NCC, Aurora studio combine for songwriters showcase
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media February 17, 2011 10:04AM
Musician Michael McDermott
When: Feb. 25
Where: The Union, 129 W. Benton Ave., Naperville
Cost: $10 for the public or $5 for NCC students and SEA conference attendees
Contact: 630-637-7469 or visit www.theunionnetwork.com
Updated: February 21, 2011 9:18AM
Michael McDermott promises he will be much more like Steven Tyler than Simon Cowell when he judges an upcoming songwriters showcase.
“I’ll be much more positive than negative,” he said.
North Central College’s The Union, along with the Aurora-based Backthird Audio recording studio, will present “Local Songwriter’s Showcase with Chicago’s Michael McDermott.”
Five musicians, pre-selected as winners from previous events, will perform for a panel consisting of McDermott, publishing expert John Thompson, independent record label owner Jeffrey Kotthoff, and Backthird Audio’s Benjie Hughes.
Following the songwriting showcase, McDermott will perform a set of his own songs. Before the showcase, McDermott will be the keynote speaker at the Self-Employment in the Arts Conference.
Jeremy Gudauskas, assistant dean of students at NCC, said the SEA Conference is an event the college has sponsored for more than a decade. Its goal is to “help aspiring artists make a career out of their art,” he said.
“We give artists the skills and tools to make a living at what they do,” he said.
McDermott will discuss the process of songwriting over the two decades he’s been making music.
“He’ll have a great perspective on both songwriting and the music business since he’s been doing it for so long and he’s quite accomplished at it,” Gudauskas said. “It’s educational for the songwriters in the room and motivational, too. It’s one of those experiences where you have someone more seasoned and accomplished.”
The Union is a venue for local artists to perform. While they have done local songwriting showcases in the past, they’ve never had a panel with feedback before.
The five musicians will each play two songs.
“It’s not a contest, but a way of incorporating critical feedback to these artists who are in the beginning stages of launching their careers,” he said.
McDermott has some general advice for aspiring songwriters: do not be fearful when you’re writing.
“It’s the bloodletting, opening a vein. You’ve got to be willing to look stupid,” he said. “It’s being honest. Those are the things that connect the most. Cheesy ballads don’t connect; they don’t live beyond the shelf life of the song. A good song should transcend time. I know it’s a good one if after awhile I go back to it and it still does it for me. If you are going to play it night after night, it better be pretty damn good, otherwise you’re going to get sick of it.”
McDermott has a big year ahead of him. In addition to having newborn daughter with his wife Heather, in July he’ll go to Italy to film a documentary. And, he was recently offered a publishing deal.
“Things have been really good lately; it’s been a real nice change of pace for me. I endured a decade of failure so I think it’s long overdue,” he said.