May 272011
 

Some Excellent Food for Thought

On August 21, my wife and I travelled to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend the 2009 annual forum of the Central Carolina Songwriters Association. We had high hopes to pick up helpful songwriting tips and make some networking contacts. We anticipated a sizable event—perhaps 100 people—and arrived early with high expectations. We discovered 20 people in a church basement. The mood was exceptionally casual; the proceedings started 20 minutes late.

My primary critique is of the first speaker, Paul Barton. Although Barton had made little obvious preparation, he seemed to consider himself a naturally outgoing rascal. He briefly described his studio and his technical music production work, and eventually offered a few interesting comments. However, he spent the bulk of his presentation mugging for the audience. Several times he reclined on the front of the stage while talking, or left the stage and sat beside someone, or draped his arm over their shoulders.

He used a few PowerPoint notes, but often turned his back to the audience to consult them as he continued to talk. Some of his mannerisms were cute the first time, but quickly grew anoying. For instance, he has the practiced ability to imitate the sound of a reel to reel tape player rewinding briefly. When he misspoke, he would say “rewind,” loudly into his microphone while reproducing that sound.

Barton offered a few aphorisms that could have been the basis for some interesting observations, but he repeatedly intoned them with a deep voice into his microphone as if they were so profound that they needed no further elaboration. At one point, he made an observation about one of the ladies in the audience that he knew enjoyed singing in the shower and turned this into a distasteful series of sexual innuendos, which were taken up and continued by the second speaker. But that

The second speaker, Mike Tavlor, is an experienced songwriter, and brought his guitar to the stage. Although he made a promising start, his initial observations about music and harmony theory quickly bogged down as the audience plagued him with tedious questions about the most elementary aspects of chord structure.

This was followed by the midmorning break, where Dianna and I hastily agreed that there was little for us here except the great Krispy Kreme donuts. We stepped outside for some air and never came back. On the way out of town we discovered a Schlotzsky’s restaurant and enjoyed our sandwiches very much.

So, I would have to say that we thought the food was excellent.

Copyright 2009, David Satterlee

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