October newsletter

When is it wise to break from an established rhyme scheme? How different should the chorus sound from the verse? Do I need a bridge with that?
Some songwriting questions can be answered only by other songwriters. Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle fulfilled its primary mission at Tuesday’s meeting at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern when more than a dozen members peeled back the layers of song craftsmanship. The October optional assignment of the month — write a story song — had members dusting off archived gems or showcasing new works in progress. As always, critiques were pointed, diverse and good natured.
Howard Davidson ( clued in members about a recent Penn Hills real estate deal expected to result in a new place for songwriters to showcase their work.
It’s been years since Sue Gartland ( capped a Circle meeting with a featured performance — an oversight that will not be repeated. Sue’s intimate sit-down set included her delicate cover of “Moon River” (an international hit for recently deceased Andy Williams), co-written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, a great songwriter who grew up near the Ohio River in West Aliquippa.
November meeting
The Songwriters Circle’s Randy Hoffman (, known in the sci-fi folk song (filk) world for his otherworldly a capella creations, will perform the featured set following the group’s next meeting Tue., Nov. 6 at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (4412 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield, 412-682-8611).
November assignment of the month
At the Tuesday meeting, Sue Gartland promoted two upcoming recording workshops at California State University, inspiring the next optional songwriting assignment. Whether you hope to sharpen your lyrics, store a backlog of musical ideas or write beyond your musical performance skills, you might consider using recording equipment as a writing tool.
Use some type of recording equipment in the writing of a song. At the group’s November meeting play the song and explain how you used the equipment. Interpret “recording equipment” broadly — it could include a mixing board, computer software, tape recorder, etc.
• Post-Gazette story: Hit songwriter Jason Blume on songwriting with a star and using a tape recorder as a writing tool:
• Free recording software.
• More free recording software.
Other stuff
CD status report: The master discs and cashier’s cheque were shipped this week, and as of this writing graphics were ready to be uploaded. Next step — promotion for the Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 CD release events at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside. Details pending on organizing the show.
Money: Tom Beckman ( has agreed to oversee the management of group money. In the current cycle about $4,000 was collected including album project fees, last year’s release event raffle and group CD sales. The money is held in a Post-Gazette credit union account managed by John Hayes ( John will routinely provide Tom with statements and transaction records for auditing and filing. Any member who wants a look can make arrangements with John or Tom.
For the record: On Oct. 1 the account held $3,915.75 representing fees from 36 participants, plus $265 from 2011 raffle/CD sales, plus a $50 startup donation from John, plus some change for interest payments. On Oct. 3 $2,115 was withdrawn for the CD project’s duping, printing and shipping, leaving $1,800.75. Much of that is expected to be used in the next several months for release event room fees and sound, shipping and posting of the album at, and miscellaneous expenses. As we’ve done in the past, several hundred dollars is expected to remain in the account to put toward future needs.
See you soon,

Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society
Bloomfield Bridge Tavern