Welcome to the World and Music of Dan Roark

Welcome to the world and music of Dan Roark. I have lived here for a while now and it's not a bad place to live, really. Although on some level, it's probably just as well you're only visiting. But hang around as long as you like.

Here you can listen to my songs - and buy them if you wish - read my thoughts in posts on my blog, see my pictures, and find out when and where I am playing. 

You can also hear live versions of my songs on Reverbnation, as well as see videos of live performances. You can also see my videos on, and subscribe to, my YouTube channel

 

Digital Tip Jar

Colby Morgan and Janet Gordon Wedding 

12265942_1130941813597375_3354839115745609285_oI attended Colby and Janet’s wedding this past Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Sweet Basil Restaurant at Midway and Trinity Mills. Colby plays bass with me and I went to high school with Janet. If you have never been to a musician’s wedding, it is an interesting experience (not odd, just interesting). Particularly, at an Italian Restaurant. The ceremony, of course, did not begin at 5:30, but no one really expected it to.

While we waited, we mingled. Most of the conversation – other than the usual small talk in a room where not everyone knows everyone else – centered around our latest projects and recent and upcoming gigs. Then there was the musical small talk. I’ve never looked at a wedding as a networking opportunity, but in this instance, it came about naturally.

When the ceremony was about to begin, Colby and the groomsmen, along with Jimmy Wallace – who was 12027192_1130941793597377_1622934888352586682_o presiding over the wedding – stood at the “front” of the room. Janet’s bridesmaids – her sisters, Lisa and Dawn (who was in my class in high school), walked up the aisle separately. Then Janet walked up the aisle.

In the wedding picture is, from left to right: Rockin’ Robert T. Tomberlin, Jim Webb, Jimmy Wallace, Colby Morgan, Janet, Lisa, and Dawn Gordon. Jimmy did a fine job of presiding over the ceremony. The verses were both fitting and appropriate, as were the few jokes, and spontaneous comments from the audience. It certainly qualified as a beautiful wedding.

J.W. Hammett, Janet, and Colby Morgan. I took this with J.W.'s camera.

J.W. Hammett, Janet, and Colby Morgan. I took this with J.W.’s camera.

Most of the people stayed for dinner. Jimmy had to leave to do something before the Stratoblasters show at Tolbert’s Restaurant in Grapevine that night. One of the waiters seemed to get confused, so it took a bit longer to get served the entree after the salad or soup. The food, however, was very good.

I ate some of the dinner and then asked for a container and my dessert to go. I needed to deliver my granddaughter, Kelley’s, birthday present. From the amount of to go containers being passed out, I would shortly be followed by others. I gave my congratulations (again), my hugs, and good-byes, and headed out. Of course it was raining again when I stepped outside.

But the rain couldn’t dampen the occasion. It was a beautiful ceremony surrounded by friends – old and new – to celebrate a coming together of two souls in love. Congratulations Colby and Janet!

Peace be with you.


Small World, Schlotzsky’s, and Poor David’s Pub 

[Possible bonus points: 10]

On Monday nights, I usually play at Mr. Troll’s open mic at Poor David’s Pub. It’s the best listening room in town and Carlos Sanchez is the best sound man in town. Troll also let’s me talk about the Dallas Songwriters Association before my set. But the point is that I stop by Schlotzsky’s on the way because dinner usually isn’t ready when I leave. I go the location on Midway, just south of Spring Valley, before getting on the tollway.

I walked into Schlotzsky’s and stood back looking at the menu. The young man that has helped me out for the past several weeks (and seems like he’ll be there a while, unlike some) told the girl behind the cash register to treat me right because I was one of his best customers. She smiled, and he added that I would tell him if she didn’t treat me well. By this time, I was smiling, too.

I looked at the menu while she stood, patiently waiting. I considered having salad and perhaps soup as a pick two deal. Then I smiled and shook my head.

“I’ll just go for the same old thing. I thought about having a salad, but I have a show tonight and it’s hard to eat salad.”

“Show? What do you do?” she asked as she rang up my sandwich and chips.

“I’m a singer/songwriter.”

“Oh, really? Where do you play?”

“Well, I’m playing at an open mic at Poor David’s Pub tonight, but I play places around here quite a bit.”

While we were talking, I reached into my pocket for a business card.

“I have a friend,” she was saying, “he plays music and he moved…”

She stopped as she looked at my card. She looked at me kind of puzzled.

“Do you have a son?”

“Yes,” I answered, not bothering to add that I have three sons.

“Conner?”

“Yes, I’m Conner’s father.”

“Conner, that just moved to California?”

“Yes.”

“We’re Facebook friends. We have been since early in high school.”

“Tell him you saw me.”

“I will,” She stuck out her hand. “I’m Maria.”

“Dan.”

I waited for my sandwich, left, and headed for the tollway.

You get the 10 bonus points if you figured out that Conner was the friend she was about to tell me about when she read my card.

Peace be with you.


Rusty Weir Songwriting Contest First Week Auditions 

Brett Dillon and Ian Dickson

Brett Dillon and Ian Dickson

I went last Tuesday to week one of the auditions for the Rusty Weir Songwriting Contest, put on by KHYI and Love and War in Texas in Plano. I went to support friends, and Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) members, Mr. Troll, and Ian Dickson. All eight songwriters had very good songs to perform.

Host, Brett Dillon, introduced the songwriters two at a time and they would switch off for each song.

Mr. Troll

Mr. Troll

Each songwriter played three songs. I arrived just as Brian Lambert and Charley Smith were wrapping up their songs. Byron Dowd and Mr. Troll were the second pairing.

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Trace Bivens and Alex Lease switched songs next. Then Ian Dickson and Marina Rocksu ended the auditions with their three songs. The contest, or comradarie, as Dillon put it, is enjoyable on the entertainment side, but tough on the performer and competition side. For the audience, it’s a lot of good music for no cover with good food and beer.

I won’t be going to tonight’s auditions, because of the DSA 2nd Tuesday meeting. But there are excellent songwriters again tonight. Bayliss Laramore will be playing in next week’s auditions.

Peace be with you.


Larry Beaird “Arranging the Hit” Songwriting Workshop 

IMG_1710[Re-post from DSA blog] Larry Beaird presented his “Arranging the Hit” songwriting workshop on Saturday, October 24 at the Kitchen Café. The workshop was held from noon – 4 p.m. The start was delayed for several minutes – through no fault of Larry’s. The restaurant offered a limited lunch menu for the workshop attendees. Quite a few people took advantage of the lunch offerings. The waitress, Maria, took care of business well, while taking care not to disturb the workshop.

When he began his presentation, he introduced himself while passing out entry forms for a drawing to win a $625 demo session at his Beaird Music Group recording studio in Nashville. He charted the number one country songs for the past two years. He used standards such as the Nashville number system, and the length of time between certain components of each song, as well as the structure of those components.

It was apparent at times, from the questions, that some of the songwriters in the room were concerned about their songs. Beaird was careful to point out several times that he was just talking about songs that had reached number one on the charts.

“Write your songs for you. I’m not telling you how to write your songs. I’m just talking about number one hits. There are aIMG_1711 lot of good songs out there. They just don’t make number one for whatever reason.”

I hesitate to give too much away out of respect to Larry and those in attendance. But I will let you in on a couple of key points. Every line of a song should point to the title. And the title should be in the last line of the chorus and the last line of the song.

Larry Beaird and DSA President, Michael Brandenberger

Larry Beaird and DSA President, Michael Brandenberger

Beaird spent the last hour of the workshop critiquing the songs that he had received beforehand. After locating the songwriter, he played the song, after which everyone applauded. Larry then critiqued the song, while also telling the songwriter what he liked. He made suggestions as to what they could do to improve the song. His suggestions were very good and well received.

The workshop went past 4 p.m. with people excited about the subject of songwriting. Question after question was asked. And answered fully by Larry. An enjoyable, successful day was had by everyone in attendance, with good food, good conversation, and an informative songwriting workshop. The workshop participants and DSA want to thank Larry for coming to Dallas to present his workshop for us. We will announce the winner of the drawing for the demo session when Larry lets us know.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.


The Surprise in the Shower 

BuddyOur oldest son, Conner, before he moved to California, was visiting with his band at the home of a band member’s sister. Her boyfriend had a puppy in the backyard – about ten weeks old. He was tethered by a short chain. His food and water bowls were overrun with ants. He was malnourished and you could see his bones through his skin. Conner told them he was taking the dog, who we now call Buddy.

I came home from a songwriter’s conference in Austin and opened the door to three dogs rather than the customary two – Misty and Lyra. We named him Buddy a few days later. After a couple of months of regular meals, exercise, and attention, he was almost twice the size he was before. His bones were no longer visible. He was happy having two older dogs to play with, before Conner took Lyra to California.

Buddy is the youngest puppy we have ever had. He is the only dog we could actually take places, like J. D.’s baseball games. He is like a shepherd/terrier mix and he doesn’t shed. But when we would take him to baseball games, he would play in his water dish. Invariably, he would dump the water out and lay in it. Cyndy would put more water in his dish and the process would start over.

He would also spill the water bowl on the back porch and play in the small plastic pool we had in the backyard (until he destroyed it). So we knew he liked water, we just were never sure to what extent. Neither Cyndy nor myself has ever had a dog that liked water. Except for rainy days, it wasn’t of major concern.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the shower in our bedroom upstairs. I was getting ready to wash my hair when I backed up and felt something move. I looked behind me and Buddy was in the tub with me, lapping up water. I hadn’t seen that one coming. I got him out, hoping he wouldn’t get too much of the carpet wet. Then I finished my shower.

It hasn’t occurred again – so far – but that doesn’t mean I don’t watch out for him. He can’t get up on mine and Cyndy’s bed, but he can get into a slippery tub. Go figure. He’s in that phase now where he is growing all the time, but still thinks he’s a little puppy.

Misty is eight years old (our years). She tolerates him. I think sometimes she enjoys his trying to annoy her. And they like to play tug of war. In some ways it seems like Buddy is “keeping Misty young” – to a degree.

Best of all, though, Buddy is content and happy. At least as long as he gets to lick everything. That’s how he says hi and shows affection. Your pants, shoe, belt, shirt, any exposed skin, whatever – as long as he licks you. There are times when he suddenly runs around the house from person to person, all excited, jumping and licking. The look on his face seems to me to say:

“A house to explore, a big backyard to dig in, a pal to play with, and people to pet me and that I can lick – this is freakin’ cool!”

Peace be with you.


Arlington Guitar Show and V-Picks 

V-PicksAs my post on the DSA blog (re-posted here) stated, I worked the booth at the Arlington Guitar Show. I enjoy working the booth at guitar shows, because it’s a chance to play guitars I will never own. Some of them were worth so much money, I just look at them from a distance. If I see a good deal on a guitar that looks, sounds, and plays really nice, I take two deep breaths and move on. If I take another guitar home, I’ll need to take divorce papers with me. So I look at the newest gadgets, like capos, picks, etc.

For many years, most guitar players used Fender medium picks. Of course it was not entirely universal, but “as a general rule.” The shape would change, depending on the instrument. If you wanted a new sound, you changed the brand or gauge of string you used, or even the guitar. There weren’t as many different picks back then, so changing picks usually never crossed a guitar player’s mind. I did, however, change from Fender medium to John Pearse medium, which I still use. It has an offset point which is easier for me hold and attack the strings.

My statement about “most guitar players,” refers mainly to acoustic guitarists. Although a lot players I knew used medium exclusively, more and more guitarists began using heavy gauge picks for playing electric guitars. Now it’s all over the map as far as shapes, gauges, and types of materials for picks are concerned. Which is precisely my point.

Since I had to set my sights on lower cost items, I started looking into different picks at guitar shows. It’s incredible how many different materials they make picks with. Now I have a lot of different picks. But I’m still married! Then I was introduced to V-Picks. Each of the picks has a different tone or resonance. I am experimenting with different picks in their line, but my mainstays are the blue Lite Tradition and the Euro II. I stocked up at Arlington show because they always have their biggest booth there.

I also like to see the different picks they’ve come up with. Even though they’re made of an acrylic/glass type of material, they still wear down. It takes a little doing, mind you, but they still wear down. One of the good points of the picks in general – other than the unique sound – is that it sticks to your fingers with the heat in your hand. It’s hard to lose these picks while playing. Give them a try. At the very least you’ll make some good sounds and have fun.

Peace be with you.


DSA Booth at Arlington Guitar Show (re-post) 

[Re-posted from DSA blog]
Bobby Montgomery at DSA BoothThe second special event of October was the DSA booth at the Arlington Guitar Show on Saturday, October 17, and Sunday, the 18th. Bobby Montgomery set up the table on Saturday – and worked all day both days, God bless him! I joined him shortly thereafter – after waiting in line to park. I helped with the booth until about 12:30.

I was watching the booth when Bobby stepped out for a bit. I looked at my phone and saw a notification from Facebook. It was one of those “what you were doing last year” posts that Facebook does, with a picture from a year ago. It was the picture I took of Bobby behind the booth last year at the guitar show. It looked similar to the picture above, but I think the table looked better this year.

After a couple of hours I had to leave in order to host the DSA Showcase at the Farmers Branch Manske Library. I don’t know if any volunteers showed up to help Bobby after I left. I didn’t have a chance to browse the booths before I left. I did do one thing, but that is a different post.

On Sunday, Bobby and I opened the booth again with a little help from my son, Cameron. Then I had the chance to wander around and drool at the guitars, amps, and accessories. Among the wandering and drooling, I stopped at the Guitars for Vets booth. I met George Jordan, head of the Dallas Chapter.

George told me how the program worked. They give each vet ten guitar lessons. If the vet completes all ten lessons and shows interest, they give him a guitar. When I told him I was with the Dallas Songwriters, he got excited. They were trying to come up with something, after giving the vet the guitar, to keep the interest and effectiveness going.

I told him the DSA would be happy to support them in any way we could. We have worked with many veterans over the years. If music and playing guitar can help them maintain, then surely songwriting would help. Without a doubt, they have stories to tell. For several years, Dallas Songwriters distributed a cd entitled Songs from the Soul of Service: A Collection of Songs written by U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Surely telling those stories through song – or even spoken word over guitar – would be comforting in nature. I will be contacting George soon. Stay tuned for future development.

Dickey Johnson and Michael Brandenberger arrived at the booth before I left in time to get Cameron back home to go to work. We talked to quite a few people at the booth over the two days. We have two pages of names and emails to enter into the mailing list and into a drawing for a chance to win a free year’s membership. If you are on that list, you should receive an email from me before too long.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.


Turk Wilder, Writer of ‘The Eyes of a Ranger’ 

11064659_10152721017857172_5984720308632017596_n [Re-posted from DSA blog] October has been a busy month for Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There were several special events in addition to the regular weekly events (all of which went well). The first was a visit by Skype with Tirk Wilder at the 2nd Tuesday meeting at the Center for Community Cooperation. Board member, Ken Duren, invited Wilder to speak at the meeting and Tirk graciously accepted.

Once the technical difficulties – such as they were – were worked out and we could see him and he could see us, the presentation began. Ken introduced him by saying that they had been friends since the 70s. The two of them reminisced a bit before Wilder told the story about writing the theme song to Walker: Texas Ranger. During the meeting, he told several stories about songwriting and Nashville – some hilarious and some horrifying.

After answering questions from the attending group, Tirk critiqued three members’ songs. He had offered to do song critiques and they were the songs he was sent. He had each songwriter move to a chair in front of the computer so the two of them could talk face to face. Wilder had some very helpful suggestions for the songwriters. According to the three songwriters, Tirk was right on with his critique.

Wilder also recommended Broadjam for songwriters wanting to get an honest critique of their songs. Tirk himself is one of the pro reviewers listed on the site. Then it was time to wrap things up. After those in attendance expressed our thanks to him for visiting with us, the Skype connection was broken.

As the meeting wound down, Harry Hewlett said that Wilder was right about Broadjam. Harry had paid to have Tirk review his song. While it had taken some time – he’s a busy man – his review of Harry’s song was right on the mark as well. Not only is Tirk Wilder a good songwriter, but he is a very likeable person and tells a good verbal story as well. He even took time to go into another room and come back with one of the BMI awards for the “Eyes of the Ranger” to show us.

Stay tuned for the other special events….

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

[Peace be with you.]


SWRFA Page Two 

Dan At Saturday open mic at SWRFA To finish with my Southwest Regional Folk Alliance(SWRFA) summary review, Friday morning at SWRFA began with a session for first time attendees.. But there were just as many veterans as there were first timers, it seemed to me. The session was presented by Paul E. Barker, of Barker House Concerts, and Hilary Adamson, of the Flyin’ A’s. Paul talked from the venue stand point, and Hilary spoke from the performing artist point of view. They shared quite a bit of useful information, but a couple of things stood out.

SWRFA had in-room showcases on Friday from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., then again from 10:30 p.m. – 3 a.m. or later. Saturday just had the in-room showcases from 10:30 p.m. on. I was wondering about the in-room showcases when I considered attending. I’m not one for staying up real late anymore, particularly if I am going to be getting up fairly early in order to visit and network. Yet I didn’t want to miss anything important by not going to the later showcases. Which was one of the good points Paul brought up.

“At events during the day, the ratio of performing artists to venues is 10 to 1. At the later showcases, you won’t find any venues represented.”

So I felt better about not trying to pull an all-nighter. Hilary has a lot more energy than anyone has a right to, particularly at 9 a.m. But her best suggestions had to do with sending out personal messages to anyone she wanted to meet with at SWRFA. Then, following the event, being sure to follow up with everyone you interacted with that you want to work with or keep in touch with.

There were other sessions on Friday, as well as the First Timers Showcase and one-on-ones with industry people, and the first official showcase. I had a showcase in the Handshake Management room at 5:10 p.m. I also had a showcase at 12:40 a.m. in the Webb House Concerts room.

Saturday there were more sessions. I played at the open mic by the pool in the late afternoon. After dinner was the second official showcase. And then, of course, the in-room showcases.

This was just a summary of events. I mainly wanted to point out when I played and let anyone who is a singer/songwriter – or group thereof – know that SWRFA is a good investment as well as a really good time. Even though you saw the ratio of performing artists to venues above, you still get heard by a lot of people and that is never a bad thing. You learn new things, meet new people, and make connections that will serve you well.

Follow the links and check it out. I have one more post about Sunday before I lay it to rest. As a writer, you get hung up in so many projects, some have to come later. But I wanted to at least talk about it for my fellow singer/songwriters who may not know about it or wonder if it’s worth it. (It is.)

Peace be with you.


Open Mics, Songwriters, and Community 

Tracie MerchantOn almost every night of the week, an open mic can be found in the Dallas area and often more than one, sometimes several. Some of the open mics include spoken word, playing cover songs, etc. On the other hand, some may prefer original songs, but talented covers are usually allowed. The majority of open mic hosts are friendly and welcoming. Most open mics have their regulars, even if it’s just a few people that show up all the time.

A number of open mics and similar events are hosted by members of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There is a supportive songwriting community in the Dallas area, a good number of whom are members of DSA. Some of us have been writing songs for years. Some are younger and just getting started playing live at open mics. Quite a few members of the DSA perform at other open mics in addition to DSA events.

But it’s the community that I want to emphasize here. The songwriting and open mic communities are very supportive in every way a community can be. One good example is the open mic at Poor David’s Pub (PDP), hosted by Mr.Troll. It helps, of course, that it is one of best listening rooms in town, and Carlos Sanchez is one of the best sound men in town. Samantha Sanders is one of the best bartenders, too.

A good illustration of my point came about recently. On Monday, I arrived at PDP, ready to play in the open mic. I said hi to a couple of people from DSA at the bar. Troll asked me to step aside and talk to him privately. He needed to go home to take care of his dad, and asked me to guest host the open mic. Of course I said I would.

Troll played first, as usual. He played two songs, but we persuaded him to play a third song. Then he introduced me and slipped out, and I took over as host. On the list were regulars – some older, some newer. The featured artist was Tracie Merchant. I introduced her about 8:45. In the middle of her set, Tracie picked up her phone and began to make a call.

“Does everybody know my friend, Bill Nash?” Many of us did. Bill is a singer/songwriter with MS. He has been in the folk scene in Dallas for quite some time. He has come up with different tunings using capos and key changes to enable him to keep playing the guitar and writing songs. He had to leave SWRFA a little early due to health issues and within a week was in the hospital. He was hoping to get out of the hospital soon when Tracie called.

“We’re here at the open mic at Poor David’s Pub. We wanted to tell you something,” she said when Bill answered. She motioned to all of us and at the same time we said:

“Get well, Bill!” He asked her if we would do it again so he could record it. Which we gladly did.

During the evening a harmonica player was hanging around, hoping to join someone. Vince Alexander is from Atlanta and is here working at the State Fair. He was looking for a break from the fair to do what he loved the most – playing music. Toward the end of the evening he got his chance and stayed on stage to play with Tin Man Travis. Vince had the pleasantness on his face and in his upbeat and friendly attitude of one who is away from home in an unfamiliar place and finds a music community to be a part of (albeit temporarily).

See what I mean about community? And you’re all welcome – to play or listen. At any of the open mics or DSA events.

Peace be with you.


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