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Richie Smith and I

Richie Smith and I

Richie lost his fight with brain cancer and went to his heavenly home within the past twelve hours. Below is the post I wrote when I met Richie in 2016. He was a wonderful young man. Even at the worst, he had a smile on his face, a song in his heart, and praise for God. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends – which includes everyone he ever met. I can still hear him sing his song, For A Reason. Rest in peace, Richie.

I was hosting the Angela’s at the Crosswalk Monday night open mic on Halloween when I first met Richie Smith. He came in with his mom and dad, waving to people as they came by the tables – just saying hi. His dad, Rick, came over and told me who he was so I knew when his slot came up. I asked him what he needed, sound-wise. He said Richie just needed a mic because he was going to play the song on a small Bose iPod/iPhone player.

When his time came, Rick helped Richie up to the microphone. Richie’s left leg was in a brace and his left arm was in a sling. I got him set up with the mic and his dad helped him start the songs. I adjusted the sound and Richie introduced himself.

“I’m Richie Smith. I had surgery for brain cancer to remove a tumor and what was left was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer. After surgery, I came out I was like this. This isn’t part of my costume.”

The crowd erupted in laughter. That is a perfect introduction to Richie. He is a twenty-two year old young man who has always loved music. He could play piano as well as other instruments. Music came to him naturally. He performed in cafes for charity.

Then he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. No one outside of his family knew he had brain cancer. When it worsened in 2012, he had two

Richie and his father, Rick.

Richie and his father, Rick.

days to live without immediate brain surgery. After the surgery on November 24, 2012, what could not be removed was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer, and he was given two years to live. “The fight raged on, and in 2013 there were two brain tumors growing in size, leading Richie to lose most mobility on the left side of his body, but he never gave up.”1

Richie thanks God for his music even after all that has happened. His positive attitude and faith in God is infectious. There were a number of his close friends there, but, as far as Richie is concerned, everyone there was his friend. He had everyone laughing and dancing along to one of his songs. Even me – and I don’t dance – used to long ago,  but not anymore. Except for Halloween night.

Two weeks later, when I once again hosted the open mic, Richie was on the list. His left arm hung by his side rather than held up in a sling. He played piano with his right hand while he sat behind it and sang. His father, Rick, played the cajon. Once again, his laughter and infectious spirit filled the room. He played a hilarious cover of Skinny Girl Jeans with some additions of his own. Richie had the crowd singing along on Lean on Me by Bill Withers.

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

And, naturally, he played his song, For A Reason. Not only is it the name of his song, but it is also the name of his For A Reason Foundation. For A Reason is also Richie first official song release, produced by multi-platinum producer, John Kurzweg. The song was released this past Thursday, the fourth anniversary of his first brain surgery. It was also – as Richie pointed out at Angela’s – Thanksgiving, his mother, Veronica’s, birthday, and his re-birth. His re-birth is how he refers to the immediate emergency surgery.

For A Reason is available on iTunes, Amazon, and the usual online music distribution sites. You can also check out Richie’s Facebook page and his YouTube channel. You can see Richie on Mondays at Angela’s or  at the fourth Saturday Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) showcase on December 17.

Peace be with you.

                                                                                        1  Quoted from ournewmonarch.com
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Colleen Francis

The Dallas Songwriters Association 3rd Saturday showcase on September 16, was held in the lounge at Plano Super Bowl (PSB) due to a last minute change. Angela’s at the Crosswalk has been sold and the new owner cancelled all music indefinitely. Julie Holmer, one of the former owners, assisted DSA in finding a location because of the sudden announcement.

The showcase was from 9-11 p.m. – as opposed to 7:30 – 10 at Angela’s. League play at the bowling alley ends at 9 p.m. and open bowl begins. The sound system was set up so that the performers  were playing to the people in the lounge, but could be heard by customers walking into PSB and bowlers on that end of the building.

Colleen Francis opened the show at 9. With the casual bowling atmosphere, she played

Host Dan Roark

mostly originals, but threw in a few covers. The crowd in the lounge was fluid, mostly consisting of bowlers coming in from the bowling lanes and people waiting for a lane. While there was little applause at the end of songs, it was obvious people were listening and looking in to see who was playing. Colleen’s set included her songs, Wildflower, and crowd favorite, Better Than This.

Host Dan Roark followed Francis at 9:45. While people moved in and out of, and by, the bar, he played River That Flows and the Aardvark song among others. A small crowd of people were standing in the bar when Dan played Chocolate Eclairs and Apple Fritters and I Got My Ass Kicked in Nashville to finish his set. The security guard was seen tapping his foot and nodding his head.

Jeff Stachowski

Jeff Stachowski began to play about 10:20 for the final set of the evening. He began with his love trilogy: It’s Not Love, 99 Postcards, and Month of Mondays. He also played crowd favorites, 5 Miles of Smiles, and Little Green Men. Jeff also has a band called PROPELLER. Being a comedian in a former life, Stachowski mixes humor with his music.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

The lounge at Plano Super Bowl

The Dallas Songwriters Association third Saturday showcase has moved. Angela’s at the Crosswalk was sold last week and the new owner is cancelling most of the music events. This Saturday, September 16, the showcase will be from 9 – 11 p.m. in the lounge at Plano Super Bowl on K Ave. on a trial basis (for both parties).

Colleen Francis will open the show at 9 p.m. and play until 9:40. Host Dan Roark will play from 9:40-10:20. Jeff Stachowski will play from 10:20 – 11p.m. It will be a good show.

After the show, bowl a game or two during open bowling. Plano Super Bowl is open 24 hours. They also have really good food.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

The Dallas Songwriters Association third Saturday showcase at Angela’s at the Crosswalk on August 19 began at 7:30 with host, Dan Roark. There was a good sized audience, considering the myriad of musical and culinary choices in the neighborhood. Dan played until 8:10 with a set that included his song, Hello Out There, for those with autism. As well as his pastry song, Chocolate Eclairs and Apple Fritters, which he usually plays at Angela’s.

Loralee Pearman took the mic about 8:10. Loralee is a young

Loralee Pearman

woman – although she looks younger than she really is – with a sweet voice and music in her heart. During the week she teaches  music to young children. With teaching and planning  her upcoming wedding, Pearman doesn’t get to play many shows. She took this time to play some of her newer songs. There was too much going on to write down titles – when they were given. But one doesn’t need song titles to tell you that through her soft, youthful voice she weaves songs of love and life, intertwined with lessons learned.

Bill Hook

Bill Hook began playing about 8:45. He mixed his original songs with chosen cover songs. His choice of cover songs worked for the audience. His originals were varied subject-wise. But in them all dwelt insights. Such as the song he wrote for a friend in a bad relationship. Bill said he “played it for her and she still didn’t get it.”

Which ended another night of good music at the DSA third Saturday showcase. Mark your calendar for the next one on September 16th.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

After a high speed drive back from Memphis with Cameron on Saturday the 15th, I took a nap, and headed to Angela’s at the Crosswalk for the Dallas Songwriters Association third Saturday showcase which I host. As you can imagine, I was a bit tired. A trip to Nashville, Memphis, and back in three days can do that. Then as I was setting up my sound system, a man and woman walked in the door.

The man looked at me and said, “Hi Dan.” I recognized him, but I couldn’t think of his name.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

“You look familiar.”

“I’m Kevin Burns. And this is Tim’s wife, Jan.”

They asked if I would have time to talk to them. I assured them I would and then they went to

Cat McGee

be seated. I finished setting up the sound, all the while trying to remember who they were. When I went to park my car, I called Cyndy and asked her if his name sounded familiar. No such luck. So I searched for his name in Facebook. There are a few Kevin Burns, as you would imagine. But one said we had two mutual friends, Tim Duggins and Jan Duggins. Between the two mutual friends and his pictures, I knew exactly who they were.

If you have heard me play more than once, chances are you have heard me play “River That Flows.” I co-wrote it with Tim Duggins while we were roommates in West Hall at North Texas State (now UNT). Kevin was a member of the group that grew out of our dorm gang.

Because of that, I altered my setlist to begin with River That Flows. In shows with Joel Nichols – for twenty-five years before he died in ’99 – we always started with River That Flows. Jan was Tim’s wife, as you already know.

John Mason

The rest of that story will be in part two. I want to give Cat McGee and John Mason their due. Their combined fans and friends were there. Cat thought that the extended table should be called Johnny Cat. Cat was at her best, as was John. The pictures are of past performances at Angela’s. I usually take pictures and am on top of things, but I was distracted. Find their music at the above links. Their Facebook pages (Cat McGee, John Mason) are the fastest way to know where they are playing. If you get to see either one or both of them play I guarantee you will enjoy the experience.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

V-Picks

There came a time when I could no longer buy any more guitars. I certainly don’t need any more guitars. Which is what led to the moratorium on buying guitars. Well, that and Cyndy wouldn’t buy any justification I might come up with.

So when I worked the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Dallas and Arlington guitar shows, I started looking at accessories. I have an impressive capo collection (more later). I have picks of many sizes, shapes, thickness, material, etc.

For years I used Fender medium picks like everyone else. Then John Pearse picks with the off-center point that helped with the way I played. A few years ago, a lot of people started making picks out of just about anything you can imagine. I have one out of petrified wood and one of granite.

So I began to experiment with all different kinds of picks. They were cheaper so Cyndy didn’t mind. It had never occurred to me how the pick can change the sound. Like everyone else, I tried different strings, different gauges, and so forth. I was amazed at the different sounds I could get with the different picks.

Then Vinni Smith introduced me to his V-Picks picks. I use them exclusively now- except for finger picks, which he doesn’t make. I also use different picks for different songs. The picture below is my V-Pick leather wrist band with the picks I use. Check out the website and see the variety of shapes and styles. There is bound to be one that fits your sound or even enhances it. They are made with Vinni’s special acrylic blend. And they stick to your fingers with the heat of your fingers.

Last week, I got an email from Vinni with the picks on sale and a new pick. The Nashville pick is a return in his special acrylic blend to that same Fender pick except “on steroids.” I didn’t like using a heavy pick, but I love this pick. It rounds out my wristband onstage selection quite nicely.

Check out the website. They have sets you can order to try different ones. Tell Vinni I sent you.  Or catch me when I play and you’ll have a demonstration. I’d be glad to show them to you and let you try them.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Host Dan Roark at Angela's

Host Dan Roark at Angela’s

After we moved to the 3rd Saturday due to Thanksgiving and Christmas, we decided to continue on the third Saturday rather than the fourth. The February showcase will be on February 18th. Ireland Casteel will open the show at 7:30. Buck Morgan will follow at 8:00. Don Wall will perform after Buck at 8:30. Host Dan Roark will come on at 9:00, followed by Young & Rusty (Sue Young and Rusty Nelson) at 9:30. Young & Rusty are members of the Austin Songwriters Group and are driving up from Austin to perform for us.

From youth to veterans (music-wise), this show has it all. Come on out and hear the good songwriting and performances. Angela’s has good food, great desserts, reasonable drinks and friendly staff – as well as a down home atmosphere. Come join us. You won’t regret it.

Ireland Casteel

Ireland Casteel

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Bobby Montgomery and Barbe McMillen

Bobby Montgomery and Barbe McMillen

The DSA 4th Saturday Showcase at Angela’s on the Crosswalk will now be the DSA 3rd Saturday Showcase. At the showcase on January 21st, Barbe McMillen opened the show at 7:30. Steve Sullivan joined her on harmonica for a few songs. Barbe’s set included her song, America the Free.

Bobby Montgomery joined Barbe to perform a song the two of them recently wrote, Love Without Money. Then Bobby took the stage and played his country songs. Bobby songs are warm, old style country songs about hearth and home and coming of age. Like his song about dancing with his mother when he was a boy.

Darren Rozell

Darren Rozell

Darren Rozell followed Bobby and took the mood to up tempo country. His songs range from honky-tonk  to a waltz  to a bluesy tune. Songs such as I’m All Whiskeyed  Up, Now, Don’t Water Down My Crown, and It’s Complicated.

Dan Roark (but you knew that)

Dan Roark (but you knew that)

I played after Darren. I began with Hello Out There, my song for those on the autism spectrum. I played a couple more songs and noticed that I could hear the conversations over the music. This is not uncommon when you play in restaurants or bars. And generally, it doesn’t mean they don’t hear you. Which is when I play  Chocolate Eclairs and Supermarket Wreck of 75, to get the crowd going and involved. Which they did.

The final act for the evening was Richie Smith. Richie sang his songs to tracks on his iPod that he played through a Bose speaker. Richie had an operation four years ago for stage 4 brain cancer that left him paralyzed on his left side. On other occasions, he plays piano with one hand and sings. A couple of weeks ago they discovered that Richie is in remission – which is supposed to be impossible. Obviously not for God though.

Richie Smith

Richie Smith

Richie’s set included his song, For A Reason, which is also the name of his charity foundation. He also played Lemonade, a song written for his mother. Tunnel Vision is another good song – and one of his oldest. A song Richie wrote for his paternal grandmother included a recorded phone message she left on his answering machine. Following his set, it was time for the obligatory group picture. Richie’s mom takes the picture. My son, Cameron, took the picture with her in it. [More pictures will be on Facebook.]

The picture is a tradition when Richie plays, and we might just make it one for the showcase. All in all a good night of music, with plenty of talent and variety. You should try to make the next showcase on February 18. I’ll be posting the lineup soon, but it’s sure to be a good one. I’m working on a few surprises.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Tommy LeBoeuf

Tommy LeBoeuf

One of the enjoyable things about hosting open mics is getting to hear young upcoming and talented songwriters. Which is what happened the last time I was the host at Angela’s.

Tommy LeBoeuf is a regular at the Angela’s at the Crosswalk Monday open mic. He has also played shows during the week occasionally. On December 26, he brought the family, which included his daughters, Sabrina, and Elisa. In addition, Sabrina brought her boyfriend, Addis Riddle.

Sabrina played after her dad. Elisa joined her for the first song and their two voices blended well. None of the three songs were familiar to me. I had to ask her later if any of the songs were hers. The last song she did was an original. It was a very nice song, but I never caught the name of it. She said it was the only song she’s written. I told her to keep writing and told her about the Dallas Songwriters

Sabrina LeBoeuf

Sabrina LeBoeuf

Association.

A little while later, her other friend, Addis Riddle, played his three songs.  One of the songs he played was based on the Curious George song. I think one or two of the songs were original. Either way, he has written a number of songs.

Sabrina had a slightly stronger delivery than Addis. Though they both are relatively soft-spoken, their singing voices come across more powerfully. I’m looking forward to hearing them again and I’m thinking of including the two of them in a future DSA showcase.

Addis Riddle

Addis Riddle

You can catch Sabrina and Addis at the open mic at Angela’s. Sabrina sometimes plays shows at Angela’s with her dad. But if you get the chance to hear and support them, do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Cat McGee

Cat McGee

Are you confused yet? Or did you figure out that we had the Dallas Songwriters Association 4th Saturday showcase at Angela’s at the Crosswalk a week early this month – and last month as well – due to Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was my first showcase as the new host. As showcase director for the DSA, I have been a guest host before. But with both Buck Morgan and Harry Hewlett having life changes coming about, I became the host.

I had the sound system set up by 7:15. Despite a problem I did not discover until I was breaking down the system, everyone sounded good to the audience, except me on part of my set.

The show began with Cat McGee – after a few technical adjustments. She delivered her show in her usual humble sincerity. Cat doesn’t take herself all that seriously, but her songwriting is a different matter. That alone lends a certain urgency to her lyrics juxtaposed with the casualness of her delivery. I have known Cat a while and consider her a good friend. I have read the press on her website before, but it evades me now. But simply thinking about it while replaying her set in my mind, her songwriting and performance remind me of Judy Collins and Joan Baez. The decidedly female perspective, with self-assurance and purpose. One of my favorite songs of hers – and there are a few – is Mydan-roark-3Tribe. Her tribe, of course, is songwriters.

Then the host, some guy named Dan Roark, came on and played his set. Which included several songs from his new cd of live songs. As well as the bonus song on the cd, What the Lord Intends. Which is also the song in his first music video which you can find on his YouTube channel.

Mark Evans, who followed me (the moment has past, if you catch my drift), has a band called Safety Meeting. Alone, on acoustic guitar – as he was at the showcase – Mark comes through as folk with a bit of an edge – albeit with a positive outlook. And a love song is simply a love song. The band’s description of Safety Meeting’s music is “alternative, americana, and pop.” Having heard them live and recorded, I can say that sums them up fairly well. I’m not exactly sure how alternative they are, as far as lyrics and music are concerned. But pertaining to their live show, I can hear alternative to a point. Listening to

Mark Evans

Mark Evans

their recorded songs on Reverbnation before writing this, I caught a John Cougar Mellencamp feel to their songs. Hence the americana and pop distinctions. Catch one of their shows when you can. Their music deserves a good crowd.

Baylis Laramore ended the evening’s line up. Baylis‘ music is folk and americana. He’s a laid-back type of guy, and his music reflects that. He was born in Galveston and grew up around east Texas as a child. He “spent [his] teenage years living in Australia and Indonesia.” He has traveled to other places as well. Some of Baylis’ songs come from those years, such as Blonde Spanish Girls, written while he was in Spain. Other songs, like Ghosts of Galveston, are from stories he has heard and read. He also has written some humorous songs as witnessed by the song Junk Food Highway, written from a song prompt at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance.

It was a good show. I’m sorry you missed it. Do yourself a favor and make it to the next DSA 4th

Baylis Laramore

Baylis Laramore

Saturday showcase at Angela’s at the Crosswalk on January 28. I’ll have the list of songwriters who will by playing in the next couple of weeks. But you can be sure it will be a good show.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

 

Mark Evans followed me

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