Louisa Branscomb and Nu-Blu songwriter workshops

Nu-Blu and Louisa BranscombAs popular music keeps getting bigger, brighter, louder and more bombastic, we see more and more people drop off the other end. Looking for an expression of something genuine – something that can touch them using words and music, without laser lights, exploding stage props, or frequent costume changes – many folks find their way to acoustic music.

Roots music of every stripe has benefited by remaining real when exhausted pop culture adherents come looking, and acoustic old time and bluegrass have won a great many new fans in this exchange. Part of the attraction is the fact that a large number of people in our audiences play the music as well, and this participatory vibe continues to call new fans into the fold.

In today’s world, it’s never been easier to approach a new craft, with online videos, books and DVDs, offering instruction in everything from clog dancing to fiddle tunes.

But some skills are best learned in an interactive setting, studying at the feet of a master, which is why we see so many music workshops springing up around the country. Some focus in on a single instrument, while others take a more general approach, and still others take a stab at teaching more esoteric concepts like songwriting.

Louisa Branscomb has been offering songwriting retreats at her home for some time, but this week she has announced a new weekend workshop approach she has developed with Daniel Routh of Nu-Blu. It’s called Song To Stage, and is designed to cover the entire creative experience from coming up with an initial idea, through to working, finishing, pitching, creating a demo, and arranging a new song for performance.

Routh says that it’s a completely new approach.

“The band works with Louisa though a curriculum that we co-designed. Throughout the process the songwriters not only develop their own specific songwriting skills, but learn how a band receives the songs, picks songs for new albums, arranges them, and gets them performance ready.

There is also in-depth instruction on how to get the best demos, and on marketing your songs. It’s really a totally new approach that focuses on smaller workshop groups and lots of individual time. There is a session in the workshop that we take a song from start to finish with a recorded song being the end result.”

Their first joint seminar is scheduled for October 30-November 2 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Accommodations for three days is included in the $525 fee for the workshop.

Louisa is excited about this new format as well.

“Being a professional or serious songwriter has a much wider challenge than ‘just’ writing songs. Most writers have strengths in some areas, such as inspiration and creating a basically good song, but relative weaknesses in other areas, such as editing to full completion, recording an effective demo, artist relations, pitching, or even how to effectively sing their song in songwriter settings.

This workshop is designed to provide a full curriculum responsive to individual needs, and as a basis for building skills in subsequent workshops. We keep our classes small so that we can be flexible and attuned to individual needs and goals, while also building community and mutual support that songwriters need for their work.”

This songwriter development program is also being tailored to coincide with major festivals around the US for next year.

Full details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.