Sunday, January 22, 2017


I knew in January, when I started this years "Sonoma County Singer Songwriter Competition" that I was delaying, once again the release of my Ebook "Another Day, Another Decibel," but then again it always has been a work in progress... Either way, it gives me the opportunity to develop yet another chapter in my book, story and life... so please bare with me and enjoy my latest project... I am :-)

While on the promo trail for our upcoming "Sonoma County Singer Songwriter Competition,"
I recently did an on-air radio interview with Brian Griffith, Program Director for @ KRCB Public Radio in Sonoma County. Brian posed the question that a few people have asked me...

"Why a Singer Songwriter Competition?"

I had thought about this idea for a long time before proposing it to Michael McCullough, one of the two outstanding owners of Redwood Cafe in Cotati. It's a great formula for live entertainment and one that I like to think of as a self generating event... in theory, if you have a lot of connected people, given the proper tools to help promote the event you can get some great results. Sounds simple, but it's a lot like cat herding... and what makes this formula work? The answer is community, and when you embrace and build a Community you get a greater understanding and the ability to reach a goal together, two very important social skills right now.

 OK, so why a competition? I personally don't believe that musical competitions are supposed to be delegated to only individual instruments or full battle bands, believe me, I've done my fair share of fiddlers festivals and battling bands? As an audio Engineer for over 30 years I've always looked for the 1 ingredient that makes the song work. I've always pointed towards the core of what it takes to make a good Singer Songwriter... the song. From there it all boils down to one word "honesty!"

"With some performers, honesty transcends musical ability or excellence.
Honesty is it's own state of perfection and there is no score for that."

"There are a lot of other ways to feature Singer Songwriter's, open mics, singer in the round an opening act. But few offer the artist the opportunity to have the focus on their craft that a 
competition does. The Judges and the audience are "there" to listen and that's a prize in itself."

In producing this event I have spoken with more than one potential contestant and even a music business in this community competition that where virtually offended at the word "competition,"
as if it were akin to other scary words like "Communism" or "Commercialism." I prefer to think of competition as more of an "opportunity" to exchange our craft and network with friends. As I've mentioned at everyone of our "SoCo Comp" nights... "There are no winners and there are no losers in this competition, there's only 1 Top Contestant each night and they move on to inspire the next. It's through this "competition" that we stand side by side on a level playing field, exchange our thoughts and learn from one another... No one reinvents the wheel and as I replied to a few nay-sayer's and repeated on air at the KRCB and the KRSH Radio interviews...

"This is an opportunity to work together on a common creative goal... we are building a human pyramid of talented local Artists, and when we are done standing each others backs, we will have created the very best Encore Performance show possible." 

The ultimate goal of this event is to establish a greater focus for our local artists. I designed the event to give all of the contestants the opportunity to showcase their work and potentially raise their game. "The Grand Prize" is not $10,000 or a shiny new guitar, it's the awareness that your efforts, both individual and as a community member have been realized.  As part of this competition all of the Contestants will receive not only unlimited networking with other Singer Songwriters and music business professionals but professional quality photos and videos from our Counties finest music photographers... Jason Baldwin and Cheryl Alterman and at leaset 1 of every contestant's songs are being streamed LIVE on facebook for the world to see.  These tools offer the contestant the opportunity to review and critic their work at a later date as well as promotional tools for the future.

As for the future, even at half way point of this competition this event has been huge success and I am working on the details to make this an annual event. Frankly I'm having so much fun that I would run it all year if I could. My hope is that this inspires our County Artists to seek out, attend and support our County's other outstanding musical platforms like "Singer in a Round" or organizations like "West Coast Songwriters." My congratulations and heartfelt thank you's go out to all of our Contestants as well as our Judges for their contribution of time, art and energy. A special thank you to each and every person who has stepped up to help and attend these shows... on stage or off stage it is living proof of a growing Community.

So, take the advice of a fake Professor and don't let a few little words scare you in life...
Competition is good... greed is bad!

Photos and participants below are "STILL IN PROGRESS"

All courtesy of Jason Baldwin






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