March 2019 Meeting RECAP Newsletter

Hey songwriters,

At the latest in a string of good meetings, 25 Songwriters Circle members including several newcomers and a returning veteran of the group met Tuesday at Hambone’s, where the suggested songwriting assignment was to reinvent a popular song. About 15 classic rock favorites and a few newer and older tunes took on the personalities and songwriting styles of their song interpreters. Among the standouts were Vince Rouse’s ( uncommonly dark and lonely “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” newbie Thomas Hoffman’s ( reinvention of a 1780s banjo romp and Sue Gartland’s ( sweet makeover of “Over the Rainbow,” which had the whole group singing along with the iconic chorus. Several originals were workshopped including a sung-and-spoken-word contemporary folk song by Bronwyn Doyle (

On Mon., March 18 John Hayes ( will play the Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle featured set at the AcoustiCafe open stage at Mr. Small’s Funhouse (400 Lincoln Ave, Millvale. 412-821-4447). The 20-minute set will start sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

At the next Circle meeting, 7 p.m. Tue., April 2 at Hambone’s, the suggested assignment is to write a song with a false ending. Read about what that structural device can do for a song, and hear it done well by popular artists, on the Monthly Assignments page.

Songwriters Circle CD

The 15th CD project in this unique and long-running music series was launched Tuesday. Returning for the 2020 collection, to be released in November or December 2019, are producer and Songwriters Circle member Mike Hickman ( of Electric Eye Recorders (, located in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill community. Member Debbi Pace ( is back for graphic design. Important partnerships will continue with duplication and printing company Nuvidia (giving us a better rate than last year) and continued support from Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society. Executive director Tricia Tanner said that although the non-profit roots music organization is no longer based at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, Calliope will once again sponsor the Songwriters Circle’s CD release event at PCA’s Roots Cellar venue this fall. Date pending.

Last year several members got this part wrong, so please pay attention. There are two fees associated with the CD project:

  • A $100 duping-participation fee gets you on the project roster and pays for the CD’s pressing, printing and shipping. The duping-participation fee is payable to John Hayes only. (The group doesn’t have a tax number, I collect the fees and transfer the money to group treasurer Tom Beckman ( Neither of us are paid for the service. Address the duping fee to John Hayes, 101 Daggette Dr., Buena Vista, PA 15018.
  •  Electric Eye Recorders offers a special group rate recording fee for Songwriters Circle members participating in the compilation album: $30 per hour for each of the first 3 hours, $40 per hour for additional time. The recording fee is payable to Mike Hickman only.

As always, songwriters retain all rights to their songs. The project is a work-for-hire with no royalties paid or due. All Circle members are eligible to participate.

The first of several CD-related deadlines is May 31, when the duping-participation fee is due. The deadline was pushed back this year to give participants more time to gather money. Tight on cash? If you put $7.70 in your sock drawer every week for the next 13 weeks you’ll have saved $100 in time to meet the deadline.

An overview of this year’s project rules is available via a link on the March newsletter prompt or by opening the 2020 CD Project page at this website.

Questions? Contact me at or 412-335-1446 and/or get a free phone consultation with Mike Hickman or tour Electric Eye Recorders. Talk with Mike at an upcoming group meeting.

Pittsburgh Marathon

Songwriters Circle members have been invited back to the Pittsburgh Marathon, Sun., May 5. It’s a rare outdoor morning gig performed under a canopy along the marathon course as some 30,000 racers run, walk or stagger past. Member Dennis Malley ( will mix the sound. The race starts at 7 a.m., but the fastest runners don’t reach our spot near the 18-mile marker until after 8 a.m. and we’re out of there by about 1:30 p.m. We turn it into a fun breakfast picnic with an opportunity to play as little or as much as you want. More on the Marathon gig later.

Sorry for the long message — lot of Circle stuff going on.

– John