Had the honor of being a finalist in the Small Hall Songwriting competition this past weekend. I have had some well meaning consolation for not winning. The fact is, I did. My song was one of 10 chosen from 65. I got some frank, and somewhat hilarious feedback from on old school pro songwriter (Tommy Barnes). My wife and daughter came down with me. I blew a few dollars in my favorite bookstore (Off Square Books). I made some new friends that I think will be keepers. I heard 9 songs that make we want to be better at what I do. I got a belly full of country fried steak from Ajax diner. But it was more than that.
I don’t really care for the idea of music as competition. Its like saying I’m better at being me than you are at being you. The flip side of that coin is competition is often the impetus to improve your craft. I’m not much of a “joiner” when it comes to much of anything. I tend to go it alone, or stick to my little band of pirates. Nothing against the various groups and organizations, its just not my thing. I really enjoyed the fellowship of chatting with like minded folks. I hope some of these new friendships develop more over time. I have genuine respect for everyone I met there. Don’t often get nervous, but going up 7th, and having not heard a dud yet, I was feeling a little outgunned! The walk to the back of the hall to put my guitar up was a praise parade of nods and thumbs up from the other songwriters. Would you call it sportsmanship? I don’t know, but damn, it was nice!
There seems to be a perception that songwriting is largely country and white. I’m not going to try to unpack that here. Let’s just say that while it is a perception and a large industry, it doesn’t accurately reflect the art of songwriting. I felt that this was something the Small Hall folks got right, with a variety of genres being represented. The event is sponsored by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. They’re doing a great job keeping art and culture alive in the region. Check them out when you can.