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Singer-Songwriter of Cape May 2017 / SIE3 CD Release Party recap

So I'm back from Cape May, where I spent the last weekend taking part in the 10th annual Singer-Songwriter of Cape May conference / convention / festival. It was my fifth time there, as participant and performer, and I feel honored to have been so chosen.

I must give kudos to the founder of the festival, John Harris, both for choosing me and for honoring what I call my "Lebowski-Sobchak clause," i.e., the fact that I don't perform on Friday nights or Saturday before sundown—the Jewish Sabbath. My performance slot this year, as with every year that I have been participating, was set for 10:00 pm on Saturday night—a safe distance from the close of Shabbos. It also gives me the distinction of being the last performer on the lineup in whichever venue I was booked, which this year and last was the Brown Room at Congress Hall.

What's nice about the Brown Room is that it has a warm, intimate vibe and has its own built-in clientele, so that no matter what day or time I'm performing, there is always someone there to listen and enjoy the performance.

The thing about being Shomer Shabbos at events like these, though, is that I end up having to forego each day's keynote speakers and their showcase performances (this year, Jim Boggia and Jonatha Brooke). By the time they take their turn, I am either ready to start Shabbos, or I am resting before having to head out for my Saturday-night performance. For five years now I have been looking for ways to make it work but I haven't been able to. That's just the price to pay for honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy. So it goes.

On both days, Friday and Saturday (the latter without pen, paper, or recorder), I sat in on a number of seminars and panel discussions catering to the needs and concerns of singer-songwriters. This year I focused on those seminars dealing with branding and promotion. I needed to know what I need to do to promote myself more effectively and make the jump from being a cult artist and favorite among friends and family to at least a blip on the consciousness of the public—if not the general public, at least that portion of the music-loving universe that appreciates singer-songwriters. I came away from these discussions with some new knowledge and ideas, but also just a wee bit bummed because the changes in the way people consume their music (and that's a telling expression, "consume") do not favor the usual way that singer-songwriters like to release their music to the public—the album.

A postscript to all the proceedings: On Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel early on and headed north toward Asbury Park, where I had my official CD Release Party at The Saint. There were three acts on before me, all of my choosing: The Mercury Brothers, The Jenny Pilots, and Bruce Tunkel. And since Mark and Joe of the Jenny Pilots collaborated with Bruce on a project called The Susan Rumors, there was a mini-set by that latter act as well before I went on.

The band for the occasion was great: Izzy Kieffer on drums, Andrew Witney on bass, Steve Czeslowski on rhythm guitar, P.K. Lavengood on lead guitar, and Steve Peckman on saxophone. I had rehearsed the band only once before the show—and even that was only Izzy, Steve C, Andrew, and myself. We did great. Imagine what we could do with more rehearsal and regular shows!

I look forward to next year's SSCM (hopefully I will be chosen once again), and more shows in which the new album gets played before an appreciative audience. When those happen, you'll read about them here.

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