30A Songwriters Fest Spotlight on Caroline Cotter


I wanted to feature my next 30A Songwriters Fest songwriter, Caroline Cotter. With a voice as sweet as a budding flower and the fabulous content of a travel diary, she’ll pull you close like a warm embrace. Her music transports me to some farm in Connecticut as if were going to pick apples and get maple syrup or across the ocean to another country in Europe.  She’s a lovely storyteller, so you have to listen carefully to her lyrics or you’ll miss a page of the story.  Journey in C is one of my favorites. She sings, has harmony, snaps the whole song and it’s a travel dialogue. You know it’s a good song when you can just listen and there’s not even any instrumentation but the vocals. Love it! You can hear it here.

Her strong love of travel is something that connects me to her story. From her Biography online:  “Music has always been at the heart of Caroline’s life, alongside an insatiable passion for travel and global exploration.  In the past ten years, Caroline has lived in and traveled to 27 countries on five continents. While writing and recording Dreaming as I Do, she spent the last few years working for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) in Portland, Maine. CIEE provided amazing opportunities for international community and travel, and further inspired Caroline’s songwriting.”

So, please check out her music and drift off into a world of peoples, places and ideas. I think you’ll find it absolutely perfect for daydreaming on a Tuesday afternoon.




The small hoorays in the darker days

“Hooray Hooray

I’m your silver lining

Hooray Hooray

But now I’m gold”

~Rilo Kiley

Life is unexpected and sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise like Jenny Lewis says.  But on the other side of that coin, life is full of disappointments.  Wait, hear me out please.  Because these continual disappointments grow perspective.  And perspective can work toward your character building.  Believe me, I tire of the continual character-building, but these things all mixed to together ultimately puts us farther down the path to wisdom.  And I don’t think any of us would part with wisdom if it were given to us.  I am quite certain if you’re a human reading this, you’ve experienced some sense of disappointment in your life.  Probably even within the last week or 24 hour span.  It is a natural part of our world.  People disappoint, situations disappoint, and at times, we become altogether disappointed in ourselves and our placement in this life.  This is because we’re constricted here.  Yes yes- we’re in a carnal straightjacket.  And we’re dying to get it… pun intended. If you feel like sometimes your soul just needs to breathe, it’s because it does.  And it will.  In time.

So where is the positive in all this?  Perspective.  We have the opportunity, and blessing if we make it, to gain new perspective every time we are riddled with disappointment.   Disappointment teaches us 3 key things about ourselves:

1.  Disappointment teaches us we are imperfect.  We have never been and that is not easy to swallow.  We want our looks, our style, our relationships to be so ideal.  It’s pretty evident in the way we use facebook at times as a status symbol (how can we not?).  We are such visual beings, and realization that disappointment brings is the lie that our lives are so much worse than someone else’s.   This is a falsehood, told by the Father of them.

2.  Disappointment humbles us.  It shakes us up a bit and gives us a sampling of humble pie.  If I’m not careful, it’s amazing how quickly I can become inflated with pride.  When that bubble is burst, it makes it all the more deflating to my ego.  One of my weaknesses is the desire to want people to like me.  I think most of us do, but in the music world, this cannot control you.  If you let it be your guide, it will ultimately guide you where it will.  We must keep the humbling in our minds and remember that any praise or criticism should be weighed against the only One whose praise or criticism matters.

3.  Disappointment shows us our need for each other.  (Here’s a great song to demonstrate my point.) I can’t tell you the deepness of friendship that can grow from two parties realizing they have been in the same place.  My best friend lives in Texas.  We bonded over a similar experience with the same guy (albeit at different times:) What started out as a 4 hour conversation became a deeply rooted friendship.  These moments laden with raw emotion that the world tries to cause us to suppress are actually like fertilizer for deep roots in a relationship.  We all know that true friendship never rests in the superficial, but sometimes we lazily bob in the shallow end of the pool, afraid to delve into the unknown.  I challenge you to push your comfort zone.  Reach out to people you would not normally confront.  Give to those who can’t ever repay you.  And in your own circle, be willing to listen and possibly cultivate deeper and more meaningful friendships.

4.  Disappointment causes us to realize we are not, and have never, been in control of this place where we currently reside.  Like my own grapplings with faith and the pursuance of a life in music, I continually get hit with this truth.  I’d like to be in control.  I’d like to walk up to a producer, ask him to produce my work, walk up to my dream band members and have them say yes to playing with me for as long as we like and create music and lyrics that are so relatable that the world loves to sing my songs while being gladly willing to roadtrip and pay part of their hard-earned money to see our shows.  I’m not saying that won’t happen, but I am saying that life doesn’t ever (ever) turn out the way you map it.  There is uncharted territory. There are jungles.  There are enchanted forests full of blessings you never imagined.  There are even gifts bestowed that several years ago you would have never imagined or even knew you needed.

And along with all of this, there is disappointment.  Strangely enough, by tempering the good with the disappointment, we come to find this healthy view of the reality enveloping us.  And, we begin to see the good things in our life as immense blessings.  Our thought process begins to be revamped by our new attitude of gratitude.  From there, we can actually catch sight of little glimmers of peace and thankfulness and, as my dear friend said this week, the realization that we are right where we need to be. 

Any creativity or realizations that have come from those times?  As my mother told me “Good music comes from bad places.”  I believe some of the greatest art can come from some of our darkest days.  That being said, let’s look for the small hoorays even in the darker days.  Keep it up kids 🙂


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Scene it?

The people begin to slowly amble inside, mingling with newcomers and hugging old friends.  There is food on the table and smiles appear on faces as they pass through the entrance.  The sound guy is checking the gear and there are various instruments pleasantly poised around the room anticipating their moment to be played and appreciated.  The once average living room has now been transformed for the anticipated music event, complete with couch and chairs facing the same direction, lights strung in organized direction above the stage area, and a backdrop to highlight the performer.  Musicians are casually chatting with other performers as well as audience members.  As a newcomer, I am initially invited into conversation by another newcomer and we discuss our musical endeavors while living in Music City.  A love of creativity and awe for the production of music and song fills the room with a warmth unmatched at small downtown venues and big arenas.  As the time draws near, the jovial audience is quieted, the performer properly introduced and a group of music lovers partake in a feast for hungry ears.

I recently attended my first house show in the greater Nashville area, and honestly, it was one of the best musical experiences of which I have been a part in Music City so far.  As opposed to a show at a downtown venue or an open-air park, the house scene had a much more intimate and organic vibe.  More intimate and focused on active listening by the audience, there was an undeniable sense of respect for those performing.  The people who attended were incredibly friendly and welcoming, what everyone would like when flying solo, as I did that night, to this show.  I was actually invited to sit with several girls I had not previously known, but they quickly made me feel like part of their group.  I was pretty excited when local talents, the Vespers, entered from the backdoor and were also listening and enjoying the great local music.   And to brag on them a little, Callie, a member of local musical group, the Vespers, was a complete delight when I suddenly engaged her in conversation.  She even went out of her way to introduce me to Larry Kloess, the creative founder behind Cause a Scene house shows, as a gesture of helping a musician make a good music connection.  On this particular night, the lineup included Marc Scibilia (http://marcscibilia.com), Kevin Heider (www.kevinheider.com), and Afterlife Parade, all three very talented songwriters and performers. The genre of music at these shows spans from Americana to Indie pop and even some country, bluegrass and folk tinged with blues, hip-hop and soul.  I am sure as time goes on, a variety of music will grace the stage.

Cause a Scene House Shows is a new venture in which Kloess has revamped a typical house show scene into a legitimate venue in his living room, fashioning his own style of house show.  In an effort to create an even more comfortable experience, volunteers contribute food to share with the listening party and performing artists.  As a musician myself, I realized the great opportunity for networking at such an intimate and relaxed environment.  Since I moved to Nashville in August, it has been difficult to meet and connect with musicians that aren’t necessarily playing a specific type of music in the Nashville scene.  The open mic scene is nice, but it doesn’t always deliver the results of connection, networking and fostering of local music colleagues that most independent artists and fans want.  Hence, the beauty of Cause a Scene music. This is where the house show scene has begun to change the live music arena.  This house show I attended was not only an enjoyable but also a beneficial experience for me as well as everyone involved.  It felt more like a group gathering, a meet and greet and even a place to connect with old friends as well as create new friendships.

The benefits of Cause a Scene Music in regards to those in the music industry are obvious.  Musicians who perform benefit in a small atmosphere where people are genuinely interested in listening to music and later purchasing music from the performers they hear.  Musicians attending benefit through networking and gaining prospective gigs with those who organize the shows as well as those who have other connections in such a musically-saturated city.  Networking occurs at various levels depending on what fields and organizations may be represented on any given night at any given show.  Thinking you should maybe attend one of these?  I concur.  But not only is it great from a networking perspective, it is an all around enjoyable way to spend one of your very precious weekday or weekend evenings.

In a day when technology and life seem to continually be disengaged and increasingly moving away from interpersonal connection, the house show scene seems to have breathed new life into listening to live music.  Kloess has stepped actively onto the house venue scene, and I think he may just be carving his own niche in it as well.  In connection to creating a performance space, he is now fostering a creative community.  It is one which attracts welcoming people as well as creatives who possess a love for things beyond the here and now.  I was struck by the character that exuded from the souls I met that night.  I recently watched a video interview/blog with Keith Posehn, Zorz president, in which he stated, “Find a small market- and then take it over.”  This made me think a lot about what Kloess is trying to do.  He is in a specific niche, the house market, but he is also fostering local talent as well as providing a place for that to become a musical community of creators, appreciators and dream-instigators. If you haven’t been to one of these shows, I would encourage you to come out and see for yourself.  Even more commendable is the fact that Kloess charges anywhere from 5-10 depending on the show, and then turns around and gives it right back to the performers.  His love of music and those who create it is evident in the way he gives back and respects his performers.

Check out the summer lineups at Larry’s blog, www.causeascenemusic.com and for up-to-dates, add Cause a Scene house shows on Facebook.  The next show is scheduled for this Thursday, June 7, featuring Act of Congress and The Westbound Rangers. If you haven’t experienced this yet, you should definitely check this out.