Today, I’ve got the blues. Good thing I know how to play guitar. And after all these years I may have learned to pen a tune or two. Sometimes I even sing the blues.
That’s why I’m happy to join with other Fraser Valley musicians to create a songwriters club, a group that will work on making stuff up and flinging it into the ether.
Look for us to break out onto the scene as a group somewhere soon at a venue near you.
This came about because I hosted a songwriting workshop at the Fraser Library and the turnout was robust. Have I ever held a songwriting workshop before? Hell no but there’s a fist time for everything. I admit that I was a little nervous but I feel that after three decades of writing and recording I could share something valuable with almost any musician.
I’m lucky that local songwriter Andy Strauss attended and then followed through and pushed the idea forward to continue this work with a local group.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve played with world class players who wanted nothing more than to add spice and professionalism to my song ideas. You never know what’s really happening at the time but looking back I found that trying, plunging in, dreaming and having conviction has led me to places like MTV, VH-1, The Wheeler Opera House and the Winter Park Pub.
Joining the Fraser Valley community allows me to meet people with similar ambitions. I like being around people with talent, feelings, a viewpoint, ears and instruments. You can’t get too far around here without bumping into a musician, writer or artist (or all three at once). This place is fertile ground for creativity.
I’ve worked most of my musical career in the Roaring Fork Valley with a couple of years on the tough streets of Seattle, just to spice things up. Although I’ve taken the time to learn plenty of cover songs I’ve always played originals with my band or as a solo artist. It’s what I do best.
I’ve had plenty of time on stage but my best performances have often been with friends around a campfire on the side of a river, or floating on my raft, the “Big Bird,” around a quiet bend on a peaceful desert canyon river. I like to wait until folks are in the grip of nature and ready to hear the channel that I’m broadcasting with my guitar, voice, melody, lyric, dynamic and luck. Then it works best.
Those natural venues are the biggest inspiration for my writing, besides love and sex of course. I even let politics in and am not afraid to tell it like I see it. Last year I did and entire album called “A Blaze of Orange,” dedicated to our current politics.
Sure, music is great as background service for people to talk, drink and ignore but I can tell you on behalf of songwriters everywhere that the best thing you can do for someone singing you an original tune is simply listen and open your heart. Let the magic in. In a world where no one listens past the rattlings of their own restless mind a good listener is a rare and precious gem. I’m fortunate – some of my dear ones really like to listen and I really like to play for them or with them.
If you are one of those people who should participate in a local songwriting group please contact me. We are going to gather on alternating Wednesday evenings from 5-7 p.m.
When it comes to songwriting there are no rules but the ones you choose to follow. I always encourage people to follow a few. Find a melody, use your voice, use dynamics, lyrics matter, arrangement matters, performance is important, themes are okay. The audio canvas is infinite. It might be good for some to work within parameters.
It doesn’t matter if you are a writer, a poet, a musician, a painter, a sculptor or an ice carver. It’s best to get up and do it. Don’t wait because it won’t wait. Don’t wait for someone else because you are going to look around and find that you are alone. Which reminds me of my song, “Don’t Wait.”
Don’t wait To get behind the plow
Don’t wait There’s no time like just now
Why wait? We’ll work it out somehow
Don’t wait ‘Cause there’s a chance here for us Or we could be hit by a bus
So don’t wait
To hear the rest you will have to catch me live. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to my recordings at steveskinner.bandcamp.com.