Yesterday evening, bluegrass and American roots music festival MerleFest announced the winners of the 2016 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Writers of the following 12 songs were selected from 744 entries and competed on the Austin Stage at MerleFest on Friday, April 29.
MerleFest 2016 winners:
1st Place – Aaron Bibelhauser (Louisville, Ky.) – “Blue Collar Dreams”
2nd Place – Courtney Rorrer (Madison, N.C.) and Asa Gravley (Beckley, West Va.) – “Midnight Tears”
3rd Place – Cindy Giejda (Farmingdale, N.J.) – “Jail Break”
1st Place – Marcy Each (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – “On the Cross Built for Me”
2nd Place – Austin Stanley (Nashville, Tenn.) – “The Face of God”
3rd Place – Corey Smith and Allen Smith (Fayetteville, N.C.) – “The Road”
1st Place – Buddy Guido (Mohawk, N.Y.), Paul Kelly (Santa Fe, N.M.) and Willie Scheollkopf (Buffalo, N.Y.) – “This Livin’ May Be Killing Me”
2nd Place – Sarah Morris (Shoreview, Minn.) – “I Go Back”
3rd Place – Meris Gantt of Handlebar Betty (Blowing Rock, N.C) – “House of Cards”
1st Place – Sarah Sample (Sheridan, Wyo.) – “A Heart That Falls Apart”
1st Place – Adam Bonomo (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – “Redshifted”
2nd Place – David Morris (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Chris Dockins (Burke, Va.) – “Weeds”
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale served as volunteer contest chairperson. The on-site judges for the final round were critically acclaimed bluegrass multi-instrumentalist Milan Miller; 2013 CASC winner and founding member of acclaimed Americana trio Red June John Cloyd Miller: and singer-songwriter Sarah Potenza, best known for her recent success on NBC’s “The Voice” and second place win in the 2014 CASC. All finalists took part in a songwriting mentoring session with Jim Lauderdale and the on-site judges.
The first place winners in each category received $600 cash from MerleFest, performed on the Cabin Stage on Friday night to rave reviews and were even joined at one point by superstar bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland as a special surprise.
The first round of the CASC competition takes place in Nashville, Tennessee and is narrowed down to 12 finalists representing four categories: bluegrass, country, general and gospel/inspirational.
Judging is based on a song’s originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential. The contest is open to those whose primary source of income (50 percent or more) is not derived from songwriting or publishing.
The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is a unique opportunity for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of this year’s volunteer contest chairperson Jim Lauderdale. Judging is based on a song’s originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential.
Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest help support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $38,000 to 81 deserving students. Previous winners of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest include Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt, Michael Reno Harrell, Adrienne Young, Martha Scanlan, David Via and Johnny Williams.
The song “A Leggenda Du Piscaturi” composed by Maurizio Giannone and Roberto Giannone won the first place award at the 2015 International Songwriting Competition (ISC). Maurizio Giannone and Roberto Giannone are brothers and members of Italian band Corimè from Marsala in Italy. “A Leggenda Du Piscaturi” appears in the band’s album La Scelta.
The Second Place award went to “Ho Jamalo” by Chris McKhool, Kevin Laliberte, Anwar Khurshid and Waleed Abdulhamid of Canadian band Sultans of String from Toronto. “Ho Jamalo” is featured in the ensemble’s Subcontinental Drift album.
The Third Place award was given to “Ntsumi” by Isabel Novella from Maputo in Mozambique.
American singer-songwriter Skrizzly Adams took home the Grand Prize for his song “Tipping Point.” In addition to winning $25,000 (US) in cash, Skrizzly Adams receives almost $25,000 in services and merchandise, including a custom-built Lowden guitar valued at over $11,000, a Marshall amp and cabinet, a PDP drum kit, an Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM speaker, and much more.
ISC recognizes and honors excellence in the craft of songwriting. With over 18,000 entries submitted from almost 120 countries, a total of 351 deserving songwriters are honored this year in the competition, winning First, Second, Third, and Honorable Mention placements. ISC is now accepting entries for 2016. More information can be found at: www.songwritingcompetition.com.
Winners were selected by a panel of judges which included: Kesha; American Authors; Pat Metheny; Lorde; Sara Evans; Bastille; Bill Withers; Keane; Danilo Perez; Hardwell; Gerald Casale (Devo); Joy Williams (The Civil Wars); Keb’ Mo’; Sean Paul; Afro Celt Sound System; Craig Kallman (Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records); Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros. Records); Daniel Glass (President, Glassnote Records); Craig Balsam (Owner, Razor & Tie Records); Kevin Welk (Chief Creative, Vanguard and Sugar Hill Records); Steve Yegelwel (Senior Vice President, Capitol Records); Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records); and many more.
ISC is sponsored by: Ableton, Artist Growth, Berklee College Of Music, CAD Audio, Celebrity Access, D’Addario, Disc Makers, DW Drums, Focusrite, Gauge Microphones, George Stein, Esq., GigSalad, Gretsch, Indie Venue Bible, Latin Percussion, Lowden Guitars, Marshall Amplification, Musicians Institute, Ovation, Pacific Drums, Sessions Headphones, SongU.com, Thayers, The Music Business Registry and Ultimate Ears
The following is a complete list of winners:
“Tipping Point” – Skrizzly Adams (Westfield, NJ, USA)
AAA (Adult Album Alternative)
“Never Be” – Megan McInerney (Meg Mac) – Melbourne, VIC, Australia
“Trying” – Nick Fowler (Afternoon Men) – New York, NY, USA
“Carousel Ride” – Alexander Toth (Rubblebucket)” – Lambertville, NJ, USA
Adult Contemporary (AC)
“Halfway Out Of Love” – Jordan Richman, Griffith Frank, Rayvon Owen, Samuel Plotkin – Sacramento, CA, USA
“Lava” – Danielle Baylor, Jerome Baylor, Naïmah Muhammad, Dwight Baylor (Danni) – Fort Washington, MD, USA
“Echo” – Paul Stark, Michael Arcaro, Kevin Arcaro, JD Perone, Alex Silverman, Sean Silverman (Wild Sons) – Palm Springs, CA, USA
“Love’s First Lesson” – Joel Rafael, Jack Tempchin – Escondido, CA, USA
“Walking In The Dark” – Brock Zeman – Carleton Place, ON, Canada
“Wolves (At My Door)” – David Roddie – Glasgow, Scotland
“I Won’t Forget About You” – Hailey Calvert – Brisbane, QLD, Australia
“An Honest Man” – Xavier Dphrepaulezz (Fantastic Negrito) – Oakland, CA, USA
“Tied My Worries To A Stone” – Matt Isbell (Ghost Town Blues) – Memphis, TN, USA
“The Bright Side Of Me” – Alastair Moock – Melrose, MA, USA
“Strawberry Love” – Morgan Taylor (Gustafer Yellowgold) – Kingston, NY, USA
“Monday I Woke Up Purple” – Steve Weeks – Colorado Springs, CO, USA
“Circles” – Aaron Buchholz – Langley, BC, Canada
“Jesus Forever” – Jeff Markey – Hopatcong, NJ, USA
“Reaching In” – Brad Nickel – Edmonton, AB, Canada
“Let’s Get Wasted (Like We Do On Christmas)” – Sylvie Simhon, Hughie Stone Fish – Bogota, Colombia
“Dead With You” – Gareth Cooper – London, England
“Joe’s Ex-Girlfriends” – Carla Ulbrich – Clemson, SC, USA
“Hands“ – Brad Hull, Deanna Harper, Holly Furman (Due West) – Whites Creek, TN, USA
“I’m Down” – Andrew Peebles, Joe Fox – North Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Like I Would ” – Megan Mace, Elizabeth Mace (Megan & Liz) – Edwardsburg, MI, USA
“Two Bodies Ft. Emma Louise” – Flight Facilities – Sydney, NSW, Australia
“Hologram” – Ioana Udroiu, Felipe Mejia Saldarriaga (Elline) – Bucharest, Romania
“It’s A London Thing” – Ninnee, JCX – Bromley, England
“A Ghost” – Kelsi Fadness (NickNervous) – Twin Falls, ID, USA
“Life Without Sundays” – Joshua Meltzer – Northampton, MA, USA
“Silk Ft. Thelma Plum” – Dustin Tebbutt – Armidale, NSW, Australia
“Oriental Fantasy” – Emma Lin – Taichung, Taiwan
“Tanger” – Christian Xavier Rizo (Risengard) – Monterrey, Mexico
“Wunderbaumgartner” – Esko Jarvela (Esko Jarvela Epic Male Band) – Kerava, Finland
“Sad Meeting” – Omar Sosa – Camaguey, Cuba
“Quantum Leaps (And Bounds)” – Carl Bartlett, Jr. – Queens, NY, USA
“Halloween Song” – David Smith – Brooklyn, NY, USA
“Un Poquito De Amor” – San Miguel Perez, Colin Hay – Granma, Cuba / Los Angeles, CA, USA
“El Dia Es Hoy” – Rakel, Jorge L.Piloto, Julio Reyes, Yoel Henríquez – Medellin, Colombia
“Amor Sin Barreras” – Georgina Recamier (Madame Recamier) – Mexico City, Mexico
“Silence” – Jack O’Rourke – Cork, Ireland
“Apple And Poison” – Suk Lan Ser – Subang Jaya, Malaysia
“You And I” – Josh Birdsong – Howell, MI, USA
“Clair De Lune” Directed by Dave Ma – Flight Facilities – Sydney, NSW, Australia
“To The Bird” Directed by Vandad Kashefi – Felix Lajku – Budapest, Hungary
“Ruthless Love” Directed by Montana Mann – Alexz Johnson, Brendan James Johnson – Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Gods Of War” – Celeste Buckingham – Borinka, Slovakia
“Another Man’s Gun” – Mike Stocksdale – Palos Verdes, CA, USA
“Wake Up” – Carito Plaza, DJ Acres – Santiago, Chile
“The Girl On The TV Screen” – Aidan James, Tommy Cecil, Jay Brunswick, Matt Alderman – Honolulu, HI, USA
“Climbing Trees” – Zimri, Gladius – Nashville, TN, USA
“Gasoline” – Nick Bailey – Virginia Beach, VA, USA
“Stay Up” – Donnovan M. Blocker, Kehlani Parrish (DyMe-A-DuZiN) – Brooklyn, NY, USA
“Sweatin’ Ft. Famous” – Pinnacle TheHustler – Cincinnati, OH, USA
“Take This” – Zack Gray – Roseville, CA, USA
“Anchor” – Ian Berney, Ian Kenny, Glenn Sarangapany, Adam Spark, Adam Weston (Birds Of Tokyo) – Perth, WA, Australia
“Kisser” – Step Rockets – Minneapolis, MN, USA
“Waterslides” – Tropical Zombie – Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
“Labyrinth” – Julia Graye – Saint James, NY, USA
“Who Am I” – Carmel Buckingham (The House United) – Borinka, Slovakia
“O Captain! My Captain!” – Mitchell Brady (The Static Shift) – Calgary, AB, Canada
“Monsters Of The North” – Brady Parks (The National Parks) – Provo, UT, USA
“Wax ‘n’ Wane” – Mickael Fortin (Orange O’Clock) – Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
“When We Kiss” – Peter McVeigh – Belfast, Ireland
“A Leggenda Du Piscaturi” – Maurizio Giannone, Roberto Giannone (Corimè) – Marsala, Italy
“Ho Jamalo” – Chris McKhool, Kevin Laliberte, Anwar Khurshid, Waleed Abdulhamid (Sultans Of String) – Toronto, ON, Canada
“Ntsumi” – Isabel Novella – Maputo, Mozambique
In 1967, newly independent Nigeria descendant into a Civil War to stop a secession of Biafra known as at the Biafran War. Families were asked to choose sides. Friends were separated by ideological cleavages. The war lasted three years. A million Nigerians were killed. Right after this war a phenomenal music scene was created in search of a new society.
A newly released album and an accompanying book Wake Up You! Vol. 1 tells the story of this after Biafran War Nigerian music that sought to heal social ills and unite a very young Republic through explorations in Funk, Psychedelia, and Rock, that led all the way to Fela Kuti, by compiling songs of several bands that participated in the before-mentioned scene.Wake Up You! Vol. 1 is released by Now Again Records.
The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announced its Official Showcase Artists, a group of 30 committee-selected artists that will be a part of the Bluegrass Ramble during the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass events in Raleigh, North Carolina, September 27-29, 2016.
Each act will perform at least two times over the course of the three-night Ramble event, at one of five downtown Raleigh clubs plus the Raleigh Convention Center, giving industry and fans multiple opportunities to hear as much music as possible. Venues hosting Ramble artists are The Lincoln Theatre, Kings, Architect Bar, Long View Vintage Church and The Pour House.
The acts selected include:
10 String Symphony – Nashville, Tennessee
Annie Lou – Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
Bill and the Belles – Johnson City, Tennessee
Cardboard Fox – Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Carolina Blue – Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
Hackensaw Boys – Washington, D.C.
Hannah Shira Naiman – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
High Plains Jamboree – Austin, Texas
Hot Buttered Rum – San Geronimo, California
J2B2 (John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band) – Nashville, Tennessee
Jenni Lyn – Nashville, Tennessee
Joe K. Walsh – Portland, Maine
Kaia Kater – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Missy Raines & the New Hip – Nashville, Tennessee
Molly Tuttle Band – Nashville, Tennessee
Old Salt Union – Belleville, Illinois
Red Wine – Rapallo, Italy
Run Boy Run – Tucson, Arizona
Steep Ravine – Watsonville, California
Tellico – Asheville, North Carolina
The Andrew Collins Trio – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Honey Dewdrops – Baltimore, Maryland
The Lil’ Smokies – Denver, Colorado
The Loose Strings Band – Galax, Virginia
The Unseen Strangers – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Tim Carter & Bang Bang – Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Town Mountain – Asheville, North Carolina
Trout Steak Revival – Denver, Colorado
Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike – Bell Buckle, Tennessee
Zoe & Cloyd – Asheville, North Carolina
The 4th Annual World Fiddle Day will take place on Saturday, May 21st at Historic Fort York, in Toronto. The event will feature 100 fiddlers, playing 40 tunes from 25 different countries. Accompanying them is an excellent back-up band consisting of world percussion, clarinet, and keyboards, all celebrating world music.
Special guest artists Dan MacDonald, Mark Marczyk, Rosalyn Dennett, and Yosvani Castaneda will lead morning workshops, play an afternoon concert, followed by the giant community “Around-the-World” Fiddle Jam. All activities from noon on free.
World Fiddle Day celebrates world music traditions with a mission to provide opportunities for string players of all backgrounds to come together and create great music with some of Toronto’s best professional musicians.
Each year there are special guests for the workshop and performance portions of the event and then the high point, led by fiddler Anne Lederman, is the “Around-the-World Jam.”
Tunes from Canadian folk traditions take their place alongside superb music from the Caribbean, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This year’s theme, in honor of the Syrian refugees, will showcase the beautiful Arabic song, “Alhamdoulillah,” as sung by the Ottawa children’s choir, adapted for World Fiddle Day Toronto.
DJ Edu and Esa Williams will DJ at the main stage at Africa Oyé for the third year running in 2016. The festival this year takes place on the 18th and 19th June in Sefton Park, Liverpool. Live acts announced so far include Mbongwana Star, Sona Jobarteh and Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band. Admission is free.
Paul Duhaney, Artistic Director of Africa Oyé said “We’ve had so much great feedback on Edu and Esa’s sets in the last couple of years, I just couldn’t turn down the chance to bring them back for a third time. Edu’s selection of afrobeats is always a hit, especially with our younger audience and Esa’s vast knowledge of music from across the globe means we’ll get some really varied and interesting tunes throughout the weekend to accompany the stellar live acts”.
DJ Edu – Saturday, 18th June
Esa Williams – Sunday 19th June
Haitian musicians have recently been seriously focused on making music out of poetry. It is an interesting practice that has produced countless gems, such as the albums of Wooly St Louis Jean and Tamara Suffren.
In 1570, during the French Renaissance, a well known French poet Jean-Antoine de Baif founded the “Academie de musique et de poesie” along with composer Joachim Thibault de Courville. They aimed to combine music and poetry in order to revive the Roman and Greek practice of putting poetry to music, amongst other things, and for some time put on infamous concerts attended by the high society of the time. Combining music and poetry either for theater or for non-theatrical song had been prevalent in both ancient Greece and in ancient Rome but the middle ages had put an end to the vitality of the practice.
Chorus from The Bacchai
Euripides (480-406 B.C.)
Where is the home for me?
O Cyprus, set in the sea,
Aphrodite’s home in the soft sea-foam,
Would I lend to thee;
Where in the wings of the Lovers are furled,
And faint the heart of the world!
Ay, or to Paphos’ isle,
Where the rainless meadows smile
With riches rolled from the hundred-fold
Mouths of the far-off Nile,
Streaming beneath the waves
To the roots of the seaward caves!
Jean Antoine de Baif’s would not be the only time in European history that poets would be interested in working with musicians and vice verso. By the 20th century, ancient Rome and Greece were again through infamous collaborations such as Jean Cocteau and Edith Piaf’s and Leo Ferre and Aragon’s.
The Europeans were not the only ones doing it this time and in the nations of the Americas, colonies and former colonies, turning poetry and to song came to be practiced. A song like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” is a very popular example of the practice. In Haiti, artists of upper class and middle class backgrounds also aspired to turn poetry into music. The very first successful version of this was “Choucoune” a poem by Oswald Durand written in 1893 composed into a song by Micheal Morton. It is still very well known in Haiti and was copied by Harry Belafonte as the song “Yellow Bird.” It was originally about a woman named Marie Noel Belizaire whose eyes “shone like candle light.” The practice continued on with classic interpretations of one of Haitian poet Emile Roumer’s poems “Marabout de mon coeur”, or ‘Marabout (a dark skin woman with very long hair found in the north of Haiti probably of Senegalese descent) of my heart’ and other lesser known songs.
In the 21st century, the practice of putting poetry to music continues in Haiti as it also does in Europe. The poet is are most put to song is Syto Cave. The internationally known Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot is a major advocate of turning poetry into music and many of his poems have been composed into music. A singer Wooly St Louis Jean has made an entire career out of turning poetry into music. Tamara Suffren, an incredible singer, has also done the same, though she does not call her music “poetry turned into music” unlike Wooly St Louis Jean. The combination has produced songs that explore imagery and language as only poetry really ever does. Their songs are beloved and though most are not popular, some crossover and become radio hits feeding the weak polity that Haiti is and its agora of cynicism with humanity and profound beauty.
String band Dave Rawlings Machine has added MerleFest to its “Nashville Obsolete” tour. The new album, the second full-length release for Dave Rawlings Machine, highlights the outstanding musicianship of Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch on lead vocals and guitar, Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers) on bass, Willie Watson on vocals and guitar, and guest appearances from Brittany Haas (fiddle) and Jordan Tice (mandolin).
MerleFest 2016 is scheduled for April 28 – May 1, 2016 and will take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
Tickets for MerleFest 2016 may be purchased at MerleFest or by calling 1-800-343-7857.
Rising Saharawi artist Aziza Brahim and her band will be performing live in London on Tuesday, 26 April 2016, at the Elgar Room (Royal Albert Hall). She will return to the UK on 29 July 2016 to play at WOMAD Charlton Park.
A musician and activist, Aziza Brahim will be presenting her new album ‘Abbar el Hamada‘ (Across the Hamada), a mix of Western Saharan sounds, Spanish flamenco rumba and West African music.
Raised in a Saharawi refugee camp in the Algerian desert, and living in exile for more than two decades (first in Cuba and currently in Spain), Brahim’s life and music embodies both the tragedies and hopes of the present-day migrant and refugee experience.
Títere Tran Tran is a puppet project from Granada (Spain) that aims to bring the world of flamenco to a younger audience. It’s a family show in which they explain the types of flamenco and its historical characters. All with the help of two puppets, La Farruca and Tomasillo el Alegrías. Source: Andalusian Stories.
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