Dear ASG Members & Symposium Attendees:
In 2012, the Austin Songwriters Group celebrated its 25th year of serving songwriters. About ten years ago, the non-profit group began growing the size and scope of the services it provides to its members. Under the guidance of ASG Executive Director, Lee Duffy, the group has grown from meeting in borrowed spaces to having and maintaining its own permanent address (aka The Mockingbird), and from weekly songwriter critiques to a year round slate of songwriter events geared towards helping songwriters in both the craft and the commerce of songwriting, including the Annual Songwriter Symposium, which is now in its 9th year.
Congratulations for getting yourself registered for Symposium 2013. It is no small accomplishment to set aside the time and the money to attend the Symposium, but it is perhaps the best investment you will make in your creativity all year long. Come Sunday when the Symposium wraps, you will be inspired, energized and motivated to create your best songwriting year ever. With a full slate of industry panels, songwriting and performance workshops, pitch-to-publisher meetings, mentor sessions, concerts, showcases, late night song circles and general networking with songwriters at all levels, from all parts of the United States, the 9th Annual ASG Songwriter Symposium is certain to be an event you will remember for many years to come. However, the purpose of this letter is not to preview Symposium 2013, but rather to look back on 2012’s accomplishments, so that we can all fully appreciate the path ASG traveled in 2012 to arrive at Symposium 2013. Here is a quick summary of the year’s major events:
The 8th Annual ASG Symposium 2012 kicked off the year, as we returned to the Omni Southpark Hotel for the second year in a row to host the event. The 4-day event featured an expanding line up of panelists, songwriters, publishers and music business support professionals, and we experienced outstanding performances and workshops with Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman, Jim Photoglo, Louie Ortega, Will Sexton and Stephen Doster, just to name a very few. Additionally, we were honored to host songwriting legend Joe Ely and award-winning radio broadcaster Jody Denberg in unique keynote events, hosted by KGSR’s Roger Allen. Once again, songwriters from all around the United States and Canada made the trip to Austin to be a part of it.
7th Annual Merle Haggard Birthday Party: The annual event held each year on April 6th, to celebrate Haggard’s music on his birthday, continues to grow into one of Austin’s premiere annual events at Threadgill’s. More than 30 songwriters, including Gurf Morlix, Will Sexton, Charlie Faye and David Halley among many others, showed up to perform their favorite Merle songs with an outstanding house band anchored by Joe Manuel, Redd Volkaert, Floyd Domino, Mark Andes, Marvin Dykhuis, Lee Duffy and Ernie Durawa. is was the best Merle birthday bash ever, as a stellar lineup, including Redd Volkaert, Joe Manuel, Cindy Cashdollar, Gurf Morlix. A killer time was had by all and all agreed to get back together in 2013 and do it all over again.
Annual ASG Song Contest: This year’s song contest was one of the very best in ASG’s history with stellar showings by ASG members Jim Heckroth, Chris Pfeiffer, Teresa Neal, Erin Norris and ASG’s 2012 Songwriter of the Year, Will T. Massey. This year’s song contest also saw an expansion in entries in several categories indicating that the annual competition is getting wider and deeper each year.
The Annual Bluebird Café Performance Competition: ASG was honored to be asked by KUT Radio to host the annual performance competition in the brand new Studio 1-A at KUT Radio’s state of the art, multi-million dollar facility at the University of Texas. In four separate events, recorded by ace engineer Cliff Hargrove, 30 ASG songwriters competed for six slots to perform at The Bluebird Café in October. The winners were Teresa Neal, Beth Lee, Dan Sullivan, Adam Burklund, Jim Heckroth and Will T. Massey. At the last minute, Teresa was unable to make the Nashville trip, and runner up Tim Angsten subbed for her at The Bluebird Café performance along with the other winners. They also attended a private workshop at NSAI with songwriter-producer Danny Wells, a lunch with John Mullins of SESAC and then capped off the experience with their performances that same evening at The Bluebird.
Cactus Café Songwriter Series: Through the support and hard work of KUT’s Robert Cross (also an ASG member), the legendary Cactus Café hosted a series of ASG songwriter nights from late summer through the fall, which featured more than 30 ASG member songwriters performing on the world famous stage.
In between these highlights, ASG sponsored several songwriting workshops featuring Chuck Cannon, Jim Photoglo, Will Sexton, Betty Soo and Louisa Branscomb, among others, as well as publisher weekends with Bobby Rymer and Chris Oglesby. Additionally,we also witnessed continued growth in the weekly Song Doctor sessions where an average of about 25 songwriters come together each Tuesday evening at The Mockingbird to share their songs and receive valuable feedback from one another. What used to take two hours to accomplish, now runs 3-4 hours on most nights.
For me personally, 2012 was a landmark year as I released my second full-length record, Strawberry Moon, produced by the talented Stephen Doster, who has also produced records for many ASG members in recent years, including Mauricio Callejas, Bob Cheevers and Tonya Tyner, to name a few. The creative rewards I have been blessed to receive during my nine-years with ASG continue to expand and I expect further growth in 2013. I trust that you found 2012 generous with you in your own personal creative growth. If you are reading this, you are beginning your artistic Year 2013 perfectly, because you are attending the 8th Annual ASG Songwriter Symposium.
Congratulations once again for getting yourself to the event, now buckle up for the next four-days as we dive into and fully immerse ourselves in the songwriting experience. I promise you it will be an inspiring and exhilarating experience. When it is all done on Sunday, you will be exhausted, but excited about your songwriting and creative life for 2013 in a way you may have never experienced before, that is, unless you have been here before. Then, you already know and that is why you are back.
There are so many people to thank for making everything happen in 2012 and not enough space to do so. So, please know for each of you that performed some unsung task throughout the year, your support of ASG is deeply appreciated by so many and your efforts do not go unnoticed. We would like to acknowledge the City of Austin who partnered with ASG to bring you Symposium 2013, as well as NSAI, SESAC, Collings Guitars and Tito’s Handmade Vodka for serving as sponsors to this year’s event. Lee and I look forward to spending the next few days sharing Symposium 2013 with you all and look forward to everything that we create, individually and collectively in 2013.