I signed up for a songwriting competition. A crazy thing to do, really, for a couple of reasons. The first one: I play music with other people; nothing tops the great feeling of blending our styles and sounds to make something sound richer and sweeter. What an odd concept that I will be competing against other musicians, with somebody, at the end of the day, winning. The second and more deep-seated: I left music because of competition and the pressure of high expectations. I rediscovered music as something joyful, not attached to an adjudicator’s comments or audition result or exam mark, but something I do for fun. The main goal: fun. The primary outcome: fun. The lasting impression that stays with me for days after a session: fun.
So what would possess me to sign up for a songwriting competition? I think I am ready to venture out of my comfort zone of playing with and for familiar faces who support and applaud my creative attempts. (I say “I think” because I am not at all sure – I’ll confirm or denounce this theory after the experience is over.) I am curious to see if my lyrics resonate with strangers as well as with my family and musical friends who know me well. And – it’s a test. A test to see if the dreaded performance anxiety monster has been tamed or is lurking in the wilds of Waterloo Region waiting to pounce when I least expect it. We shall see. . .
If anyone feels compelled to launch themselves into this creative and educational endeavour, you can sign up for venues in Fergus, Waterloo and Cambridge – just one or all three (“triple play”). The competition starts January 2011, hosted by Robbie Hancock who also hosts the Tuesday night open mic at the University of Waterloo Grad House. There is an early bird rate if you register before October 28th so don’t delay. Details and registration forms can be found at: http://rjentertainment.ca/. And if you do sign up, let everyone know about it! Leave a comment at the bottom of the post – the place beside “Read the whole story” that says “no discussion yet” or “2 comments” or something similar.
To do justice to the Tuesday night jam at Delainey’s I should talk a little about its beginnings at the Old Copper Kettle. This spring I interviewed the original host – Nonie Crete – for some historical perspective.
Nonie took me back a little further in time to when she hosted a Sunday afternoon jam at Leyander’s in Elora (somewhere around 1995-1998) – locals may remember a CD called Live at Leyander’s. Around this time Nonie met Mike & Carol who talked about opening their own pub. “When you do, let me know – I’ll help you out” Nonie offered. So when it did come to pass that Mike & Carol opened the Old Copper Kettle in Fergus (1999) Nonie started playing there on Tuesday nights, inviting others to join her. The first year they operated it as a tea room, then as a pub. Nonie remembers many evenings when she played there on her own. Then, after about a year, a few musicians started attending (several still come out on Tuesday nights).
Nonie watched the Tuesday night jam grow from a few stalwart regulars to an event that drew people from Kitchener, Guelph, Orangeville and Toronto. Some nights there would be nowhere to sit and almost nowhere to stand. “People are so starved to play music”, Nonie observed. Right from the beginning it was a place for everyone to play – confident performers and nervous beginners all had their turn to introduce a song. “I always worked hard at making people want to come back – I wanted people to feel welcome.” The Old Copper Kettle had a unique warmth and friendliness to it, thanks, in part, to Mike & Carol, enthusiastic supporters of many musical ventures at their establishment.
As the Tuesday night jam grew in popularity, Nonie found her own musical career taking more of her time. Rehearsing, song writing, recording, and performing sometimes three shows a week meant she couldn’t always be there to host or would be there later in the evening. Terry Golletz eventually took over the hosting role and the Tuesday night jam moved to Delainey’s in Fergus in 2008.
I didn’t get to visit a new open stage this week – creative energy was being directed to RIVERFOLK in Fergus. Riverfolk is a showcase of local musical talent which has been held for the second year running along with Fergus’s Artwalk. The rain moved many events inside or under tents but the creative spirit still shone. I was lucky enough to participate in a set that celebrated the Fergus Tuesday night jam at Delainey’s: Originals, traditionals and some songs just for the fun of it. Hope that this live music festival gathers momentum in its third year next summer!
Delainey's musicians at RiverFolk