Michael Deeds: Nonprofit status gives songwriters group new direction

Idaho StatesmanApril 6, 2014 


The Pat Metheny Unity Group — that’s Metheny on the right — will perform July 22 in Eagle. Ticket prices weren’t available at press time.


Not profiting from songwriting is a touchy subject among musicians, but the Idaho Songwriters Association suddenly couldn't feel richer about the nonprofit concept.

The association has been approved as a 501 (c) (3) charity. It's the latest step in the growth of the group, which began modestly in 2011 as a monthly live-music gathering among Treasure Valley friends.

Nonprofit status is huge. Why? Because applying for grants becomes an option. Organizations that support charities will put the association on their radars. Donations are tax-deductible.

Energized by volunteers, fellow songwriters and fans, the Idaho Songwriters Association has become an entity with statewide aspirations.

"It's as big as our imagination can take us," founder Steve Eaton says. "The vision is, we'd like to have scholarships helping people go to school and broaden their horizons as songwriters - or getting a music degree. Maybe getting other (songwriting) chapters in other towns in Idaho. Having conventions. Kind of just bringing the conversation about Idaho songwriters up."

The association, which hosts a songwriting forum on the last Tuesday of every month at the Riverside Hotel's Sapphire Room, already has opened doors locally. Eaton says that venues are inviting songwriters into a fold dominated by more traditionally popular bands.

"They want to bring a singer-songwriter in to sing their songs," he says. "They're starting to see the value of that again."

The songwriters association is working with The Village at Meridian to launch a series of Friday concerts starting in June.

Held in the courtyard, the shows will be free - similar to Alive After Five - and highlight Idaho songwriters, as well as some local and touring groups.

The songwriters association will celebrate its new nonprofit status with a special concert from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, at The Village.

Idaho songwriters will be featured and backed by a band.

"We wanted to do something bigger than what we could do at the Sapphire Room, so it made sense to do it at The Village," she says.

The celebration will be a good test run for The Village's coming summer and fall series: "Songwriters in the Village" (June), "Rock the Village" (July/August) and "Fridays by the Fire" (September/October).

In the meantime, the Idaho Songwriters Association is seeking new members and donations - and spreading the charitable word.

"I'm still trying to figure out all the advantages of this," Eaton admits. "But I'll do whatever it takes to help somebody else. There's so many (songwriters) out there who have never had an opportunity before."

Online: IdahoSongwriters.com.


This week's Idaho Statesman article about the Meridian School District's decision to keep a young-adult book out of the high school curriculum was popular, to say the least.

It generated thousands of page views and tons of online reader reaction. (You HAVE to watch the accompanying video from the public hearing.)

Even the book's author, Sherman Alexie, managed to comment - on Twitter, although it was brief: "My book banned in a Boise, ID, high school," he tweeted, along with a link to the Statesman article. (In a second tweet, Alexie reflected that it actually was Meridian. Boise thanks you, sir.)

I requested a five-minute phone interview with Alexie; I've spoken to him before. I was informed that "Sherman has closed his calendar to requests at this time" and thanked for understanding.

With all due respect: Booooooooo! If Alexie has time to tweet twice about it - and incorrectly call it a ban both times (technically it was just a drop-kick off the 10th-grade supplemental reading list) - he could spare a minute to share his thoughts. Alexie is an extremely smart, funny guy.

If you've read "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," you already know that. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that many of the Idahoans who protested the insightful, award-winning novel haven't actually read it. (Not big on words and stuff? Go for the audiobook, folks! Alexie is a gifted narrator. He even won the Taos Poetry Circus World Heavyweight Championship three straight years.)

My kids undoubtedly will devour "Part-Time Indian" by the time they hit their teens, yet something tells me they won't wind up in the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Or in Hell proper. Unless they want to visit their father someday, right?

All I can say is thanks, Mom, for being a teacher and exposing me to an uncensored literary world.

Oh, and thanks, Judy Blume. You taught me everything I know about women.


• If you missed my April 4 Scene column, you need to be brought up to speed on outdoor concerts.

The latest news: Classic-rock act Boston will perform Sept. 3 at the Idaho Center's Ford Amphitheater, and Pat Metheny/Bruce Hornsby will co-headline a July 22 show as part of a new "Music in the Park" series at Eagle's Reid W. Merrill Sr. Community Park.

Ticket details aren't available yet, except that organizers plan to make only 2,000 available.


Join Tim Johnstone and me as we talk about summer concerts, plus play new music from The Fray, Typhoon, Steel Panther and more. "The Other Studio" airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.


• The return of "Wicked" to the Morrison Center.

• A restaurant review of Twigs Bistro at The Village at Meridian.

Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and every other Sunday in Life. He appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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