Park City musicians group restarts in-person songwriting circles after putting them on hold due to COVID-19
Sessions start on May 10
Jody Whitesides invites local singers and songwriters back to the Musician’s Songwriters Exchange Park City’s in-person songwriter circles after a year of COVID-19 quarantine.
Whitesides, facilitator of the group, more commonly known as MuSE PC, is resuming the gatherings on an RSVP basis, and will limit each session to five participants.
“I did that because, including me, the total of songwriters will be six, which will make it easier to break out evenly into two groups,” he said. “We’ll be able to work on songwriting exercises.”
The first songwriters circle will be May 10, and will be held in Whitesides’ backyard, because the venue MuSE originally used at the former Switchback Sports space at 1685 Bonanza Drive was recently torn down.
“The city razed the building without telling me, so the stage that was built and some of the furniture we had there was destroyed,” Whitesides said.
After looking around for a suitable setting, Whitesides decided to offer up his yard.
“It’s a big space that will allow us to social distance,” he said. “I’m vaccinated, and hopefully others will be, too, but I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable. So if they want to wear masks they can.”
Whitesides has also changed the songwriters circle’s format to create more of a community vibe for songwriters of all levels.
“We want to get more to the writing approach other than critiquing something that is already written,” he said. “We want to focus more on how to develop better songwriting skills, and work on the concept of writing the lyrics to make sure the story, content and point of view in the songs are brought about.”
The group will still analyze selected songs during the sessions, Whitesides said.
After participants have sent in their RSVPs, he will ask them to name an existing popular song they would like to examine.
“We will spend 10 minutes of the gathering breaking the song down and looking at the lyrics, the chord progression and melody while chewing on some barbecue chicken around the fire,” Whitesides said. “If someone wants a vegetarian or vegan option, they are welcome to bring their own food.”
After analyzing the song, the group will break off into the two subgroups, according to Whitesides.
“We’ll do a 10-minute writing exercise on original songs and then come back together and share what everyone has written,” he said.
Although the May 10 session is already full, Whitesides is planning others, and the best way to RSVP is to sign up for the MuSE PC email list at musepc.com.
“It’s so much easier for me to keep track of the RSVPs through email, and it gives people the option to get a new, free songwriting tip into their inboxes every 10 days,” he said.
Whitesides wants to host the songwriters circle biweekly, and switch the days up to accommodate people’s schedules.
“We will continue to gather in my backyard, but if more and more people want to sign up, I will find another venue to spread everyone out even more,” he said.
Whitesides is looking forward to reforming the songwriter circle.
“I made the decision to stop everything when the Summit County Health Department came down on COVID-19 last year,” he said. “We tried to do the Zoom meeting thing for a couple of months, but it wasn’t the same. We had problems with people not hearing each other because microphone set-ups weren’t great. So it just seemed like the best thing to do was put everything on hold.”
Although Whitesides hit the pause button, he knew he wanted to bring the circle back in one form or another.
“This is part of the effort for MuSE to regroup in terms of getting people interested in being a part of the local original-music community from the ground up,” he said. “We want to get the community reconnected for the music portion of the town’s arts and culture district, and we want the music community to feel there is a supportive songwriting net.”
For information about the MuSE PC Songwriters Circle, visit musepc.com.
The Park City Museum will raise stories of the dead at the Glenwood Cemetery on Oct. 1.
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