Monday, December 18, 2006

The listening room - great for songwriters

On Saturday night we went to "The Listening Room" at Cafe Cero in Denver. The listening room is a concept hatched by Rop Roper to have place where you can listen to the lyrics and have a drink. Unlike a rowdy bar, the concept is to really relax and listen.

This month's show was excellent with three local songwriters Jenn Cleary, Marty Jones and the man, Rob Roper himself. Each of the performers had distinctive styles, and that alone added a lot of variety to the evening.

Jenn has an exceptional voice and great stage presence. In many of her songs, she repeated a single word over and over. Because she was able to change things up with her voice, it continue to sound good, not overly repetitive. It made the songs memorable. The point for songwriters, is use the repetition technique if you can change it up with your voice or melody.

I was very impressed with Marty Jones's songwriting. He's an excellent lyricist and had exceptional hooks like "next time you see me, I'll be dead," "I got over you, when you got under him." and "now we barely pass for a couple." You could really see his personality in the songs and his witty way of looking at life. I'm going to study Marty's lyrics, there's a good lesson there.

Rob played last and because of know him, I knew his songs. Rob had the most interesting guitar of the evening. Also, in the selection of his own songs and covers, you could really see his philosophy. A dry wit and social commentary.

A few points of the evening:

1) All performers performed a few covers. A few comments I noticed about covers:
- The crowd was much more likely to sing along.
- I relaxed more, because I didn't have to concentrate on the lyrics. It was more like and old friend coming into the room.
- When performing covers, nail them! There's more expectations with covers.
- Select cover that fit you're personality or what you're trying to say. Rob did "A Two Paper Town," from Steve Seskin. It was a song that I could see Rob writing.

2) Jenn and Marty used basically three or four chords in almost all their songs, yet I was not bored. It's more about the songs and performance that how difficult a guitar you play.

3) Keep it simple on stage, even if you're setting up the stage. For a few songs, Rob switched over to the piano and had a guitarist join him. They struggled with mixing the instruments, so it hurt the performance of that song. It also took him a while to regain his momentum, after the change over.

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