Dig Baton Rouge

Capital City Songwriter Collective

Baton Rouge musicians creating together

Baton Rouge has always been a city with a diverse music scene. Whether you’re catching bands at the Spanish Moon, a country star at the Texas Club, or just popping in to 524 Studios to see who’s playing, there is something for the likes of everyone. With that diverse music scene comes the musicians that are as unique as the music they make, but what would happen if all these musicians were to make music together? That was the idea Cohen Hartman of Neon Mountain, had when he created the Capital City Songwriter Collective. By partnering with the Tipitina’s Foundation and more than a dozen local musicians, he has put together a show the Baton Rouge community is sure to love and cheer on for an encore.

Where did you get the idea to do a collaborative songwriting event like this?

I heard about a similar show happening out on the west coast recently and remembered some of my musician friends in Toronto pulling off collaborative shows years back.  I always thought it was a cool idea.  From there I put my own twist on some of the logistics and thought it would be great to get a charity involved.

What is the Tipitina’s Foundation and how did you get involved?

The Tipitina’s Foundation is a non-profit charity organization that’s been supporting the Louisiana music scene since 2003.  Their mission statement is to “protect and preserve the musical culture of New Orleans and Louisiana” but they are involved with so many programs that it goes beyond that.  They donate instruments to schools, run workshops on music performance and education for those looking to learn, and they operate a statewide network of technology access centers (“Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Ops”) that give musicians access to amenities including recording space and equipment. I called and told them that I wanted to get them involved. I explained my outline for the show, and they responded gratefully and agreed to be a part of it!

How did you get so many other musicians involved? What was that process like?

One of the most rewarding factors in my ten plus years of playing music in Baton Rouge is getting to work with a lot of the musicians we have here, and the talent we have in this city is insane.  I started by just reaching out to a few of the more established musicians, and by some luck most were interested right off the bat. Once they were on board I think it helped up the “excitement factor” for a lot of others.  It’s really exciting to have so many talented people donating their time and skill!

How do you decide who is going to play with who?

This part is really cool!  We’re literally going to draw names from a hat with a color-coded paper system.  A different color for each type of instrument the person represents is the plan, but we’re still working out the small details.  We’re definitely going to ensure that each group has an even balance of performers, so we don’t end up with 4 bassists in one group!

Are the musicians given any material to inspire them with their writing?

With the help of my friend Raven Cole, we have the Lee High Slam Poetry Team providing us with a pool of words, sentences, themes, poetry, and lyrics to draw from.  It’s up to the artists to use these in as creative a way as possible, even adding their own words on top or just taking small blurbs for choruses/hooks, etc.

What can we expect to see at this show?

I think you’ll get to see a unique kind of concert celebrating originality, improvisation, and creativity in songwriting.  The best part is that you don’t really know what is going to happen, but you know it’s going to be good given the amount of talent on stage.  Anyone coming to watch the show will have fun knowing that these musicians are all playing music that didn’t even exist until the same afternoon, and will most likely never be performed again.

How will the show benefit the Baton Rouge music scene?

I’ve always felt that if there was something the Baton Rouge music scene was lacking, it was a collaborative ecosystem.  I hope that our show will foster lasting relationships among the musicians involved and bring awareness to the projects that they are all involved in!  I also hope it inspires more people to try and organize outside of the box events like this in the future and lets people new to the scene here know Baton Rouge has a lot to offer.

What are you looking forward to the most from this event?

For me, it’s having the opportunity to write and perform with musicians that I admire and look up to!

Can we expect more events like this in the future?

I hope so!  There were so many musicians that wanted to be involved that couldn’t commit this time around and I would love to make a V2 of the show happen in the near future.

Are there any other details we should know?

I just want to give a shout out to Norbert Redmond, Brian Domingue, Liam Catchings, Lee White, and Ben Livingston for offering up their spaces for all of our groups to write and rehearse, to Aaron Scruggs from Spanish Moon for offering to host the show, to Justin Jefferson for agreeing to be the MC, to DIG for always taking a positive interest in the blossoming music scene here, and to all the fantastic musicians making this possible!

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