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Song Contest(S)...


It is time, I think, to enter another song contest. I try to do a couple every year. This one is the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, put on by a songwriters’ group in Washington, D.C. I really don’t know much about them—but it was comforting that their rules said they’d only accept professionally-produced demos. Most song contests (at least those with professional judges) are like that, but most don’t say so—they’ll say “submit anything,” and not tell you the judges are going to throw out anything that’s not “radio-ready.”

What to send? I’ve got two professionally-recorded albums to work from, Santa’s Fallen and He Can’t Get Up (2005) and the Deathgrass album, Dead Things in the Shower (2011), plus five demos done with Mike Dunbar and a gaggle of Nashville session musicians at the Pineyfest songwriters’ conference in 2007. Four of the Pineyfest demos and two of the Deathgrass songs are co-writes, but co-writes are okay, according to the contest rules. I think I’d pick “Tillamook Railroad Blues” from the Deathgrass CD, and (if I feel comfortable spending the money on a second entry) “Santa’s Fallen and He Can’t Get Up,” the title cut from the 2005 album.

The prizes are small, which is a hopeful sign—it indicates this contest is small, and I have a better shot at winning. I like to enter contests I think I can win. However, I think the primary thing one gets out of contests is exposure: people hear the song who otherwise wouldn’t know about it, and if they like it, they may check to see what else you’ve done. (And if the people listening and checking are Industry Professionals, there might be business out of it.) A lot of “ifs” there, obviously. And that’s why I hate to invest much money in these things.

I’ll wait to copy the CDs until I have the new (actually, “new”) computer set up and running. Yes, “Alice” is getting replaced. I found a good deal—local, even—and am taking advantage of it. It’s not that “Alice” isn’t good at what she does—after seven years, she should be; it’s that after seven years, her motherboard is going, and various other components (most recently, the CD-rewritable drive) are wearing out. I am neither really surprised or really upset—I know things wear out. However, I do still have Alice’s predecessor, “Wilma,” a 1991-vintage 486 running Windows 95 (built for me by a computer repair guy in Eastern Oregon) out in the garage, and everything on Wilma still works, after 20 years—reminding me they definitely don’t make ‘em like they used to.

There’s a contest coming up in September, too, that I want to make sure to enter; it’s being put on by Goodnight Kiss Music, a publishing company I’m on the mailing list of. They haven’t done a contest in a while, and I do want to make sure the publisher remembers me. (I’ll send something from the Deathgrass album—it’ll be an opportunity to show it off.)

Now that I have a little more free time (since people are not lining up to offer me jobs), I need to get out more. I’ve been primarily jamming at the “Rapture Room” in Nehalem on Sunday nights, the Tillamook Library on Saturday afternoons, and once again at Garibaldi City Hall on Friday nights. I’ve arranged to have next Thursday evening free from the Writers’ Guild, so I can go to the “country” jam at the Tsunami Grill in Wheeler, but I should do more. A few solo gigs, perhaps, or even duets (if I could arrange for a willing accompanist). An increasing number of venues—particularly north of here—seem to be having live music, and a lot of it is solo or duo acts. I’d like to insert myself into that trend. Not because I’m any great shakes as a performer (though I can act like I know what I’m doing), but because I want exposure for the material, and about the only way I can do that is to perform it myself.



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