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Connecting Songwriters Throughout Northeast Ohio

News And Updates

Volume 3 Issue 7

July 2019

Challenges and Jumpstarts

Ken Moody-Arndt, President
Are you inspired? More to the point: what does it take to get you that way when you’re not? You can jumpstart a dead battery; what can you do when your Muse keels over and your songwriting dies?

Well. One answer is…”nothing.” Seriously: does your livelihood depend on getting that song churned out by COB Friday? Will your significant others, children, pets, friends, stop loving you if you stop producing songs? Will the world end, or even care, if you never produce another song as long as you li…. Well, for my money, as for as questions like that—ask Nietzsche; I’m not following that rabbit trail any further than I just have. The answer to all of the above is, “No…and so what!?” I love this thing we do, and I’m going to keep on doing it till they put me in the ground, even if the only one listening is me.

So what does one do, when the muse departs, when the creative streams dry up, all that? Well. You’ve heard the one about 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration, right? Time to start perspiring! What can I do to make the sweat start rolling?

One way is a way we have tried here at Songwriter Summit a number of times: An Assignment. Not too long ago, at the end of one of our monthly meetings, the fearless, peerless leadership of the time brought out a bag with a bunch of fortune cookies, and one suggestion. You know where this is going, right? Maybe you were here when it happened. We each got a fortune cookie, and a suggestion that, for the next meeting, we come with a song based on the fortune in the fortune cookie. I can say my first reaction was…well, I won’t elaborate: I’d like to keep this column family-friendly. But that reaction got kicked out of the house by the resurrected Muse. I read my fortune with the possibility of a song resentfully planted in my mind, the proverbial wheels started turning, and I got from that a song I still play out on occasion.
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Bob Sammon Performing His 10x3 Challenge Song:"Neptune"


"Once a year, he adds another stipulation: He picks four words out of a hat. Literally."

A year went by after that one, and I found myself in another dry spell—that’s right, I said, “A year….” A year had gone by, I had written nothing, and was starting to panic. It so happened that, in the Church year, we were in the time leading into Lent. Well, Devoutly Annoying Religious Fanatic that I am, I decided that for Lent, in the spirit of taking something on rather than giving something up, I would, come hell or high water, write a song a week, however bad. Well…the first one was…um, let’s just say I have never played that one out. But the ones that followed, at a clip of one a week, are some of my best.

Cleveland based singer/songwriter Brent Kirby has a weekly open mic at Brothers Lounge in Cleveland called the “10x3.” It’s prearranged: you sign up in advance on his website. It is what the name implies: 10 songwriters, doing 3 songs apiece, at least two of which must be original. Once a year, he adds another stipulation: He picks four words out of a hat. Literally. One might call it the 4xHat (uh, no, now that I think of it, one absolutely may not call it that! I’m the Prez! I forbid it! Betcha Brent would, too!). Anyway, the assignment for that night is to write a song based on those four words. That night always turns out to be an amazing one.

Some of my best work, some of the best work of my friends has come out of challenges like that. Every songwriting assignment I’ve received made me pouty and resentful at first—and ended up giving me some of the best songs I’ve done. Try it! Set a challenge for yourself. Put yourself in the way of people who offer challenges like that. Amaze your friends! Amaze yourself! We will help! You’ll get challenges like that from us, perhaps sooner than you think!

(Curious about the 10x3?
Here’s a link. Hope to see you there sometime!)

Join Us For Our Next General Meeting
July 1st at 7 PM
2 Girls Cafe & Bakery, Stow Ohio

Meeting Details


As summer fast approaches, it will soon be time for our Annual Songwriter Picnic. After taking last year off, we are resuming the festivities!

Our first picnic was July 4 weekend of 2005. We’ve only missed one year since then and we’ve always had a great time as we gather together as a musical community. Here’s how it works…

Soft drinks (bottled water and sodas), chicken wings, pizza, ice, paper plates, cups and utensils will be provided. B.Y.O.B and bring a covered dish/dessert to share if you can. Above all, bring your instruments and voices! Music abounds as we will gather in tents, on the back deck, the family room and the garage. (Electric instruments usually wind up in the garage)
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Above that, the annual picnic gives you the chance to get to know your fellow songwriters in a relaxed setting with no meeting constraints.

When: Saturday, July 6th

Time: 1pm til"it’s over"

Where: Don’s House (email us for address)

I hope everyone is ready for lots of Music, Food, and Friendship!

Member Profile: Scott Marshall

When Scott Marshall shows up at our meetings he almost always brings a song that is polished like a precious stone. A brief conversation with him demonstrates that is not an accident.

Scott has been playing music almost his entire life, but in 1993 he got"stuck on a job working afternoons and weekends." That curtailed his playing out for a while and he really needed some kind of musical outlet."That," he says,"is when I took up songwriting. I've been doing it ever since."

"So in retrospect," he mused,"that crappy job was a blessing!

We had a few questions for Scott.

What keeps you coming back to Songwriter Summit on a regular basis?

I enjoy the people at the meetings and hearing what they're up to musically. Songwriters need all of the help that they can get in this area and I guess I'm just trying to show my support.

What drives your writing?

I get inspiration for my songs in a variety of ways. Hearing something funny at work, current events and books to name a few. I have also written about sad things I've experienced. Writing can be very cathartic in that regard. Occasionally I'll write songs for certain people. My Dad, my Wife and Baker Mayfield!

How would you describe the music you create?

The style of music I usually write for is traditional country. I also do folk, bluegrass, an occasional rock tune and comedy/novelty. I've always admired Tom T. Hall's approach to songwriting. He tells stories and does it plainly as if he's having a conversation with the listener. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough, but I prefer his approach as opposed to other writers who constantly necessitate “reading between the lines.”
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Thicken up your skin and get critiques from competent songwriters. Like learning to play an instrument, good songwriting takes practice. Respect the craft."

What advice would you share with other songwriters?

Don't be afraid to rewrite. Thicken up your skin and get critiques from competent songwriters. Like learning to play an instrument, good songwriting takes practice. Respect the craft.

What are your thoughts about working with a co-writer?

I've co-written with people from the UK, Canada, Nashville and locally. It has to be a back and forth process with both writers contributing. Communication is the key, whether it's in person or online.

Finally, we asked Scott the difference between the best song he's written and the worst.

"The best song I've written has been recorded a number of times. Why? Because it moves people. The pro singer went through a box of Kleenex recording the demo. That's when I knew I had something. The worst? Pick any of the first few songs I penned before I started getting intelligent feedback ( joining NSAI was a big help). Lots of red flags (overused phrases, poor rhyme schemes, etc.). Like I said earlier, it takes practice!"

Members like this who respect the craft are what sets our group apart and helps us all foster the art that is so much a part of our lives.
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The Show Must Go On!
No Matter How You Feel

Bob Sammon
It's happened to me a few times. Maybe you know the feeling. You've been rehearsing for an important gig for a week. You're excited. You're feeling good.

The morning of the show dawns bright and clear but you find yourself with a runny nose. Or a cough. Maybe both. You're not feeling that great. It's too late to call the venue and cancel. You can't contact all the people you invited to be there even with the help of social media. You're going to have to do the show come hack or clogged sinus.

So what do you do? There's always the urgent care option to maybe get something to deal with the condition but that costs more than the gig pays. Over the counter meds might provide some relief but could also leave you out of sorts and less than energetic and that could kill the vibe for the evening. Unless you're prepared to deal with these little setbacks, this could be the last time you play this particular stage.
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Using A Neti Pot

Taking care of your voice is an important part of preparing for any show. It should be a lifelong pursuit. You can find lots of information on the Internet to help you with warmups and care tips. Just as you care for and protect your instrument, you need to recognize that your vocal cords need the same kind of care and conditioning.

I found an article that offers some tips for short term (the gig is TONIGHT!) solutions and a few ideas on how to take care of that precious gift that is your singing voice. I found a few good ideas - the neti pot wasn't one of them thank you very much - that I plan to put in my bag of remedies to get me through the next time I run into a problem before a show. Maybe you'll get a little insight into how important this is by taking a quick look. If you've got a favorite solution let us know. We'd love to share your experiences.

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A Brief Look Back

"People Gonna Rise Again"
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The Boss and"The Boss"

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Grace Notes
Our Next Meeting
Our next meeting will be held at 2 Girls Cafe & Bakery, 3707 Darrow Road in Stow Ohio at 7 PM on July 1st. If you are presenting a song please bring 30 copies for distribution to the other attendees. Copies will be returned to you at the end of the meeting. You do not need to be a member to attend a meeting or bring us a song.
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Officers And Board Members
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Ken Moody-Arndt

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Bob Sammon
Member At Large

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Don Henson

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Mike Urban
Member At Large

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Dave Waldeck
Recording Secretary

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Larry Davis
Member At Large

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David Palomo
Member At Large

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T. B. Announced, Jr.
Member At Large

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