A great Toronto Songwriters Association meeting last night. Welcome to new members — one day we’ll all be able to meet in person! Great songs and great performances by all. Attendees from New Brunswick, Owen Sound and the GTA.
A huge crop of new songs at the April meeting as we watched snippets of 10 short videos and heard how the songwriters had interpreted them as songs. In addition we heard some great non-assignment songs. That’s what can happen in April. We forget all about winter’s forgetful snow and breed “lilacs out of the dead land”. Well, May is pretty good for breeding lilacs too, so let’s go for it again on May 12. If you’d like to attend, go to the Contacts page and complete the form so we can include you in our monthly meeting email list, or send us a message via the TSA Facebook page.
The assignment was to write a song about a mythical creature or a fictional character. But then this suspicious lot from west end Toronto showed up. Most of them did have assignment songs though, so in the end it was okay. We had time to dig deeply into analysis and feedback. We learned a thing or two about songwriting.
Whew! We’re back online, and just in time for the October 9 meeting. Our website went down days before the September meeting. A failed update scrambled the database. We are very sorry for the inconvenience to all of you who log in to find meeting and songwriting assignment information.
Eric sent in this video of Sandy Blakeley performing his song Worried Man at the September TSA meeting. Sandy wrote this song when he was a member of Sea Elephants in the 80s and early 90s.
He says, “I do like to play this one still. Not quite sure why, but it seems to resonate with me. It is about somebody who makes it back home during an intense storm and has no choice but to sit there and watch it. At the same time he worries about someone he is waiting for who is supposed to already have arrived. He wants to go back out to look for them but instead has to sit and reflect on what is going on.”
We thought we’d share some pictures taken at our June 2013 meeting. Eight songwriters attended. Stephen, Chris, Sandra, and Anastace presented new songs.
For more pictures, go to page 2.
Robin Peacocke, Toronto-based singer-songwriter, has been bringing her songs to Toronto Songwriters Association meetings since 2007.
Robin first came into contact with the TSA through fellow songwriter and TSA member Carmen Schreyer. “I work with Carmen and we discovered one day that we had a mutual interest in music and songwriting. I went with her to the TSA Christmas party in 2007. I’ve been a part of the group ever since.”
Robin released her folk-pop flavoured debut CD, Free to Fly, in May, 2010. Recorded at Hannah Road Studios and produced by Mike Elmer, a TSA member himself, the CD is available at CD Baby, iTunes, SoundCloud, and amazon.com.
Robin’s interest in music and songwriting began in her early teens, when she taught herself to play guitar “by listening to John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.” Later on she joined a community music group and started performing at local events. “It was around that time that I wrote my first song,” she recalls. “It was about my father, who passed away when I was fifteen. I needed to get some feelings out. I had been listening to a lot of country music at that time, and the story-telling aspect of country music is partly what inspired me to start writing.”
In the early 90s, Robin got together with a songwriter friend and formed the duo Wildwood Flowers. “I started writing more at that time in order to add my original songs to our shows, and I guess that’s when I truly started feeling like a songwriter.”
Since coming into contact with the TSA, Robin’s songwriting has been evolving from a mainly instinctive approach towards a more conscious practice of her craft. “I’ve learned a lot about songwriting by attending TSA meetings, both from comments on my songs and from listening to other people’s songs and critiques. Now when I write, I try to keep in mind the suggestions I’ve been given and I analyze more as I go along.”
She explains that a challenge for her now is to integrate this new, conscious approach without losing the spontaneous, joyful side of songwriting. “I have trouble with lyrics, especially now that I’m thinking more about the craft instead of just being happy to have strung some words together that rhyme.”
Another change for Robin is that song ideas are now coming from different sources. She says that her method used to be “to noodle around on the guitar until I found a chord progression or rhythm that appealed to me, and the feel of the music would direct where the song went lyrically.” Nowadays she finds herself getting song ideas from reading a line in a book or overhearing a comment, which then “percolate in my subconcious, and eventually when I have enough of an idea to work with, I’ll sit down with my guitar or the piano and see what I can come up with.”
For a taste of what Robin has been coming up with so far, enjoy listening to these songs from her debut CD Free to Fly.
The Toronto Songwriters Association is a non-profit, cooperative group dedicated to furthering the joy and craft of songwriting. Membership is free and open to singer-songwriters in the greater Toronto area who can compose, sing, and play their own songs.
Membership is based on participation. TSA members are songwriters who attend meetings, present original songs, participate in helpful discussions about other members’ songs, play at TSA gigs, and take an active role in the affairs and future plans of the TSA.
The TSA originated with a group of songwriters who met at a Humber College songwriting workshop. Informal extra-curricular gatherings gradually became more regular in frequency and format. New members joined via word-of-mouth, ads placed in local arts publications, etc. We founded the TSA in the fall of 2004 and officially launched it at a songwriters’ evening in December of that year.
We created the TSA website in 2006. The website was redesigned as a WordPress site in 2012.
TSA meetings are friendly gatherings where songwriters present and critique new songs in a respectful, supportive, patient and open-minded atmosphere. The goal is always to develop songwriting. We encourage members to attend meetings whether or not they have a new song to present that month. At the end of each meeting, we adopt an assignment for writing the next month’s new song. Though the assignment is optional and members are free to present any new work they wish, some of our most memorable songs have come from monthly assignments. It’s a simple format that seems to work. Our members consistently report that they are able to write more and better songs after joining the TSA.
Members vary in age, songwriting experience, musical skill and style. At our meetings and public shows you will hear anything from pop and rock, to folk, cabaret or art song. The TSA does not promote any particular method or model of songwriting; we draw on the best traditions and rely on our members’ diverse experience. Our members decide for themselves what to write about, how and why to write, and what to do with their songs. As a collective, we offer support and encouragement for our members’ independent songwriting activities through interaction and exchange within a community of songwriters.
Singer-songwriter and TSA member Kimberly Boyce has released her jazz-flavoured debut recording, Rise Above. Produced by Mike Ewing, the CD features some of Canada’s best session players, including Mark Kelso on drums, David Woodhead and Scott Alexander on bass, Kevin Fox on cello, Rob Gusevs on keyboards, Rob Carroll on guitar and John MacLean on sax. Mixed by Juno award winning Michael Phillip Wojewoda, and mastered by Juno and Grammy award winning Joao Carvalho. Congratulations, Kim!
Listen to MP3 clips of Kim’s songs…
For more information, visit Kim’s website —> http://kimberlyboyce.com