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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Bloomington Songwriter Showcase to kick off tenth year at new venue

entSongwriter

After nine years and hundreds of live performances, Suzette Weakley and her team are moving their music showcase to a new home.

In their 10th year with the project, Weakley and her partners Steev Wisher and Brandon Pfeiffer have moved the weekly Bloomington Songwriter Showcase to Bear’s Place.

The showcase, which was formerly held at Player’s Pub, was moved due to scheduling conflicts, she said.

“We tried to compromise,” Weakley said. “We’ve been there as a long, established thing. Full room almost every Monday.”

Weakley said she grew up playing in rock bands and learned how to write songs from her mother — writing music runs in her family.

“All of her brothers and sisters were musical,” she said of her mother. “In fact, they had a band called the Originals, because they did their own material way back then.”

When Weakley met local musician Bobbie Lancaster in 2006, the two began to tour under the act Stella and Jane. In 2007, she said they visited Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, which was unique in its emphasis on original music during open mic nights.

“If you play a cover tune at the Bluebird Cafe, you’ll never come back,” she said. “Unless you wrote the song, you don’t do it.”

When she took this idea to Greg Hill, the former owner of Player’s Pub, Weakley said Hill was skeptical attendees would want to hear original music.

“I said, ‘Well you know Greg, somebody wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,”’” she said. “Every song was written by somebody.”

The Bloomington Songwriter Showcase is formatted with an in-the-round fashion. Four songwriters stand on stage at the same time and take turns performing their songs.

Over the past 10 years, Weakley said the Bloomington Songwriter Showcase has grown in popularity from both attendees and 
performers.

“The Bloomington audience is intelligent,” she said. “They expect more than to have you sit there and do your best impression of Neil Young.”

As a result of the popularity, Weakley and her team have had to become more selective in who can perform. She said they hold auditions to see who will make the cut.

Although musicians are typically understanding of not being chosen, Weakley said one musician’s reaction caused the FBI to get 
involved.

When the performer was not accepted in the showcase, Weakley said he emailed her a series of death threats.

“Ultimately, he and I worked things out,” she said. “Well, I said, ‘You know, it’s a felony. You can’t make death threats on the 
computer.’”

Because of the move from Player’s Pub to Bear’s Place, Weakley said she is expecting a large turnout tonight.

“My big concern is that it may be too small,” she said.

Other than using a smaller venue than Player’s Pub, Weakley said she is concerned about limited parking and using a space that is not all-ages.

Weakley said she encourages musicians of all genres to audition for the showcase.

“All I try to do is mix it up,” she said. “You might have somebody who does delta blues next to somebody who does jazz, next to somebody who does Americana. It keeps things really interesting. I don’t want the same song all night long.”

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