May Meeting Recap

Hey songwriters,

I’m still psyched about the May 2 Circle meeting — a perfect storm of capacity attendance, nearly total assignment participation and the return of a long lost group member who writes great songs.

It wasn’t difficult for songwriters to put their distinctive spins on familiar covers. In doing so, many said they came to recognize something about their musical perspectives or performance styles that they hadn’t noticed before. Seeing their work in a new way was the point of the assignment. It worked. Expect to see that assignment again.

In the featured set, Jenny Morgan ( showcased songs from a CD she plans to release this summer. Jenny silenced the house with a wistful performance of mostly new songs that group members had not heard.

As a part of the routine critique and discussion at Songwriters Circle meetings, the group often talks about potential arrangements or the “music” the writer hears in his or her head. At the June 6 meeting, play your song and describe in some detail the arrangement you hear, or bring a recording of your song (and device to play it on) and explain your accompaniment choices. For more, open Monthly Assignments on this site.

Thanks Calliope

Last year, after all the spending on the album project was done, some money was left over. Each participant got a $50 rebate and the option to keep it or donate it to Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society (great idea Kate Snow ( Calliope gives the Songwriters Circle promotion and gig opportunities, and pays the rental fee for the group’s annual CD release event at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

At the May 2 meeting, treasurer Tom Beckman ( reported that he’d cut a check to Calliope for $650, reflecting members’ donations. Calliope executive director Trisha Tanner said she was “happily surprised” and grateful for the donation.

2018 album project

Fri., May 5 is the deadline to submit your $100 duping-participation fee, which signals your intent to put a song on this year’s compilation album. Make your check to John Hayes, 101 Daggette Dr., Buena Vista, PA 15018.

Pittsburgh Marathon

For the fourth year “running,” our spot has been at the corner of North Braddock Avenue and Kelly Street in the North Homewood/Point Breeze section of Pittsburgh. The Songwriters Circle will be among many bands performing along the route as tens of thousands of marathoners pass. I’ll be there at 6 a.m. to set up the generator, sound system and performance tents — I could use a little help. The starting gun sounds at 7 a.m., but most runners will start passing us —  about 18 miles into the race — at around 8:30 a.m.

Braddock Avenue north of Penn Avenue will be closed for the race:

From Parkway East Edgewood/Swissvale exit, go north on South Braddock through Regent Square, RIGHT onto Penn Avenue/Rte. 8, pass McDonald’s on right, through underpass immediate LEFT onto Pitt Street (at Liam’s Fish Wings and Things and Kentucky Fried Chicken), LEFT onto Susquehanna Street, RIGHT onto Brushton Avenue, LEFT onto Kelly Street, street parking near roadblock.

Let’s make it a breakfast party. I’ll bring coffee and bagels. Bring breakfasty foods or beverages to share. Perform as much or as little as you want, but clap and shout loudly to encourage runners as they pass. We’ll be done by around 1 p.m.

Thanks Bloomfield Bridge Tavern

Rumors about the group’s home venue being sold are not true. That said, BBT is closing. Victim of two lawsuits in the last few years, owner Steve Frankowski said he will close the bar in late October. Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle’s last meeting at BBT will be Oct. 3.

At the following meeting, Nov. 7, we’re moving to Club Cafe (56 South 12th St., Pittsburgh [South Side], 15203, 412-431-4950). Promoter Dave Romano of Opus One Productions, which manages Club Cafe, twice said he was “honored” to be asked to host our group. Tricia Tanner at Calliope says she’s “delighted” with the new arrangement. Club Cafe will move its open stage to Tuesdays, and the Songwriters Circle will meet at 7 p.m. first Tuesdays, upstairs in Club Cafe’s former videography room.

Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle night

A show featuring invited members of the group will be held Fri., May 19  at the Penn Hebron Garden Club, colloquially called “The Barn” (237 Jefferson Rd., Penn Hills). Raised stage, good sound, BYOB with no corking fee, limited parking. $5 admission, all ages, starts 8 p.m. with (in no special order) group members Bob Cook, Sue Gartland, Donna O, Gerald Rohlf, Jim Skiff, Howard Davidson, Debbi Pace, David Hipchen, Dick Wade and John Hayes.

Saturday Signature Series

A summer performance series featuring invited members of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle runs 12:30-3:30 p.m. Saturdays through summer. The shows are at upscale stereo shop Music to My Ear (3003 Babcock Blvd., Pittsburgh [Ross] 15237). Free admission, all ages, minors accompanied by an adult. Here’s the schedule so far:

May 6 Karl Bailey, May 13 Dennis Malley, May 20 Jordan Umbach, May 27 Marty Zundel, June 3 David Hawkins, June 17 Cathasaigh, June 24 Heather Kropf, July 8 Emay, July 22 Christopher Mark Jones.