A new Songwriter Series has begun for the winter at the Bay View Grille, hosted by singer-songwriter Jay Webber. The event features area musicians in an acoustic coffee house setting every Saturday from 7-9 p.m.
These are some very talented writers and performers who you dont get to hear often and it offers something a little different to do here on a Saturday night in the winter, Webber says.
Webber warms up the show, followed by guest songwriters who perform 4-10 songs and discuss their music. Theres no cover charge and desserts and a full espresso bar are available.
Originally from Leelanau Country, Webber presently lives near the Platte River and Lake Michigan in Benzie County when hes not on the road performing. Here are a few words with Jay on his new gig:
NE: How long have you been performing full-time as a solo musician?
Webber: Been bouncin down the road around the country for almost nine years playing full-time music. I do take big pride in performing all gigs and concerts with all-original music -- no covers. Okay, Ive learned to duck.
NE: How did you get the idea for the new Songwriter Series?
Webber: I usually run away in the winter in search of healing warmth and sunshine... and gigs of course. Since Im here for the next couple months, I thought I should get busy and find something cool to do.
Ive spent the last year in Northern Michigan and much of that time in Frankfort. Its a great town full of great people and I wanted to have something (anything) going on since the streets are very, very quiet in winter. I visited Jill and Dale at the Bay View Grille and started tossing around ideas for music. The short of it was I did not want to do an open mic type of thing, but a songwriter showcase, since Im very familiar with the huge talent locally. They liked the ideas and we started in November. Its been very successful so far with our candle lights, Higher Ground coffee, desserts and Light of Day teas. Think Greenwich Village.
NE: Whats your winter lineup like?
Webber: I host the Series with a little playing before the show and really try to make the focus on the artist. They can talk about songs, writing, and what theyre up to as far as recording.
The Grille has featured notorious writers such as Hannah Rae Beale, Dennis Palmer, Robert Downes, Emily Rae Lively, Bruce Grossman, Sandy Blumenfeld and Adam Waugh. Im booking January and February now, hoping to snag the talent from Northern Michigan Songwriters in the Round, like Pat Niemisto, Chris Skellenger. Paul Koss, Jenny Thomas, Barb Jordan, or Kirby and Robin Berry Williams. There are too many to name.
NE: Youre noted for playing all-original material. How many songs have you written?
Webber: Hmm, bunches and bunches. You definitely toss more than you play or keep.
NE: Whats the story behind your guitar with all of the signatures on it?
Webber: I let other writers and people that gig with me sign my guitars. Its fun and with my poor memory its great to look at it once in a while and get a big grin on my face flashbackin to some gig in Austin, Sarasota or Nashvegas.
NE: Whats the roadmap for Jay Webber been like?
Webber: Id really like to hit Wyoming, Seattle, Boston... Ive been lots of places, but Im going to try and hook up with some Nashville buds and see if I cant wrestle someone down and force them to use one of my tunes in a documentary or movie or CD.
NE: Any plans for a forthcoming album?
Webber: Im going to focus on individual tunes that I dig. Produce one or two at a time and really try to put it across in a creative manner. What does that mean? We should have a beer and discuss it.
Check out Jay Webbers website at jaywebber.com for more on his music.