November meeting

Hey songwriters,
Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle’s primary function is to provide a monthly forum for song critiquing and discussion. The group did lots of both Tuesday with unusually deep examination of songs from a variety of genres including contemporary folk, filk, cabaret jazz, traditional and mainstream county and spoken word with musical accompaniment.
With three first-timers present, members shared details regarding the monthly assignment: using recording devices to enhance the songwriting process. Tom Beckman (, Jordan Umbach (, Sue Gartland ( and others extolled the virtues of Apple’s GarageBand software, while others explained how older and perhaps less costly technologies continue to be effective. Kira, partner of Randy Hoffman ( in the filk duo Partners in K’RHyme, explained her use of a now-obsolete Roland midi sequencer. which she used to provide musical accompaniment for Randy. Tom Flaherty ( talked about remembering melodies by storing them on an old Tascam four-track recorder, and John Hayes ( demonstrated how a few lyrics and melody saved on a cheap digital recorder evolved into the song he placed on this year’s Songwriters Circle CD.
Backed by laptop accompaniment, Partners in K’RHyme delivered a witty and well-performed featured set from their recently released. album (contact Randy for details). Kira is an outstanding singer, and it was a special treat to hear music and harmony behind Randy’s usually a capella sci-fi tales.
The Songwriters Circle also discussed a new, upcoming membership feature. We’ve acquired the Internet domain There’s nothing there yet, but a new Website is under construction (thanks Steve Gallo [] for referring a friend who runs a web hosting company and is providing a significant break on the setup cost). The new site will soon post this monthly newsletter and past news, members’ photos and videos, an events calendar available to everyone on the mailing list and hopefully drive some traffic via Facebook. Album-level members — that is, anyone who has ever placed a song on any of the Circle’s annual compilation CDs — will be eligible for an Artist’s Page, which can be used as the member’s Website or link to an independent site. The service will be free to members, with setup and hosting paid for from revenue generated by group CD sales and our CD release raffles. In a sense, the friends and family members of album participants — those who each year attend our release shows and buy group CDs and raffle tickets — will be paying for our Website. Alex Spore will be the webmaster. Questions, at this point please contact John.
Next Songwriters Circle meeting
7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (4412 Liberty Ave., 412-682-8611,
Featured performer: Bill Loeffler.
Optional songwriting assignment: Write a Christmas or New Year’s song.
Holiday performance
About that assignment: Sue Gartland and John Hayes have been talking about setting up one or several holiday performances at a homeless shelter, food kitchen, senior center or someplace like that. The idea is, a group of Songwriters Circle members volunteer to do about an hour’s set of holiday songs during a pre-arranged party or dinner. We’re songwriters — our performance will be unique. In addition to traditional or contemporary, secular or religious-themed songs, each participant will have at least one original Christmas or New Year’s song. The idea was inspired by Discrete Signal, songwriters who placed a song titled “Happy Birthday Jesus” on the new Songwriters Circle CD. No dates or venues have been set yet for our holiday performance(s), but if you’re interested and have an appropriate song, or if you write one for the December assignment and want to join in, please contact John at the numbers below.
CD project
The group’s eighth annual compilation album is here. Participants have been contacted about how to get their copies. Whether you’re on the album or not, please try to make it to our CD release events 7-10 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Shadyside. $7 admission, kids 12 and under free. Free parking. Different performers each night. Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will sell snacky food and beverages including beer and wine.
Doug Wilkin ( runs the sound. John Hayes stage manages Nov. 30. Marty Zundel ( stage manages Dec. 7. Steve Gallo is emcee, Tom Beckman and Acoustic Challenge promoter Nancy Lackner run the merch booth.
If you’re performing, expect another message with more details.