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by Bruce Pollock

rocker dealt with the pangs and pains of facing change, especially those brought about by leaving home for college. Barely 14, Langley Crisp had other concerns on her mind in “Hey Tom,” an indie-flavored ode to a crush that managed to be wise and winsome at the same time; Avril Lavigne passing as Taylor Swift. Appearing between those two talented teens, Ruth Ahlers was anything but intimidated. An accomplished saxophone player who joined the workshop to expand her palette into songwriting, she delivered an emotional tone poem of social protest called “How Do You Do It,” complete with a funky sax solo. Dee Dee Bridgewater would have been proud. The seventh member of the workshop, Chris Friden, brought a lot more than songs to the table. He brought his rig, and a working knowledge of MacBook demo programs like Garage Band. With “We Must,” his duet with Rachel Shapiro, he also provided a retro new wave feel that could have come straight out of the Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore movie Music and Lyrics. Closing the set, the Professor took the stage, backed by his students, for a heartfelt sing-along ode to being the teacher called “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Far superior to anything Kara Dio Guardi produced for American Idol, the song featured a line that defined the afternoon as well as the setting in which it took place: “When we come together it feels like home.” It is exactly the feeling Tish Fried and Patrick McCord, the co-founders of the all-purpose

Songwriting Saturdays. Once a month, a Storytelling Workshop takes place. Downstairs, writers are able to plug in their laptops and connect with their muse, rewrite their college essay, or update their resume, far from the reach of telemarketers, daily chores, and other mundane interruptions.

writing emporium, “Write Yourself Free,” had in mind when they fell in love with the Little Red Schoolhouse at Colonial Green and decided to make it their base of operations in 2009. The best thing to happen on the Post Road since the Westport Arts Center leased Greens Farms Elementary School over a decade ago, the downstairs at “Write Yourself Free” is a comfortable, homey version of the

ultimate writer’s workspace, filled with books, magazines, coffee and the company of other writers. But the place offers more than camaraderie. If you check the website, you can find creative workshops conducted upstairs on a regular basis entitled The Big Project, The Art of Revision & Editing, Writing for the Screen, and Social Networking, along with Andy Gundel’s

But the camaraderie is nothing to be sneezed at, either. “I had high hopes for this group,” said Andy, “and they were exceeded. Watching how the creative process happens in the group setting is really great--to see how the passion translates into doing it on their own, with the help and support of the group.” And in an era when the record business is falling apart, and the issue of piracy in high and low places is picking the pockets of songwriters known and unknown, it’s encouraging to see the need for music has remained untouched on an emotional level. “The digital age has revolutionized the means of production and distribution and put it all into the hands of the artist,” Andy said. “The good news is that everybody can do it now. And the bad news is that everybody can do it now. In the old days you needed a record deal to put out an album. Now all you need is a MacBook and Garage Band.” But in some ways, the issue is the same as it ever was, summed up by Andy Gundel. “How do you rise above the fray and how do you get paid for it?” To get a leg up on that process is the mission of Andy’s Songwriting Saturdays.




VENU Magazine #7 May/June 2011  

The “Must Have” arts, culture & style magazine highlighting the regions finest professional and emerging creative talent with stunning visua...

VENU Magazine #7 May/June 2011  

The “Must Have” arts, culture & style magazine highlighting the regions finest professional and emerging creative talent with stunning visua...