From Norway to New York: A Chat with Singer-Songwriter Anja Elena Viken


One of my favorite things about Songwriting Scene, and about being a part of a global community of songwriters, is all the cool people I get to meet from all over the world.

Who knew that I could go to upstate New York to hang out with my songwriting tribe and end up hanging out with a gal from Scandinavia? That’s what happened this summer, though, when I went to my annual creative, communal retreat called SummerSongs. When I arrived, almost immediately a couple of people came up to me to let me know that a singer-songwriter had come all the way from Norway — and had found out about the retreat from my Songwriting Scene blog!

[Read more…]

The Songwriter’s Guide to the Blues


Durham, North Carolina’s Jon Shain is a veteran singer-songwriter, fingerstyle Blues picker and an internationally touring artist. A recent finalist at the International Blues Challenge, Shain keeps the Piedmont Blues alive while incorporating its traditional elements into his own modern approach — mixing in bluegrass, swing and ragtime flavors as well.

Plus, I take lessons from Jon! We Skype most weeks and I try to practice a bit in between. 😉 He’ll be headed to my hometown of Metuchen, NJ on Saturday, September 19 to lead a two-hour acoustic blues guitar workshop. I recently asked him some burning questions about blues songwriting — here’s what he had to say for this week’s Q&A!

Q:  What is a blues song? How do you define that in a universe where we all probably have an image of our head of what that means?

Jon: A blues song can be defined by some people by a certain chord progression or melodic tonality, but to really be a “blues”, it should lyrically connect with some true feelings and be expressed in a way that people can feel it as being “real.” Blues is the human response to when life throws everything it has at you. [Read more…]