Monthly Feature.

WLSC 2006 CD Release Party
June Feature 2007

Feature Article by Ben Krieger

Photo by Judith Levitt  

The 2006 Williamsburg Live Songwriting Competition is celebrated this month with a corresponding CD Release at Jezebel Music's June Feature Show. The CD features eleven songs compiled from board recordings of the contest's final night. On that evening, nine performers played their hearts out for a shot at the First Place $4,000 cash prize. In a way, the WLSC participants all won; over the past nine months, many of the songwriters -- many of whom had never met before the competition -- have been seen attending each other's performances and even playing together on the same bills. The Brooklyn music scene is very crowded, and the annual WLSC is a great networking opportunity. For the music fan, it's the perfect chance to experience a collection of talented songwriters.

Track by track, the 2006 Williamsburg Live Songwriting Competition CD plays like a smashing live concert. The audience was attentive and dead silent during the performances, saving their enthusiastic applause for the end of each song. As a result, there is none of the usual distracting background noise associated with live releases. And every performance is great:

Photo by Judith Levitt

Winner Nick Ogawa gets things started. "Midnight Man" features many of the qualities that make Ogawa such a unique artist on this scene: his voice, his thoughtful lyrical simplicity, and that cello. Bryan Dunn's Kinks-inflected "Audio Stereo Radio" is a biting commentary on music industry hype and this performance benefits from some winning comments directed at the audience (not to mention some hilarious vocal histrionics during the last chorus). The song secured him a Second Place slot. Alice got the bronze for "Pry Me Away", a love song which features sparse, wintry guitar picking and that lovely voice. Andrew Hoepfner's "Brooklyn (Will You Love Me Forever? Will You Kill Me Now?)" is one of the best compositions on the CD, not to mention the most relevant to the Brooklyn music scene. The performance is classic Hoepfner: snotty charisma of the most endearing sort. Dan Torres showcases his powerhouse voice with the dynamic and catchy "Where I Stand", demonstrating why women in the audience felt their hearts flutter at every Buckley-esque wail. If there was an unofficial Sweetheart Award given out, Lizzy Grant took it home with "Pawn Shop Blues." Her sincere warble and lovely songwriting has kept her name buzzing through conversations ever since the contest ended. Craig Carothers is the one finalist who isn't returning to perform his song at the June Feature Show (it's a long trek across the country to Brooklyn). So we have this rendition of "Little Hercules" to remind us why Trisha Yearwood has chosen to cover his material. Beautiful. While the characters in Johnny Marnell's "Sitcom Life" resemble the trapped, stilted souls from a Richard Yates novel, with a few lyrical substitutions they could also be Jim and Jenny Hipster -- the heart of this tune would remain the same. Luis Betancourt's "Adirondak" is a sonic, waterfall lullaby. If this was the final song on the CD, it would be enough: a wonderful introduction to each of the finalists. Luckily, we have two more songs. Winner Nick Ogawa shows off his bowing skills with "Pretty Fix" and finally -- but certainly not least -- we have semi-finalist Cesar Alvarez's revenge. "Documents" was a hilarious stunner of a composition, one which catapulted him and his band, The Lisps, into the Jezebel Music February 2006 Feature slot. A last laugh in more ways than one.

Photo by Judith Levitt  

The 2006 Williamsburg Live Songwriting Competition CD will be available at all Jezebel Music Events for $5. Paired with the 2005 CD (featuring Theo Eastwind, Jaymay, Ian Thomas and Leah Siegel, among others), you can take home two entire concerts for the combined total of $8. It will last longer than your bourbon and cost about the same. That, my friends, is what we like to call a steal.

So now we sit back and wait to see what the 2007 WLSC will bring us this November. I’m excited, and I hope you are as well. See you in the crowd.

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Williamsburg Live Songwriter Competition

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