Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition: The Finals

966615_10151740096907153_1487457678_oby: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

Tonight is the Finals in the Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition at The Blue Light. For the last three weeks, a handful of songwriters have competed each Monday with four being chosen to advance to the Finals. This past week, we caught up with all 12 finalists, asking them five questions that revolved around their songwriting. 

All 12 will perform tonight at The Blue Light starting at 9 p.m. At the end of the night, a winner will be announced. As always, Mondays at The Blue Light are free.

Tanner Castle

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
TS: I’ve been writing songs for four years.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
TC: The first song I wrote was about my brother and me beating up my mom’s boyfriend.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
TC: I’ve really tried to keep an open mind on who influences me, but if I have to keep it to three I would say Justin Townes Earle, Waylon Payne, and Hayes Carll.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
TC: I saw Willie Nelson play when I was in high school and I remember that was the first time I wanted to be a musician.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
TC: 
My current favorite record is Harlem River Blues by Justin Townes Earle.

Phillip Coggins

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
PC:  I’ve been writing songs since I was 12. So 16 years. 

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
PC: It was called “Fateful Eyes” and it was about existentialism. Although, at the time (being 12) I didn’t know that term or concept even existed. It was about challenging your faith. Looking into the fateful eyes of God if He/She/It was standing before you, and saying “I’m not so sure I agree with this idea you have for my life, my fate, I have a different plan.” And ultimately realizing that, possibly, even the choices you think you make of your own “free” will are part of a grander design that you have no control over. So a little on both sides of the fence with the philosophizing, but it was a catchy tune.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
PC: This one is easy, Jars of Clay, Dave Matthews, and Ben Harper.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
PC: Yeah, I think I mentioned this before, it was the moment I decided to do this for life. I was watching the Grammy’s with my family in 1992 and Bryan Adams performed “Everything I Do I Do It For You” and I remember just being glued to the TV. I looked at my mom and said, “That’s what I wanna do, that right there. But I want to play drums too.” And she just said, “Well, you can do that.” Never turned back. But favorite show so far was a toss-up between Dave Matthews and Friends at Bonnaroo in ’04 and Radiohead at Bonnaroo in ’06. They pushed me past the state I was in and forced me to just start thinking bigger.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
PC: Current Favorite Record? Damn. Really? Honestly its a three-way tie between Black Bear (Andrew Belle), Days are Gone (Haim), and Honcho (Quaker City Night Hawks).

Dalton Domino

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
DD: 10 years this December.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
DD: My Grandpa Dying and seeing my grandma cry telling me “Papaws gone.”

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
DD: Kris Roe of The Ataris, Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate, and a TON of hip-hop.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
DD:  Honestly, I have been around music my entire life. My mom used to clean Graceland. My grandpa used to run with the Sun Records crowd in the 50s. My grandma always had gospel and hymns playing at the house. I grew up the only white kid in a very black part of Memphis. Music was always around. Whether it be soul, gospel, blues, rap, country. You name it. I was born right in the middle of it. I grew up on Beale St., man. There wasn’t just one moment when I was like “yeah. This is it.” Its the only thing I know. Its stupid in my opinion to choose a life where I’m not playing. But the best show I have ever seen was Josephine Collective 2007 at the Plano Center in Plano, Texas. 

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
DD: Recently Pet Sounds, some Gary Clark Jr stuff and Rise & Shine’s record. It’s a good gospel record. Soulful.

TC Fambro

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
TCF: I have been writing songs since I was eighteen. So that makes five years since I first began writing.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
TCF: The first song I ever wrote is called “The Feed Store.” I grew up working at my Grandfather’s feed store. When we weren’t busy I would play guitar and write songs.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
TCF: To be honest, I listen to a variety of music. So, I really couldn’t narrow down my influences to just a few artists. I just try to find bits and pieces of songwriting styles that I like from different genres of music and apply it to my own songwriting.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
TCF: Merle Haggard’s first Live at Billy Bob’s record really had a huge impact on me and opened my eyes to a ton of new ideas that I could incorporate into my on music.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
TCF: My current favorite record would have to be Mike McClure’s Foam album. It’s the Bees Knees

Amanda Goebel

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
AG: I’ve been writing songs very casually and quite intermittently for about six years. Since I got my first guitar.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
AG: The first song I wrote was titled “Benjamin.” I didn’t know a Ben. It was more just a feel-good song written for a down fella represented by the name Ben. I have no idea where it came from.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
AG: I’d say Ingrid Michaelson, Zee Avi and Zooey Deschanel have influenced my style the most. I love the sound of them all!

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
AG: Seeing Incubus perform at the Backyard was pretty monumental. The energy at that show was amazing!

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
AG:  I have kind of an obsessive personality and so I stick to one thing for a really long time before I tire of it. Case in point: I’m still obsessed with The Lumineers’ self-titled album…from 2012.

Randall King

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
RK: I have been writing songs on a permanent basis for about four years now. I wrote a little in high school, but it wasn’t much and most of it is not work I would show people.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
RK: The first song I wrote is about my father. I was a sophomore in high school and he was/still is my hero. It wasn’t any kind of cheesy I love you dad kind of song. It was more based on his life story and the things he went through to straighten his life out for my older sisters.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
RK: This one is really tough because there are so many incredible songwriters and artists out there that have influenced my writing, but seeing as I’m limited to three, I’d have to say my number one is George Strait. He has always been my idol growing up. Eric Church is also a big one for me, his first album, Sinners Like Me opened my mind up to metaphoric phrases and hidden meanings between lines more and I try to incorporate that into my songs as much as possible. I’m also a huge fan of Turnpike Troubadours and the way they write their songs are just incredible. There’s so much depth and story to it.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
RK: Like I said, Sinners Like Me by Eric Church as well as the My Kind Of Party album by Jason Aldean were big influences on my music. Both of those albums to me are the last of a dying breed we see in Nashville country today. They represented what in my mind is the last bit of true country because soon after those albums, the digital pop sound crept in to country, which is why I stick to Texas Country now.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
RK: My current favorite record I believe is Wade Bowen’s The Given. Justin Neibank, mixed and produced the album for him and he collaborated with some of the best songwriters in the game and it sounds phenomenal. It’s been on repeat in my truck for the last few months. I think it’s starting to wear out.

Trent Langford

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
TL: Since junior high.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
TL: Death of a friend.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
TL: Art Garfunkel, Paul Overstreet, and Ryan Adams.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
TL: William Clark Green–First trip to Blue Light.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
TL: Band of Horses, Infinite Arms.

Lora Markham

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
LM: I wrote my first song during my senior year of high school, and wrote sporadically after that, but I’d say I’ve been taking it seriously for the past two years.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
LM: My first song was about my first love and a broken heart, and it was terrible. I wish it was less cliché.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
LM: I love the women of country music–my favorites being Miranda Lambert and Loretta Lynn. Any girls with guts, that’s who inspire me. I grew up listening to mostly pop, and I think that has influenced my melodies a little bit.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
LM: Not really. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. I’m pretty sure I started as soon as I could talk. I started singing at church when I was five, and I’ve loved it from the beginning.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
LM: My current favorite album is Same Trailer, Different Park by Kacey Musgraves. Her music is more simplistic like older country songs, but her lyrics are really edgy and clever. And it’s not a production, it’s very sincere. She’s so talented.

Dave Martinez

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
DM:  I have been writing songs for almost four years now.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
DM: The first song I wrote about was the idea of growing old in a strange city.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
DM: Tom Waits, Jim Croce, and Kris Kristofferson.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
DM: When I received a copy of Ryan Adams Heartbreaker I was sold.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
DM: Jay Nash’s Letters From the Lost.

Mitchell Rambo

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
MR: I started writing when I was about 16, so around nine years, but not seriously until about 20 or 21.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
MR: The first tune I remember writing was a song about a goat named Patrick for my old punk band Ozwald. We were terrible.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
MR: Since those days my influences have changed to Jesse Lacey from Brand New, Ryan Adams, Levi Smith, and a number of blues artists. 

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
MR: My background as a lead guitarist has been influenced by seeing Aerosmith, but still to this day, I’m most influenced by seeing Levi Smith around town, having a personal relationship with him, and getting songwriting tips as well.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
MR: As for my favorite record, that’s such a hard question but probably Heartbreaker or Love Is Hell by Ryan Adams.

Marshall Vines

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
MV: When I moved to Lubbock in 2010.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
MV: Wrote a tune about a woman in a dream called “Divided Highway.”

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
MV: Really I think it’s the guys that I saw playing at Blue Light on monday nights. Red Shahan, Kenneth O’Meara, and Brandon Adams. They gave me all the advice to help me get to where I am as a writer.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
MV: Not really. I think moving to Lubbock and starting from scratch did it for me. I had a guitar and a lot on my mind.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
MV: Current favorite is Will Hoge’s Never Give In.

Erick Willis

NS: How long have you been writing songs?
EW: I think it was right after high school, so about 2008.

NS: What was the first song you wrote about?
EW: It was called “must have been a dream.” Corniest thing I’ve ever heard! My grandma actually found an old demo recording with that on there and I had a good laugh.

NS: What songwriter/artist/band have had the most influence on your own writing style?
EW: I don’t know that I could narrow that down to a particular one. I think my love for tradition country comes out in my storyline and love songs. But I still feel the need to rock and roll. Trying to create a happy medium.

NS: Was there a record or concert/show that you attended that was really monumental in wanting to become a musician/songwriter?
EW: I don’t think it was a specific show I saw. I think the more I got out and performed, the more I wanted to do it. Each show just left me on a high that I just wanted to keep chasing, and I still am.

NS: What’s you’re current favorite record?
EW: Gotta go with Tori Vasquez’ Go Thank Yourself.

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3 responses to “Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition: The Finals

  1. Pingback: 2013 Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition: The Finalists « The Blue Light Live·

  2. Pingback: Blue Light Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition Announced | New Slang·

  3. Pingback: Blue Light Spring Singer-Songwriter Competition Announced | New Slang·

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