This year’s Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence, Terry Jordan, says when he found out he was the first songwriter to be awarded the prestigious residency, he knew he had to take the opportunity to engage in whatever way he could with local musicians.
One way he’s doing that is through his newly-launched Songwriters’ Circle series at Rivercity Stage, the first of which was held last Friday night.
“There have been fiction writers, non-fiction writers and all kinds of other displines here (for the residency), but this is a new one,” Jordan says. “And this part of the world is known for its songwriters, believe it or not, so this is just me wanting to get people involved and celebrate songwriting and people’s love for it.”
One of the challenges of songwriting, Jordan says, is that it can be a very solitary endeavour. These meet-ups, however, “allow people to explore their music with others and get feedback – generous and genuine feedback – from others and find a bit of purchase and progress in your craft.”
Jordan doesn’t make any claims about his level of musical talent. It’s not that he’s trying to “teach” songwriting, per se, but merely encourage songwriters to share their work with each while coming together in a judgement-free environment with other like-minded people.
“Everyone who shows up will have talents of their own, as well as differences and strengths in their lyric and melody writing,” Jordan says. “I mean, I’m much more of a lyricist than I am a musician, but on Friday night I got to get out of my own mind and my own rhythms and see how others put their lyrics and music together, which was really nice.
“It’s a difficult thing for a lot of us to share our work,” he continues. “It takes courage and trust. And at these circles, you supply the courage to come in and present your work, and the group supplies the trust. What you’re left with is a sense of pride in what you’ve done and hopefully taken home something from hearing the rest of what was shared that night that you can lean on or pull from to continue your own journey forward.”
While Jordan doesn’t have a “goal” for the circles in terms of what he wants them to accomplish, he says there has been some thought given to the idea of having a concert of sorts featuring the musicians who will be participating in the circles over the coming months.
“What we’re hoping to do is maybe, after we’ve given people some time to hone some of their songs, I think we might invite the public in to have a kind of songwriting circle presentation,” he says. “But we’ll have to see how it goes.”
The next Songwriters’ Circle is scheduled for Feb. 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Rivercity Stage, 1080 Hemlock Street.