences on his lyrics is his faith

“Faith definitely impacts my music and songwriting,” he said. “If you’re honest, you can’t compartmentalize the two. If I’m really searching the depths of my soul, I don’t think music can be divorced from what I believe to be true.”

He’s quick to point out, however, that he doesn’t intend for his music to be enjoyed just by “church people.”

“Art is such a vehicle to communicate and help people to see deeper truths,” he said. “I want everyone to enjoy my music — from the bar to the church.”

Strebeck is hoping his new album, which is due out later this year, will get his thought-provoking message to the masses.

Before he began recording, Strebeck sought out producer, artist Jeremy Casella of Nashville to lend a hand.

“Casella’s such a wonderful talent,” Strebeck said. “He has sort of become my mentor.”

Strebeck’s mentor describes the young artist’s music as “folk, with a little tinge of country.”

“His lyrics are pretty vulnerable and confessional,” Casella said. “Musically, we’re using lap steel and pedal steel guitars to augment his sound,” he said.

Casella said he thinks Strebeck is a unique find in today’s music industry.

“He’s a great singer, a great writer and a great guitarist,” he said. “It’s a rare combination.”

Samples of Strebeck’s music as well as booking information can be found at

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bob Snider on CBC Radio's "Q" Program

I caught local folk musician legend,, on CBC Radio's Q Program last night. The latest show doesn't appear to be on CBC's site yet, but you can download the mp3 here.

It's very interesting to here Mr. Snider talk about songwriting and performing and it was inspirational to hear him talk about his new book: On Performing. I hadn't realized that Bob Snider had also written a book On Songwriting and wonder if anybody reading this has... drop me a line or post about the book... If I get it in the future, I'll post about it...

Good luck to Mr. Snider on the release of his newest CD: A Maze of Greys which was just released last week! Ah, one day...

Inspirational Stories Lead to Songs

Here's the story of a man who wrote a song for his son's school just days before his son was killed in 2003. It lends itself to this universal muse, that we all write based on some need/some inspiration, never knowing where those lyrics & music will lead to... (well, for me, they remain in obscurity...):
  • Local man hits the right note in national event
    Published: 22 August, 2007

    A CARRBRIDGE man whose young son who died in a tragic accident has reached the final of a major national songwriting competition.
    David Gasking's song Monkey Business, written for the children of Carrbridge Primary School including his son Jamie, was a finalist in the prestigious UK Songwriting Contest 2007.
    Monkey Business was written for the youngsters to sing at their annual School Fun Day on June 7, 2003, with the overall theme of the day being "The Jungle". Eleven-year-old Jamie died after falling at the Bruar Falls in Perthshire on July 11, 2003.
    The song, in samba style, tells the light-hearted story of monkeys who have secrets that they are unwilling to share with the other animals, because it's monkey business.
    Mr Gasking said: "The Fun Day was particularly special because for Jamie and his classmates it was to be their very last Fun Day: after the summer holidays they would be moving up to the Grammar School in Grantown.
    "Jamie was to sing again only once more in public after that day - at the school's Talent Show on 23rd June, when he and his friend Bryce performed their memorable Fast Food Boys routine."
    You can listen to the recorded entry for Monkey Business and read the words on-line by going to and using the search button at the top to locate the song by title. (I've done that for you - the song is here.)
    This year's UK Songwriting Contest attracted a total of around 5,000 entries worldwide, spread across 10 categories.
    Of these some 200 or so songs are expected to have progressed through preliminary selection and semi-finals to the finalist stage.
    Monkey Business was entered in the Miscellaneous category, for children's, comedy, novelty and such songs.
    Monkey Business is the second song written by Mr Gasking to have achieved wider recognition.
    In July 2005 the lyrics of the song Hold on to the smiles were chosen amongst the Forward Press Top 100 Poets 2005.
    Mr Gasking wrote Hey Mr Big!, a book about Jamie's life, and he also leads fundraising activities in memory of his son with the proceeds going to local youth projects.

$10 Just for being on the Revolution Facebook Group

Here's a message I received in my Facebook account from Revolution Audio... Join the group!

I wanted to give an incentive to tell your friends about our Revolution Audio facebook group - we are currently at 49 people - when we reach 100 I will give the first 100 members $10 FREE credit for any in-store purchase (classes, gear, cables). When we reach 200 I will give an additional $10 credit (only for the first 200 members). So send this e-mail on to all your recording buddies and musician friends: help them, help yourself and help the revolution!
Join the Revolution Audio Facebook Group here:
Also, we have a great sale on right now on a whole shelf of software and all our demo mics and gear, so come by for a visit.
Jason Johnston
Rebel Leader
Shop online 24/7 Revolution Audio at:
327 Lakeshore Rd. E.
Mississauga, ON L5G 1H3
Rebel Base Summer hours:
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Tuesday to Thursday 12-7pm
Friday & Saturday: 12-5pm
Phone: 905-278-5115
Fax: 905-278-6564

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ableton Live 6 LE Released

Press Release

Ableton Releases Live 6 LE

August 21, 2007

Ableton is proud to announce the release of Live 6 LE, a new member of the Ableton product line that makes Live's unique, inspiring workflow available to beginning and hobbyist musicians. Live 6 LE is an easy-to-use, professional-grade music-making solution-a first step into the world of computer music that anyone can afford.

Live 6 LE is built on the same fundamental concepts as Live 6, the music production and performance solution that has won numerous awards for its innovative workflow and refreshing simplicity. Offering most of Live's pro features, the LE version gives musicians hassle-free access to tools that will help shape their musical ideas into creative works. Live 6 LE makes music-making fast, easy and enjoyable.

Live 6 LE is built for professional-level recording, songwriting, producing, remixing and DJing. It includes:

  • Studio-quality recording up to 32-bit/192 kHz
  • Sixty-four audio tracks and unlimited MIDI tracks per project
  • More than twenty built-in audio effects, including a host of creative delays, filters, distortions, studio compressors and EQs*
  • Two software instruments-Simpler for creative sample-based synthesis, and Impulse for dynamic, sampled drums*
  • Support for VST and AU effects and instruments*
  • Real-time time-stretching and warping of AIFF, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and MP3 Files for DJing and instant remixing
  • Multicore and multiprocessor support

Live 6 LE has everything you need to start making music, including:

  • Sampled instruments: Essential Instruments Collection LE Edition by SONiVOX (boxed version only)
  • Loops and construction kits: Unnatural Selection by Puremagnetik (boxed version only)
  • A wide selection of presets for Live 6 LE's instruments and effects
  • Extensive built-in step-by-step tutorials

*Live 6 LE is limited to 12 simultaneous built-in audio effects, eight built-in instruments, two AU/VST effects and two AU/VST instruments per project.

Live 6 LE is available right now at stores and the Ableton webshop for EUR 169/USD 199 (boxed version). The download version is available from the Ableton webshop for EUR 129/USD 149. Live 6 LE users who wish to purchase Live 6 will soon have the opportunity to upgrade at a special discount.

For more information, visit their web site at

Michael Anthony, Bassist, Removed From Van Halen Songwriting Credits

The Pulse of Radio (formerly Launch Radio Networks) reports: VAN HALEN may have restored former bassist Michael Anthony's photos to the album cover art on the band's official web site, but it seems the group is still trying to remove Anthony from its history. According to, Anthony's name has been taken off the writing credits for some of the group's music.

An email to the site from a
VAN HALEN fan explained, "On every single VAN HALEN song (with exception to the three new songs on the 'Best of Both Worlds' compilation), credits have always gone to Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and the lead singer who is featured on the song...However, during the credits of the film 'Superbad', which features the song 'Panama', the song is only credited to the two Van Halens and (David Lee) Roth! Anthony continues to get snubbed by his former band as they attempt to erase him from the history of the band."

AntiMusic checked the ASCAP database and learned that Anthony's name has been removed from the songwriting credits of the album 1984, on which "Panama" originally appeared, although apparently he still gets credit on other VAN HALEN releases.

Anthony was reportedly forced to sign a reduced royalty contract in order to take part in the 2004 reunion tour with singer Sammy Hagar, according to Anthony also apparently did not play on the three songs recorded for the "Best of Both Worlds" collection.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Songdoor 2007 International Songwriting Competition Adds Alternative Category; Prize Purse Doubles

NASHVILLE, TENN., USA - August 20, 2007 — The SongDoor 2007 International Songwriting Competition, in association with, Jay’s Place, Masterwriter and Delgado Guitars, has added an alternative category. The prize purse is now valued at more than $21,000. Complete entry information is available at

"In response to many requests, an Alternative category is being offered in this year’s competition," says Tony Zotta, SongDoor president. We still have the Pop and Rock categories for more classic songs, but the Alternative category offers a nice fit for songs with some edge on them.

"Entrants are eligible to win the Grand Award, valued at approximately USD $5,100 in music merchandise and services, including a fully-produced professional demo at Jay’s Place, a Music Row institution that has recorded the likes of Garth Brooks, Gretchen Wilson, Lonestar, Chet Atkins and many, many more. Other awards include a one-year Platinum Membership for, MasterWriter software, an acoustic guitar, gig bag, gear bag, and more.

Seven Category Winners each receive a valuable package of awards worth more than $2,300. Judges include seasoned music industry producers, artists and engineers who have worked with/for such artists as Britney Spears, Neil Young, *NSYNC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire, Tony Bennett, Kenny Rogers, The Charlie Daniels Band and many others.

Entries are accepted online or by mail through November 15, 2007.

The SongDoor International Songwriting Competition is an annual event produced by songwriters, for songwriters. The competition is open to amateur and professional songwriters, and musicians worldwide. Entries are accepted online or by mail through November 15, 2007. An unlimited number of songs may be entered in any of seven categories: Alternative, Christian, Country, Pop, Rock, Singer/Songwriter and Instrumental. For SongDoor rules, FAQs and entry form, please visit the website: or email

Australian Idol Sings (and Writes) Full-Time

You can read a story about Lisa Mitchell, a 6th place finisher in Australian Idol, here. It's shameless self-promotion, not unlike what I do here, but it's nice to see an Idol wannabe sticking with it and writing her own songs...

Of particular note is the quote below...

"I'm just doing my own thing and writing my own stuff. For me songwriting is as much a part of music as singing...I just want to build it from lots of live shows. I've had people coming up to me at live shows who aren't from Australia maybe from England or something and they don't know who I am and ask 'what's your name I really liked your set', so that's really good when that kind of stuff happens."

Good for her... and the songs are good!

Monday, August 20, 2007

How To Write Songs : Your Own Story

How To Write Songs :: Your Own Story :: How You Write Your Songs

The above link is from for those writers who want to share some songwriting tips in that community... of course, you can do the same here... just comment for me...

This is what the site suggests:
  • What is the story behind your music? Do you have great tips to share about how you write your songs? Let the world know! For instance, (you can mention)
    - How do your songs get started?
    - Where/how do you get your ideas?
    - What inspires you the most?
    - How often do you write?
    - What do you write first? Music or lyrics?
    - What is the actual process involved in writing your songs?
    - How do you make your songs stand out?
    - What are your best songwriting tips, tricks or techniques for writing a good song?
    - What is the main reason for your success as a songwriter?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Should songwriters move to major music hub? - The Songwriters Show

This week's episode (episode #4, week of August 17/07) of "The Songwriter Show" discussed the issue on whether it's neccesary for a songwriter to move to one of the major music hubs like L.A., NY, or Nashville in order to succeed. The featured artist was a "non-performing" songwriter - Casey Hurowitz. I like that moniker... I'm going to use that ("non-performing songwriter" not "Casey").

Listen for yourself... I think that the show gave a helpful hint to NOT move to Nashville, but to take a trip to Nashville as the Songwriters' Mecca and attend the Bluebird Cafe for one of its songwriter-in-the-round series... Then he suggests hitting L.A. or N.Y. to network (not get a deal necessarily) and do it properly - i.e. film/TV placement is L.A., while rock/jazz/blues is N.Y.

My question is with technology so prevalent and people writing and recording in their home studios, why do we need to make that trek except for its obvious nostalgia advantage. I can see a trip to Nashville being an inspiration, but when you can record an album in your home studio, it's really needing to make those connections and here in Toronto, there is a great music scene to try to make those connections...

Of course, if anybody reading has those connections, well then, connect me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Songwriting: How To Get Ideas

Just passing on an article I noticed about the songwriting process...

Songwriting: How To Get Ideas

By Dan Palladino

I get a lot of email where songwriters ask how to come up with musical ideas. Following are some of the methods that I have used:

Since lyrics don't come easily for me, I'll discuss that topic first. Fifty percent of the battle is keeping your mind open for little lines that might be floating around, as you go about your daily routine. I've gotten great ideas during one on one conversations with others. Invariably, someone will say something that strikes me as funny or poetic and I'll make a note of it. It's just a matter of being on the look-out. I'd say that I'm equally participating in the conversation and trying to get some good lyrics out of it too. Sometimes, you can get even better stuff by eavesdropping on outside conversations. I know it sounds rude, but we're doing it for art's sake, right? Again, we're just keeping our ears and minds open.

TV, film and books can also be a good source of ideas. How many times have you been sitting in front of the tube, half asleep, when a good line just popped out at you? If you've trained yourself to be alert, it happens often. I always make sure there is some paper in the room, so I can quickly jot down the new gem.

So, what do we do with all of these little fragments? I enter everything I've collected into a notebook. Most of the time, I forget about it until I'm ready to write something. There's an advantage to letting the stuff sit for awhile: After some time has passed, it's very obvious which lines have potential and which are throw-aways. I don't like to put too much thought into it. Let your gut tell you if something is worth further development.

I've recently begun using the speed method of writing lyrics. I've found that it is very liberating to sit in front of the computer and just type away, without stopping. This means that you're not allowed to throw anything away. Whatever comes out of your demented brain is preserved forever. Once I've got the rough material down, I'll go back and see if there are any lines that could form the skeleton of a song. Just doing this exercise for thirty minutes can yield a whole tune, if you're lucky that day. Give it a try. Once you get over the whole "no editing" aspect, it's easy.

My final method of lyric writing is the title method. Again, sit in front of the computer and write possible song titles without thinking or stopping. Once you have a couple pages worth, let them sit for a day or two. Then, go back and the good ones will jump right out at you. Of course, the hard part is developing the idea into a good tune. I usually have to write about ten bad ones before I hit the one keeper.

An off-shoot of the above methods is the writing under pressure method. Get together with a songwriting friend. Now give yourselves thirty minutes, go into separate rooms and get busy! The goal could be to come up with chord changes and, at least a verse and chorus of lyrics. That's pressure! But it works very well.

You may have noticed that many of these ideas involve working against the clock. I think this is effective because it lets you get at the stuff that is uniquely you. Our first reaction when writing is usually "Boy, is that stupid!" Well, it may be! But if that's what's coming out, then that's the real you. That's the stuff that will hit listeners as being something fresh and new. Don't treat your words as if they're precious. Throw them around like old socks!

Article Source:

Dan Palladino is a guitarist, composer and owner of
Riddleworks Productions. He is also an instructor in the music technology department at County College of Morris, Randolph, NJ.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CSHF - 5th Annual Gala

Just received the following email from the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF).

  • Hi Music Fans,
    The CSHF 5th Annual Gala will take to the stage Saturday, March 1, 2008.
    Following on the success of the past years, the CSHF 5th Annual Gala is moving to the larger, state-of-the-art Toronto Centre for the Arts. Conveniently located close to downtown and easily accessible by TTC, the venue serves as a first class cultural destination, making it ideal for this intimate and captivating night of rare musical collaborations and breathtaking performances from Canadian and international recording artists.
    Tickets will go on sale in fall 2007 following a press conference announcing the 2008 inductees. The date and location of the press conference will be announced shortly.
    To ensure that you are always up-to-date about the CSHF, make sure to
    sign up to our official newsletter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Songs From Scratch

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has a cool little contest going on this month. Poet Stephen Burt has written some lyrics entitled Afternoon Song and three bands have put same to music. The interesting part there is to view the audio slideshows for the three bands involved as they go through the songwriting process: (The Owls, Matt Wilson, The Roe Family Singers)

Listeners may also adopt the lyrics (see below), put them to music and submit them to MPR. I may just give this a shot (if I can find some time!). The deadline for submissions is August 31/07. There doesn't appear to be a prize, other than some publicity on the MPR site.

Find out more about Songs From Scratch... and let me know if you submit a tune by commenting to this post... Ci vedimes...

These are the song lyrics written by Stephen Burt for MPR's "Songs from Scratch" project.


Take a blade of grass between your teeth. Check the sun it's all alone in blue with nothing underneath.
Take a walk to the bus stop wait a while. See the driver coming up on a thousand miles.
Fifty-fifty that it's going to be going your way. Two-to-one the evening comes at you with nothing to say.
Take one take two and then take ten. We made construction paper chains. Take five take six from eleven and then, Dream houses fall to cards again.
The perfect day's the one we leave behind. So much to do ahead but I don't mind.
Crisp pollen interference patterns like a crowded pool. See nature starting up or shutting down its summer school.
Kids on skateboards take the residential corners so fast. They watch each other like a comet from the distant past.
I was to be the boy congratulated just for growing tall. When I should have been the girl who walks through walls.
Take three take four you'll be compelled to tell the world who you adore. Take eight and nine you're seventeen. The world looks back at you for seconds from behind a one-way screen.
The perfect day's the one we leave behind. So much to do ahead but I don't mind.
Three-season porches with a car door open on contentment why. In your future you'll remember we were happy on the same weekday that made you start to cry.
Take one take two and then take ten. Ear to the ground for distant trains. Take five take six from eleven and then Our houses shake the ground again.
The perfect day's the one we leave behind. So much to do tomorrow I don't mind.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Cavalcade Of Stars To Judge Songwriting Competition

Brian WilsonA galaxy of legendary musicians including Brian Wilson, Tom Waits, Ray Davies, Nelly Furtado, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn and Frank Black are the judges of this year's International Songwriting Competition.

Wannabe songwriters' entries will be listened to by the A-list panel, who will award one lucky winner $25,000 in cash and a further $20,000 worth of prizes. Two runners-up will also take home cash prizes.

Ornette Coleman, former New Order star Peter Hook, The Cure's Robert Smith, Darryl 'D.M.C.' McDaniels, The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, Macy Gray and Sean Paul are also on the judges' panel.

The deadline for submissions is October 15th.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Taping With The iPod - Using Apple's iPod As A Recording Device - Belkin TuneTalk Stereo Review

I don't own an iPod, but hey, so many people (and songwriters are people too) do... here's a link to an article about using an iPod as a recording device:

Taping With The iPod - Using Apple's iPod As A Recording Device - Belkin TuneTalk Stereo Review

And Wired magazine has its How To Wiki on the same subject... I'd copy it here (I think they allow that for non-commercial use), but I'm providing the link to it as well as it's constantly changing (as Wikis are wont to do): Lay Down Tracks On Your iPod (Wired HowTo Wiki).
  • Using the barely noticeable line-in jack on Belkin's TuneTalk accessory, singer-songwriter Jimmy Camp --> recorded his entire Captain America album on his iPod. You can use your pocket player as a one-track recorder too. Just remember: Camp's technique prevents post-recording level correction, overdubbing and sampling, so you'll need to play guitar or keyboards while you sing (or invite someone over who does). Here's what he did plus a few bonus suggestions from some savvy readers:
    1. Use three microphones: one for the main instrument, one for your voice, and another to pick up ambient room sound. Connect them to a simple mixer and route its output to the TuneTalk's stereo input.
    2. OR use three identical portable recording units and mix the recordings down to stereo on your PC (using freeware like Audacity). This will allow you to level voice, main instrument and ambient sound much better, plus you do not have to operate the mixer while recording. As a simple mixer costs as much as two basic portable recorders, the cost is the same.
    3. OR buy a
    multitrack audio interface --> for your pc/mac, which should cost less than 2 Ipods. Cheap mixers can be had new for less than $100. Buying used off craigslist will get you more for your money.
    4. VERY IMPORTANT: Check your levels. Since you're recording all instruments to one track, ensure your mixer's volume levels are set correctly; you can't go back and turn up the volume on the guitar once the recording is made.
    5. Do lots of takes. You're not paying for a studio or engineering help -- the trade-off is tons of trial and error.
    6. Try different rooms. Record all over the house (including the bathroom) and experiment with adding or removing rugs from a room's hardwood floor.
    7. Get it out there. Camp recorded all 10 songs and submitted them to iTunes within three days. He insists you could really do it in one.

Recording for the Guitarist

I know it's loaded with product-specific references, but there's some good basic info in it as well... I'm talking about M-Audio's piece on Computer-Based Solutions for the Recording Guitarist. I think it's well worth the read...

(DISCLAIMER: I owned the MobilePre and I now own the Fastrack Pro...)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Songwriter Show

I'm on vacation, but I actually brought along my notebook and have grabbed a wifi link from an open network and thought I'd just update my site with a new site I found here at The Songwriter Show... as related on the podcast's website:
  • The Songwriter Show is dedicated to those incredibly talented folks, and for anyone who simply enjoys good music.
    The show brings you news, information and interviews with what’s happening in the world of music, and songwriting. Each week we play some of the best podsafe music ranging from Thrash Metal to Acoustic Folk and everything in between.
So, it's well worth a listen to see what the show can offer to you in your songwriting endeavours... Listen for yourself below...

Keep the faith and ci vedimes...
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