Mike Madriaga 11:30 a.m., Aug. 19
Reverend Stickman Wins Songwriting Competition
Reverend Stickman was named the winner by a panel of four judges at the San Diego Songwriters Guild Performing Songwriter Competition hosted by Guild president Sandi Shaner Gugliatti and held May 14 at Humphrey’s Backstage Music Club on Shelter Island.
The audience was treated to styles ranging from Chelsea Flor’s acoustic folk blended with Native American influences to 2nd place winner Christian Rush Williams’ modern rock band Two To Connect.
3rd Place went to Candice Graham, who has recording credits with Ziggy Marley and Shawn Colvin, after she fired up the crowd with her rockin’ R&B style. Due to a schedule conflict, Eddie Jason Coven and his band were forced to play without their drummer, but they showed how professionals perform by stepping up to the challenge and playing a great set.
Other songwriters who performed included Celia St. Croix, Duke Ventra, Joan Kurland, Maynard Evans, and Miff Laracy.
Accompanied by his long-time back-up singer and hand percussionist Jenene “Neener” Lambert as well as Billy Wear on cajon (a hand drum instrument that appears to be just a box one sits on, hence the name), his trademark battered Taylor guitar in hand, Stickman started the show with “Let’s Do Wrong”, a rollicking number that had the crowd singing along, and ended with the song that eventually won the competition; “Drinking About Tomorrow”, a jazzy bluesy kinda thang that sounds like it’s already a standard but with that Reverend Stickman musical twist that seems to be in every song he writes.
After the winners were announced, Reverend Stickman’s trio retook the stage and played another short set which immediately brought dancers back to the floor, laying down the songs “Think Again”, “Not Today”, “40 Dollars” and finally “Time Machine” from the new CD release Reverend Stickman - Half Alive.
Prizes for the winner included a Dean acoustic/electric guitar valued at $379.00, a full day recording session at Signature Sound, photoshoot by Steve Covault Photography, CD cover design and logo by Beach City Graphics, and a trophy, as well as airplay on KPRI 102.1 FM San Diego and free membership to the San Diego Songwriters Guild. 2nd place received a trophy and photoshoot from Klicker Photography, and 3rd place received a trophy.
Judging the competition were James Steele of http://www.motunation.com fame, Diane Waters (the 2010 winner), Kevin Thomas (formerly with the School of Rock), and Anthony Plourd from the band JD Romance.
“I play alternative folk rock, with a twist of the blues,” Stickman tells the Reader. “The music is a guitar-driven and an unconventional fusion of Americana and alternative. Most of my songs are stories from some place or time in my life. I’ve never been much for writing love songs. Not with two ex-wives.”
“When my second ex-wife split and left me with a considerable debt...that was tough, paying for someone else’s mistakes, but in the eyes of the law I was responsible. Things financially are much better now, and maybe I’m a little wiser, too.”
Not that he has anything against the institution of marriage, as evidenced by his side occupation. “I’m an actual reverend, with the credentials to perform marriage ceremonies and legal unions. What’s more, everyone I’ve joined together in marriage is still together. I’d love to be a part of more happy weddings. That’s even more rewarding than happy gigs, at least spiritually.”
Stickman writes, records, and performs on various original projects with January Avalanche, Cathryn Beeks, Sandi Shaner, Eddie Jason Coven, B Violin, Happy Ron Hill, and others. In 2009, his song “Nearly Beloved” was a finalist in the San Diego Songwriter’s Guild song contest.
His 2010 album Half Alive: Stories From Under the Black Hat features his Electric Stickband as well as Collage Menage collaborator Jenene Lambert (vocals), Michael “Mrod” Rodriguez (drums), Christopher “Halestorm” Hale (fretless bass), Bahman Sarram aka Bviolin (violin), Bob Bartosik (saxophone), and the Reverend covering 6- and 12-string acoustic and electric guitars, slide guitar, and vocals.
Half Alive: Stories From Under the Black Hat ties into a stage show called The Reverending Story, a collection of songs, videos, skits, and other surprises designed to explain the strange workings in the past lives of Reverend Stickman.
“The idea behind the production came from the fact that my songs are generally stories from some place or time in my life. I’ve never been much for writing love songs, but I do have some wild tales to tell during the show.”
The multimedia production includes film footage, spoken-word skits, dancing (“of a sort”), and several guest performers, including a choir.
As for the accompanying nine-song CD, Half Alive: Stories from Under the Black Hat, “We actually cut 13 songs in a six-hour studio session,” says the folk-blues rocker. “The concept behind the recording was to lay down the basic tracks — bass, drums, and guitar — live in the studio and then add vocals and solos via multitracking. ‘Half Alive’ stems from the fact that it was recorded that way.”
Produced by Sven-Erik Seaholm at Kitch ’n Sync Studios and mastered by Paul Abbott at Zen Mastering, the CD features a full band, with Stickman covering 6- and 12-string acoustic and electric guitars, slide guitar, and lead and backing vocals.
So, how did the Reverend attain his ministerial credentials? It all started with two friends who wanted him to officiate their marriage. “After quite a bit of preparation — i.e., writing a money order — and profound thought — i.e., drinking — I became a mail-order reverend. I can marry, baptize, and perform legal unions, but I do not preach, and I’m not affiliated with any single religious belief. All faiths and denominations are honored, even if not always understood.
“Spirituality is something we can all feel.... Religion divides us from each other.”
See http://www.reverendstickman.com for calendar updates, free downloads, videos, and photos.