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.


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


We meet 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.

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 bring recordings of their songs, either on a mobile device, or CD (sorry, no cassette tapes), and enough lyric sheets to go around (usually around 25-30 of us attend).  There is a short setup, then the recording is played (or the song is performed live), and then members comment, and write other comments on the lyric sheets.  On any given night, we lovingly go thorugh about 8-12 songs.

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.


Mike DeGiorgi is a Washington DC native who moved to Smith Mountain Lake 10 years ago with his wife, Kay and dog, Scooter. Mike has been a social worker, probation officer, Fortune 500 consultant and training specialist, and is currently a lake area realtor. Mike’s been writing songs since the 1960s and performs around Southwest Va with his band, The Panini Brothers. Mikes songs, “No Dancin at the Dudley”, “Ladies with Casseroles” and “Chick Flick Blues” always make people laugh, while “Midnight on Windy Gap” (about a soldier coming home to Franklin County) and “One Last Chance to Chase a Squirrel” (about his yellow lab, Scooter) require some Kleenex to get through! Mike took on the role of President in 2019 after missing the November 2018 meeting when we held the elections. Lesson learned.
ASHLEY LUCASVice President
Ashley is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter from Roanoke, VA. Her style is mainly pop and folk, with an alt-country thing creeping in every once and a while. Her musical influences range from Dolly Parton to the White Stripes to Bob Dylan to the Avett Brothers to Sam Cooke to Weezer. She is an active member of the Southwest Virginia Songwriters Association, currently sitting on the board of directors. She has been a songwriter for 18 years, and recently received an Honorable Mention award in the 2015 International SongDoor Songwriting Competition for her song “Love On(the)Line”.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, Mike has made his way back home to the Blue Ridge Mountains by way of Wisconsin, Illinois, the San Francisco Bay Area, and South Carolina. President since 2015, Mike is an award-winning singer-songwriter specializing in acoustic folk-blues Americana, with influences that include Chris Smither, Keb’ Mo’, John Prine, Steve Earle, and Jackson Browne. He has one CD to his name, and is working on another. You can find him performing at local venues in the Roanoke, VA area. Mike also teaches Aikido and loves to hike.
DAVID SIMPKINSSecretary and Newsletter 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.

Larry is a long-time SVSA member and doesn’t tend to waste his time with things like member profiles.
Dennis and his wife, Evelyn, are somewhat newer members of the SVSA family, but among the most enthusiastic. Dennis’ instrument of choice is the ukelele.
Bill Stanton began writing songs worthy of playing for audiences or recording in 1970. Bill fell in love with Bob Dylan and The Byrds in the mid-sixties. He was actually hanging out at The Café Wha? in The Village as far back as 1962 when he started learning folk songs and how to pick a guitar. These days Bill is once again going one on one with audiences with his trusty Alvarez 12-string and a repertoire of traditional folk tunes, cover tunes from “Pink Floyd” and “The Eagles” and original songs.
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.
Mollye Otis is a pianist and singer, and clams to be a songwriter in training! Mollye has worked primarily in musical theatre, as a freelancer in New York, before beginning her teaching career in professional musical theatre training programs in several universities, including Penn State and University of Miami. She completed that chapter at East Carolina University to begin a new life in Roanoke in 2017. Happily delving into the musical scene here, Mollye connected first with SVSA and says she’s “learned so much already.” She is also co-Vice President with the Roanoke Valley Music Teachers Association, a fine group of professional colleagues, a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing, and a volunteer with 3rd St. Coffeehouse. Recently, Mollye took the post as Music Director of Unity of Roanoke Valley, a richly diverse and enlivening musical opportunity. Life is full of creative possibilities!

Interested? Plug In!


Contact Us