Glass Half Full: Songwriters in Paradise expands to Healdsburg | Lifestyles

ANNE WARD-ERNST

It’s a one-of-a-kind musical event that feels like a fabulous live band is performing a private concert in your backyard for 100 of your favorite people. Except Songwriters in Paradise takes it a step further and curates performances at wineries and includes premium wine and exquisite cuisine.

Songwriters in Paradise, or SIP, was founded a decade ago in the Bahamas and has expanded to Cabo San Lucas, Napa, and will be in Healdsburg for the first time July 18-23. I attended SIP Napa and was blown away by the talent. It was complemented by tasty food and luscious wine from the venues where SIP took place – Alpha Omega, Brasswood, Frank Family and Silver Oak.

It all started several years ago when SIP founder Patrick Davis, an accomplished Nashville-based singer-songwriter, was invited to perform at a resort in Hope Town, Bahamas. But he had a better idea. Why not bring some friends, other singer-songwriters, and form a “writer in the round,” Davis said.

The style of the event is based on the format of the Bluebird Café, a small, humble listening room and café renowned as a launch pad for talents such as Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and Faith Hill. These stars weren’t known when they were discovered, and the songwriters who perform at Bluebird may not be as well known as their songs, but listeners will know their music.

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SIP is “like Bluebird Café of the West,” Davis said, where three or four singer-songwriters sit on stage and take turns talking about the songs they’ve written and performing them, sometimes solo, others in groups. “It’s super exclusive. It’s super unique.

I experienced exactly what Davis said. SIP Napa’s first night was at Alpha Omega. We had a glorious downpour that evening and were kept warm and cozy in a tent. I went to Bluebird Cafe in Nashville which was amazing, but SIP was even better. The musicians were stellar, the atmosphere relaxed and I felt like I was at someone’s private party with a bunch of strangers. But people who were strangers to me seemed to know each other.

Now that SIP has been around for a while, Davis said there are a lot of regulars, some who go to all places. Sometimes it looks like a reunion for listeners and singers on stage. There are groups of people who have become friends through SIP, and they are planning vacations around the program. Davis, who acts as host, emcee and performer, calls people in the audience like they’re old friends. Because in some cases they are, he says.

The SIP’pers themselves find it difficult to sum up the event in a few words. It’s hard to describe, they say. The talent on stage is superb, and sip in wine country also means drinking superb wine. SIP Healdsburg will take listeners to Sonoma County wineries, Bella Vineyards, Comstock, Robert Young and La Crema, and star chef Dustin Valette will cook the food one of the nights, just to give you an idea of ​​the quality to expect. .

Stories are told by songwriters who set the scene and weave the story of the birth of their song. They interact with the audience seated quietly, captivated by the conversations between the artists. Boos and applause follow the songs, and there’s a lot of tapping, but conversations between the audience during a performance are a no-no, Davis said.

“We’re going to shut people up,” he said.

In April at Alpha Omega during SIP Napa, songwriter Tim Nichols joked with PGA golfer Jim Furyk who was seated near the stage about a golf match they played together before Nichols left. launches into a song he wrote about golf. For the uninitiated, Nichols is in the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame. That’s how talent is good at SIP.

Grammy-winning Nichols co-wrote the 2004 hit “Live Like You Were Dying” with Tim McGraw. Although Nichols isn’t on SIP Healdsburg’s lineup, there’s no shortage of top-notch musicians, including Davis, who has nearly 80 songs recorded by artists including Jimmy Buffet, Jewel and Guy Clark. Country group Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum) recorded a song by Chris Gelbuda. Gelbuda, who will be at SIP Healdsburg, is also a music producer with Meghan Trainor’s song “Just a Friend” and John Legend’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” under his belt. Kristian Bush, who will be in Healdsburg, was one half of country duo group Sugarland, which was nominated for the Grammy for Best New Artist.

Other performers expected at SIP Healdsburg include Ashley Campbell (daughter of superstar Glen Campbell), Marc Broussard, David Ryan Harris, Channing Wilson, Lauren Jenkins, James Otto, William Beckmann and Paul McDonald.

Although it does not advertise itself as a fundraiser and is not a non-profit organization, SIP loves to give back and encourages participants to do so as well. When SIP Napa ended in April, it had raised $100,000 which was donated to the Notes for Education Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga, and the St. Helena Fire Department.

Recipients of the Healdsburg event will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Healdsburg, the Humane Society and the Healdsburg Education Foundation.

“I look forward to making Songwriters In Paradise a can’t-miss annual event in Sonoma County. The people of Healdsburg have been nothing short of wonderful working with me to bring SIP to this amazing community,” Davis said.

More information and passes can be found at SongwritersInParadise.com.

Anne Ward Ernst is a longtime journalist and former editor of the Weekly Calistogan. Contact her at GlassHalfFullByAnne@gmail.com.

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