Is it really 12 months to the weekend since we ran the first Songwriting Masterclass?
If the Masterclass in November felt like it could have been our 'difficult 2nd Album' (it wasn't) it seems that with Masterclass #3 we have hit our stride. Maybe not 'OK, Computer' or 'The Queen is Dead' levels - maybe 'This is The Sea' (The Waterboys) level of 3rd album! We had tweaked a few elements of the formula for this one and they worked a treat. More of that later.
As per Masterclass #2 we had a Thursday night arrival for those who had a bit further to travel or just wanted to chill with our mentors James Grant and Robert Hodgens, before the Masterclass kicked-off on Friday.
By Friday lunchtime we had 10 songwriters excited and raring to go. We had 4 returnees in Stevie, Lynn, Lunan and Steven. In addition we had Bobby a professional musician, Ross, Stuart, Alan who write songs for a hobby and we had Van and Liz who are big music fans who wrote their first songs on the weekend.
Friday night dinner means beautiful local Scottish languostines! We cater for all dietary needs, but the languostines do always go down a storm, thanks to Ann and Nathan's stunning recipe. After dinner there was the usual mix of songwriting huddles, pool matches, singalongs and lots of laughing.
We tweaked our approach for Saturday. Demo recording was pushed to Sunday meaning that Saturday was all dedicated to finishing songs, fine-tuning and practising ahead of the Saturday showcase at Five West. What we didn't tell the attendees was that we had a new sound engineer for Sunday - and he was arriving to meet everyone on Saturday and listen to everyone's songs at the showcase. Enter Grahame Skinner, of Hipsway, The Jazzateers and The Cowboy Mouth. A good friend of James and Bobby and a great songwriter in his own right, Grahame was a great addition to the team for the weekend. And a pleasant surprise for Liz, who confessed on Friday night to being a massive Hipsway fan!!
The Saturday showcase was another great success from the food to the company, and of course the songs. For this showcase we had access to a better camera/sound set-up. It meant that we have been able to create a Secret Coast Songwriters Youtube Channel where you can find all of the Saturday showcase song performances - and more.
Sunday is demo recording and with Grahame's cool little mixing machine we were able to do the demos in the lounge and do the recording live using 4 channels. The results are fantastic.
The weekend ended with everyone playing their Challenge songs. A great mix of styles were on displays on the subjects of favourite cities Amsterdam, San Francisco, Budapest, The Vatican, Dundee and Paisley! The winner was Alan's punk/drum & beat ode to The Vatican - with the prize of a signed vinyl copy of the new Bluebells album! Well done Alan.
Another brilliant weekend with some fantastic feedback and lots of promises to keep in touch and ideas for a Christmas/New Year get together. Friendships made and beautiful songs written and performed.
Of all the testimonials for this Masterclass, the one I enjoyed reading the most was from Liz.
"Booking myself onto the SecretCoast songwriting weekend was a massive step out of my comfort zone and definitely a leap of faith. Both you and Bobby had reassured me it'd be fine, Bobby even said 'you'll be amazed at what you can achieve'. And he was right. This magic formula you've created means, no matter your level of songwriting and musical experience, you'll come away with something you're proud of, as well as a group of wonderful new friends." - Liz