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I Left Texas a Teacher, and Came Back a Real Songwriter

by: Kimberley Lewis


I can sum up my review of the Red River Songwriter’s Camp in three words,  “Start saving now!”  Seriously, it was a modern day Breakfast Club.  If you consider a 9:00 am to 4:00 am diverse group of eclectic songwriters with the backdrop of mountains of  inspiration in Red River, New Mexico to be modern day:  The chemist, the teacher, the retired fireman, the website designer, the full time musician, and the kid to name a few.  Yes, even my 11-year-old was there. What does she have to write about?  The death of her sister that will make you cry more than this North Texas rainfall flood.

Then there were the masters, the teachers who fearlessly led the first campers like we had all been friends for decades:  Walt Wilkins, Susan Gibson, Josh Grider, Kelley Mickwee, Jana Pochop, Brandy Zdan, and Drew Kennedy.  And lastly, the songwriters/artists that you haven’t heard of yet.  Mark my words, there were some that you will be writing your life’s soundtrack in the next few years.  Lucas Bevan for one.  Just saying, you heard it first here.  There were lots of crazy good writers, 18 campers total, and more talent than I imagined or could possibly explain.

The day’s classes were held in The Motherlode Saloon whose history itself contains the writing of Jerry Jeff Walker’s classic “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” by Ray Wylie Hubbard.  Workshops included everything from creating an online presence to master classes where our original songs were critiqued by the masters themselves.  When someone the caliber of Walt Wilkins calls your lyrics “smart”, you can’t help but forget to breathe.

Nights were capped off by intimate concerts, stories by the artists, and jam sessions in The Lodge, where I received personal guitar lessons from Susan Gibson herself. You can’t make this up!

When you sit in a group, and take turns making up funny lyrics to sad stories that you just have to laugh at, these masters somehow become friends that share your heartaches and your stories.  From “Monsters and my dad, sometimes they are the same,” (Jana Pochop)  to Susan’s Gibson’s wink to my son by making a reference to the Euphonium during a show with Walt up on the mountain, it was a once in a lifetime bucket list experience with the promise of “Let’s do this again next year.”

I can go on for hours, but the pictures themselves say more than I ever could. I left Texas a teacher and came back a real songwriter.  If you missed it this year, start saving now for next year, it is a must do for true music fans, singers, and songwriters.  See ya next year!

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