A Bit About Our Club

We have among us people who have been performing professionally and semi-professionally for many years, people who have never been in front of an audience, and every variation in between.  Some of our members have many albums to their name, and some have never set foot in a studio. 

Some of our members have sold songs to famous artists.  Some play multiple instruments, and some don’t.  We have singers and non-singers.  Some of us focus on melody and harmony, and some on lyrics.  Our group includes younger folks, and more “experienced” folks. Our musical styles and influences include folk, Americana, blues, rock, jazz, zydeco, pop, country, bluegrass.

OUR MISSION

The SVSA exists to support each member in their efforts to be better songwriters, so that they can write better songs, which is good for everyone.

Pyramid: Songwriters --> Words & Music --> Songs --> World

OUR METHOD

Covid-19 has affected our group, just as it’s affected everyone on the planet. For a time, we met via Zoom sessions. But we are once again meeting in person every 4th Wednesday of the month, starting at 7:00 PM, in the L.L. Rice room of the Jefferson Center, in Roanoke.  The meeting starts at 7:30.

If you are a member, you will get notification of this meeting via our Google group.  If you are interested in visiting us, tell an SVSA member or hit the “Contact Us” button on this site, and we’ll send you an invitation.

The meeting generally starts with a brief summary of club business, then sometimes some sort of short workshop or presentation, and then we get down to the business of critique-ing songs. Members submit recordings of their songs, including lyric sheets.  There is a short setup, then the recording is played (or sometimes the song is performed live), and then members comment, and write other comments on the lyric sheets.

Members are coached to be honest, thoughtful, gentle and supportive, and you are virtually guaranteed that your song will come out better on the other end, if you’re open to the idea.

OUR LEADERS

CHARLIE DIVERS
CHARLIE DIVERSPresident
Charlie has been with the SVSA longer than almost anyone else. He’s been a consistent contributor to songwriting feedback sessions — both giving and receiving. Charlie writes mostly in a marketable, country style.
MIKE FRANKĒ
MIKE FRANKĒVice President, Webmaster
Mike has been playing and writing songs since he first bought a guitar back in college. He performs regularly in the Roanoke area at breweries and wineries and is a regular presence at the Third Street Coffeehouse. Mike calls his style “Blues-Infused Americana.”
MOLLYE OTIS
MOLLYE OTISSecretary
Mollye Otis is a pianist and singer whose work has been primarily in musical theatre. After learning the ropes as a New York freelancer, she pursued a career in professional musical theatre training as a Musical Director, Voice Instructor and Performance Coach, most notably at Penn State and The University of Miami. She retired from East Carolina University in 2017 to begin a new life in Roanoke. Happily delving into the musical scene here, Mollye connected with SVSA and began her lifelong desire to develop songwriting skills. Her first recording of four songs was released in 2023 and she is continuing collaborations on writing a musical and producing a cabaret of her works.

“SVSA has provided a welcoming and enriching environment for exploring songwriting skills and growing greater confidence as a writer.”

CELIE HOLMES
CELIE HOLMESTreasurer
Celie Holmes is a vocalist, performing solo and with the Sway Katz Big Band. She’s also a vocal coach, multi-instrumentalist and director of two a-cappella choruses: the barbershop SML Harmeneers, and Roanoke’s all-female Star City Sounds. Celie joined SVSA in 2016 and loves the supportive nature of the SVSA’s song feedback sessions. Her poignant ballad “Sorry Now” was a finalist in the Richard Leigh Song Contest in 2019, and she encourages other songwriters to join SVSA for the camaraderie and great resources available to its members.
DAVID SIMPKINS
DAVID SIMPKINSNewsletter Editor
Radford, Virginia-based performing songwriter David Simpkins has been actively entertaining audiences for over 35 years — starting with 22 years in cover bands.

Since 2000, David has been focusing on writing and performing his own Americana-style songs. He was a finalist in the Appalachian Fair “Best Unknown Country Songwriter” contest in 2000 and was the winner of the Floydfest Showcase Stage “Best Song” in 2002.

David plays regular solo acoustic gigs, and has performed at numerous songwriters-in-the-round events, festivals, benefits, celebrations, songwriters’ nights, and open mics.

His music has been played locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally on a number of commercial, public, and internet radio stations.

BOB SCHMUCKER
BOB SCHMUCKERBoard Member, Third Street Coffeehouse Liason
Bob Schmucker grew up in Joliet IL, forsaking the hard rock favored by his buddies for the folkies playing in the coffeehouses and bars of Old Town Chicago. When he left college, music took a back seat to family and career goals and he sold two valuable guitars to make a down payment on his first house (“That was a really dumb move.”). 40 years later, he is back writing and playing songs, involved with SVSA and 3rd Street Coffeehouse as board member / volunteer and participates regularly in open mics around the area.
LARRY HELMS
LARRY HELMSBoard Member
Larry is a long-time SVSA member and doesn’t tend to waste his time with things like member profiles.
DAN HILDEBRAND
DAN HILDEBRANDBoard Member
Singer/ Songwriter Dan Hildebrand is a man of many interests. A performing musician with more than a few stories to tell, he has been a treasure hunter, shipwreck diver, rustic mountain man, fine wine aficionado, movie maker, recording artist and a well traveled troubadour in the pubs and music scene across the USA and beyond. Dan was raised on the shores of Lake Michigan in the small shipbuilding town of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Nowadays he hangs his hat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Dan’s songwriting style runs the gambit with thought-provoking lyrics of tales steeped in history, stories of the road and a bit of factual-fiction with a sprinkling of humor. Dan has also been known to raise a glass in Toast with a traditional Irish Pub tune from his days in the popular duo “Hardbean & McHonzik” A TOAST!

GREG TRAFIDLO
GREG TRAFIDLOBoard Member
Greg is one of the SVSA’s original members, and continues to share his experience, wisdom, and humor. His bio includes a who’s-who list of folk and bluegrass royalty, and he has many CDs to his name, both as a solo artist and with his long-standing group, Trifolkal.

For a more in-depth breakdown of Greg’s travels, see his “Bio” page: https://gregtrafidlo.com/bio

Interested? Plug In!

WE’VE ALL GOT A SONG INSIDE US. WE’D LIKE TO HEAR YOURS.

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