Gather 'round for the Pensacola Songwriter Rounds
The Pensacola Songwriter Rounds series is a monthly show that showcases the original music of five local musicians and songwriters. Hosted at The Handlebar in downtown Pensacola, the Rounds provides an intimate space for songwriters to be heard.
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“Something I noticed last year was how many original musicians there are locally,” said Rounds organizer Katie Dineen. “There’s so many songwriters, but there’s not really a listening room to express themselves.”
Similar to open mic events, but different from bar or café settings, attendees of the Pensacola Songwriter Rounds are actively seeking out original music. Regarded as a “listening room,” the primary focus of this environment is the music being played.
“There are very few atmospheres that are listening rooms, and I keep emphasizing listening rooms just because it’s a special thing to get together with other people in a conscious way,” Dineen said. “Being in a room where people want to listen is sweet.”
On stage together, the songwriters perform one by one, sharing original songs with the audience. February’s Songwriter Rounds showcased music from Katie Dineen, Jonathan Puzan, Garret Howell, Jeffrey Smith, and Lillie-Kate Minor.
“I think [the Songwriter Rounds] is mutually inspiring. The Dalai Lama talks about how everyone is selfish, but if you want to harness that selfishness for the good of more people, then that’s a good way to express selfishness. For me, I just want to hear these songwriters, I want to selfishly listen to Lillie-Kate and Jeffrey and everybody else.”Katie Dineen
“I think the biggest thing is we get to play the songs of our souls, and people relate to that, see that, feel that. There’s nothing more important to me in playing my original music than touching someone’s heart.”Jonathan Puzan
“There’s really no substitute for this type of thing, especially for people who are trying to get their music to an audience. If you don’t have a platform to show people your music, then how is anybody ever going to hear it?”Garret Howell
“It’s a really important part of a music scene to have an outlet for your normal songwriters that don’t necessarily want to show up to a beach bar and play four hours of covers. Tonight is a place where original music can be played and appreciated.”Jeffrey Smith
“The listening room space really is a unique thing, you can’t find that everywhere. When you get it in other places, it feels really special, so the idea that you can really count on that there, that the people that are there came because they want to give ear, is a really special thing.”Lillie-Kate Minor
Unlike live music in a bar or cafe, those performing at the Songwriter Rounds do not have to compete for the attention of audience members by playing cover songs or unoriginal music. The Rounds encourages authentic, genuine, and original expression through songwriting.
“I was reflecting this morning on how if you build a habitat, creatures will come to it,” Dineen said. “Building a community around music, around original music, I hope that it will draw more of that in. My hope for the future of this series, and the future for Pensacola, is that it becomes an artistic hub. I’d like for it to continue to go on and be a space for songwriters to express themselves.”
The next event in the Pensacola Songwriter Rounds series will be held on March 19 at the Handlebar. The lineup includes Starlin Browning, Forrest Philpot, Tori Vinson, Jake Rabalais, and Katie Dineen.
For more information about the Pensacola Songwriter Rounds, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages.