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Dec 18 Songwriter Contest, World Theatre, Mpls


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In being a newer member of MAS (Minnesota Association of Songwriters), I received word of an invite from David K Rockstarwannabe.tv to local singer/songwriters for a contest Dec 18 at the World Theatre in Minneapolis. Rockstarwannabe.tv is shown on Twin Cities cable; it is a reality show in which David K happens upon towns in Mid-America literally asking residents, "who should have 'made it'?" and featuring that unknown artist. Secondly a famous artist is featured. David K's own story of continuing his musical journey is woven in as well.

I immediately signed up. Several email exchanges took place with David K, from whom I sensed a sincere goodwill toward the singer/songwriter. In viewing Rockstarwannabe.tv's Dec 2010 Show, there was much to like, including one of David K's originals Border Ride, and especially the interview with Jon Anderson of Yes.

The Suburban World Theatre is a true theater, picturesque, cathedral ceiling, substantial stage. The first person to speak to me was another contestant, and I ended up sitting in the same alcove with Troy Castellano, his wife and their friends.

There were about 15 writers in all, including a cat whose original was traditional Mexican (he was runner up, good writer/singer and a very sweet guy). The format was David K calling up writers from his list, and there were giveaway raffles interspersed between blocks of performers. Following the contest was a short set of originals by David K's band and lastly, a free-for-all jam.

We were to check-in with the sound engineer Kevin Hovey, whose resume includes international acts from Prince to Celine Dion. Amiable and easy-going, with a real smile, I immediately appreciated him.

On a related note, I must mention David K's nephew, Nate. That young man adopted me, ceaselessly offering assistance (and pleasant company) including an escort at night's end to my car.

The introduction I was given, was when I learned there were no other women writers, which I thought a little odd. Although the contest parameters may have had something to do with that, and not only for women. Winners were chosen by applause and writers were heavily encouraged to "bring your posse". [Mine consisted of zero people btw. That is not why I signed up, esp. on short notice. A number of folks said they wished to, or would try to come, nice that. I saw a great opportunity to do something I find difficult (playing solo), on that World Theatre Stage. David K's good attitude in email correspondence also had a lot to do with the follow through]. My goal was simply to do the best justice possible, in that moment and setting, to this song that had come through me.

The contest was taped, the winner to be featured in the January TV show. I had heard that other clips from the contest would also be aired (which prompted my Facebook question, "is white OK to wear on TV?" to which there were dozens of replies).

Fellow MAS writer Rod Kinny performed during the second half of the show. I'd only learned about a week ago that he has CD's (as in multiple) available. It was really nice, having been to the MAS songwriting critique meeting Dec 14 and seeing Rod bring in his latest fare, and then seeing the cat onstage playing those beautiful chords and voice melodies, notably enjoying himself, and later saying hello with a big smile.

I'd a preoccupation with my car being at a parking meter, plus it was chilly in the theater (which I dealt with in part by going here and there within, and sometimes without just to get a cold blast to make me grateful for the theater temp again). During one of these forays came the first highlight of my night (besides getting up there solo). A man looked me in the eye and said, "I liked your song." What more could a songwriter want? To my delight I found out a moment later that I was speaking to Jody Ray, of The Flaming Oh's. He told me of his current project, RebbyRay (later I was given their CD). I stumbled in trying to tell him how I'd heard of him long time, that he was of the tier 'so high' and etc;

Troy Castellano became the headliner of the show - after he was done, the writers were placed onstage and one by one, given the definitive applause to be judged by. Four writers received the most, then these four (including Troy) played an excerpt to refresh the memory. Then the final judged applause. Joel Kachel, who played a great song called Crow, won. And soon my second highlight in that Joel sought me out. That was an amusing exchange, repeating mutually "I liked your song!"

David K introduced Troy by revealing that Troy was chosen by Tommy Lee of Motley Crue via an online collaboration contest, to record with Tommy Lee. Sure enough, in our conversation bits in the alcove, which included the Castellano's children, Troy's studio set up, and confrere Mike explaining some friend/family history, Troy showed me pictures of his session with Tommy Lee (but first he showed me pics of his 3 children - smart man). We exchanged contact info; and those guys were really nice in watching my guitar whenever I ran out.

David K's band performed - I was delighted that one main b/u vocalist was the drummer (Bob), and had to nudge Troy, whose view was blocked, to point out who was doing those spirited backing vocals. It was a good set, the band sounded right on. The jam followed, and it was with happiness that I made my way to a drumkit. We did some originals from various writers - and notably (or perhaps not as it may've sounded not-so-good "out there")

(eeeyow!!). I hate to be a broken record, but really everyone was very nice, especially Bob, David K's drummer, his brother David (guitar/vox) and Mike the (fantastic!!) piano player.

I was offered a couple gigs afterward: the one that would pay right away, however, was out of the running for me as it involved road work. It was a great night, and I look forward to furthering musical relations with two last contacts made, and hopefully solidified right there (the final highlights of my night).

_________

It's hard for me to judge, but I think in the interim between the last couple entries and this one, there have been significant steps I've taken, some of which come through in what's written above. There is so much going on that's hidden - it can require 20 steps to get to a single Big One. It made me uncomfortable to write about every little (or big) new thing going on: it seems vain and narrow-minded, because my world (and certainly your own!) is much bigger than that. Also, it's as if I don't have the words to open things out these days. Maybe there's less to say when one is doing more. I do want to mention that I'd been keeping some musical company lately with a Twin Cities' artist well known locally. I'm currently learning a lot of his music, and hoping that early 2011 will see me gigging some (drums). I think he's brilliant musically, and a fine writer.

Thorny Swale, (the band I'm in) continues on amidst recession and all the rest, like everyone else in these lands. We're up to 5 of my tunes, and strangers continue to like the songs to the degree that I'm starting to get used to it. Each new original gets a strong reaction. I've just finished (er I think!) another song, and in some ways it's my favorite EVER. I have a great memory of our last gig: the 6 of us standing in a circle in the parking lot discussing which songs to learn next. We decide on one cover, then bassist Ken says, "and originals!"

_________

It was beautiful to come back home. Kayla is staying over, currently tucked upstairs somewhere, among 6 of the 7 Dwarves. It was warm here, nicely lit. I was greeted by Dylan, Kayla, and the new puppy who was beside himself with excitement in seeing me; then snuggled up close and quiet wherein I felt graced.

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis!

~ Merry Christmas ~

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