RIVER CLUB — Rob Gorley plays a little keyboard, but he admits his instrumental abilities have limits.
Fortunately, he’s enjoyed much more success in his burgeoning lyric-writing career.
The fifth-grade teacher at Braden River Elementary School is working to establish himself as a sought-after songwriter in the country music business. Already, Gorley has written or co-written more than 30 songs, and he and business partner Tom Kubik have formed Upsidedown Puppy Productions, a venture that presents local talent in singer/songwriter showcases, among other services.
But Gorley now has taken his ambitions one step further, luring the Nashville Songbirds from their roost in Tennessee and into the East County to perform and host a one-day songwriting workshop this weekend.
“This is their first venture outside of Nashville as a group,” Gorley said (see related sidebar). “It’s a really huge deal.”
Individual songwriters Bridgette Tatum, Kirsti Manna, Lorna Flowers and Julie Forester collectively are known as the Nashville Songbirds. The women sing together “in the round,” taking turns performing their original pieces. They will be giving two public concerts while in the area — one March 18 at Lov a-Da Coffee and a second March 19 at Honda Cars of Bradenton. The songwriting workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 21, at Woodland, the Community Church, in the East County.
“It’s a lot of fun to hang out with people who are really good at their crafts,” Gorley said. “I can’t wait for their first show.”
Gorley’s musical career birthed about three years ago when a song began to play in his mind. Unsure of what to do, he solicited the help of musician and friend Dave Wise.
“I said (to him), ‘I have these songs in my head,’” Gorley said. “I could sing what I was thinking, and he’d put the melody on the guitar. That’s how I wrote my first song.
“Once I started writing (songs) down, the ideas just started flowing,” he said.
Gorley immediately got involved with the National Songwriters Association International at the advice of his cousin, hit-songwriter Ashley Gorley, who has penned favorites such as “All American Girl” by Carrie Underwood and “Then” by Brad Paisley.
Through a friend in Nashville, Gorley was introduced last summer to Songbirds member Lorna Flowers. The two exchanged business cards, and soon began discussions about the Songbirds conducting a songwriting workshop in the area.
The Songbirds will provide insight and instruction on the ins-and-outs of the music and entertainment business — everything from how to write songs to how to make a good demo of their music. The women even will evaluate the songs of participants. Private mentoring sessions also will be available.
“It’s a great networking opportunity,” Gorley said. “In Nashville, there are thousands of talented writers and singers whose songs never see the light of day. Also, I think there’s so many talented songwriters in the Tampa Bay area.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
NASHVILLE SONGBIRDS CONCERT SCHEDULE
7-9 p.m., March 18 at Lov a-Da Coffee, 2127 Cortez Road, Bradenton
7-9 p.m., March 19 at Honda Cars of Bradenton, 5515 14th St. W., Bradenton. Cost is $10 or $15 per ticket.
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 20
WHERE: Woodland Community Church, 9607 S.R. 70 E., Bradenton
WHAT: Workshop topics include music publishing essentials, successful networking techniques, song critiques and more. Private mentoring sessions available by appointment.
INFO: (615) 323-2915 or [email protected]
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The Nashville Songbirds journey to the East County this weekend will be the group’s first joint venture out of the heart of country music.
“We’re excited,” Songbirds member Lorna Flowers said. “It’s crazy to be coming to Florida to do this. It’s actually the first time we’ve played (together) outside Tennessee.”
The women are scheduled to go to Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis later this year.
Flowers said she and the other Songbirds are excited about performing locally, particularly at the car dealership, which is “the wackiest place any of us have played so far,” and for the workshop, which already is attracting teenagers and adults alike.
The session is for songwriters of all skill levels and styles.
“We’re hoping we’re going to get lots of people to come out to join us,” Flowers said.