I discovered in high school that I could express myself well with poetry. A woman came to the school and did a workshop and I was blown away by her. I wrote endlessly for that entire year and then became the poetry editor for our high school literary magazine. I was pretty cocky and thought myself a lot better than I actually was. However, this false sense of confidence got me into College in Vermont and then later into University of California at Santa Cruz. I could not keep up with the workload and found myself more and more creating songs from my poetry. It took me a long time to understand how to write a good song and how more disciplined the process can be than a stream of consciousness outpouring. I also discovered I could reach more people with song.
Thank you I think I have the best fans ever. I actually prefer to call them “supporters.” Having them turn out in the polls to vote for me only reinforced that. I am so grateful for their constant support. They are the movers and shakers that get behind me or my projects. Together we make things happen
I watched the videos of regional finalists in my region. It’s a tough way to really “hear” an artist. Some videos were really well produced and others rather basic (I mean, I did my video with my iPhone!). I’m looking forward to hearing everybody in person, but even more, meeting them. It’s hard to get a feel for a performing artist from one video, or one song.
3. You began writing songs at an early age on the guitar but you have since moved on to the ukulele as the primary vehicle for your songwriting. What was that transition like and why is the ukulele such a great fit for your style?
The switch to the ukulele happened pretty naturally. I began playing the ukulele in 2003, and stopped writing on the guitar altogether in 2007. By 2009 I performed solely on ukulele and feel that my songwriting improved significantly. I could be my eclectic self and use ukulele (with it’s limitations) to be more versatile and diverse. Some people may think that “ukulele music” is a genre. I do my best to break down that misconception.
I’ve never been to Lincoln Center before. I value every chance I have to perform. Not only will this be a great opportunity to perform in an amazing performing arts center (with the other finalists), it will be a really exciting way to see the venue, from the stage.
Lincoln Center to host 12th Annual Mountain Stage NewSong Contest on Saturday, October 19.
For more on Josh, visit his website joshthrelkeld.com
We are excited to have Count This Penny – a Madison, WI based singer-songwriter duo – as a 2013 NewSong Contest Finalist. We caught up with them recently with a brief Q&A and get to know a little more about them. Catch the full interview below and don’t miss their performance, along with the other 2013 Finalists, at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on October 19th.
1. The relocation of Count This Penny to Madison, WI early in your musical career seems to have been an important moment. Was that decision completely music related? What is like to live and perform in a town with such a great local music scene?
We love living in Madison! We had the chance to try living somewhere different than our native state of Tennessee for a while, and we decided to go for it. And it became home to us terrifically quickly. We had no way of knowing what an awesome music community was here before we arrived. And it’s only gotten stronger in the time we’ve lived here.
There are great venues and promoters who embrace local music as well as bringing strong national and regional acts through town consistently. There are dozens of awesome local bands who collaborate constantly. You can find a good show every single night–and sometimes three or four in one night. Two weekends ago Shovels and Rope, Volcano Choir/Field Report, and The Vaccines were all playing in Madison the same night. It’s an embarrassment of riches for a city this size, thanks to some hardworking folks.
2. How would you describe your experience as a NewSong Contest Regional Finalist? What similarities and connections, if any, did you find between your music and the music of other artists in your region? To other finalists who will join you at the finals in New York in October?
Well…we’re all songwriters. Ha ha, just kidding. But not really — it’s easy to feel an immediate connection with anyone who cares about the craft of songwriting and who dedicates any amount of his or her time to building (or carving or whittling or engineering or reverse-engineering) a song. We’re thrilled by the opportunity to meet all these great writers and hear their perspectives on songwriting. We really hope we have time to have some conversations like that in New York, because we still have a lot to learn.
3. Smart Studios, where you recorded your first EP, has an incredibly rich history comprised of recordings by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World, etc. What are some of your favorite parts of this history? What does it mean to Count This Penny to have recorded there before the studio closed for good?
Honestly, if we had thought much about the storied past of Smart, we probably wouldn’t have wound up there–we’d have been too intimidated, or felt like we weren’t rock-n-roll enough. But the moment we walked in, and especially when we talked to our engineer, Mike Zirkel, we felt at home. He’s just the warmest, most supportive guy, and we loved him right away. Having said that, we also felt really cool sitting around the A-range while it was still there. Pretty badass. But you could be tons of places with an amazing history and still feel cold or out of place. We had great musicians join us on our record and a great engineer, and we were kind of pinching ourselves when we stopped to think about the music that was recorded and produced there long before we ever started playing.
4. Lincoln Center is widely renowned as one of the world’s greatest venues for the performing arts. With the NewSong Contest live performance finals taking place on Oct 19th, what does the opportunity to perform at Lincoln Center mean to you?
Oh man, you’re just trying to make us nervous now!
To learn more about Count This Penny, please visit their website: countthispenny.com.
NewSong Music, Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, Kim Ruehl, The Asheville Scene, and WNCW are proud to announce the lineup for its autumn 2013 NewSong Troubadour Series, featuring some of the finest singer-songwriters on the circuit. From NC native Sarah Siskind to Nashville favorite Robby Hecht and Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee Guthrie, the NewSong Troubadour Series at Isis aims introduce Asheville audiences to exceptional artists in an intimate, listening room atmosphere.
About Scott Miller & Rayna Gellert:
It may seem an unlikely pairing – Scott Miller, the no nonsense roots rock and roll songwriter – and Rayna Gellert, a maven of old time fiddle music. They met at Mountain Stage in West Virginia last year and were instant friends and collaborators. Since then, Rayna has been accompanying Scott on some solo gigs, adding nuanced readings of Miller’s existing catalog of original songs and gracing some new songs that had been bubbling up for Miller’s next record. Some of the new songs were not a good fit for his new project but were rapidly becoming requested at the duo’s shows. And so, seemingly overnight, the idea of doing an EP of these new fan favorites was born. The CoDependents is now available to fans of both Miller and Gellert.
Thursday, October 17
$10 Advance / $12 Door
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS
General Admission :: Seated / Standing Show
Doors 5pm :: Show 8pm
There are limited tables available with dinner reservations (You must call Isis at 828-575-2737 for dinner reservations ). There is also some theater-style & balcony seating and standing available on a first come first serve basis. Isis, The Scene, WNCW, and NewSong are proud to have Scott and Rayna as part of the Troubadour Series.
For more information please visit:
I’m finishing my undergrad in jazz piano performance at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Studying jazz over the past few year has definitely opened my eyes and ears to a style of music that I didn’t know much about before getting to university. Just from a songwriters point of view, checking out the Tin Pan Alley standards by brilliant writers like Berlin and Gershwin is like a “How-to” for writing songs. Definitely inspiring!
I have been checking out some of the other finalists in the NewSong contest. I have literally been blown away by how talented everyone is, I’ve found some new favorite songwriters for sure.
I often perform solo, so keeping a balance between vocals and instrumentation is easy in that setting. But when working with a band, it can be hard to find the right arrangement to accompany the song without overpowering the vocals. With my genre of music, I try to keep the lyrics front and center.
Congratulations to this year’s NewSong Contest People’s Choice Winner, Victoria Vox!
Victoria was selected from 60 Regional Finalists by popular vote on the NewSong online voting platform. She will now move on to compete in the 2013 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest live performance finals on Saturday, Oct 19th at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and have the chance to win a suite of career advancing prizes. For a full list of this year’s prizes, click here.
Additionally, we would like to recognize those regional finalists who received the most votes in their own region:
Once again, congratulations to ALL of the talented regional round finalists from this year’s contest, and thanks to all of you who voted to support and recognize them.