All Over The Place: The Saturday Afternoon Song Swap

Your chance to hear local songwriters in action takes place Saturday afternoon at Rockn' Joe in Millburn.

A lot of people don’t realize what goes into the art of songwriting. Sure, we all enjoy the end product, but what would it be like to be there as the song was being created? That’s what the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap is all about.

The Song Swap was started a few years ago by two local songwriters, Millburn’s Deena Shoshkes and Springfield’s Rebecca Turner.

The Swap exists in two forms: as a thrice-yearly show and as a podcast. There has been one episode of the podcast produced so far, with another episode coming out soon.

“When we started, we were doing it every month. It takes a lot of effort and energy to put it together. We want to work on our own songs so we went from monthly to seasonal,” said Shoshkes.

“It started as a place where songwriters could get together and play their songs for each other and their friends. A lot of the songwriters who were coming to the swap started releasing CDs, so that’s when the podcast started. There was so much great recorded music. We were just part of the whole process, seeing the songs in development,” added Shoshkes.

Among the artists who have appeared in previous Swaps are Kate Jacobs, Glenn Mercer and Dave Weckerman of The Feelies, Chris Butler of The Waitresses and John and Toni Baumgartner of Speed The Plough.

The Swap focuses on solo acts. “That’s basically what songwriting is, the person and the song. What we do is have three people in our stage area at a time. They each play three songs. One person plays a song and the next person plays a song and so on. You never get tired of anybody. Sometimes the song is a work in progress,” said Shoshkes.

Performers for the Swap are found through networking. “We’re connected to all these people. There’s a wonderful community of songwriters in New Jersey. We all just kept reaching out further and further. Songwriting can be really lonely. You can go out and play shows, but the best audience is other songwriters. We really created an audience for each other,” said Shoshkes.

Shoshkes is still an active songwriter. She was in the indiepop band The Cucumbers for a number of years with her husband, Jon Fried. She is working on an album with her current band, Deena & The Laughing Boys. Their second album will be released next year.

All of the shows are streamed live with the help of Turner’s husband, Scott Anthony.

The Swap has its own YouTube channel that features clips from the shows along with other songs by the artists involved.

The latest edition of the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap takes place at Rockn' Joe at 63 Main Street in Millburn on Saturday, November 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Bob Cannon, David Cogswell, Malcolm Marsden, Sue Remus, Kavi Daniel Patak and Laree Cisco will be playing. Money and non-perishable food will be collected for the Community FoodBank of NJ’s Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

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