Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vancouver City Limits, songwriters workshop!


Yesterday I attended the first ever, Vancouver City Limits Songwriting Workshop and Concert, which was held at the Beaumont studios in Vancouver, BC. I would say it was a roaring success. Our teachers for the day were Ron Irving, and Steven Mclintock, and doing sound was Bruce Gerrish who hosts the Vancouver City Limits New Music Review on Monday nights. Both Ron and Steven are extremely prolific, published, charted, award winning songwriters with enormous talent and endless amounts of experience, which gratefully, they are willing to share.

And share they did. The workshop was an all day event which touched on all things songwriting and discussed various aspects of the music business. We were given exercises and instruction, and we all were given the chance to have a song of our own critiqued. They spent a decent amount of time on each and every person who brought or performed song, whether it was a polished gem, or still just the seed of an idea and needing a rewrite. They gave good honest constructive criticism and also found the strong points of each composition, so that people could focus on what works as much as what doesn't.

I played Overboard, quite badly actually, from a 'playing and vocal performance' point of view. I couldn't have been any more stiff and uncomfortable, or sang more poorly in my scratchy morning voice, and knowing what I am capable of, my human pride in myself had me feeling pretty disappointed, however, I was able to let it go pretty quickly because what I did manage to do, was at least get the basic song idea across. Which was really the point of the exercise. I received a really decent critique which I was very pleased and proud of. I had clued into the fact that in a songwriter workshop, the performance is not exactly relevant, and so that was not the time to try and be a big vocal show off anyway. It is entirely possible that this was 'natures' way of keeping me humble and in check, lol, sometimes I do require the assistance of my otherworldly angels to help me curb my enthusiasm................ but still, it doesn't ever hurt to have a rocking performance. ;)

Another interesting part of the workshop for me, was when Ron and Steve were telling stories about how their own songs were inspired and written. They talked about how connections were made, and a guitar was picked up and played frequently to illustrate certain points as they discussed various tips and tricks on the craft and business of songwriting. The two men were charming and funny in an easy way, and they seem to like and respect each other a great deal. I felt that they really worked well together, and I felt safe in their class, like I was in very good hands.

The setting was an intimate theatre/stage, which is attached to an art gallery as well as an acting and music studio. The vibe was comfortable from the moment I walked in the door, very artistic and non-judgemental. I love arty places like this. Everyone just loves everyone else for who they are. Peace brother. I swear in a moment of reverse deja vu, I could feel a video about the Beaumont studios being shot and edited for All Access Pass, happening somewhere in my future. (Maybe perhaps on the night when my gal pal Jen Hershmann is playing her showcase there on March 23rd.)

The day was even more inspiring than I had hoped it would be. It never ceases to amaze me how many nice people there are in the music business. As I was waiting in the lobby for the theatre to be opened, in walked BC recording artist Rick Tippe ,whom I have known for a few years through our mutual addiction to little toy cars (Rick and his wife Bonnie, host a Hot Wheels Show a couple times a year, which me and my son attend whenever we can), so it was great to see a familiar face and have someone to chat about toy cars and music with while we waited to be let in.

Rick is a monster performer, one of the most dynamic guys I have ever seen on stage, with a list of top 40 hits that's longer than his arm. He was fantastic at the 2008 BCCMA awards show this year (you may recall I was there filming/editing the backstage all access video with Kelly Brock), and I highly recommend you check out his latest single release Last Call for Alcohol ., which will begin playing if you click the underlined link to Ricks website.

And this video is the official music video for Forever!

Everyone, Rick Tippe

I swear I am the luckiest girl sometimes, the first people Rick introduced me to as we all wandered into the theatre to claim a seat, were the teachers themselves, Ron and Steve. Besides being very talented, they are genuinely nice fellows. If you ever see Ron or Steve are hosting a songwriting workshop in any city, I would highly recommend you go, and if its in held in Vancouver, you can bet I will be there.

Workshop participants were also invited to the evening performance, which was a songwriter in the round concert (that is when songwriters sit on stage with only guitars and share with the audience stories and experiences attached to the songs they perform).

Steve and Ron were joined by two more incredible artists, Bonnie St Croix , a well known Vancouver artist with a number of beautifully performed & written CDs. Bonnie has the sweetest voice, and writes the saddest songs which literally brought people in the audience to tears. I love songwriters who can rip my heart out and stomp all over it. I really do. Some songs are like a little roller coaster ride for the heart, and that's just magnificent.

The video below, is one of the songs that Bonnie played last night, this was her closing song, one of the few songs she has written that doesn't make you want to weep. ; ) I loved it, and all the players onstage joined in on the song, each talent adding exactly the right amount of texture to the tune. I could pick out each part clearly as they tastily laid little licks and rhythm patterns all over the song and talked to each other with their instruments and voices. I am vibrating now, remembering it, and all the other moments like it.

Also on the bill, Michael Vincent who has an incredible voice that had me mesmerized. Michael gave so much to the audience by providing one of those magical musical moments that you just have to experience in person to truly appreciate. He invited us to sing along to his song and provide callbacks and ooos and ahhhs. The whole room joined in sweet harmony and it was simply divine. I was resonating on some sort of frequency that made me feel very centered and happy to be there. Ron Irving by the way is producing a CD featuring Michael Vincent and Friends, and more info can be found on this link to his website.

Speaking of harmonies, we were treated to the lovely guest harmonies of several ladies in the audience, including Michael's daughter Zaena, and Ron's wife Sue Irving, who also works for SOCAN. Sue was great, and she had a lot of time to chat with me, and gave me advice about a couple of my songs which will be getting some short TV airplay soon (probably 2 seconds worth, LOL).

I will leave you with this video, performed by Steve Mcklintock,the song is called 'Don't let this plane touch down'. We were told that this was the first song that Steve and Ron ever wrote together. They played this song last night in the second set, and it was without a doubt, one of the many great highlights of the night!



Maggie May said...

wow you lucky girl!!! that is amazing! if i had the equivelant experience to this for writers, i'd be blissed out, which it sounds like you are. great music and people!

bernthis said...

I have to tell you that when I went to the BlogHer conference last year, I left feeling so hopeful and inspired it was amazing. It changed so much in my life, for the better. I'm so glad you got so much out of it

Jeremy said...

This reminds me of a Poetry Workshop I went to with my Dad way back when - it was a mix of Cowboy Poetry and Fiddle Music tucked into the beautiful mountains down in Cedar City Utah... I remember going to all the workshops, staring at all the handlebar mustaches... there were some great stories.

Take care,

Kat said...

Awesome! Sounds like you had a blast. Those were some great songs you posted. =)

Kate said...

Good, good news!
I'm so happy for you :o)

Bobbie Leigh said...

That is so great!

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