STORY SONGS WITH ERNIE HILL
While thinking about events for the 2015 John Hartford Memorial Festival, I came up with this concept purely out of curiosity. What if I selected three or so songwriters out of the lineup who specialize in story songs, and host a presentation/panel discussion consisting of original story songs and individual processes? The idea being, give the audience (and me) an idea about the individual creative process. I have an idea how mine works and I am curious to the extreme that I wrote a book about it.
I presented the idea to the committee and got the green light. They decided to call it a Story Songs Workshop. I explain in the program that is not a "hands on" workshop. The first year was a hit and each year since has grown in popularity as folks who love stories are given a look inside the heads of folks who "make them up". Now we are on our 4th JHMF Story Songs Workshop and in2017, I presented Story Songs at the Walnut Valley Festival, Winfield Kansas. My concept is being considered at some other festivals and events. Participants have included Chicago Farmer, Ryan Spearman, Juni Fisher, Wil Maring, Colin O’Brien, Old Man Luedecke, Ginger Boatwright, Nathan Blake Lynn, Giri and Uma Peters, Micahlan Boney, Kenny Cornell, Mike Oberst and this year I am tickled to introduce Andrew Morris and Julie Bates a.k.a. The Matchsellers, Alaina Hawf of the Whispering Willows, and Bill Poss!
How does it work? I start the set with an original story song and then open up a discussion. We pass it on down the line and in the time allotted we each perform original story songs with enlightening discussion.
Aren't all songs Story Songs? Well, no. A large percentage of top 40 mainstream songs are "feeling" songs. Songs that express love or the opposite. A story song is just that- it tells a story, sometimes taking you to a different environment. It's that simple, but where do they come from? How does a songwriter "get" their story? That's what these sets are all about. It really is different with each songwriter. I've written a book, a short introspective look inside my own mind, the minds of a few others, and some research opinions. It's called "The Cosmic Path to Melody and Lyric". Click here to read more about it. This little mind journey is illustrated by the artist Jon Griffin. Please check it out and consider talking with me about presenting this concept at your event.
Andrew Morris and Julie Bates (The Matchsellers)- As featured on NPR’s Mountain Stage Radio Show, The Bluegrass Situation and Bluegrass Today, the Matchsellers are Warsaw, Indiana native Andrew Morris and Julie Bates of Kansas City, Missouri. Their exciting, gritty, and often hilarious stage show has been developed over 6 years of touring across the US and Europe. The two met while working as American Cultural Ambassadors in Germany via the Fulbright Program and began exploring traditional American music from abroad.Since then, they have collected influences from various regional styles of American folk music including Bluegrass, Old-Time Fiddle, Hambone, Fiddlesticks, Cajun, Gospel and others. Their work has delved into subjects as academic as “German-American Musical Exchange” and as wild as “Science Fiction Bluegrass”. While a focus on humor and absurdity permeates their show, they are dedicated interpreters of tradition whose excellent musicianship, songwriting and taste are never overshadowed.
Alaina Hawf- Alaina Hawf found her love of music at a very young age. Growing up in Northeast Kansas, the sounds of country music surrounded her. At 12 years old, she could be found singing at the many “Branson-style” Country Jubilee shows that the Midwest had to offer. Throughout her life, she has experimented with many styles of music including: Irish, Indie-Rock, Country and Bluegrass. In her 20’s she perfected her style of songwriting, which quickly brought together many emotionally charged originals. After attending and performing at bluegrass festivals, she met her husband (and bandmate - The Whispering Willows), Dylan Hawf. In late 2017 she relocated from Lawrence, Kansas to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Alaina’s style is simple, yet her sound is beautifully crafted. Her melodies and lyrics are powerful and leave a lasting impression.
Bill Poss- Bill Poss is a songwriter and storyteller with two decades of experience zigzagging North America, gathering stories of the human condition and parlaying them into songs. His five critically acclaimed CDs capture the landscape of America with a bluegrass edge. His shows are peppered with funny stories of the road.
Bill Poss, who has toured all over for 20 years, has also written a travelogue, and runs Moccasin Creek Festival and Grapevine Bluegrass Festival. He has emceed at his own festivals, as well as at Pembina River Nights, Fred Eaglesmith Annual Charity Picnic and the John Hartford Memorial Festival. Yep, Bill is one of us. We're glad to have him on board. Bill Poss lives in Effingham, IL where he promotes music.