Songwriter's Weekend Kenlake State Resort Park

By Marian Maxwell

This was my first songwriters workshop, with sho' nuf' professional, successful songwriters on hand.

It helps to go in wide-eyed, curious, enthusiastic and intimidated. Each of us feel our tunes are good enut' for Randy or Reba or the Oak Ridge Boys. But so do all the other songwriters. And you find real soon that good enuf is not and I repeat, not good enuf. Our songs have to be great! They have to grab you! They have to be clever, original, dynamic and powerful. They have to move you to laughter, to tears, to longing, to heartache. Thus you begin to re-assess your writings in a more fluorescent lighting. And you take a nut picker to them. You "re-edit, re-arrange, re-move, re-vamp and then re- store." Next you get re-critiqued and start knocking on publishers' doors with fresh material hatched from two years' incubation.

The weekend began on Friday night with an informal concert (using the term loosely) by Dick Albin, Anne Macfie and Alan Rhody. Dick is the clown. He emceed the evening he is a wonderful ad libber and kept everything light and amusing. His songs are "story songs," clever and hilarious. He does a lot of children's shows and I know the little ones must adore him. He and Anne collaborate on a lot of material and their ideas are gleaned from everyday situations.

"Why Can't Other People Sleep When You Do?" is about the garbage truck noises in the a.m. "Andy Prewitt's Honda" had us falling off our chairs, yet feeling so sorry for the guy in the story. Their "skinny dipping" song, about two boys caught doing just that down at the river just as the preacher brought his flock to be baptized, had us in stitches. All were entertaining and amusing reminiscent of Billy Edd Wheeler's "Little Brown Shack Out Back."

There's only one hitch. There are not many performers who can pull off this type of song. But they are great material for a comic performer.

Anne is a lovely, quiet, "folk-song style" performer. She accompanied herself tenderly on both guitar and dulcimer. She is headed on a concert tour to Britain (her second, I believe) where she will do songs perfectly suited to their likes and tastes. However, she held her own on the funny songs with Dick. Especially the "Fantasmagorical Roadside Stand."

Alan Rhody, on the other hand, is the performer to watch for. He's been in the business "a few years," has written hit songs for the Oaks, Ricky Van Shelton, George Jones, etc. One song, written tongue-in-cheek, was about being one of 2,000 writers who had a song recorded by George Jones: if he died in obscurity, he would still have his name on a song sung by George Jones.