Sweet Songwriter Society at Sherwood

3 minutes read
Posted 26 March, 2024
Sherwood poster copy

Songwriter Society is a monthly open mic night for writers of original songs and poetry – all are welcome. The event is held at the Sherwood and run by local musicians Clair Forrester and Paul Marcham, aka Choice. The next one is this Thursday, then Thursday, 25 April.

It’s been running for seven years and provides a platform for local musicians and artists to showcase their talents and connect with other artist. The open mic nights are a great opportunity to offer a supportive atmosphere for original artists to gain exposure and confidence. Performers in the area have emphasised the importance of events like this to foster a sense of community and help them to develop their skills.

“It’s been going now for I think seven years. We didn’t start it, a friend of ours started it, Paul Shipman,” Forrester says. “He’s been here for a long time, but he’s kind of been back and forth, so he decided to keep travelling and he really wanted to keep it running. He asked us to take it over because we were regulars going to it that year, and we took it all on.”

“Nobody wanted it to stop because it was the only venue in town that was hosting an original music night,” adds Marcham.

The pair say that it’s different to other open mic nights, which may attract a bit of chatter in the background or people singing along. It offers more of a listening crowd in the beautiful workshop space. People who attend regularly love showing their new material to familiar faces and others in the crowd who are there to listen.

“It’s a good platform to practice and air out their material and see what the reaction is, I suppose. We’ve become quite a wee family actually. There’s a core group of people who come as often as they can and they’re all into different things. There are quite a few poets that come regularly storytellers and musicians as well – it’s just a nice meeting,” Forrester says.

Each night allows time for 10-12 performers, with people choosing roughly when in the line up they’d like to perform. On a quiet night there’ll be about 40 people in the audience, and during ski season they see crowds of up to 80. There’s bean bags and comfy seats for people to nestle into as they enjoy the sweet sounds.

They mostly see solo artists or pairs, describing the night as similar to an MTV Unplugged type of vibe. New faces are present most months and some travel across from Wānaka. It’s become an established night with many in musical and poetry circles wanting to stop by when they’ve heard of it through the grapevine. It’s also a great place for musicians to meet other local artists for a jam or possibly to form a new band.

“There are so many musos in town with so much talent who play in wedding bands or do covers on open mic nights. They have a monthly meeting where we can just go and play our own stuff to a nice audience, and people know they can come and hear some originals. It’s a very special thing that’s really respected by the local songwriters,” Marcham says.

The Songwriter Society runs on the last Thursday of every month with the next edition this Thursday, 28 March, from 8pm. It’s held in the workshop space of Sherwood and all are welcome – performers get a free drink. More info and dates are at sherwoodqueenstown.nz/events


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