Tag Archive: Dallas Songwriters Association

Janelle Nichole

The Dallas Songwriters Association 3rd Saturday showcase on June 17 began at 7:30 with Janelle Nichole. Janelle is a young woman from Fredricksburg with a beautiful voice and a kind spirit. She entertained the diners with cover songs mixed with her nice original songs. She is currently working on funds for a cd. From the songs she played at Angela’s, the cd will be worth getting  – and putting the songs on your playlist when she’s on Spotify. It’s only a matter of when.

As host, Dan Roark went on after Janelle. I played a mixture of old and new songs, ending with my newest song, I Got My Ass Kicked in Nashville. The title is the first line of the chorus. The second line is “seems like all the way to St. Paul.” The first night I played it live, among the people that commented on it was a couple who happend to be from St. Paul. Go figure.

Rob Case

Rob Case ended the showcase with songs from his Last Call in Texas cd. Bayou City, Song about Texas, Last Call in Texas,  and Are We Even Yet? were some of the highlights. He said there were a few he didn’t care for as much, so he wasn’t going to do those. Rob didn’t tell us what they were though.

It was an evening of songs and stories about life and events past for a good appreciative crowd. Make plans to go to Angela’s on the third Saturday to hear more good songwriters in the showcase. On July 15, John Mason and Cat McGee will be co-guest hosting. The opening songwriter will be announced soon.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Madalyn White, Grace Kuch, Grace Ritter

I worked the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Dallas International Guitar Festival (I still call it the Dallas Guitar Show – as it was for years – or, as above, the Dallas Guitar Festival). Naturally, there were hundreds of really nice guitars. There were some of the usual vendors, but some of the ones I was used to seeing weren’t there this year. Then there were the new, or non-yearly, vendors.  And of course the music on multiple stages. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of things to see and music to hear.

I was sitting at the DSA booth, talking with whoever was with me at the time, and watching people walk by. A good number of them came by the booth, but more just passed by. Since a lot of them weren’t songwriters, that made sense.

A group of younger girls and a guy walked by. I thought one of the girls looked familiar. As showcase director for the DSA, I try to promote younger talent, DSA or otherwise. But I just figured I was imagining things. They passed by at least once, maybe twice, when the girl I thought looked familiar walked intently toward me. She walked up and held out her phone.

“Is that you?” It was my website with my blog on the home page.


She said okay while still fiddling with her phone. She pulled up  this post.

“You wrote this about me a few months ago. I just wanted to say thank you. I really appreciate it.”

I always try to promote other musicians and songwriter. It was nice to hear someone say “thank you.”

The guy that was with them said that they were playing on the Young Guns stage. Jimmy Wallace and the staff of the Guitar Festival take entries from bands with members under the age of 20 for a chance to play the stage. I made a note of it.

G2 Band

The young girl was Madalyn White. The band was the G2 Band. I managed to get over to the stage soon after the start of their set. The lead guitarist and the drummer are Grace Kuch and Grace Ritter, I think respectively but I’m not sure. Madalyn played rythmn guitar. I didn’t have a chance to get the names of the rest of the band – keyboard player, bassist, saxophone player, and second vocalist.

At one point Madalyn said they were in a jazz band at school. They played mostly blues. But after Madalyn made that announcement, the saxophone player, bassist, and drummer played a very interesting piece with saxophone as lead instrument. A nice break from the constant blues through the weekend.

When G2 played the blues, their inexperience and naivete worked in their favor. It was refreshing – in contrast to the constant flow of standard blues licks mixed with doesn’t this sound like Hendrix licks or I can play Stevie licks, not to mention the I don’t know what I’m freaking doing licks throughout the weekend. I’m not referring to the bands on the stages.

I think that given another environment, with different audience expectations, G2 could relax and play music that comes more naturally to them. Not that they didn’t hold their own on the Young Guns stage. But they didn’t break loose either. I would have liked to hear a couple of jazz tunes. However, I was probably in the minority with that thought.

Check out Madalyn White when she plays solo and the G2 Band if you get the chance. You would be pleasantly entertained.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Mr. Troll

The Monday, April 10th edition of the Poor David’s Pub Open Mic was another one of those open mic shows you’d be sorry you missed. If you knew you missed it. And now I’m here to tell you what you missed. So you can be sorry.

The show began, as it usually does, with the host, the

Josh Vincent

inimitable Mr. Troll. Keith Crow, one of the regulars, followed Troll. Josh Vincent played next – you should check him out if you get the chance. Yours truly, Dan Roark, followed Josh and preceded the featured artist.

The featured artist was Voodoo Witness. They rocked the house for the next forty minutes. People go completely crazy these days when it comes to music genres. Those who are into genres might use two or three kinds of rock to describe their

Voodoo Witness

music. I only need one – kick ass rock and roll. Of course, they put their own spin on it, but they simply rock. Do not miss a chance to see them.

Harry Hewlett, a fellow member of Dallas Songwriters Association – as is Troll – played next and thanked Voodoo Witness for opening for him, tongue in cheek. Then he played his West Texas farm sort of country. Diana Gale played next. Diana is a vocalist, voice instructor, and creative artist and coach. She also writes some pretty nice songs.

Harper O’Neil

Zane Cook is an interesting young songwriter who followed Gale. Harper O’Neil is cute as a button and has some very good introspective songs. Unfortunately, I had to leave and was not able to hear Corey Clark and Mike Newkirk.

Do yourself a favor and go to an open mic, any open mic – either to play or listen. There will almost always some excellent songwriters and some really good music.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.



Layne Elizabeth

The Dallas Songwriters Association third Saturday showcase at Angela’s at the Crosswalk on March 18, began with young songwriter, Layne Elizabeth. We have started a tradition of opening with a young songwriter each month. The content and poetry of Layne’s songs belie her young age. Her show is straightforward without displaying any pretense. If you have a chance to catch her show, it’s definitely worth the effort. Layne and her mother plan to join DSA. We will gladly accept them into our songwriting family.

Rio King followed Layne at 8:00 with his honky-tonk Americana. Rio takes you back to when country was

Rio King

simple and uncomplicated. Songs like Last Chance to Dance in Texas, inspired by the signs saying “last chance for gas.”

John Mason played next, with his thought-provoking, story-telling Americana songs. Stories of journeys, both literal and introspective. Leaving the audience with the last song wondering “Why I Call My Coffee Joe.”

I was host and came on after John. I started with my song for those on the

John Mason

autism spectrum, Hello Out There. I ended with the Hitchhiking Song.

Rckey Gene Wright was scheduled to play at 9:30 when I finished. However, he had an earlier gig that began and ended later than expected. As he arrived at Angela’s after finding a parking space, the crowd had dispersed, leaving a handful of people. Apparently, there was a lot going on in the area. Rickey and I visited for a while before I began breaking down the sound system. He will be back in a future showcase.

The April showcase will be on the 15th. Look for the line-up to be posted before too long.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Ireland Casteel

Ireland Casteel

The Dallas Songwriters Association third Saturday Showcase at Angela’s at the Crosswalk on February 18 began with Ireland Casteel. Ireland is a very good young songwriter.  Each month we will try to have one of our younger songwriters open the show to highlight them. A way to encourage them and help them receive feedback.

Buck Morgan followed Casteel with a mix of his originals and covers, ending with his song, Jimmy Loves

Buck Morgan

Buck Morgan

Jesus. Don Wall played next. He started off his set with his song, Corn Bread. Corn Bread was successfully entered in the DSA quarterly lyric contest. He played a lively set of country music. Host Dan Roark began at 9 p.m. and played a set which included Peace Be With You, and his signature songs, Chocolate Eclairs and Apple Fritters, and Supermarket Wreck of ’75.

Young & Rusty closed out the show with a full set including songs from their cd, Back Road Love. Sue Young and Rusty Nelson were special guests from

Don Wall

Don Wall

Austin. They are members of the Austin Songwriters Group. They played the title song from the cd as well as my favorite song, Where the Ferryboats Used to Run. They also played Angelitos – Little Angels from Sue’s cd, Gliding. It was a quite the entertaining set.

Dan Roark

Dan Roark

The audience was very receptive to the entire show and showed their appreciation. Don’t miss the next DSA third Saturday showcase on March 18. The lineup will be announced soon, but it will be a good show. Good music, good food, great desserts, reasonable drinks, and friendly staff.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Rusty Nelson and Sue Young

Rusty Nelson and Sue Young

Okay, so it’s not really a tour. But since I wrote a song for Sack Summer Hunger, I have played it at every show and talked about SSH to increase awareness and support – both volunteers and donations – before the program begins on June 11. So it is, in a way, a tour. Several of the “shows” consisted of playing “What the Lord Intends” for congregations of churches. Which included the congregation of The Norkirk Presbyterian Church Sunday morning. The tour ends this coming Sunday, June 5th, with the Sack Summer Hunger Concert.
[The video is of my show at Angela’s during the DSA Showcase. The SSH song is third.]

The Norkirk is a very friendly church. I felt welcome right away. I was looking forward to seeing Nancy Pratt, who is the Christian Education Director. Nancy and I went to high school together. I wrote for the school paper and Nancy was my first in a long line of editors throughout the years.

I wrote a music review column for the paper. I reviewed albums, books, concerts, and so forth. Since it was for school, my parents paid for most of the concerts. I saw a lot of concerts. I would write my column in the style of Hunter S. Thompson or Tom Wolfe – as a participant rather than an observer.

I never knew how much space was available in the next issue. So I would write until the column was finished. Usually on deadline day, or rather deadline hour. The newspaper office had a manual typewriter. After an hour or more of frantic typing, my fingers were sore, but I had a finished column. She would tell me she had room for 250 words. I would hand her the final copy.

“Here’s 400. You choose the 250.”

I actually think I said that to her once. I hope it was only once, but I doubt it. I wasn’t really trying to be pompous. I had written it as a complete piece and would have a hard time cutting it down. Mainly because I was covering a lot of events, depending on the month. I don’t know that she even remembers, but I will apologize when I get a chance.

I walked into the church to smiles and hellos. I set my guitar down when I spotted the restroom. On my way, Rev. Bill Parr approached me.

“You must be here for our minute for mission.”

“I am.”

“Bill Parr,” he said as he shook my hand. “ We’re glad you’re here.”

After I did what was necessary, I picked my guitar up and went into the sanctuary. I didn’t know what to do, so I set my guitar down at the rear of the sanctuary. I looked up and there was Charlotte and Bruce Gibson. I went over and hugged Charlotte and shook Bruce’s hand.

I was in a band with Bruce’s dad and Charlotte’s ex, Bruce, and Joel Nichols, named Southern Plains. Joel and I were a duo for twenty-five years, with Bruce joining in when we played in Dallas and he was able. Joel and I had a band when we made enough money to pay them. Joel died in 1999. Bruce and I played at his funeral.

I went up in the front of the sanctuary and set my guitar case down out of the way. I pulled out my guitar and quickly tuned it. Several people greeted me and thanked me for being there. Then Nancy came up and gave me a hug. She introduced other members that had gone to W.T. White.

The service was an experience in fellowship. John Reas gave me a very nice introduction. I played What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger) and the congregation appreciated it, judging from the applause.

I appreciate all of the old friends I meet, and I hope I continue to run into old friends. As well as meet new friends who will become old friends. Far too many old friends are no longer with us.

Peace be with you.


Dan at WildflowerI was running late for the Wildflower Arts and Music Festival last Sunday. My scheduled time at the DSA booth by the Courtyard Stage was 4 – 6 p.m. I was to play at 5:30. At 2 p.m., I had to set up the sound for Cat McGee at Mercy Wine Bar where she would play a show at 7 p.m. Then I had to take my son to work. A friend, Raquel Lindemann, said she would cover for me at the booth until I got there. I finally found the yellow tag parking lot. It was in the blue parking garage – go figure.

I entered the festival and proceeded to look for the Courtyard Stage. It is easy to become disoriented in a sea of white booths. I was standing in an intersection of lines of white booths, deciding in which direction I should turn. Suddenly, a big bearded man grabbed me by the shoulders.

“Are you Dan Roark?”

“Yes,” I nodded, searching his face to figure out who he was.

“I’m John Welch. Do you remember me?”

“John, of course I do,” I replied, putting my guitar down to shake his hand. I recognized him from what little I could of his face around his eyes. There’s more than one reason I look people in the eyes when I talk to them.

To cut a rambling conversation short, he asked how we knew each other. It didn’t take but a minute to remember our mutual friend Jim Salerno, who played bongos with me for a few years. I told him I was playing at 5:30 and had to leave. He was still amazed we’d run into each other. We hadn’t seen each other for about thirty-five years. I still wasn’t where I was supposed to be. And it was getting later by the second.

I finally got good directions from someone. I was turning the corner to my left when someone grabbed my left arm. My mind was reeling at this point.

“Dan Roark?”

“Yes,” I nodded. It was getting to be a habit.

“Randy Box, remember me?”

“Absolutely, Randy, how are you doing?” I had recognized him instantly. We talked for just a minute. I told him I was playing at 5:30 and he also said he would try to come listen to me. We hadn’t seen each other in forty-two years.

I finally made it to the booth. I thanked Raquel, and took my place at the booth. Mr. Troll who

Mr. Troll

Mr. Troll

was scheduled to play at 5, started a little early because there was a lull in the lineup. I followed Troll and closed out the stage for 2016. The videos that Harry Hewlett – who also ran sound for the weekend – took of my show can be found on my youtube channel.

After I finished my set, Troll and I walked to the parking garage. I loaded up my guitar and bag and headed for Mercy Wine Bar. Cat’s show was great. The sound was better for her second set. It had been a long day and for some reason, I had trouble with her vocals. I reset everything between sets and it worked out okay. I say all that because, despite any problems I may have had with the sound, Cat’s performance was relatively flawless.

Cat McGee

Cat McGee

You can hear Cat and myself, along with John Mason, at the Sack Summer Hunger Concert on June 5th from 5-6:30 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch. Tickets are $20 with $12 going directly to Metrocrest Social Services and the Sack Summer Hunger program. The SSH program distributes food to children who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year, but don’t get anything during the summer.

Peace be with you.

Jeff Hopson

Jeff Hopson

The Poor David’s Pub open mic on Monday (the 8th if you were napping) began the way most of them do – with Mr. Troll in the “dreaded opening spot” (look for an upcoming post on that). Mike Donahue played a mixture of originals and cover songs on the keyboard. I followed Mike with three of my songs, ending with Chocolate Eclairs and Apple Fritters. Since we started late, the featured artist, Jeff Hopson, followed me.

Jeff Hopson has a strong grip, a twinkle in his eye, and his presence commands a second look. He appears to be a cross between Charlie Daniels, David Allan Coe, and Hank Williams Jr. And yet – while there are similiarities – he actually doesn’t really look like any of them. He looks like Jeff Hopson and carries it with character. His songwriting talent is on par with any of the songwriters he appears to resemble.

Hopson doesn’t take himself too seriously. Which is clearly evident in Jeff’s Jeff Hopson 3songs. Particularly a song such as If Jesus was a Texan. When he asked if anyone knew who Jack Kerouac was, and nearly everyone raised their hand, Hopson commented that it was the most people at any one show that had responded positively. Then he played his introspective song, Kerouac On the Run.

Jeff’s set also included Novel Sort of Man. Which is the type of country song with some depth and clever word play. No obligatory mention of trains, trucks, or Texas destinations. The only name he dropped was Clark Gable – and he would have appreciated the reference.

You can hear Jeff Hopson and the Heretics on Tuesday nights at the open mic at Tavern on Main Street in Richardson. The music begins at 8 p.m. He is an attentive and appreciative host. And they have good food and drinks as well.

Charlotta Clutter

Charlotta Clutter

John Mason and Brad Eubanks, respectively, followed Jeff Hopson. You can hear John Mason on February 16 at the Dallas Songwriters Association third Tuesday showcase at Sons of Hermann Hall. After Brad Eubanks played, Troll introduced Charlotta Clutter.

Charlotta Clutter is a young woman from New Hampshire. When I met Charlotta, she made me think of beatniks – not the totality of the reality, but simply the sense of non-conformity. Her eyes revealed an innocence belying the things to come. Combined with self-reliance for what is known and acceptance of – and openness to – what is to come. A readiness to turn any new lessons learned into a song and move on to the next lesson. An introverted extrovert. (I’ll wait for you to either look them up, or, more likely, say “I can relate.”)

Charlotta has a casual stage presence that reminded me of women folk singers in the sixties and seventies. An intentional reliance on the song itself to make the point and the confidence that it would. And she’s also funny as hell.                                                                                   Charlotta Clutter 2

“Do you go to the dump here?” Of course everyone laughed. When we say the dump, we mean the furniture store. “Back home we go to the dump once a week to see what everyone is throwing away and socialize.”

I’m not exactly sure what the name of the song is, other than possibly, The Dump. But it tells about a woman going to the dump and discovering that her ex had thrown away their dirty secrets in a clear plastic bag, for everyone to see. Causing humorous reactions.

Charlotta’s other two songs were Playing Second Fiddle to a Fiddle and Alphabet of Regrets. All three songs have interesting word play and twists. You can hear her yourself at the DSA Tuesday Showcase/Open mic mentioned earlier. Dean Harlem, also from New Hampshire, opened his set with a Townes Van Zandt tune. He will be at the open mic as well.

Flight School Nurses, a DJ, took the evening’s music in a whole new direction, with colorful lights. The inimitable Tin Man Travis followed him. Then David Lavinette took the stage. If I’m not mistaken, the evening ended with a jam that included Carlos Sanchez, Tin Man Travis, who knows who all, and Troll on his new conga drums.

Peace be with you.

asglogo    I attended the Texas Songwriters Conference in Austin a couple of weeks ago. I’m just now getting caught up enough to post about it. The conference is put on by the Austin Songwriters Group (ASG), of which I am a member. I am also a member of Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA), where I am on the board as the lyric contest director and the showcase director. The two organizations have not, as of yet, had a joint event, but they support each others organization and mission in various ways.

I spend a lot of my time talking to people in one form or another (in person, on the phone, email), promoting myself or either organization. When I am promoting DSA, for example, I can “brag” a little more openly since I am referring to a group of people. When promoting myself, it’s necessary to be a little more subtle to straddle the fine line between promotion and braggadocio. As a result, some people don’t understand what I’m trying to say and have blank looks on their faces. Then there are the condescending “of course you’re a songwriter” looks.

So it was nice to – not only get out of town – but to spend a weekend with people who know what I’m talking about. People who are like-minded, accepting, and non-judgmental. At music and songwriting conferences there are always things I already know – since the conference is for all levels of experience. However, since things are changing constantly, it’s nice to know what has changed. As to the things that haven’t changed, I enjoy being assured that what I’m doing is what I should be doing.

I like hearing other songwriters, publishers, and other music industry people tell their stories, making me think “thank God I’m not alone.” That, I think, is the main purpose of any conference – making the attendees realize they are not alone. And the ASG did that. They are an accepting and supportive group (as is the DSA – just saying). It was all about the songs and careers of the songwriters. A few of the events and conversations I would like to share with you – and will – in upcoming posts.

Peace be with you.

20131103_132007I recently joined the Board of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) after having been a member for several years. I am now the Lyric Contest Director, as well as helping out in other areas. I was given the entries to the recently completed contest (it is run quarterly). My job is to read all the lyrics and pass along to another member of the board the songs I think are worthy to be considered in the final judging. After reading the lyric contest entries, I have a few thoughts to pass along to those planning to enter a lyric/songwriting contest.

If you are just writing lyrics, find someone to write or play the melody. Make sure that it is a song, not just a poem. Granted, sometimes the line between the two is blurred. But even in those instances, one can tell the difference between a poem and song. Read it out loud.

If it sounds good to you, then have a few other people read your song. It is your choice to accept or reject suggestions or criticism. But if more than one person says the same thing, it would be prudent to follow their advice. If you read your song out loud and it sounds “sing-song-y,” you might want to work on it a little more.

At the very least – and I mean the very least – read your song several times before you submit your entry. Use spell checker and check the grammar. When I’m reading the song entries, I can forgive a misspelled word or single grammatical error. But if you misspell the same word in the chorus each time you type out the chorus, the song instantly goes in the rejection pile. It’s the same with the gramatical errors. If you are using slang purposely, or  are misspelling words to imitate an accent, use quotation marks. But make sure  it fits the song.

If you are going to take the time, make the effort, and spend the money, you might as well make it worth it. Present yourself and your song in as professional a manner as possible. A song should fit on one page, maybe one and a half. Certainly not more than two pages. You do not need to type out the chorus each time it occurs, if it is the same each time. Using 12 pt. type is quite sufficient – anything larger is unnecessary.

The first thing you should consider before submitting an entry is whether or not you have written an actual song. I do not have time to tell you how to write a song. There is so much already written on the subject, I do not need to. If you’re in the Dallas area, you could join the DSA and attend meetings. Every major city should have a songwriting association. Keep writing and learning as you go along.

Along the journey, when you decide to submit to a lyric or songwriting contest, you need to do four things. Make sure it is actually a decent song. Present yourself and your song professionally. Read it over carefully a couple of times before sending it. And follow the entry rules  to the letter.

Peace be with you.

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