January Meeting that Was and More

Hey songwriters,

It was 10 below zero outside, but Tuesday was a hot night at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern.

Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle began 2014 with a good crowd including three newcomers and the return of a prodigal son who remembers attending Circle meetings in the 1980s at the Arsenal library. A few songs about “new beginnings” were played, but most were works being retooled or under construction, and all were followed by articulate critiques and discussion. Jack Erdie’s ( sharp-witted and well-played featured set was followed by a lively, robust and diverse open stage that stretched until after 1 a.m.

If you haven’t seen accomplished songwriter Cathy Stewart ( in a while, catch her featured set following the next group meeting 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern. (412-682-8611). The optional songwriting assignment will be your interpretation — hot, cold or comfortable — of “temperature.”

Umbach update

One of the highlights of my recent week in Nashville was catching up with Songwriters Circle member Jordan Umbach ( I caught the last date of his long-running Sunday afternoon gig at a Printer’s Row bar; a new steady gig with a better time slot begins this month. Jordan has an apartment around the corner from the venue, and his mom and manager Sandee Umbach, who accompanied Jordan to BBT when he was underage, lives nearby. Jordan said the Songwriters Circle’s critiques of his songs, and his critical thinking about other members’ songs, provided an important “turning point” in his songwriting. His new stuff is outstanding, check it out at

Money update

Treasure Tom Beckman ( ) reported Tuesday that there’s just over $500 in the Songwriters Circle bank account, plus $50 in the Post-Gazette credit union account. There’s no commingling of monies — both accounts hold only Songwriters Circle revenues raised through leftover album-project participation fees, the release event raffle and group CD sales. Handling of Circle money is completely transparent. Contact Tom for details.

Album project

Don’t panic, this is not the launch of the Songwriters Circle’s tenth annual album project (we’ll start gearing up in March). But every year someone tells me he or she wanted to participate but couldn’t come up with the $100 duping/participation fee by the May 1 deadline. If you’re interested but money’s tight, here’s a suggestion: The deadline is about 15 weeks, or more than 100 days, from today. A buck a day dropped into your sock drawer, or saving all of your loose change, gets you on this album. Don’t wait until the end of April, start saving up now. Talk with me about it — we’ll work something out, and the sooner we start the easier it will be to get you and your song into a professional recording studio.

— John


John Hayes

work 412-263-1991, home 412-751-7744, cell 412-335-1446