Spring Singer-Songwriter Competition: The Finalists

1781838_10152049828467153_693335248_oby: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

Tonight (Monday, April 7) is the Finals in the Spring Singer-Songwriter Competition at The Blue Light. For the past few 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 several questions that revolved around their songwriting.

One of the following 12 will join the ranks of previous winners Kenneth O’Meara, Casey Berry, Daniel Markham, Zac Wilkerson, Danny Cadra, and Amanda Goebel. While that listen doesn’t reflect every great singer-songwriter to come from Lubbock, the Panhandle, or West Texas in general in recent memory, it’s a pretty great starting point. In short, your name isn’t there by accident and neither will whoever ends up winning tonight. 

Course in saying that, there’s been a plethora of songwriters who have competed without winning who have been accomplished in the art of storytelling (Paul Mark Cauthen of Sons of Fathers and Grady Spencer for example). In short, you’re not going to find a better collection of musicians in one spot on a Monday night in Lubbock, Texas regardless of the outcome. 

The Blue Light opens at 9p.m. with the music starting shortly there after. As always, Mondays at Blue Light are free. Ages 21 and up. 

 

Cleto Cordero

Hometown: Midland, Texas
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: Flatland Cavalry

Facebook: Flatland Cavalry
Twitter: @cletocordero

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

CC: I’ve always considered myself more a songwriter. I’m not really good at talking to people, but have always been pretty efficient at relating through music. Although people have always complimented me on my voice, I’ve never had any formal signing lessons and have just tried to get by with what I know.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

CC: “Three Car Garage.” It’s a modern-day take on Robert Earl Keen’s “Front Porch Song.” It’s just about me and my buddies drinking and hangin out in our humble getaway.

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

CC: Tough one. It’d either have to be Randy Rogers or Evan Felker of Turnpike Troubadours.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

CC: “Living is a gamble. Loving is much the same. Wherever I’ve played, wherever I’ve rolled them dice, the blues run the game,” from Jackson C. Frank.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

CC: John Mayer, Joel Osteen, Randy Rogers, Kacey Musgraves, and Clint Eastwood.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

CC: Paradise Valley by John Mayer.

Dalton Domino

Hometown: I was born in Memphis, Tenn. But I am from Walker County, Ala.
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: Front Porch Family Band
Facebook: The Front Porch Family Band
Twitter: @FPFBmusic

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

DD: I guess a songwriter, but I don’t consider myself either. Honestly, I consider myself more of an entertainer. I can’t write songs as good as I want. I mean, I can hold my own. But, I have a relationship more with the live show rather than the song itself. That 45 minutes on stage is what I live for. I love it. The crowd, the smoke, the girls, the loud guitars. All of it. I’d rather have people come to a show than buy a record. To me, a live show is way more fun. But then again, that’s just me.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

DD: The last song I wrote is about a girl I fell head over heels for after kissing during the last Six Market Blvd. show ever at The Blue Light. It’s called “Fall in Love.”

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

DD: Recently, the Forest Rangers.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

DD: “I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else’s voice, but failures always sounded better so let’s fuck it up boys. Make some noise,” from Bright Eyes’ “Road to Joy” or a song I wrote for my brother with “Follow your road where your heart says to go. Don’t run out on love and don’t let go of hope. Make your home at the place only seen by the wild at heart and the few who still dream.”

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

DD: Mary Lee Mann, Jill Hornback, Bill Hornback, Keith Domino, and Ashley Domino. I’ve never had a dinner with just those people at one time. It’s something I’ve always wanted more than any dream I have ever had. They are my parents and my grandmother.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

DD: Last record I bought was Rose Queen by William Clark Green. Still the greatest record I’ve listened to in a long time. But God of Wind  by Kenneth O’Meara is about to take its’ spot.

Kenny Harris

Hometown: Childress, Texas
Current Location: Austin, Texas
Band: Estelline
Facebook: Estelline
Twitter: @EstellineMusic

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

KH: I see myself as more of a songwriter because it’s my only therapy. I can’t just simply talk about most of my problems and issues, but I can write them cleverly and sing them every night. This is how I cope. While I feel I can deliver my songs better than most, it feels really rewarding when you hear a talented musician covering your song.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

KH: “Little Wrong Right.” It is about my wilder days when I got fucked up and burned a lot of bridges; the main bridge leading to my mother. The chorus starts with “I’ve been gone a long time momma, trying to make a little wrong right.” The verses describe my life in the recent past. I’ve decided to point more fingers at myself to create more honest songs. 

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

KH: Jack White or Conor Oberst.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

KH: “I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way. I promise to go under it,” from “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

KH: Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Tom Waits, Jack White, and Conor Oberst–though I’m sure it would end in a fist fight!

NS: What was the last record you bought?

KH: Consolers of the Lonely by The Raconteurs.

Josh Jackson

Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: The Men Who Wrestle Sharks [And Other Manly Activities]

Twitter: @JoshJackson10
Youtube: JoshJackson10

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

JJ: Gosh, I don’t really know. I don’t really write songs often enough to consider myself a songwriter, but I don’t really think of myself as a singer that much either. But if I had to choose between the two, I would probably go with singer. Solely based on the numerous car rides I have spent belting out the lyrics to “Let It Go.”

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

JJ: It’s still in the prototype phase, but the last song I wrote is called “The Roscoe.” It’s about a taco from Torchy’s called The Roscoe. The song is actually very emotionally charged because it was only on the menu for the month of March. Most people would think that a song about a taco is ridiculous, but this taco had an egg, a waffle, bacon and fried chicken. It was equal parts delicious and heart attack. I’m gonna miss it.

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

JJ:  I’ve never thought about it before. Probably Harrison Ford because, duh. But if he’s not available, then I’d like to grab Austin Chandler and Ellie Turner from The Benjamins.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

JJ: “There was a knife buried deep inside the part of our hearts where we learned how to love something other than us; it was built on a sandy shore hoping the waves wouldn’t come to the door and greet us with disdain and heaviness, one of redemption, washing away all the thoughts we had ran to,” from “Lazarus” by The Collection.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

JJ: Man. The whole “They have to alive” part really threw a wrench into this answer. But after much thought, my fab five dinner guests would be as follows: Olan Rogers, Emma Watson, Patrick Stewart, James Earl Jones, and Willis Willis.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

JJ: The Frozen Soundtrack featuring her highness, Queen Elsa of Arendelle.

Jason James

Hometown: Capulin, New Mexico
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

JJ: I have always thought of myself as both singer and songwriter I guess because I have always had the opportunity to share my songs with people that I don’t know very well and they showed interest in my songs as well as my voice.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

JJ: The last song that I have completed is called “L.A.” It’s about a girl who lives in Los Angeles and also shares those initials. She’s one of those dream girls if you will, who is also one of my best friends.

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

JJ: One day I’d love to sit and maybe not even write, but just listen to Radney Foster talk about songwriting and the steps he takes in his writing.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

JJ: I can’t really say I have a favorite lyric or hook because everything I write about, in some form or fashion, I have lived it so they all have a special meaning to me. 

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

JJ: I would have to say the five people would be Radney Foster, Merle Haggard, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams Sr., and Jesus.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

JJ: The last album I think I bough was by The Drive-By Truckers.

Sarah Johnson

Hometown: Clear Lake Shores, Texas
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: For I Am

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

SJ: I think of myself more as a singer, because though I love to write music, I love to sing songs by other talented writers as well.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

SJ: The last song I wrote is called “Always Yours” and it is about surrendering one’s entire life to Christ, the good and the bad, because God is so completely worthy of all praise.

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

SJ: I would love to collaborate with Phillip Phillips. I respect his musical talent, as well as his ability to write his own songs.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

SJ: My current favorite is from the song “Adulthood” by Jukebox the Ghost, and it says, “Singing this is my word, but somehow we never get heard, there’s just an echo from a lost and lonely world.”

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

SJ: I would absolutely love to have dinner with Mac Powell, Dan Reynolds, Phillip Phillips, David Leonard, and Valerie Poxleitner. I respect each of these artists/writers for their talent and drive.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

SJ: The last record I purchased was Waiting for the Dawn by The Mowgli’s.

Randall King

Hometown: Amarillo, Texas
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: Randall King Band
Facebook: Randall King Band
Twitter: @RandallKingBand

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

RK: I find myself to be more of a vocalist than a songwriter. Mostly because I haven’t been writing for many years, but I am constantly trying to impove my writing to the point where my lyrics are my power and my voice is the compliment to and shows the emphasis behind my lyrics.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

RK: “Halfway Home” is the last song I wrote. This was a few days ago. It’s about what’s going through a man’s mind as he is standing on the tracks waiting on the train that will “take him home.” 

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

RK: I would poop a brick to write a song with Evan Felker. He is by far my favorite songwriter in the scene and there’s quite a few that I really admire.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

RK: “So high the street girls wouldn’t take my pay. They said come and see me on a better day,” from Jason Isbell’s “Traveling Alone.”

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

RK: George Strait, Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, Merle Haggard, and Olivia Wilde because she’s a goddess.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

RK: The last record I bought was actually the man himself, Kenneth O’Meara’s God of Wind.

Lora Markham

Hometown: San Angelo, Texas
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Twitter: @LoraMarkham

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

LM: I consider myself to be as much a singer as a songwriter. I equally enjoy them, and I still have a lot to learn in both areas.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

LM: The last song I wrote is titled “The White Buffalo” and it’s just about all the questions you ask yourself about a higher power. 

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

LM: I’d love to write with Guy Clark and Kacey Musgraves.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

LM: First lyric that pops into my head is “I want to be the blue bird singing to the roses in her yard that her father grew for her. It’s been raining that Tennessee honey so long I got too heavy to fly. Ain’t no bluebird ever gets to heavy to sing,” from “Magnolia Mountain” by Ryan Adams.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

LM: Honestly, it would be my mom, dad, sister, brother, and my fiance.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

LM: God of Wind by Kenneth O’Meara.

 

Dave Martinez

Hometown: Southland, Texas
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: Solo and Neem

Facebook: Dave Martinez
Twitter: @TheDaveMartinez

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

DM: A songwriter. The voice and guitar are just a vehicle for the songs that I write.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

DM: Last song I’ve wrote is called “Number 7.” It was the seventh song I wrote in January and hopefully explains the concept of love no matter the location.

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

DM: Rough, but easy. Tom Moony. Tom Waits.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

DM: “I am at war with myself,” from “War With Myself” by Drew Kennedy.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

DM: Willie Nelson, Morgan Freeman, Prince, Ke$ha, and Kevin Russell.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

DM: Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city on vinyl.

 

Drew Thomas

Hometown: Madison, Wis.
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Band: Solo and Twilight Broadcast

Facebook: Twilight Broadcast
Twitter: @TwilightBrdcst

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

DT: I have a serviceable voice, but I excel more at creating memorable melodies, stories, riffs, and chord progressions that lead the listener through the progression and emotion of a song.

NS:  What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

DT: It’s called “This Is When.” It is a simple song about the ups and downs everyone feels in a relationship. It focuses on the basic truth that all relationships need work, but if you put in the work, they can be fulfilling and rewarding.

NS:  Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

DT: John Mayer. I think he would challenge me to make more memorable hooks, melodies, and guitar parts.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

DT: “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m gonna be a diamond some day,” from “Old Chunk of Coal” by Billy Joe Shaver.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

DT: My mom, dad, sister, best friend, and girlfriend. Although I respect people with fame, intellect, prestige, etc, dinner with loved ones trumps all else.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

DT: Live at Billy Bob’s: Stoney LaRue. I had “Oklahoma Breakdown” running through my head, so I just went ahead and bought the album.

 

Marshall Vines

Hometown: Rochester Hills, Mich.
Current Location: Lubbock, Texas
Facebook: Marshall Vines
Twitter: @MarshallVines

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

MV: I believe it’s important to be both. Yes, one might be more of a strength than the other, but if you want to win this thing or have a successful career, you have to be both.

NS: What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

MV: I’m playing a brand new song in the finals called “Come and Take It.”

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

MV: Will Hoge.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

MV: “Let me have a hit of your kiss, baby, I’m addicted to your lips. You could launch a thousand ships my Helen of Troy,” from the song “Novacaine” by Sean McConnell.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

MV: Chris Knight, my grandpa in Michigan, my older half-sister who I’ve never met, Jason Witten, and Mr. T.

NS: What was the last record you bought?

MV: Slaid Cleaves’ Wishbones.

Erick Willis

Hometown: Henrietta, Texas
Current Location: Wichita Falls, Texas
Facebook: Erick Willis Music
Twitter: @Erick_Willis

NS: Do you think of yourself more as a singer or a songwriter? Why?

EW: Definitely been a singer longer than a songwriter. Been learning more about songwriting everyday. 

NS:  What’s the last song you wrote called and about?

EW: Last song I wrote isn’t finished, but it’s about a chick who’s in love with the idea of being in love.

NS: Who’s your dream co-write collaboration?

EW: Buddy Miller.

NS: What’s your [current] favorite lyric or line?

EW: “We gave rebellion what justice we could” by John Moreland.

NS: Which five people would you like to have dinner with?

EW: Joe Walsh, Willie Nelson, Jack Black, Morgan Freeman, and Peter Griffin [Seth MacFarlane].

NS: What was the last record you bought?

EW: Kenneth O’Meara’s God of Wind.

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