Songwriter, singer, Yellow Springer
- Published: February 12, 2015
“If I could ride on monarch butterfly wing/I’d go and catch the joy I’ve found within the Springs.”
So sings Scott Randall Lindberg in “Ode to the Glen,” a song inspired by daily hikes through Glen Helen that Lindberg started taking when he moved back to the village two years ago.
After 45 years of writing songs, the local forest changed Lindberg’s songwriting style completely. The 58-year-old’s new work is less intellectual and more aimed at “touching people’s hearts,” he said this week.
“After writing so many songs for so long, I became more intuitive, more romantic and more in touch with nature,” Lindberg said. “If I’m going to write a song, I want to make it meaningful and to bring joy.”
Lindberg will share his new work — which also includes the songs “I Am a Child of the Springs,” and “Honoring the Trees” — as part of the Songwriter’s Concert Series at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Yellow Springs Arts Council Community Gallery, 111 Corry St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and there is a $5 suggested donation.
Also performing is Mitch Coleman, another recently-returned former villager and professional musician with 30 years of songwriting experience. Coleman, 63, is well known locally as a jazzy, cocktail and dinner-music style pianist and will share his original songs on keyboard and guitar dating back to the ’80s. He lived in the village in the 1990s.
Coleman uses wide-ranging musical styles to create pieces from a “kind of musical feeling,” he said. There’s a country song “that has soul,” an “egalitarian-ish, reggae-ish” song, and a bluesy jazz ballad “You Only Want Me for Sex,” which was a crowd favorite when Coleman played occasionally at the now-closed WEB Coffeehouse several years ago. (It’s not autobiographical, Coleman says). He also covers the typical themes of anticipated, and lost, love, including a song called “Love in a Minor Key,” which is actually written in C Major.
Coleman is an expert at covers as a musician for hire and as a member of a cover band that toured Holiday Inns in the 1980s, and said that through a “beautiful searching process” he draws from the thousands of songs in his head to create brand new material.
“It’s a discovery in tandem with the songs in my ear,” Coleman explained. “I’m informed by a reservoir of styles but it feels more like its guided by the energy of me being with a kind of musical feeling.”
Coleman and Lindberg will share their songs “in the round” as they go back-and-forth playing one to two songs at a time, a format concert series co-host Charlie Peters believes keeps the event dynamic and interesting.
Peters, who also organized shows at the WEB Coffeehouse for eight years before it closed, initiated the Yellow Springs Songwriter’s Concert Series last fall. After returning to the village from the West Coast a few years ago, Peters saw the need for an intimate venue here for those with original material — no covers allowed — who want to share it with an attentive audience.
“It’s important to have an audience that’s there to listen to the music, not to socialize or drink coffee,” Peters explained. “Instead of the music as a sideshow, this is more of a concert series. … They don’t have to be heard over TVs and espresso machines.”
Peters, himself a songwriter, is organizing concerts on the first Saturday of the month through May or June at the YSAC gallery with hopes of also creating a local songwriters’ club to help musicians hone their craft and critique one another’s work.
Scheduled to perform in the March show are Tony Powers and Marianne Kesler. In April, brothers Carl and Dave Schumacher will play their own material along with Lorna Hunt.
Lindberg, who also teaches guitar locally and busks regularly during the Yellow Springs Farmer’s Market, will be joined by his partner Amy Blue, yet another recently-returned former villager, who adds beautiful harmonies to Lindberg’s songs. Blue’s background is in theater — as a village resident in the 1990s she performed in shows at Antioch College and Center Stage — and her musical style is largely rhythm and blues. The couple will sprinkle in a few “cutesy blues tunes” to go along with the nature songs at the concert, Lindberg said.
As a former lay minister, Lindberg’s songs have the feel of hymns, though instead of Christian messages, Lindberg is now preaching the “universality of love,” he said. He is looking forward to sharing his recent awakening through music, as he believes that the local forest — along with its resident faeries, angels, devas, gnomes and other ethereal beings — has opened his heart. In “Wake Up Sleepyhead” he sings:
“We step into the forest within the Sacred Glen/We rise to float upon the breeze/As Helen starts to sing/We bow to all the trees/And the secrets of the earth come whispering.”
Coleman learned how to improvise playing jazz piano at age 13 and considers himself a “minor-league” jazz pianist. But he also played guitar in a traveling rock band and in many other ensembles over the years. Of his songwriting influences, Coleman cited Stevie Wonder and Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim as well as the Beatles.
Peters, 60, started writing songs on guitar and piano as a teenager, inspired by the generation of songwriters that included James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Now primarily working with the guitar, many of Peters’ songs are sweet, sentimental tunes in a finger-picking style, others are true folk songs or jump blues songs, he said. His songs come out of his life and his imagination and include political songs about 9/11 and the Vietnam War as well as love songs.
“Many times it starts true and it becomes fiction when you find a good rhyme,” Peters said, one reason why “you should never take advice from pop songs,” he joked. One song was inspired by a POW-MIA flag flying in a snow storm Peters saw while driving. “I wrote a verse, pulled over and cried,” he said of the process. Another came during a stay at a Days Inn in Maryland in a riff on famous folks songs about cheap hotels:
“Days Inn, nightfall/Lights out, phone call/I miss you/Hang up, lie down/Wake up, strange town/ I miss you/The distance makes the feeling stronger/The distance makes the yearning longer.”
Lindberg and Coleman, who coincidentally both attended Colonel White High School in Dayton, also both view the concert as the first step towards eventually recording their original songs. Getting out the music that’s inside them is cathartic to both, though in different ways.
“It’s a compulsion to get the words out and it gives me this good feeling in my belly,” Lindberg said.