Hey songwriters, 

After learning of the permanent closing of Hambone’s, it took exactly one phone call to get an invitation to hold our meeting last week at The Starlite Lounge in Blawnox. Owner Ron “Moondog” Esser and staff were generous in accommodating about 10 members, seated well-spaced and with fans blowing in the backroom space where, before Covid, a popular open stage met Wednesdays and bluegrass pickers still gather Tuesdays.

Participants mostly wore masks when not eating, drinking or singing. Among the highlights were new songs by J.D. Little ( and Scott Harris ( and something predictably fun and witty by Bruce Hoffman ( Kevin Bold ( showed off a new toy, a hand-held Orba synthesizer capable of putting a midi studio literally in the palm of your hand.

At the group’s next meeting Wed., Nov. 4, the songwriting assignment will be to mashup fragments of two or more of your unfinished songs — think The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and “I’ve Got a Feeling.”

Meeting space

About that next group meeting. The location is still uncertain. 

It will likely be too cold to gather outdoors under a canopy. Many members remain Covid conscious and are reluctant to meet indoors. Swapping songs on Facebook worked for us once; the second time wasn’t well attended.

We’re welcome to meet Wednesdays at The Starlite (364 Freeport Road, Blawnox, PA 15238). Rapidly changing state regulations might enable us to gather Tuesdays in the backroom of Ron’s other place, Moondog’s, located two doors down at 378 Freeport Road, Blawnox, PA 15238. 

At The Starlite or Moondog’s we’d have free parking in Moondog’s lot or on the street, and the support of one of the few good guys of the local music scene. Food is good and mid-priced at The Starlite, and can be delivered to Moondog’s. Ron is a songwriter, host of several of the Circle’s first CD release events and is a longtime supporter of local original music. That said, Blawnox is not centrally located, about 10 miles east of Pittsburgh near the Pennsylvania Turnpike.


Other options? Most music venues and social clubs remain closed throughout the state. Some restaurants and church gathering spaces are open with requirements for social distancing and masking. Covid is likely to remain a threat and may keep many group members away for some time.

Here’s a proposal: Those willing to meet can gather inside at The Starlite on Wed., Nov. 4. Those uncomfortable with that are invited to post a cellphone video or audio showcasing a new song on the group Facebook page (, email it to or text it to me at 412-335-1446 by 6 p.m. that day. The recordings will be played at the meeting and all comments will be included in the November newsletter. Also, we’ll record all songs showcased by participants at the meeting and post them at our Facebook page for further critique. We can discuss later whether that compromise solution works for future meetings.

Any ideas about that idea? Please get back to me by Oct. 28 (addresses above), and I’ll send out the meeting prompt before the November meeting.

Weird times. Thanks for hanging in there with Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle.

– John