If you have not listened to an album in years and know someone that has a stereo with albums, go to their house, get out those albums that are the soundtrack of our (adults over 35) lives.

If you have an old turntable, it may not work because the belt disintegrated and is not there!! Order one on-line – I recently found one for my Technics turntable for $7.99. My friend, Tim Buppert came over yesterday and installed the belt, re-connected some of my stereo stuff – such as the Realistic Equalizer, cassette player, CD player and event the connects to play songs on my iPhone through the system.

I’ve been listening since yesterday to my old albums from the 60′s, 70′s ad 80′s. Memories came flashing back to listening to these albums, laying on the couch as a kid with those KOSS headphones cranked up at night as my parents slept.  Turning up the stereo full blast when the parents would leave, making out to the Firefall album with a cute girl in high school, listening to Steppenwolf’s Greatest Hits and not knowing the song, “The Pusher” in which my mom heard one Saturday afternoon and said, “Do not play this when you grandmother is here”!

The same day I bought Steppenwolf, I bought Grand Funk Railroad LIVE which was recorded at the Atlanta Pop Festival.  My friend, Kim Phillips told me I should buy those – at Turner’s Record Shop (no relation) in my home town of St. Albans, WV.

As I moved out of my home in my 20′s memories of listening to new music, Hiroshima in which Dave Pope’s wife at Budget Tapes and Records picked out for me and said it is perfect for date nights – oh yea!  The turntable has a repeat button so it goes back and continues to play the album if you do not want to go across the room and switch sides of the album.

The 80′s when I worked in radio, after everyone left the office at 5:00, my boss, David Chandler and I would look on the top of the front desk, UPS left  at least 5 or 6 boxes, David would get his pocketknife, cut the tape, open the boxes, and we’d each get one of the albums in each of the boxes from the record labels! YEA free music for that Monday night!

Reading the album credits on the back and on the sleeves, now I know some of those people that wrote, produced and played on those albums – since I’ve moved to Nashville. That is fun as I took a photos of the credits and sent them to a couple of friends last night.

GO back and remember why you love music, why you are in the business or why you just love music – it started with the albums and 45′s, the memories of those songs – the soundtrack of our lives!!

What were your first albums you bought and what are some of your all-time favorite albums?


The Greatest Week for Songwriters 2014 was AWESOME with so many great shows and networking – THANKS to NSAI and all those who gave their time and energy to make such a GREAT EVENT happen in Nashville!

From 2003 – 2010 I used to host on the Sunday after Tin Pan South – The Guitar BQ – for seven years. The first one in 2003 brought about 150 people to the house at 701 Brook Hollow Road, which was owned by Steven McClintock.

I bought 50 pounds of BBQ, buns and sides from my friend, Barrett Hobbs (and bought the items every year from Barrett) who owned The Scoreboard Restaurant across from Opryland. I asked those attending the event to bring a covered dish or beverages to share with those attending the events.

It rained at the first Guitar BQ, the house of course was crowded with songwriters and friends. I remember telling everyone to get their food and there was room downstairs to eat and play, but no one was going to be the first downstairs. Gunner Nelson, who used to live in the house, proceeded to get a screwdriver, take the hinges out of the door at the top of the stairs, carry the door downstairs and all of a sudden, the pretty girls followed him down the stairs! Food and music – they go together in Nashville and all through the house till late at night – what an idea and little did I know I’d do the Guitar BQ for seven years in a row!

Following years, the event grew every year as more out of town songwriters would extend their stay to be sure and attend the Guitar BQ. Out of seven years, it only rained two times! I’d pray months in advance for good weather, as the crowds would add about 100 people every year in the yard, driveway, deck, rooms filled, I started buying 100 pounds of BBQ and sides of BBQ. I am trying to remember perhaps the last year a local restaurant catered the event in exchange for the advertising – THANK YOU!

The Music Row Show – with Scott and Hieno broadcast one or two years from the event – interviewing songwriters and artists on the radio  at Guitar BQ!

Guitar BQ 7 was the final Guitar BQ as the crowd is estimated of about 600 to 700 people attending the event. Memories of meeting so many people, and through the years many have told me stories of networking, writing songs, meeting artists they ended up touring with, some met and even got married – Lori and Menno as I introduced them on the driveway by the big tree.

http://www.nashvillemuse.com/photo-gallery has photos of some of the Guitar BQ events through the years.

Please comment on your memories of the Guitar BQs through the years! THANK YOU for those great memories of the Guitar BQs!!

Tin Pan South – The Greatest Week For Songwriters. My first TPS was 1996 as I had visited Nashville a couple months earlier for the CRS Radio convention, was here a couple days early, drove down Music Row, saw a sign that said NSAI Nashville Songwriters Association International. THAT was the moment that changed my life, my future, my dreams and goals and ultimately, why I am living in Nashville and continue to write songs!

I drove around the block, went in the office and met Donna Michael, who was from the Greensboro, NC area.  Donna was the person in charge of the local NSAI workshops – they had about 50 around the country at the time.

I was living in Charlotte, NC and had been writing lyrics since 1989.  Donna told me about NSAI www.nashvillesongwriters.com   and the local workshops and I asked if I could set one up in Charlotte. She said yes and the real journey of songwriting for me was beginning with people who cared that I wrote songs, they provided a guide to learn with resources and networking, workshops with pro songwriters and publishers, resources for great books to read about songwriting.

Tin Pan South week provided the opportunity for local workshop coordinators to come to Nashville, learn how to set up local workshops, meet the other coordinators and many of us remain as friends today. About ten of us that I know eventually moved to Nashville and have co-written songs and stayed good friends, helping each other on our songwriting journey.

Those trips to town as the local coordinator would inspire me, taking in the two shows a night in town, meeting the pro songwriters and music business professionals, which led to may of those I met starting in 1996 – hard to believe 18 years ago are still friends and have helped me on the journey of songwriting.

The local Charlotte NSAI workshop is still strong wit members who have become friends over the past years since I moved to Nashville in October 2002.Being a coordinator for the Charlotte NSAI local workshop kept me on the songwriting journey to continue to learn, bring pros from Nashville to Charlote three times a year and many of those pros are now my friends and some co-writers.

A great things about being a coordinator – as they all come to Nashville this week, is how you impact lives through songwriting workshops! The new friends made, the songs written on the local level, finding others that write songs in your area – makes lifetime memories. some of the members in Charlotte had not played their guitars in years, started writing songs. One couple met at their first meeting in Charlotte and got married months later and are still married – so ya never know how you can make a difference in people’s lives and your own life by becoming a NSAI coordinator!

Get to know the other coordinators from around the world and exchange ideas, co-write across the miles and make the most of Tin Pan South week!!

I learned the craft and business of songwriting by preparing for the monthly meetings to teach songwriting and learning from others in the local workshop. That led to the eventual move to Nashville and becoming a member of our Nashville Music Family.

THANK YOU everyone at NSAI and all  you do for songwriters and THANK YOU local NSAI Workshop Coordinators for the difference YOU make in songwriters lives in your community!

Leave YOUR thoughts on the NSAI local coordinators and any great memories of past Tin Pan South weeks in the comment section!!


Today starts Tin Pan South 2014. I refer to the event as the greatest week for songwriters. This is the week that made me start realizing I wanted to move to Nashville as I’d watch the hit songwriters perform the greatest songs, network the week during the nightly songwriter shows and at the NSAI coordinator training as I was the coordinator for the local Charlotte, NC chapter of NSAI.

The Spring Symposium as it was called, now titled, Spring Training was where I would get critiques of my songs from pros, listen to pro songwriters and publishers educate us on the craft and business of songwriting and develop relationships with these great people in Nashville and songwriters from around the country that were my peers, coming to learn from the pros.

The two shows per night of listing to four songwriters in a round, telling stories of how they wrote the songs and how they became hits is always inspiring to me as a songwriter and everyone was always very nice to take time to talk to the events attendees after the shows.

I have memories of a yearly after party party that songwriter, Marc-Alan Barnette hosted in his place in Sylvan Park, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Songwriters from all over the country would show up to the  party, network, tell stories until the we hours of the morning.MAB as we call him, would have some of his hit writer friends come to the party which gave us an opportunity to meet and learn from those pros!

The next morning of Spring Training everyone would be half asleep for the event, yet excited to learn from the pros.

The party hosted by MAB  was moved to The Parlor Studio, owned by Robin Ruddy and Larry Sheridan on 16th Ave and usually Jimbeau Hinson, great hit songwriter and long time veteran of Nashville, would share his songwriting wisdom toward the end of the evening, as we’d all get quiet and listen to Jimbeau talk about the journey of songwriting.

The next morning of Spring Training everyone would be half asleep for the event, yet excited to learn from the pros. Do you see a trend here?

A couple years ago, MAB was asked not to hold the party as the challenge of the late night part and the sleepy attendees just did not seem to fit for the week.

Thanks to all those I met at the parties, to MAB and The Parlor for hosting those great parties and making great memories with Tin Pan South Week!!

What are YOUR Tin Pan South Week best memories?

Tin Pan South Week Memories

This week, March 24th 2014 will be 18 years of Tin Pan South week for me. I remember the 1996 as it was my first trip to be part of the NSAI coordinator training for the Charlotte Workshop.

New coordinator training on Wednesday, Thursday was coordinator training, Friday and Saturday was Spring Symposium (now called Spring Training).  Many memories of learning from the pro songwriters, having songs critiques and stories behind the songs, listening to pros giving workshops on how the craft and business is done in Nashville bring s a smile to my face.

In 1998, during training as we were in the AT&T Building (Batman Building) when the Tennessee Twister came – a tornado in the afternoon! The wind blew, after it calmed down we went to the Double Tree Hotel. The tornado was thought to be coming around again, so we were told to go to the basement.  Paul Williams (songwriter and actor) and his wife (in her bath robe) along with Melissa Manchester we right beside me. I thought that was pretty cool!

I spoke with Melissa about that event a couple years ago at the ASCAP Awards, and she told me she remembered it well, and said Paul was resting in is room about eleven or more floors in the hotel – on the bed. He looked out the window and saw a garage door flying by his window end over end. The alarm sounded, his wife was in the shower and only took the time to put her bath robe on before heading downstairs to the basement of the hotel.

Power was out in the hotel, the staff made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve ever eaten as we were all starving that evening. An hour or two later I went the a German restaurant across the street, remember talking with Ralph Murphy(Songwriter, publisher) of ASCAP and a couple of his friends in the restaurant. I also remember seeing the news with film of a red pickup truck parked next to a building downtown, covered in bricks from the wall that collapsed in the tornado.

Other stories will follow on future blogs. I realized that because of Tin Pan South Week trips to Nashville every year for six years in a row along with other trips to build relationships, listen to the songwriters and learn about songwriting, the people being so nice in the community, is why I moved to Nashville in 2002.

Thanks NSAI and everyone for the memories that shaped my life, my dreams and goals, memorable times in life! It All Starts With A Song and for me, it continued with Tin Pan South Week!

What are YOUR best memories of Tin Pan South Week?

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano to be shown in theaters March 18th and 26th ON

It All Started in Franklin, Tn, just down the road from Music Row in Nashville.

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano.

Yamaha’s Chris Gero, produced and directed the 2013 release of the making of  Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano  that is Yamaha’s 4-year odyssey developing and producing a state of the art piano for Elton John’s residency at The Collosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

March 18 and 26 in 1,300 theaters worldwide, 40 countries and 500 theaters in the US will show the movie for 2 nights only.

A DVD of making the movie and the concert will be released on DVD in the fall of 2014.

I spoke on the phone with Chris Gero and could feel his excitement of the movie and the teamwork of over 150 members of the Yamaha team for the four year project.

Chris has a 20 year relationship with Elton John. In 2009, near the end of “The Red Piano” engagements at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Chris started thinking about a documentary to follow up the Million Dollar Piano itself and a stage show. The idea for the show came first, followed by the idea for the documentary.

The challenge according to Chris, “How to take a block that is a piano and make the piano fluid on center stage and the piano to be interactive”.

The project started with the idea Elton John is an art collector and the piano was to be a one-of-a-kind. The team wanted to capture Chris and Yamaha’s team with filming the documentary that turned into a four year project with a Yamaha team of 50 people in the design and building process from members of Yamaha from around the world working on the piano project.

Akie Hinokio, A 26 year old designer on the Yamaha team created the piano design for the project.

Chris says, “I was part of, not in charge of this great Yamaha team”. Chris had faith in his team and Elton trusted us from the years of working together, and that team came through for a two hour movie that will be bigger than life on the big screens.

Chris said the biggest challenges were when they recorded first concert, followed with   Elton becoming ill and missed several show dates. “The 2nd night of filming was months later after the first concert that was taped was a different show, different tempos to some songs as it was the first show of that season”.

Making the movie also included challenges of 40 cameras on stage and Elton did not want to be distracted or his audience distracted by the cameras – camera placement was crucial.

The Yamaha team of 50 were on hand to film, handle the technical side of the film and an editing team to make this movie.

Chris mentioned that he is most proud of the movie because of the team for the project is based in Franklin, TN – not the film centers of New York and LA where most people think of movies being developed and edited for the big screen.

The movie includes all of Elton’s greatest hits from throughout his career including ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’, ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Your Song’. At the centerpiece of the performance is the show’s namesake piano, featuring more than 68 LED video screens created by Yamaha. The state-of-the-art piano is the perfect accompaniment to Elton’s greatest hits displaying imagery to complement the entertainer’s fan favorites.

On stage, John is accompanied by Davey Johnstone on guitar, the late Bob Birch on bass, John Mahon on percussion, Nigel Olsson on drums and Kim Bullard on keyboards. Percussionist Ray Cooper makes a special appearance.

To promote the March 18th and 26th dates for the movie in the theaters, Chris flies to London, LA and back to Nashville where members of his team will watch the movie in a local theater together and celebrate their great accomplishment. Chris has seen the film about 700 times and looks forward to the release of his 4 year and 1,000’s of hours to make the movie.

“Elton John wanted to be the first artist to do something that has never been done with a movie of his concerts” according to Chris Gero – and they did it with, Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano.

For more information, Yamaha.com/MDP and/or YamahaEntertainmentGroup.com

Doak Turner is the owner of the Nashville Muse www.nashvillemuse.com and a songwriter living in Nashville, TN. He can be reached doak@doakturner.com


A few tips for Songwriter Discipline.

Steven McClintock of 37 Records. http://www.37records.com/category/news/  

Write songs because you LOVE to write…because you enjoy the process.   NOT because you think it can make you rich.  That’s the wrong reason…though it certainly can.

Writing is a job…a tough job, but with amazing rewards. Everyone ask what inspires you to write.  Well I answer, what doesn’t?  Sometimes though, you just have to be present to win.  Show up, get started, have discipline and before you know it, it becomes second nature.

1. Get a comfortable setting to write

As simple as it sounds, having a place to go where you can focus and be creative can be motivating. Even if it’s just a small desk and chair in a corner of your living room, the fact that you’ve dedicated it to creating can move you to work it! Don’t be afraid to pull out the songwriter’s best friends – rhyming dictionary, Thesaurus, a capo, pen and paper, laptop, etc. – all ready to go. I keep a guitar out all of the time, just in case I want to pick it up and play it.  Same with my piano, I have it

2. Get a routine for being creative

Routine can be a good thing even for something as artistic and creative as songwriting. If, for example, you know that every day at 7pm, you’re going to write for half an hour, then you’re more likely to do it. They say it takes a few weeks of consciously making yourself do something before it becomes a habit. A daily time to write will go a long way towards the healthy habit of songwriting.

3. Write something every day…discipline

This can feel overwhelming but really isn’t. Sit down for 3 minutes even, or put a lyric idea down, or hum a melody into the phone.  It doesn’t have to be a BIG DEAL to sit and write.  No pressure and if you get into the habit to write something every day, you can get rid of the potential road blocks. You will always have somewhere to go.

4. Find projects needing songs

For some of us, sometimes the idea that you can write about anything is just too much freedom.
Create some challenges for yourself.  Tell yourself you are going to work on something that has the same chords in the chorus and the verse. That will make you focus on possibly a stronger melody or unique rhythm changes. It also keeps it fun!

5. Find co-writers, more than one

Make an appointment! Stick with it!  If someone is counting on you to show up and work, you’re more likely to make that happen. This is a good thing!  Every writer can and will bring something new to the table.  Look for their strengths, build on it.  Having someone whose skills complement yours usually creates a stronger song. Co-writing itself can be scary, but don’t let it be…just be open and honest, say what you need to and never be worried about what the co-writer thinks.  No such thing as a bad idea…they will usually lead to good ones.

6. Never throw away ANY idea

Sometimes it is great to start with a fresh idea…just feels good. But hey, don’t forget to check your old ideas or unfinished songs.  Make SURE though, that it isn’t with another songwriter!  That is a can of worms you do not want to open.  One of the hardest things is starting with a blank page or no idea, so keep a list or file of lyrics and melodies. What might not fit your song now can fit another one later.

Few Tips for Songwriter Discipline
(not original ideas, but shared by other songwriters)
Steven McClintock host of THE SONGWRITER, hit songwriter, publisher and all round great guy!

I recently attended a “Showcase” for Independent artists that was scheduled during the CRS radio conference in Nashville. Now, just because a “showcase” takes place the same time as a national event happening in town, does not necessarily make it part of that conference.

There are events that major record labels are presenting to the decision makers in radio.  Yes, radio professionals were in town at the same time as the showcase. Many of those professionals in radio were on the General Jackson boat at the time of the other showcase in a local venue. SONY always hosts an event with their artists the Thursday night of CRS and the top program directors and other industry pros are on THAT SONY boat listening to the top SONY artists as they cruise the river.

Also at the convention hotel, there are record labels that are showcasing their artists to radio professionals, providing food and beverages in several rooms of the hotel.

Other events happening as part of the CRS events are the record labels are taking out the radio program directors and decision makers to nice dinners in expensive restaurants, artists homes and other events happening around town for private functions.

ALSO, independent record promoters will ask unknown artists to pay them to do a perhaps  :15 to :30 minute set at a local bar or restaurant downtown, promising radio professionals will see them major record labels will see them perform, major decision makers and booking agents will be at the events and the artists should pay $100′s of dollars to perform on the stage OR include it in a promotional package to “work” their songs to radio.

The artists also have to pay their own band members to travel to Nashville if they are from out of town, pay gas, food and lodging as well as to play the up to :30 minute showcase. Add those costs to the bottom line for the “showcase”. The artists family from out of town often accompany the artists, adding costs to the showcase.

Do you really think the radio people with a choice of major artists and upcoming artists that have deals with record companies, seeing major artists perform and network with the big industry professionals will really come to a local venue to see someone they have never heard, although they may have received the song via e-mail or on a CD, will stay out past midnight to watch these artists they have not heard of perform on stage for four hours that night watching all the artists?

The event I attended because a friend was playing included about SIX artist playing :30  minutes each, then time for set changes. The last two artists at the event – one started about 12:15 AM and the last one about 12:50. Needless to say, no radio professionals/decision makers were in the venue and very few people in the venue at the end of the night.

Sometimes, as happened last week, an independent artist promoted an event at a local venue, asked other artists to perform during the night. Sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it. HOWEVER, that artist that reserved the room for their “showcase” had to guarantee the venue that people attending the event would spend a minimum $4,000.00 in food and beverages.

If the attendees did not spend that much money, the artist must PAY the bar the difference in what was spent on food and beverages and the $4,000.  The aspiring artist paid I am sure, do not know the exact total, probably in excess of $1,000+ to the bar for the use of the room that night.

Do YOU think these would events are worthwhile investment for an artists??

Another event that independent companies promote during the big event in Nashville in June, independent promoters will be asking a bunch of artists that very few people have heard of, to pay them to play on their stage at a local bar or restaurant downtown, promising 100′s and 1,000′s of fans will be in the bar during the event!

Actually there are tens of 1,000′s of people downtown at that time – to see the artists on the six stages that the local music industry association will ask to play on all the stages during the day as part of the great and huge festival that brings music fans in from all over the world. These are known artists with fan bases and most have record deals.

At night, most of the  fans are across the river, watching the artists they hear on radio play their songs at the football stadium.

Just think before you pay to play on events that are promoted as being tied into a major event! Do your homework, look in that big events guide to see if that showcase is REALLY part of the major event, or just happening at the same time as the major event in Nashville.

Do the research on these companies that ask you to pay them to promote you to radio. What success have they had in the recent past with artists to achieve the goals of the artists?

YOUR thoughts and experiences in the past for these type of events – leave a comment!





I saw this article on The Songwriter’s Connection E-Tip, a great resource from Kim Copeland who is a songwriter/producer You can sign up here for her e-zine. Thanks to Leon Olguin for the article!

By Leon Olguin
Are You Really Looking for Feedback on Your Songs?
What I’m about to say here applies directly to beginning songwriters, although it can serve as a valuable reminder for those more experienced.
I have often mentioned the value of songwriter groups such as NSAI. There is great benefit in getting together with a group of fellow songwriters, talking about the craft of songwriting, and offering feedback on each others songs.
However, I have noticed that sometimes a new writer will come into the group, and after receiving some less- than glowing comments on his song, never come to another meeting. Often during the meeting, upon receiving some constructive criticism, the new writer will become defensive concerning his creation, strenuously explaining why we wrote it the way he did. Then he quietly leaves and never comes back.
He was probably hoping to hear comments such as: “Great song, man! You really nailed it! That should be a hit! I wish I had written that!” That is feedback of a kind, but what this writer was hoping to hear was really something else: applause. The very thing that just about every musician longs to hear, whether he or she is playing live, or showing a new song to a small group or fellow songwriters. We all want to hear that applause.
Now when you are performing live, unless you are inept to the point of causing excruciating aural pain, most folks will be polite enough to applaud your efforts. Depending on where you are performing, (I’m assuming it’s not Nashville!), a great many of the members of your audience will be neither musicians nor songwriters. They will have little or no interest in helping you improve, they just want to hear something they like.
A songwriting group gathers together for a much different purpose. The goal is not just to listen and say something nice, the goal is to learn more about the craft of songwriting, and offer each other suggestions for improvement.
When you play a new song for a songwriters group, keep in mind that just about every good song starts out as a “first draft.” Remember, the first draft of Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” was called “Scrambled Eggs.”
You’re looking for real, live feedback, not applause. In a good songwriting group, the members are there to help each other progress as creative musicians. There is a certain camaraderie that is built up between those with a common goal. The writers become each other’s cheerleaders. When one comes up with a strong song (usually after several rewrites) the rest of the group rejoices with them, and encourages them to write another. Those who are more advanced in their work can inspire and embolden those who are just beginning. The “baby songwriters” can take heart in the fact that all accomplished writers were novices once.
Every songwriter, from greenhorn to expert, should always look for genuine feedback. When carefully considered and taken to heart, such advice will often lead to something truly special, which will then earn real, heartfelt applause from “regular” folks and fellow songwriters alike.
YOUR Thoughts on feedback on your songs? Leave comment!

NEW - Songwriters on Songwriting - Songwriters Guide with tips from Doak Turner; Rachael Sage; Byron Hill; Kent Blazy; Steve Smith.


Disc Makers present A Panel of five pro songwriters tackles 12 questions about the craft of writing songs. Topics include – How to write through writers block, Co-writing, Knowing when your song is finished and other topics and advice from each of the songwriters.

FREE go to the site and download! Learn from pros in the music business every day. What are YOUR favorite articles and resources to learn the music biz? Leave your comments.