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Connecting Songwriters Throughout Northeast Ohio

News And Updates

Volume 3 Issue 2

February 2019

The Reprise:
Create. Music and Community.

Don Henson, Founder
create verb
cre·​ate | \ krē-ˈāt,ˈkrē-ˌāt\
created; creating
transitive verb
: to bring into existence
intransitive verb
: to make or bring into existence something new
Merriam Webster has it right when it comes to songwriters like us. We start with an idea and formulate it into something that can be seen, heard and enjoyed. Individually or collectively, we make something out of nothing. Like the Little Rascals of our youth, we put on a show. So where does the next collective creation come from? What will we be doing next? That, fellow members, is up to you.

We are a part of this musical community but it feels like we don’t spend very much time together as a musical community. A couple hours once a month does not a community make. Perhaps it’s time we make the effort to change that.

For instance, there are many open mic nights around town that beg for participants. Maybe a half dozen members could descend on one on a given night to play a song or two. This would have a two-fold result:
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Member Jerry Slea Plays Prince Of Peace Open Mic In Westlake

photo: Phil Sprague
#1- it would introduce Songwriter Summit to those who don’t know who we are.

#2- it presents an opportunity for us to get to know each other.

Our meetings don’t typically allow us to know much more than a name and familiar face. This group’s original members met each other at an open mic night. We didn’t go to school together. We weren’t childhood friends. We came together because of this common bond to make music.

There are so many ways to strengthen our community. Perhaps ask someone at our next meeting if they’d like to write a song together and present it at a future meeting. Do you know how many members live in the same town as you? What about a workshop where several of us can sit and write a song together?

We are the creative people. What do you think we can do to bring us together to create musical friendships? I’d like to hear what you’d like to see us create. I'd like everyone that reads this to
send me at least one suggestion.

It’s time for us to reach out and get to know each other. Better.

Join Us For Our Next General Meeting
February 4th at 7 PM
2 Girls Cafe & Bakery, Stow Ohio

Meeting Details

Elections Slated For March

Your Chance To Step Up And Join In
Our March meeting will be centered around more than just great music. We have at hand the important task of electing the board of directors. Once in place, the board will elect the officers to do the day-to-day functions of running Songwriter Summit. This is your opportunity to take a greater role in the direction of our organization. We need seven members for the board and one non-voting alternate. From there we fill the President, Vice-president, Treasurer, Secretaries and other vital positions.

This is also the time of year that we will be fleshing out the committees that are geared to help us grow and prosper over the next twelve months. If you can't fill a board position maybe there is a committee that can use your skills. Here's a short list of the ones we have planned.

Marketing – This includes website design and content and Social Media sites.

Video and Editing – This includes taking pictures during the meetings to use in our videos.

Newsletter – Helping with content and ideas to keep The Bridge fresh, entertaining, and interesting.

Community Outreach – Locating or creating events to highlight our organization.

Fundraising – As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization we are eligible for community funds and grants.

Help us make 2019 a great year for Songwriter Summit.
Drop us a note if you have any questions. We'd love to have your help this year.

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Member Profile: Bill Van Jura

Bill Van Jura is a lifelong Northeast Ohioan who grew up in Painesville and moved to the west side of Cleveland when he got a job as a social studies teacher. He started learning guitar at around the age of 12 or 13 and that was right in the middle of the singer/songwriter era. To play guitar and not write songs seemed completely pointless to his"tweenage" brain. As soon as he learned a few chord progressions he tried to write songs."Really, really crappy songs," he admits. But they were HIS crappy songs!"To be fair," he said,"this was the late sixties and there were a lot of crappy songs on the radio."

Bill explains that his songwriting approach was"strongly influenced by the people I was listening to on vinyl. I was very fortunate to begin to develop an approach to songwriting during a time when the ‘stars’ of the day were excellent songwriters. The bar was set pretty high and I think that caused a lot of people - not just me - to challenge themselves to be a lot better than they might normally have been."

According to Bill, he has"never been able to write songs in one particular way, like a step by step format. I sometimes wish I could. A title, a turn of a phrase, a musical progression, a beat, an observation - anything can spark a song. Once started, it can be exhilaratingly fast or excruciatingly slow to complete. Generally, the songs evolve over a period of time until I am satisfied with them. Since I am not doing this for a living, that ‘period of time’ can extend into years. It can be frustrating at times, but it is also the single best feeling in the world to finish something you are genuinely proud of."

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

Well, I’ve only been to two meetings and I’m going to have to miss the third, so maybe not the best question for me. I can say that the reason I came back and joined is because of the quality of the people there and the music they were generating. It was exciting for me to hear and, like my singer/songwriter heroes of the 60’s and 70’s, they challenged me to ‘up my game.’

What drives your writing?

What drives my writing is that it is simply fun to do. The problem with much of my writing is that it cannot be performed by one person the way I hear it in my head. Since I got into digital recording about ten years ago, it has really opened up the writing possibilities so that ideas that could not be performed by one musician don’t necessarily get scrapped. Layering tracks is not really any substitute for a live band performance, but if you don’t have a band, it does allow you to create musical templates that might otherwise just disappear from your memory over time.
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"The goal is to service the song, not my performing strengths."

How would you describe the music you create?

Eclectic. I like a lot of different styles. When a song comes to me, it kind of directs me to the style that suits it best. The goal is to service the song, not my performing strengths. As a result, the songs are running the gamut from acoustic guitar and voice to country to pop to rock. Trying a different style is fun because it makes you use different musical ‘muscles’ that you weren’t even aware of.

What advice would you share with other songwriters?

If you aspire to be a professional songwriter for a living, then I have no advice for you. I would love to say I have sold a song or had someone famous - or even not so famous - include one of my songs on their collection, but I never pursued that so I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what to tell someone. However, if songwriting fulfills an inner need for self-expression, like it did for me, I would say go out and play songs you are proud of for other people. Listen to their feedback - positive and negative - and enjoy the music you created.

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

Collaborating with another writer can be pretty special and I have only really had that kind of relationship once. Writing"together" is a bit misleading because what we actually did was bring our mostly completed songs to each other and finish them. In my perfect musical world I would be in a group of three or four people all capable of singing lead or harmony, playing various instruments and some percussion into any song and all capable of writing their own songs and helping improve their collaborator’s work. Oh wait! I think that was called Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young! Anyway, you get the idea. If it was easy, everyone would do it. One thing I do like about getting out to groups like the Songwriter Summit is that there is at least the possibility of collaboration. Even if it is limited to feedback as opposed to writing the finished product. The basement recording studio is fun, but the computer doesn’t talk back or offer much feedback.

What is the difference between the best song you've ever written and the worst?

To be honest, if a song is not working after a period of time, I usually shelve it. On the few occasions that I have forced it into existence against its will it usually ends up being pretty lousy. The best songs - or what I feel are the best songs - evolve in their own time. Fast or slow. They feel right to me. Now they may not feel right to everybody, but in the end you need to please yourself. I would give myself the same advice that I offered earlier to others; play your songs and enjoy the music you created.

When I’m satisfied with a song,
I usually post it onto I would enjoy reading any feedback your readers would like to give. I usually play once a month at a nice ice cream/coffee shop in Hinckley called Z’s Cream & Bean. I can guarantee the quality of the ice cream. As for the music, you’ll just have to take your chances!

You can hear Bill at Z's Cream and Bean
2706 Boston Rd, Hinckley, OH, on
March 9th and 30th, April 13th and 27th and May 11th and 25th

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Nashville Tuning: A New Sound For Your Guitar

Bob Sammon
Think of it as a poor man's 12-string. Nashville tuning - also known as high string tuning - can give your instrument a whole new sound and just might inspire you to write new music as you explore the sonic possibilities without having to learn new fingerings or chords.

The best way to envision how a guitar is set up for Nashville tuning is to picture a 12-string with it's pairs of strings. From the low E to the G, each pair consists of notes an octave apart. On a six-string you would leave the high E and B in place and replace the other four strings with the high octave string from the 12-string set. After that you just tune the way you would a twelve.

I started playing with Nashville tuning a little over a year ago when I converted my '68 Guild. I had been working with a very talented musician and I was looking for a way to broaden our sound. My Crafter was the instrument I relied on most and I wanted to find a way to create some different sonic landscapes when we played together. I was very quickly captivated by the sound that can be coaxed out of an instrument without having to learn anything new. My fingering and chord positions were all the same. All that changed was this amazing new feeling I got when I played the Guild.

David Demonstrating Nashville Tuning
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It was inspirational. I wrote a couple of songs that went with the new vibe and took the guitar out to a few open mics to see how it worked in public. It worked very well. As a result the Guild has been kept with the new setup and brings a special joy every time I play.

So what does it sound like?
Here's a link to a Martin tuned in high-strung fashion. And if you click here you can watch our very own David Palomo playing at our January meeting with his guitar setup for Nashville tuning. If you want to try it yourself and don't want to waste half a set of 12-string strings you can hit this link for sets for acoustic and electric guitars that are designed for this unique sound.

Too Many Guitarists

Don Henson
In the spring of 1979, as I was completing my sophomore year of college, a friend and fellow student told me he was involved in running live entertainment at Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora. He asked if I would like to audition for one of the stage shows since I was an actor/singer/musician. I thought it might be a fun job for the summer so I agreed to audition. He told me he really needed musicians that year and would I like to play guitar in the country show at the Gold Rush Theater. Sure! Playing guitar beats spending time plowing fields and milking cows while I was living back home for the summer.

The players and singers were hired and we would meet for rehearsals on weekends during spring quarter. I drove from Dayton to Aurora to rehearse on Saturdays and Sundays for several weeks where I got to know the other five members of the “band.” During the second weekend rehearsal someone brought up the fact that we had three guitar players, a drummer, and two female vocalists.

"We need a bass player."

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“We need a bass player,” was the comment that struck a chord with me. “I’ll do it,” came out of my mouth and everyone agreed it was a good idea. I then went back to school and bought a used bass.

With a little practice and very sore fingers, I learned to play that bass well enough to get through the summer season as the bass player in the Gold Rush Band. It helped that we performed the exact same show six times a day, six days a week. Talk about repetition!

The following summer I became a part of another"manufactured band" and did the same thing at Cedar Point. Funny how a spur of the moment decision can steer you into a completely new life changing direction!

a short clip from the show.

Videos Of The Month

A Showcase Memory

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Rick Bruening sings"Sifting Stones"

Watch Now

Internet Find of the Month

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Imagine if Bob Ross hadn't been a painter. Perhaps not entirely safe for work.

Watch Now
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 February 4th. If you are presenting a song please bring 20 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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Let Us Know What You Think
What would you like to see us cover in The Bridge? Would you be interested in writing for us once in a while? Do you have an event you’d like to have published to share with our membership and the others who read our publication each month? If so just drop us a note. Like what you see? Catch a mistake? Let us know. We’ve set up a special email address that goes directly to those responsible for compiling this newsletter each month. It’s the best way to get in touch with us. We look forward to your input, comments and suggestions. 
Officers And Board Members
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Don Henson

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Bob Sammon
Member At Large

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Ken Moody-Arndt
Vice President

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T. B. Announced
Member At Large

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Dave Waldeck
Recording Secretary

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Ms. T. B. Announced
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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