Concert Review: Songwriters Spotlight

The 3rd installment of the Songwriters Spotlight, hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski, featuring Karl Mullen , Margot B., and Jon Belan was held Saturday night at the New Hazlett Theater.

The format: Each of the five songwriters shared stories about their original songs and then performed them. Then, each songwriter chose a song they wish they had written, talked about why they selected it and then performed it.

As one of the hosts, Joe Grushecky began the evening with "I Remember It" from 2002's “Fingerprints”, following up with "Don't Give up the Ghost" and "Talking to the King” from "End of the Century" (which was ironically released in 1992). "Talking to the King" came to him in a dream - he found Elvis Presley looking into his fridge.

The other host, Joe Witkowski said that he was now big with the 3 to 6 year old age group thanks to Nick, Jr. and we sang along on "Happy". Witkowski also did a song that he and his wife wrote with Ann Wilson of Heart in mind. She did not end up recording "The Last Heartbreak", but B.E. Taylor did.

For Karl Mullen (Carsickness, The Ploughman's Lunch) "Love Don't Walk Away" was his first choice. On the second go round, Mullen told a long story about a 13-hour train ride to record a folk album and then couldn't remember the lyrics, so he sang "Family Life" before going back to "True Romance". Mullen lives in Philadelphia now (via Dublin, Ireland) and in 1976 was a fixture at The Electric Banana.

Margot B.'s soulful songs all had one-word titles "Cool", "Timeless" and "Complete". She resides in New York City and had much praise for The Boogie Hustlers.

Jon Belan (of Gene the Werewolf) was introspective, selecting songs from Gene the Werewolf's debut EP. He sang "Superhero", "Light Me Up" (title track) and "I've Got the Love" (which became the 6th song on the EP; even though they recorded 12 songs, this was a new song written just for the EP).

Then the spotlight was put on a song that each songwriter had wished they had penned.

Joe Grushecky choose a Muddy Waters song "Champagne & Reefer". Karl Mullen selected an Ewan MacColl (father of the Kirsty MacColl) song from 1949 that was recorded by among others, The Pogues and Johnny Cash that reminded him of Pittsburgh, "Dirty Old Town". Margot B. went to the Top 40 for "Breakeven" by The Script which she said gives her the chills no matter how many times she hears it. Jon Belan performed a Pink Floyd Song "Wish You Were Here". The Beatles were again the choice for Joe Witkowski.

The final group number was another Beatles song. "Hey Jude", in which the spotlight shown brightly on Joe Belan as he sang and played the piano.

There was then a standing ovation for the songwriters. It was another wonderful two hours of great live music.

Also check out the post Singer-Songwriters Shine... for my review of the January 2010 Songwriters Spotlight.

The next Songwriters Spotlight will be held September 25th.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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joe grushecky rick witkowski singer-songwriters

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