Okay, I know some of you will be thinking, "What took you so long???", but today, we finally visited our NSAI office here in Nashville.
I had a short visit there this summer, so I was sort of familiar with the building and some of the services they offer that can’t be offered at our Toronto chapter. For example, we get some use of the building during business hours. There are rooms that can be booked for co-writing sessions, and a lounge with computers, a phone, and a library of songwriting books.
NSAI is running a huge song contest, so part of our visit today was so Gerald could submit songs to the contest. (They’re mostly looking for country songs, so I decided not to enter anything.) The prizes are many and awesome, as is the competition - literally thousands of songs have been entered! Gerald submitted "Comin’ Home" and "All Her Flowers Are Wild" (with me and Monika on background vocals!). All Her Flowers is my favourite song Gerald has ever written, so I’m thrilled that he entered that one. Fingers crossed! xxxxx
Later, in the evening, we returned back to the office for our first Nashville NSAI meeting. When we got there, we were greeted by the membership co-ordinator, who greeted me by name - she remembered me from this summer! Very impressive...
Tonight’s meeting was a Christmas Critique Night. People could submit any songs for a critique, but Christmas songs took the priority. The meetings are run quite differently from the Toronto chapter. At home, the general structure of a meeting starts with a guest speaker, or a songwriting lesson, lead by one of the group’s co-ordinators. Then we have critiques, where you either play your song live or on CD, and then everyone in the room can give feedback.
In Nashville, not all the meetings involve song critiques. Sometimes, the meetings are solely for pitching songs to publishers. Or, the whole meeting may be devoted to a speaker or pro-teacher. Because of the large number of attendees (30-50 a meeting), songs can only be played on CD, and you must be a member to have your song critiqued. (Guests are welcome to come and watch the meetings.) If there’s a crowd, like tonight, they may only listen to half of your song. And who is ‘they’? The critiques are only given by industry professionals. There are a lot of groups in the city where you can go to give and receive group feedback. But NSAI only gives professional critiques. And again, because of the large numbers, you’d be there all night if you had everyone commenting on every song. Our panel tonight was the husband-wife team of Patty Way and Damon Medic of Quarter Moon Music.
Gerald submitted a new song called "Santa Smells Like Uncle Ron". He wrote the lyric over the summer, and when he found out tonight was focusing on Christmas, he whipped up a tune and laid down a quick demo. It’s a fun and irreverent look at a childhood memory, and Gerald got lots of laughs and some great feedback.
I submitted "Welcome To Bethlehem", using the new demo we did just before we left Toronto. They were a little taken aback by my "unusual point of view", but they both really liked it! They said it would be a difficult pitch (which I already knew) because of its odd style. But they also thought it was well written and fun. My favourite part was when they called it "weird". Made me smile!
I felt very inspired after the meeting, and I have stayed up very late writing something new. Actually, I started one song, got very frustrated with it, and moved on to a second song. I’ve completed a lyric for it, but I’ll have to look at it again in the morning to see if it’s actually worth keeping.