Namba Gear attended the ASCAP Expo at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, CA on April 23-25. We participated on some co-promotions with our friends from Broadjam and got a chance to attend some of the songwriter seminars and sessions.
The first session we attended was hosted by author and music journalist Dan Kimpel about Networking Strategies for Songwriters. Dan got us all thinking and set the tone when he mentioned that ASCAP had just given out 60 songwriting awards the night before and None of the 60 award-winning songs were written by a single songwriter… every one of them was a collabrative effort.
One of the most interesting sessions we joined was The Art of Collaboration: A Live Songwriting Session. Songwriters James Fauntleroy, Cri$tyle “the Ink” Johnson, Andre Merritt & Brian”BK” Kennedy were going to use the latest in technolgy to create a track and write lyrics over it. Unfortunately technology failed us, but the grand piano in the corner came through as the crew improvised and gathered around. BK played a riff over and over, ideas were tossed in, tossed out, and modified as they came up with a melody and lyrics for a tune titled “Radioactive”.
It just doesn’t get much better than Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart telling the stories behind their songs and an acoustic performance. We learned that we should never piss them off or you may get a song written about you (“Barracuda”), that Nancy goes to various guitars for different inspiration, “Guitars are people too.”, and Ann still has the pipes to blow the doors off the place.
There were memorable performances everywhere. ASCAP took over the Hollywood Highlands club at night and we were treated to stories and performances by Dan Wilson (how to hide the lyrics of one song inside another in “Closing Time”), Siedah Garrett (how Q’s instruction for another “Shake your booty” song morphed into “Man in the Mirror”), and new ASCAP President Paul Williams’ journey from out-of-work actor to writing “Rainy Days & Mondays”. Pictured is Hawaian songwriter Henry Kapono Ka’aihue on the ASCAP Network Stage.
Stephen Bishop, Wendy Waldman, Gary Baker & Jack Tempchin took the stage for Every Song Tells a Story. Some words of wisdom from Jack Tempchin (Peaceful Easy Feelin, Already Gone) “The most important thing is life is… showing up.” Wendy Waldman told a great story of how going to Poland in January on a songwriters exchange (“I was hoping for Paris in Spring”), led to one of the most surpising and pivitol points of her career.
Stephen Bishop performed a moving version of his hit song, “On and On”. Later, Wendy Waldman gave the perfect reason for collaboration is conquering writers block. “Writers block is not having an absence of ideas, but rather having a hundred ideas but thinking they all suck. Having a collaborator helps you recognize that maybe one of two of them didn’t really suck.”
Rob Hyman (piano) & Eric Bazilian from the Hooters joined Narada Michael Walden, Holly Knight and Emanuel Kiriakou in a Writers & Producers Jam. Of special note was a beautiful rendition of Rob’s “Time After Time” and a soulful version of Holly Knight’s “Love is a Battlefield”. If you are a songwriter, (you don’t have to be an ASCAP member to attend) the ASCAP Expo can be a life-altering experience and is highly recommended.
One of the personal treats provided by the ASCAP Expo was the opportunity to hook up with people that you have only met via phone or email. We got a chance to hang with Namba Gear endorsers and songwriting team Margaret McClure and Andy Machin. We also got to hang with Namba Gear endorser Troy Castellano (pictured with his Kava bag). To paraphrase David Bowie, “their enthusiasm in all things is infectious and contagious.” Hope to see you at ASCAP Expo next year.
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