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The Road to AmericanaFest UK

As we head into February, The House looks ahead to a new year filled with more music and more opportunities for involvement and connection with our communities. Read on to recap our past three weeks fostering music collaboration and encouraging the development of new songs and compositions with 7 international musicians on the road from Bentonville, AR to London, UK.




The House of Songs hosted our first Songwriter Summit of 2020, bringing together musicians from Northwest Arkansas, Austin, Los Angeles, Canada, Denmark and Scotland to live, write and collaborate together in the Ozarks. Throughout the Summit, these 7 artists wrote 24 new songs together and with songwriters from Northwest Arkansas. The Summit artists performed a public show of their new collaborative works at Midtown Associates (Engel & Volkers NWA) in Downtown Springdale on Jan. 18th, and recorded 19 of these new, original songs at Crisp Recording in Fayetteville, visited both KUAF Radio and KNWA TV, and then continued their journey on to Folk Alliance International in New Orleans and AmericanaFest UK in London!

The Journey started with 7 international and national touring Artists coming in to Northwest Arkansas to write for one week. The first day saw local Songwriters Becky Adams and Candice Houston join in as our Guest Writers with this fantastic group. Watch our recap below:


The second day of the Summit followed the seven songwriters and local guest Artists, Adam Cox and Marty Shutter, as they wrote for two separate sessions starting at 10am and ending at 7pm which created 8 new works for the group. Watch our recap below:


The third day brought the Summit Artists to Fayetteville AR to appear on both 'Good Day NWA' and KUAF Radio with Timothy Dennis. The Songwriters explored the beautiful city, ate at the legendary Hugo's and then traveled back to The House of Songs in Bentonville AR to prepare for a private appearance at BlakeSt house. Listen to the first installment of their session at KUAF here.


The Forth day of the Summit had the seven songwriters and guests Samantha Hunt and Kalyn Fay continuing the writing process, creating another 8 new songs! The Songwriters then prepared their new works for the weeks to come and their public showcase at Engel & Volkers in Downtown Springdale. Listen to the second installment of their session at KUAF here.


The fifth day for the Songwriter Summit in NWA had the Artists and Guest Artists exploring Downtown Springdale at local hot spot, Taco Loco, and performing at Engel & Volkers to a sold out crowd of intent listeners and fans. Watch our recap of the day below:


At the end of the Summit the Songwriters went into record all of their new works created in the Ozarks in Fayetteville at Crisp Studios with Darren Crisp and Videographer Evan Alvarado who captured each performance. Watch our recap of the day below:


"My goal when I came to the house was to try to get something shareable for the co-writing sessions. Basically to avoid humiliation. I was so surprised to find myself writing songs that I love with people that I've never met. By the end of the writing sessions, I was entering the time with expectation and enthusiasm. It really opened my eyes to what we're capable of with songwriting and the possibilities that emerge with other people. One of the best learning experiences that I've had in music." - Aaron Smith (NWA)




Fresh on the heels of an inspiring week at our headquarters in Northwest Arkansas, our 7 Songwriter Summit artists headed to Folk Alliance International in one of America's great cultural cities: New Orleans. Along with thousands of talented and renowned international folk and indigenous artists, our group performed nightly at our official showcases; performing their new works written during their time in Bentonville, and playing alongside notable folk artists including Mary Gauthier, Tim Easton, and The Mastersons.

In addition to exploring Folk Alliance International's diverse programming and inspiring Keynotes from Mavis Staples and Ani DiFranco, we were humbled by a private tour of Preservation Hall and a performance by the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band. We closed out the four night conference with a The Texas Music Office collaboration highlighting Texas' diverse musical landscape with performances by Dannie Schmidt and Carrie Elkin, Los Texmaniacs and many more.

Official Folk Alliance International musicians Jaimee Harris and Mary Gauthier perform in The House of Songs showcase room on Friday evening of the conference. Folk Alliance International's unique programming allows for attendees to experience their favorite songwriters performing in intimate, personal spaces.

The House of Songs founder Troy Campbell made a rare public performance appearance during Folk Alliance. Troy is seen here collaborating in the Nordic Folk Room with harmonica player and fellow songwriter Gerald Torres.

Each day at Folk Alliance International, The House of Songs team met with visiting musicians, music non-profit organizations, municipal arts programs and dozens of potential future collaborations. Two musicians that entered into our residency giveaway will soon be selected and announced as winners of a week long residency program at any of three locations.

Our Songwriter Summit artists were privileged to experience one of New Orleans' most storied live music venues: Preservation Hall. With a personal tour and performance, our 7 international musicians were shown the rich history and cultural significance of this great American city and the rare opportunity to take in a performance amidst their hectic conference schedule.




The third and final leg of our Songwriter Summit journey took the group from New Orleans to London, England, for the AmericanaFest UK Conference and Festival. Upon arriving Director of Artist Management, Graham Weber, and Austin’s Jane Ellen Bryant attended the opening night tribute to The Clash, benefiting the late Joe Strummer’s Strumerville charity, which featured THOS Summit alums Judy Blank, Elles Bailey, and Jamie Freeman. It quickly turned into a THOS reunion where participants from summits and residencies from all of the Houses reconnected or met for the first time. Among the alumni were Robbie Cavanagh and Demi Marriner (September ‘18 Summit), Dylan Menzie (February ‘17 Summit), Dylan Earl, Judy Blank, Elles Bailey (September ‘19 Summit), Alex Ellis (NYC/ATX/NWA artist in resident ‘19), as well as Aaron Smith and Jane Ellen Bryant from this most recent summit. True to the core of THOS’ intention, worlds collided and new friendships were made.

The second night featured an official showcase by Demi Marriner and Robbie Cavanagh, where they performed “Distorted Desire”, which was written with Bonnie Whitmore at the September 2018 Summit in Bentonville. The next night was The House Of Songs official showcase. The entire night at the Night Tales stage was curated and composed of the current Summit artists and alumni of THOS. The night kicked off with this year’s Summit artists showcasing the work that they had written a week before in Arkansas, Fayetteville’s Dylan Earl, Judy Blank, Danni Nicholls (UK Song of the Year Nominee / 2017 Summit), and Alex Ellis’ six piece band Our Man In The Field. Judy performed a song with Aaron Smith that she’d written while in NWA, as well as her duet with Dylan Earl,”Never Said A Word” which they recorded in The Netherlands a few days later (w/Chatham County Line). Earl and Blank were also joined by Weber for Earl’s co-write with Jonathan Terrell “Choices and Decisions” from last year’s Summit. Weber was joined by Oscar Mukherjee and Jane Ellen Bryant to close the Summit review with, “Norah”, a song he wrote as part of a THOS collaboration in Luleå Sweden in 2016. The venue was packed the entire evening, and we couldn’t be more proud of the artists who have been (and continue to be) part of our THOS family.

The following day Weber spoke on a panel with Ben Levitt (Mumford and Sons) and Danny Keil (Sound Diplomacy) about grassroots venues and the growth and importance and impact of live music in cites. That night was the AMA UK awards show at the historic Troxy Theatre. The night honored Nick Lowe, and featured Billy Bragg, The Milk Carton Kids, The Felice Brothers, as well as performances by UK Song of The Year Award Nominees (THOS Alums) Danni Nicholls, Jamie Freeman, and winner Elles Bailey for a song that she wrote with Dan Aurbach of The Black Keys.

On the next and final night of the journey took the Summit artists to The Betsey Trotwood, the listening room and heartbeat of the songwriter community in London. The night was co-currated by Gabriel Moreno, who heads up The Lantern Society, a London songwriting collective. We found kindred spirits with these wonderful artists including Moreno, Fiona Bevin, Izzy Yardley, Adam Bettie, and Our Man In The Field. The admiration among all the artists involved was overflowing, and after two full sets to an over capacity room, everyone collaborated for an impromptu third set. The evening closed with a Moreno led sing-a-long of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long Marianne”. More new friendships were made, more songs were sung, and there will surely be more to come in the future. It was a fitting end to a wonderful journey.

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