Songwriter rekindles circle
January 31, 2007
Brooks Bloomfield remembers the first time someone helped him write a song. A drummer told him he might try mixing up his chords a little bit to shake out some of the monotony and he decided not to take it as a criticism, and instead tweak his tune, he recalls. It helped him write a better song.
"I was glad to hear it, because it was honest and frank," he says, recalling his reaction to the percussionist’s constructive criticism. "You know, someone once said we only write one or two songs and we just keep rewriting them over and over I think getting out of that rut is a good thing."
As Bloomfield sits in the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library, he envisions rekindling a Park City songwriter’s circle and filling the room with musicians like himself, to provide a local community for lyricists to exchange ideas, he says. He’s modeling his circle after a group that former executive director of Mountain Town Stages Randy Barton invented a few years ago, which included many of the artists that currently play the local circuit of night clubs and outdoor stages throughout town and beyond, including Timmy Cruz and Summer Gardner, and Mary-Beth Maziarz, a now established film and television songwriter who helped to host the group with Barton.
"Randy and Mary Beth supported and spearheaded local music for years," he says. "I think part of the reason why people stopped coming to the [former songwriters’ group] is because they actually had gigs to play."
Born in West Hartford, Conn., Bloomfield moved to Park City in 1974 after graduating high school, expecting, as many do, "just to stay the winter." A longtime ski instructor at Deer Valley for 15 years, Bloomfield currently uses his University of Utah degree to make and teach music. He often substitutes at local grammar schools.
He came to town just having picked up the guitar, and played at local open mics, inspired by jazz, pop and rock ‘n roll music. Bloomfield says in terms of lyricists he’s inspired by "literal" story tellers like country artists, and the Greatful Dead’s Bob Weir, as well as the more poetic lyricists like James Taylor. At its fundamental core, however, he says that the words are only half the battle there needs to be a good melody, as well.
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"For a small town, I definitely think there’s been a lot of good music over the years Park City’s been great that way," he observed, citing Fat Paw and Doctor Bob as good examples.
Bloomfield says he aims to be flexible about the structure of the songwriting group, allowing some people the opportunity to receive feedback, and others to choose not to, but he would like to the monthly circle to be participatory.
While open mic nights in clubs and churches might provide a forum for people to play, Bloomfield would rather his songwriters’ circle be largely about the exchange of ideas.
"This is not about having an unstructured jam session, although if people aren’t interested in feedback, that’s fine too," he explained. "My idea to begin with is to share songs and work together with a group to create songs and discuss all the elements that go into creating songs."
While he understands that some people might shrink and prefer not to receive comments from others, he stresses that in his lifetime, he’s found that letting others say what they think can only make the tune better.
"I understand that some people like to work independently and that sometimes people can feel if someone gives them advice, that they’ve plagiarized or something and I understand that," he said. "A lot of times, when you step out of your room and let other people give you their opinion, though, they really can find the blind spot."
Park City’s Songwriters’ Circle will meet the first Monday of every month in the Jim Santy Auditorium at 1255 Park Avenue at 7 p.m. Musicians should bring instruments, though the auditorium does have a piano. The first meeting will be next Monday, Feb. 5. For more information, contact Brooks Bloomfield at 640-3791.