This past July, a group of songwriters from different backgrounds descended on a cabin in the Whiteshell for a weekend of creativity and community. Curious about the results? You're in luck, as Cassidy Mann, Charlotte Kosc, Flo, Kevin Roy, Matt Worobec (Lost Weekend), Maxine Peters, Jenna Priestner (Mobina Galore), Grant Davidson (Slow Leaves) and Sonia Eidse will be showcasing some of these creations at Ozzy's on Wednesday, August 6.
Manitoba Music's SongCamp happens each year, and gives these artists a chance to get away from the daily grind and focus completely on composing three new collaborative pieces with some new friends. When you're out in the woods with just your voice and your instrument, it doesn't really matter if you've got a shelf full of awards or if your band is signed to a major, only that you've got the guts to try something new.
"I collaborated in three groups with almost everybody there," says Davidson, whose debut LP as Slow Leaves sees release September 6 with a show at the West End Cultural Centre. "Each group yielded something totally different. Usually after hesitations and false starts, the exciting part was when we all got on the same page and the song took on its own momentum towards an end vision that was usually far off the path from where we started."
Roy, whose Taller Than The Trees came out in February, notes that the experience is crucial for helping an artist expand outside of their comfort zone genre.
"I really enjoyed having the fresh perspective on songwriting," he says. "It was neat to see how cautiously collaborative everyone was to avoid using their musical habits or genre cliches… on that note, I have now written a pop song."
"It was valuable learning how to work with other people and incorporate ideas from different genres and musical backgrounds," Davidson echoes. "Each time we ended up with something we were all enthusiastic about; something none of us would have created on our own which captured that particular time and place."
The experience also helps artists - in an age of excessive production and "who mixed it?" being tossed around more than "what is this song about?" - to get back to the songwriting as an art form.
"We spent one night around the campfire passing around a guitar with all nine songwriters sharing original works," Roy says. "When you strip down a song to a guitar and a voice telling a story it is apparent that music really is a universal language."
New Music Wednesdays occurs weekly at Ozzy's with the first Wednesday of each month being Manitoba Music Night, exclusively featuring Manitoba Music members. Admission is a cool $3 and kicks off at 8:30pm.