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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Student songwriters show their stuff

The Songwriters Forum premiered Oct. 3 at City College’s Fe Bland Forum and showcased the diverse talents of music department Chair John Clark‘s songwriting class.

An audience of more than 80 showed up at the event that featured 10 acts at two songs at, all of which were acoustic.

The beauty and challenge of playing an acoustic show is that there is nothing to hide behind. It is just music and lyrics.

Phoebe Light, a veteran City College songwriter, used the final song of her set to show off her new jazz skills. Light masterfully fluttered through tight phrasing and complex keyboarding, sounding reminiscent of a young Joni Mitchell.

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Another songwriter to keep your eye on is Paola Jimenez. This was her premier performance, which was utterly imperceptible. Jimenez’s playful stage presence and unfaltering voice makes her performance the total package.

I hope she pushes herself to her full potential even though her voice is beautiful enough to get away with simpler music and lyrics.

Viviene Barnes was commendable for the tenderness of her songs, as well as for her vocals. She avoids the common pitfall of trying to sound like someone else.

I found the stand out lyricist of the evening to be Scott Lillard. His song “Super Greatest Guy in the World” was full of tongue and cheek humor like, “I’m classier than you because I read novels no one likes” and “I don’t even cry/sorry if I make you cry.” I actually laughed during this song. Lillard’s lyrics hit the nail on the head, and everybody knows “that guy.”

Lillard also had a special guest performer with him he called “Mike-y,” who joined in a two-part harmony before taking a trombone solo.

Kyran Million joined the stage with his band Verna Beware. Earlier, on his own, Million showed strong vocals and rhythmic guitar, but with his band he was able to gain the momentum the audience could sense he had.

Their first song was “The Next Big Thing,” written by John Clark himself. Clark took up his guitar for the number. By the end, the whole audience was clapping along.

Verna Beware tore up their bluesy-rock set. They were dead on the beat, but loose enough to keep the heavy acoustic sound organic. In their second song, “Black Blood,” they leaned heavily into the pulsating rhythm, which had me seat-dancing.

The Songwriters Forum has not only renewed my faith in singer-songwriters, but also left me wanting more. Luckily, many of the performers are accessible via Facebook or Myspace. I would highly recommend seeing the next Songwriters Forum, and see any of the performers’ shows in the Interim Theatre. Verna Beware’s next show is Oct. 22 at Velvet Jones. I’ll see you there.



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