BMI celebrated a highly successful first year of the BMI Songwriters Club with a packed final show in November. Singer/songwriter Duane Neillson describes it best: “The night I performed reminded me why I love singing and writing music... it was possibly the warmest I’ve ever felt on stage. People like myself who do this regularly, deeply appreciate when a club setting is beautiful -- when performer and audience alike are of the same mind and vibe. The BMI Songwriters Club was that for me.”
BMI's Myles Lewis, Dan Navarro, manager Mike Gormley, BMI's Barbara Cane, Eric Lowen and BMI's Gideon Black
The acoustic showcase, sponsored by Performer magazine, is held the third Tuesday of every month and is organized by BMI LA’s Writer/Publisher Relations department. Held at Highland Grounds in Hollywood, the Songwriters Club is host to a number of talented singer/songwriters whose diverse, eclectic talent has culled a large number of supporters.
Jim Lauderdale and Jesse Dayton perform
“The BMI Songwriters Club was established with the true spirit of BMI's hugely diverse and talented collection of songwriters and publishers in mind,” explained Myles Lewis, BMI's Director of Writer/Publisher Relations. “We tried to create a showcase series that would be both entertaining and educational for everyone -- from those just starting out to some of BMI's most celebrated and seasoned songwriters. We basically tried to bring a little of the Nashville mentality to the Los Angeles songwriting community and create a supportive environment where people would be encouraged to collaborate and network with one another. Since its inception, the BMI Songwriters Club has lived up to, and exceeded, every expectation we had. It has consistently been well attended and has developed a reputation for delivering great talent in all genres.”
BMI's Myles Lewis with Simon Glickman and Willie Aron of Mysterypop
The evening consists of an hour-long open mic portion followed by an hour-long performance by two pre-selected BMI artists. The open mic portion is usually overwhelmed with performers waiting to sign-up for their chance to perform in front of music industry professionals, producers and peers in hopes of being discovered. Stephanie Guervitz of Turner Management Group is a regular attendee and raves: “As a manager of a songwriter who enjoys collaborating with her peers, I am always looking for creative writers with a vision. The BMI Songwriters Club allows me an opportunity to see the writers perform their material live, and the open-mic sessions have helped me to meet a few ‘diamonds in the rough’ that I may never have discovered without this unique platform.”
The ultra-cool, bohemian vibe of Highland Grounds made the venue a perfect choice for the Songwriters Club. The historic LA coffee-house/restaurant has been hosting open mic evenings for over 12 years, and in addition to singer/songwriters, has featured an eclectic array of poets performing spoken-word and performance art. Recently, many stars have dropped in to participate in their open mic, including country singer Pam Tillis, Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens, and even Spinal Tap.
BMI’s first year’s highlights include performances from top singer/songwriters such as Grammy and Academy Award nominee Stephen Bishop, Danny Wilde of the Rembrandts, premiere roots-country singer/songwriters Jim Lauderdale and Jesse Dayton, Lowen & Navarro, Peter Stuart, Duane Neillson and a Latin focused night featuring Hollywood Records recording artist Serralde and Cristina.
Rounding out the first year was a groovy set from Mysterypop, featuring Simon Glickman, Sr. Editor of HITS Magazine. “It was a delight to be part of BMI’s Songwriters Club,” Glickman comments, “It was a well-attended yet intimate gig and provided an ideal way to showcase our songs. We enjoy the chance to play these stripped-down sets, especially since the lyrics, dynamics and nuances come through so clearly, and this is one of the more satisfying ones we’ve done.”
Peter Shurkin, an artist manager with Gold Mountain Entertainment adds: “The BMI Songwriters Club is a showcase of the great songwriting talent in Los Angeles. A true back-to-basics forum for songwriters to expose their songs and talent in a relaxed and supportive environment.”
BMI’s Lewis adds: “We look forward to our second year and more stirring performances and compelling songwriting to inspire us all.”
Others who performed sets at this year’s BMI Songwriters Club include Garrison Starr, Matthew Niblock, Billie Myers, Peter Stuart, Alana Gentry, Blither, The Red, Nik Frost, Dave Lichens, Harrison, Jason Freddy and Damon Wyckoff.
The BMI Songwriters Club is one of many showcase programs run out of the BMI Los Angeles office. BMI hosts a monthly Circle of Songs showcase the last Wednesday of every month, as well as quarterly New Music Nights showcases on the West Coast featuring rock, alternative, pop, R&B and Latin artists.