GRAY MATTER #4 - Songwriting Rounds and More

Hi again! I hope everyone had a good week! I, for one, have a lot to talk about since the last time we…spoke. Last week was a super productive week for me, all concentrated into 3 days.  I got back from vacation and went straight into recording a pitch for a movie the next day.  They were asking for a cover of “Here Comes the Sun” for the new Jennifer Garner movie.  I worked on a version with my friend Andy Zulla (co-wrote “Beautiful Day”, but check out his credentials, pretty impressive)  We submitted it through my film and tv rep and now the filmmakers pick which one they like.. Hopefully it’s ours:)  

Then I got right back into working on the Long Hard Day EP.  I am still honing in on the timeline for the video with my Polish director.  He’s coming up with some really cool ideas.  Between the two of us, these two actors, who he cast, are going to be very busy! They shoot this weekend, so I’ll let you know how it goes.  It will be shot in Warsaw, so I will NOT be attending.

On Thursday, I traveled down to the 30A Songwriters Festival.  This is my second time being a part of this festival that brings in around 75 artists/songwriters.. There are about 15 venues that host rounds along Route 30A in the panhandle of Florida.  A round, for those of you who don’t know, is when 2,3 or even 4 writers traditionally sit in a circle in the middle of the room, facing each other.  Each person takes a turn singing a song, describing the process of the story behind the song.  You listen to each persons song and then go around again, maybe 3 or 4 times.  These days, most writers sit in a row on a stage in front of the room, so it’s more like a line rather than a round.  Just an FYI.

Anyway, It’s pretty spectacular down there near Panama City Beach, I highly recommend going if you can.  The first night, they had an artist welcome party, where I was able to meet up with sooo many artist friends that I love seeing in these random places.. Charlie Mars, David Ryan Harris, Griffin House, Nicole Witt, Shawn Mullins, Jeffrey Steele, Jeff Cohen to name a few.. It was such a blast. My first day, I woke up and went on a run in this beautiful setting, then went to write with Jeff Cohen.  We have written a few songs together over the years, one of which is “Take My Hand”.  We are currently working on compiling enough songs for my next EP release.  Whichever co-writer I finish 5 songs with first will be the next EP after Long Hard Day.  

After that, I went to play my first round with a singer named Sarah Borges.  She was hysterical.  I kept thinking she was from Canada for some reason.. She’s from Boston.. Whoops.  We actually wrote together a few years back, but we never really kept up after that.. Not sure why.. It happens sometimes.  Anyway, our round was super fun.  There were about 250 people quiet as a group of mice, which makes for the best kind of round.  We are there to play our hearts out and they are there to soak it up.  After my round, I went to see Deana Carter play.  I had never heard of her before, but a few people told me to go and hear/meet her.  She’s known for a song called “Strawberry Wine”.  Never heard it before, but always cool to hear new people..

The next day, I woke up and reeeeally had to motivate to run, but I did.  Thank god.  It’s not easy.. MOST of the time.  Then I went to write with my friends in a band called Farewell Angelina (after the Bob Dylan song).  I originally know Nicole Witt, who is an amazing writer/singer out of Nashville.  She is in this band with 3 other equally talented ladies.  You should definitely check them out HERE as they just got a deal!!!  I’m so happy for them.  We wrote a killer song together.. I say that because it was 5 women sitting around a table, chatting and spitting ideas.. I’m surprised we got ANYTHING done. I can’t wait for them to work up our song so you can hear it.  

After we finished, I drove to the main stage to listen to the great Jackson Browne!  I never heard him live before and he did not disappoint! The lineup was Jeffrey Steele (about 40 #1 songs to his name), Shawn Mullins, JD Souther (“Faithless Love”, “Heartache Tonight”, “Best of my Love”.. and so many other Eagles songs..) A pretty sobering thing to hear, knowing now of Glenn Frey’s passing. We are losing way too many icons this year.. I know it’s tough for my buddy Copely who I wrote Long Hard Day with.. He spent a lot of time on the road with the Eagles.. The headliner was the amazing Jackson Browne, who I never got to see live before.  He did not disappoint! It was so amazing to hear "Take it Easy" and "Running on Empty" live! I then waited like a lame o with Griffin to meet him backstage.  Griffin had been asked to record a song for his tribute record and of course wanted to meet him for the first time.  I, on the other hand, telling Griffin, I'll be the friend who takes your picture with him; in other words, I'm only waiting here to make you not look silly, stood there like a moron listening to them talk:) Jackson kept looking over and finally held out his hand and asked where I was from. I said New York, he then asked if I had "them New York values".  I plead the 5th.  He laughed.  I probably blushed at that point.  I ended up getting my own photo with him, taken on some random persons phone.  I'll probably never get that picture, but it was a cool moment.

I also ended up having a super awesome conversation with Jeffrey Steele, whom I'd played many events with, but never really talked that long to.  I told him about my Sara Evans cut and he was psyched.  He said we were way over due for a write and hopefully we can get that together soon! If I can have a little of what he's having, I'll have a number one within the year!! HA  That same night, I played my final round with Reed Waddle, who's amazing.  Definitely check him out and listen to the song "Piece by Piece".  SO GOOD.

Later on, I went to watch my friend Jeff Cohen play his round with Dan Bern and Davin McCoy.  I hadn’t heard of the other two guys, but boy was this a diversely amazing round!! Jeff has had hits with A Band Perry, Sugarland, Big & Rich and more, Dan was hilarious and wrote the wittiest songs and then Davin had this “whiskey sexy” thing going on… that’s the name of one of the tunes he played.. literally.  A man after my own heart.  

The festival took a lot out of me, but that wasn’t all, I then drove up to Atlanta for 5 hours and played my own show! I have to say, it might have been the best show I’ve ever had in Atlanta!  I was tired from driving, but it was the best feeling after sharing the stage with some amazing writers and playing for a bunch of people who weren’t familiar with my music to then play a show for my people and have them singing along…. the best feeling.  After the show, I had to bolt to the airport to catch my flight back up to NY.  Sorry again for canceling Charlotte, I am going to announce the new date this week, so stay tuned.  

Love to hear your thoughts, comments or questions.. Is anyone out there?  If you choose to remain silent, I love you anyway:)  Stay warm. Til next week..