The Campbell River chapter of the Songwriters Association of Canada has been meeting in Willow Point at Sybil Andrews College for a few years now.
They keep to themselves, sharing their music with each other about once a month, providing feedback to each other, and reveling in each others’ musical company.
But now, according to chapter president Roy Ashdown, it’s time to show the community what they’ve been up to.
“Part of the whole thing about learning this craft is that this is what you have to get to eventually,” Ashdown says. “You’re not learning this craft to sit at home and play your songs for yourself, after all. The ending that you want to see, from an organizer’s perspective, at least, is for people to develop a level of confidence to put themselves out there and get the recognition they deserve.
“There’s some pretty darn good songwriters and some pretty darn good songwriting happening in this group, so we thought it was time to do a sort of a showcase so people can see what it’s all about.”
The group was the brainchild of former chapter president Ken Cooper when it formed back in 2015.
Cooper wanted a place for songwriters to help each other out and learn together in an un-judging, supportive and private – or at least semi-private – environment.
“We’ve sort of gone up and down in terms of membership over the last couple years, but it’s kinda settled into a core group of regulars,” Ashdown says, many of which will be on stage during the upcoming evening, which will take place at Rivercity Stage on Saturday, June 15.
The performance will be a “listening room-style thing,” Ashdown says, “where people will just sort of come and listen to the songs and the stories behind them. Basically, there will be four or five stools up on stage, Doug Folkins is our MC, and he’ll start out the night by doing a song himself and introducing the performers and the format, and we’ll just go around and do a couple of songs each, so there’ll be about 10 songs in each set, give or take.”
Featured members include Ashdown himself, the 2019 year’s Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence Terry Jordan, Kathryn Jean, Phil Hicks, Stephan and Jodi Schedler, Danny Zanbilowicz, Rose Bud, Pat Rik and Folkins, who has been pulling in awards for his songwriting, including Best Country Song at the 2018 Canadian Songwriting Competition for his co-written song “I Can’t Blame Her.”
“It’s a nice mix of members who are very experienced and some who are pretty new at this whole thing, but it’s going to give everyone a chance to gain some experience and get their songs out there,” Ashdown says. “And it’s a real mixed bag in terms of what people are writing, too, so I think people will really enjoy the night.”
The event is serving as “a bit of a fundraiser for us, too,” Ashdown says. Seats for the show are “by donation,” but the recommended donation is $10, “just to help us pay for our meetings and stuff. I think $10 is a pretty reasonable ask for people to drop in the bin on their way by.”
While this may be the first night of public performances for the group, Ashdown says he hopes it won’t be the last.
“If it goes well, I think it’s fair to say we’ll look to do it annually or semi-annually,” he says. “But we’ll have to just see how it turns out.”
For more on the writer’s group, contact Ashdown directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or find the group on Facebook by searching “Campbell River Regional Writers Group.”