Chris Shaw is the frontman for Topher James and the Biscuit Brigade, the violinist for Fables and half of the Shaw Brothers duo. He also runs the Columbus Songwriting Workshop, a bi-annual, day-long workshop for songwriters of all skill levels, featuring locally and nationally-known songwriters.
Chris shared his inspiration for founding and running the workshop.
After going to workshops like Song School in Lyons, Colorado, and Folk Alliance conferences around the country, my brother Andy and I were inspired. Our dad Jim is a composer and educator, and with his help we started our own workshop; one that was not about writing a hit song, but about finding one’s voice.
People say that it only takes one person being positively affected to consider something a success. I can honestly say that this is not a lie. For example, there is past workshop attendee (and now friend) Joey Viola. Viola, who performs as Joey the Songwriter, came to the workshop expecting to learn a couple tidbits, but he left with a ton of new inspiration. The workshop, and his obvious drive, led him to start making weekly music videos, and to record a 13-song record, while cultivating an online fanbase. He personally reached out and thanked the workshop instructors for their inspiration.
When I'm playing my music, I always think that when one person approaches me and says something nice there are at least a few others that feel the same. Maybe believing that is what keeps me going in a sometimes thankless job. In the case of teaching the workshop, I believe the same thing. Our goal is to have a place where people can feel good about what they're doing, and maybe have a conversation that pushes them over the edge to write that next song. That is where the real value of these workshops is for me; in the community of like-minded artists which forms organically once you get them together.
The next workshop will be held on Oct. 28 at the Jazz Academy in the Lincoln Theater, located at 769 E. Long St. Instructors will include Nick D’Andrea and Jon Elliott of Doc Robinson, T.Wong, Billy Zenn and the Shaw Brothers. Attendance for those 17 and under is $35 and $45 for those 18 and up. Visit www.columbussongwritingworkshop/pre-register to sign up.