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The 16th Arizona Songwriters Gathering
Fun, Fascinating, Free and Still Going Strong!

By Mariah Fleming

16th Arizona Songwriters Gathering

There’s a tremendous wealth of talent in Arizona’s music community, and this weekend you’ll get to see a lot of them having fun, sharing in the wealth. Take advantage of our beautiful weather and gather up your friends and family for The 16th Annual Arizona Songwriter’s Gathering, Saturday January 21st from 10 AM to 4:30PM. It’s a day showcasing Arizona talent, complete with ongoing live music concerts and numerous professionally hosted workshops, designed to assist songwriters in their craft. The music and the workshops cover all the bases. The information available to songwriters in the workshops, at no charge, is an outstanding opportunity for any serious songwriter.

This free, family friendly event is well known and anticipated by Arizona musicians and music lovers. For sixteen years it has been going strong, with a loyal following that keeps growing. Held on the grounds of the Glendale Public Library, events take place in the auditorium, meeting rooms, outer lobby and front lawn. The Arizona Songwriters Gathering, organized by Lon Austin, Jon Iger and Gavan Wieser, of the long running Arizona Songwriters Association, offers all day concerts and workshops that feature many great choices.

Every songwriter wonders what it takes to make a hit. In “What Made That A Hit?” hosted by John Braheny, author of The Craft and Business of Songwriting, you can learn. Braheny hears hundreds of songs showing great potential but lacking the basic principles needed to transform a song into a hit. In this workshop, he will advise songwriters on how to make their dreams a reality.

Wondering how to protect your rights as an artist? In a workshop entitled “Grabbing Privacy and Confronting Defamation: Tools to Protect the Artist,” Attorney James Marovich addresses options an artist has against published false information, rights if someone publishes true information that harms you, and what you can you do if someone uses your image or voice without permission. Marovich will introduce laws relating to defamation and privacy and explain how those laws can be used to prevent harm or to seek damages.

Have you ever asked yourself what it takes to make a great songwriter? In “Songwriters Challenge – Songwriting Basics” you’ll learn all about it. Hosts Chris Frazer and Chava Cannon will introduce songwriters to an event that pushes them to write singularly as well as with others. The genesis of this workshop is collaborative writing. The Songwriter’s Challenge itself is a quarterly event. Participants are given the same song title and challenged to write a song around the title within 30 days. It’s a fascinating process, and the workshop features samples from past events, an explanation of the process, and information about how to participate. Workshop participants will even get to select the title for the next Songwriter’s Challenge event.

These days, social media is king, and “Using Social Media Tools to Market Your Music,” with entrepreneur Christine Springer, will teach you how to utilize what social media offers. You’ll learn how social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube can help you reach the global audience that traditional marketing tools cannot. This casual lecture and discussion will allow you an opportunity to share your experiences and hear from others about what works and what doesn't.

Have you discovered a cache of songs in the attic lately? You might want to go on a treasure hunt. “Is There Gold In Your Closet? Perpetuate Your Artistic Legacy Through Film and Television” is a compelling argument for doing just that, hosted by David Hilker of Wild Whirled Music. Hilker discusses music for film and television and how to find earning power in those forgotten tapes. Any genre and any era is a potential gold mine, and he’s there to help you tap into it.

There will be two afternoon “Song Critique Session” workshops with author of The Craft and Business of Songwriting, John Braheny, who will offer positive, constructive feedback on your songs. You can bring a cassette or CD recording or perform live. Songs are selected at random. Lyric sheets are mandatory to participate in the workshop.

16th Gathering T-Shirt

Wish you knew how to score that commercial song you just know you can write? Lewis Storey, a major label artist, hosts “Commercial Songwriting.” Storey, a singer/songwriter, will share his experience and insight into the craft and business of songwriting and offer techniques for writing compelling lyrics. He’ll show you how to aesthetically combine melodies with lyrics and give you tips on critiquing your own creative work. His workshop will cover the various subject matter and themes of hit songs as well as the pros and cons of collaboration. And as a bonus, a live concert by Lewis Storey immediately follows this workshop.

Other unique and favorite traditions of this gathering include three successive “Ballad Tree” events: “The Ballad Tree: Informal Singing and Sharing,” is the first one, hosted by Mark Fogelson, Anne James and Mary Godfrey. After that, another “The Ballad Tree: Informal Singing and Sharing” is hosted by Dean Cook, Virginia Anders and Vic Spurlock. Wrapping them up will be “The Ballad Tree: Inspiration In Songwriting,” hosted by Andy Hurlbut and “Human Jones.”

The Arizona Songwriter’s Gathering is a wonderful way to spend the day enjoying all day music performances, getting to know artists and learning about the craft of songwriting. And it’s all for free. Having participated in these events I can unreservedly recommend this annual event as an Arizona treasure worth unearthing. The event also unveils the cool, new 2012 Arizona Songwriter’s Association tee shirts, designed by artist and singer/songwriter Rhonda Hitchcock, a founder of Chicks With Picks. For a schedule of Saturday’s artists and events, go to