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Closing in on Santa Barbara!
February 12, 2008

Closing in on Santa Barbara Feb 28 - Mar 1

Hey Everybody it's mrJack here giving Jim a little break. He is returning today to Durango from Santa Ynez where he has been getting ready for the Expo. IT'S ALMOST HERE. Are you in?

I've had a lot of Expo-ite sightings around Nashville lately. I ran into singer/songwriter Jeanne Richardson over at Edgehill Studios.

I saw past industry participants Sara Johnson (Windswept) and Nathan Nicholson (Hori Pro) over at Chuck Cannon's studio. Of course Chuck is becoming a staple of our event and always rocks the house.

I see Ralph Murphy (ASCAP) a lot (when he's in town!). Amanda Williams continues to amaze and entertain. I saw Lisa Witty at the famous Bluebird and Lisa Torrez at iconic 12th and Porter not long ago. Way to go ladies! I interviewed Jennifer Marciano about her recent accomplishments in Nashville. Durangonians are gettin' around!

Other bigtime writers who continue to play an important role at Durango, Big Al Anderson, Gary Baker and Walt Aldridge, will be back with us in Santa Barbara. As will Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga from Fastball and Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket!

It was cool to see old friend Tim Fagan, who has lit up the Expo in the past, performing on David Letterman with Colbie Caillat. They're having a BIG year!

We are constantly amazed at the talent level of the people in all facets of the business who turn out for Durango. If you haven't done this event yet, you just have to do it. That's the consensus from pretty much EVERYBODY who's been: You HAVE TO GO.

On a housekeeping note, the rooms at the Marriott, they tell us, are sold out. Not to worry, there are rooms available across the street at the QUALITY INN. Very nice hotel too and walking distance. Call 800-616-0246 and ask for the discounted rate for the Durango Songwriters Group.

Please take note of the following important deadlines for the Songwriting Contest and the Expo:

• Deadline for "Write With A Hit-Maker" SONGWRITING CONTEST: All song entries, along with payment, must be POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 15th.

• Deadline for WINE COUNTRY EXPO SHOWCASE (Feb 28-Mar 1): Registration and Tapes/CDs must be received by FEBRUARY 19th.

Register Now for the Next Expo (Feb 28 - Mar 1, 2008):
Click here to view and print out the Brochure/Registration Form
See page 1 JPG
See page 2 JPG

And don't forget time is running out to enter our ongoing "Write With A Hitmaker" contest.

About Our 2008 Contest

The winning songwriter in the Country Category will write a song at the EXPO with the hit songwriting team of Sam and Annie Tate whose hits include, "Shut Up and Drive" for Chely Wright, "Somebody" for Reba, and "If You're Going Through Hell" for Rodney Atkins. Emerson Drive's "Moments" just became their third #1 song.

The winner in the Pop/Rock Category will write a song with hit songwriter and industry powerhouse Keith Follese. Keith grew up in the music rich scene of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has spent most of his music career dividing time between Los Angeles and Nashville. Keith's relentless drive and songwriting talent has rewarded him with many top songwriting honors. Keith has been named both ASCAP and BILLBOARD magazine's SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR. Keith is currently the CEO of Midas Music and is the lead writer for the production team THE CENTER. He continues to write with top producers and artists all over the world. Keith's hits include Faith Hill's smash, "The Way You love Me" and Lonestar's "Smile."

Each winner will also receive a SINGLE SONG PUBLISHING DEAL! The Pop/Rock category winner will have the opportunity to publish with LA-based Leftwinger/peer music. The Country winner will have the opportunity to publish with Nashville-based Midas Music.

Get the Registration Form/Brochure*

*There is a misprint on the event brochure Schedule for Friday, Feb. 29th. The Song Listening session at 3:15 pm with Sara Kapuchinski and Adam Swart is a Pop/Rock/Alternative session, NOT a Folk/Roots/Americana session as printed.

Welcome Mindy Smith!


No one—least of all Mindy Smith—expected her career to start like this.

As a contemporary singer-songwriter determined to record her music in a style that suits her self-written songs, Smith figured she’d start her recording career quietly and work to build it slowly. She didn’t expect to make a big, attention-grabbing splash right away. She certainly didn’t expect to gain exposure on late-night talk shows and cable music specials before her debut album came out.

But every once in a while the arrival of a remarkable talent gets the reception it deserves. Before releasing her debut album, One Moment More, Smith had already performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She appeared with a list of superstars on the Lifetime Network’s Women Rock special. She had a video in top rotation on CMT. And she had the lead-off single on the acclaimed Dolly Parton tribute album, Just Because I’m a Woman, which also had contributions from Norah Jones, Sinéad O ’Connor, Melissa Etheridge, Alison Krauss and others. “My head’s spinning,” Smith says. “It’s all been so far beyond my expectations. It’s been unbelievable, really. I feel blessed.”

But maybe Smith and her supporters shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, she'd encountered similar over-the-top excitement when record labels and producers first heard her songs. At one point, Smith held meetings and fielded offers from several major labels. She responded by spelling out her priorities. “I told everyone the same thing, that even though I live in Nashville I don’t consider myself a country artist, but a singer-songwriter and I wanted to present myself as I am,” she says. “I wanted the record to sound as much like my live performances as possible. I didn’t want somebody else’s stamp on it. I didn’t want a producer to give me his sound. I didn’t want to spend two years waiting until someone thought I had a No. 1 single before they put my record out. That’s not why I make music. What I care about are my songs.”

Instead of accepting the major-label offers, Smith made the bold decision to sign with Vanguard Records. “As I kept discussing the other offers, I kept coming back to Vanguard. I believed that I could make the record I wanted to make, and that I could do all my own songs. I trusted that there wouldn’t be any pressure to be someone or something that I didn’t want to be. “As it turns out, she couldn’t be happier with the results of her debut album, One Moment More. “All those fears and horror stories I’d heard about making your first record, none of them happened to me, “she says. “I am completely overjoyed with my record. I’m very proud of it. It’s me....”

Add YOUR BIO to our website! Click here.

Showcase at OC's Gypsy Lounge!

Thanks to our friend and Expo veteran, Frank Giampaolo from Laguna, CA, we can hook YOU up!

Says Frank, "I have been attending your Durango Songwriters Expos in the Santa Barabara Wine Country. If you have any songwriters that would like to play my Songwriters Live showcase in South Orange County, please have them contact me at:

"It is held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Some of the past performing songwriters include Steve Dorff, Ray Herndon, Jimbeau Hinson, Kevin Fisher, Pete Sellis, Amanda Williams and Bobby Tomberlin."

So there you go! Contact Frank and get yourself added to a Songwriters Live bill!

Visit the Bookstore!
SPECIAL OFFER: Get a $70 Discount on MasterWriter—The Ultimate Collection of Songwriting Tools for the Serious Songwriter

Durango Writers Night in Nashville!

The Amanda Williams Monday Writers Night, which is host to our Durango Songwriters the THIRD MONDAY of each month, is held at the Blue Bar on Broadway, starting at 9pm. Next DSE night is February 18th.

Rack Room/Blue Bar
1911 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203

Email if you would like to be added to the line-up. Thanks to all who come out to play, listen and support us!

What is

Not everyone can join us in Durango each year to be educated and inspired by our panelists and hit songwriters. But every songwriter can now have access to the next-best thing -- -- and benefit from many of the same resources provided each year at the Durango Songwriters Expo. offers Members a chance to hear writers, publishers, producers, managers and executives who decide what songs and artists make it to the big leagues.

Annually, we record the EXPO Panel Discussions and make them available in our subscription-based Backstage. If you can't make it to the EXPO in person, you can still get the same information from our ever-growing library of recorded discussions, as well as songwriter interviews and other special features.

Check Us Out!

Got a Website? Special Request from the EXPO—

If you've been marketing yourself and your music through a website, no doubt you already know the importance of "back-links" (how many websites, and their popularity, link to YOU) in gaining high search engine rankings and growing your traffic.

If you are interested in exchanging links, please link to:
The Durango Songwriters Expo

Then send us an email with YOUR link either by using the Contact Us Form, or sending an email to


Essential Reading for the Serious Songwriter

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