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Steve Key: News/Blog

Losing and winning - March 13, 2005

I lost the Plowshares Songwriting Contest last night in Phoenixville, PA. Or so I thought. Joe Jencks won, and he is certainly a high quality songwriter and engaging performer who got the crowd singing along on both of his songs (Attn. DC folks: Joe will be in town April 16). I was more reserved, playing the ballad "Golden" and the kinda preachy political song, "DC". I knew it was not a winning performance. But I did win something -- two of the performers asked for copies of my songs so they could possibly cover them. That really brightened my mood -- it's the highest compliment one songwriter can give to another, I think. I would be honored to have my songs covered by such fine performers. It was a full house and a full evening with 2-song sets by the 8 contest finalists, host Erik Balkey, contest judge Brian Gundersdorf, a longer set by last year's winner/this year's judge, Kate McDonnell and a featured set by Cliff Eberhardt. I bought two CDs: Kate's latest, "Where the Mangoes Are" (her song "Oh Mercy" is one I'm thinking of covering--it digs deeper into me each time I hear it) and one by Tim Robinson, my fellow finalist, who writes very unusual and challenging songs. The support from my colleagues and the excellent songs I heard were the prizes I took home.

Alexandria Songwriters - March 10, 2005

I live in Old Town Alexandria, and have discovered many fine musicians who are neighbors. Tuesday night I dropped in on Ben Hulan, who hosts the open mike every other Tuesday at the Tiffany Tavern. I love it when he gets Amy Sullivan to add her sweet harmony -- they got me all nostalgic when they covered Robin & Linda Williams' "Don't Let Me Come Home a Stranger", which I first heard in 1985 from the host of the open mike at Gallagher's Pub on Connecticut Ave. in DC. I think her name was Mary Chapin something or other. Tom Dews was also there at Tiffany Tavern -- he and Ben are doing some co-writing and gigging together. Last night at Stella's, Old Town residents Michael Bowers and Siobhan Quinn walked a couple of blocks from their home to hear Justin Roth, and I signed them up to feature at Stella's on April 20. Other Alexandrians I've enjoyed: Mary Wood, Mark Austin, Wes Tucker and Sam Hensley. I'll add all of the above to my Links page.

Washington Folk Festival - March 9, 2005

Bill Baker called, inviting me to play this year's festival, held first weekend of June at Glen Echo (MD) Park. Bill and I played the mainstage at the Kerrville Folk Festival in '93 in a songwriters' round called the Capital Campfire, along with Vicky (now Vyktoria) Pratt Keating and Debi Smith. Reminds me I need to make plans to return to Kerrville end of May!

Lyrics Added - March 7, 2005

I just added all the lyrics from the Scatter Seeds CD, plus some recent songs that I have yet to record (click on Songs/Lyrics). I started recording last summer for a CD, tentatively titled "Golden", which would include these new songs and new arrangements of some old songs. I hope to continue working on these recordings soon, and have a new release out when the time is right.

Jonathan Byrd in Leesburg VA - February 13, 2005

Jonathan performed two sets last night, solo and unplugged. Good crowd, great show. The UU Church of Loudoun County is the perfect venue for him, the preacher's son who says, "If you can't test your faith, how strong is it?" Three fans in the row behind us first heard Jonathan at a show I produced in Alexandria (he played a 3-song cameo opening for Stephanie Corby and Wishing Chair), and I was gratified to have made the connection. But I wondered, why no opener on this show? More on Jonathan at
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