House Concerts

Blog written by Joanie Crombie

Photo of WCS Member David Luning

About House Concerts….

I happen to live in the best neighborhood on the planet.  No kidding, it’s uncanny.  We celebrate together, keep each other sane, go insane together, you name it, we’ve been through it…together.  Some of the most fun times we have is when we get together to host House Concerts.

 Thinking back on it, House Concerts were an important first step in creating our neighborhood community-affectionately referred to as The WayWard Ones since we live on a “Way” as opposed to a Street or Avenue.  House Concerts were one of the first times we all stepped into each other’s homes and hung out and got to know each other.

 We all take turns to hold them in our living rooms or yards, depending on the season.  We all invite our off the “Way” friends for great camaraderie. Everyone brings something savory or sweet to share with the crowd and perhaps a bottle or so of their favorite libation.   Nothing I like better than getting together with friends, old and new, and sharing an evening of music and merriment AND turning them on to songwriters and musicians they’ve never heard of and might never have seen. 

 We all feel so lucky get to share the magic of the talented musicians that come to us, to our little street.  Most of us would never had gotten to hear them and become friends and fans.  And, sharing  special, intimate evenings like these creates a great foundation for friendships; we have shared stories and tall tales…

Speaking of tall tales from house concerts….I’ve got a few…I’ll save those for next time, too….

PS  It’s really easy to host a house concert on YOUR street….more about that to come….

    What do Producers Do?

    What A Producer Does & Why You Should Consider Using One
    Written by: Cliff Goldmacher (www.EducatedSongwriter.com)
     
    Working as a producer for the last ten years, I’ve recorded with all kinds of artists from “fresh off the boat” newbies to artists whose experience in the world of music doubles or even triples my own. In every case, my role as a producer stays essentially the same. It’s that role that I’m going to describe in this article.
     
    What Is A Producer?
    The best way I know to describe what a producer does comes in the form of this analogy: A producer is to a recording as a director is to a film. When it comes to making a film, the buck essentially stops with the director. It’s the director who steers the ship working with everyone from the technical editors to the actors in order to achieve his or her overall vision of the movie. It is exactly that way with a producer when it comes to making a recording. Not only must the producer have the experience to work with the studio engineer (often possessing the technical expertise to engineer the project themselves) but the musical understanding to help the artist with everything from song choice, structure and arrangement to the all-important vocal performances that are vital in giving a recording its personality. In short, aproducer provides the experience and necessary perspective to guide a recording from start to finish.
     
    Producer Backgrounds
    Producers can come from a variety of backgrounds. I’m listing the four most common and what each brings to the process, but, typically, producers have experience in more than one of these areas.
     
    1) The Songwriter – Since at it’s essence, a recording is dependent on the quality of the song, the songwriter/producer is heavily involved in the song selection process. Not only does this type of producer have experience in knowing what does and doesn’t work when it comes to pre-existing songs, but often this producer will co-write songs with the artist for a given project.
     
    2) The Musician – Here, it’s often an instrumental and music theory background that gives this type of producer their experience. They have first hand knowledge when it comes to working with musicians and knowing what instrumental approach will work best in a given situation.
     
    3) The Engineer – In this case, the producer’s primary experience comes from actual recording (i.e., placing microphones on drum kits, recording vocals and mixing albums). By becoming an expert in the nuts and bolts of the recording process, an engineer/producer can make the recording process a smooth one for the artist.
     
    4) The Music Fan – This is someone who lives and breathes music and has the instincts to guide artists and session musicians through the recording process without necessarily having had the “hands on” experience of being a songwriter, musician or engineer themselves. They often bring great perspective to a situation where being too close to any one part of the process might compromise the overall recording.
     
    What Do Producers Do?
    As I’ve mentioned, producers can be involved in many different aspects of a recording. Some producersare very “hands off” acting mostly as the voice of experience and perspective for artists who already havea fairly clear idea of who they are and where they’re headed. On the other end of the spectrum are theproducers who are involved in every element of the recording from co-writing the songs, to engineeringto playing one or even all of the instruments. In some, but certainly not all of these cases, the resultingrecordings have such a distinctive sound that the producer becomes as associated with the recordingas the artist themselves. For the record, no one way takes precedence over any other for producinga recording. The only measure of a producer that matters is whether or not the resulting recordingis satisfying to everyone involved. As most producers operate somewhere in between minimal andcomplete involvement, here are the main areas where most producers do their work.
     
    1) Pre-production – This includes working with the artist to decide if the songs are as good as theycan be and, ultimately, which songs would work best as a group for an album release. It alsoincludes deciding on the overall sound of a recording which involves deciding which sessionmusicians/instruments would be best suited to achieve the sound and feel of a particular song.
     
    2) Instrumental Recording/Arrangement – At this point, the producer works with the assembledmusicians and helps direct their performances in the studio in order to achieve a cohesive soundfor the recording.
     
    3) Vocals - Finally, because the typical music listener responds first to the voice of the singer, one ofthe most important roles of the producer is working with the vocalist to help them give their best,most sincere performance of their material. It is extremely difficult for even the most experiencedvocalists to have any perspective on their performance while it’s happening. For this reason, aproducer is the voice of reason and experience who knows how to encourage a vocalist to do onemore vocal pass or helps them realize that it would be better to take a break and come back tofight another day.
     
    How Do I Find A Producer?
    For those who are new to the process of recording, whether it’s an album project or even a song demo, itis unclear where to look to find a producer for your project. Generally speaking, word of mouth in yourmusic community serves as the best, most organic way to find a producer right for your project. Anothereffective way to find a producer, particularly if you’re interested in doing a whole recording project,would be to look at the liner notes on some of your favorite independent CD projects made in the citywhere you plan to record. Often, those producers are available for hire and it’s just a matter of gettingtheir contact information which the artists themselves usually have. Finally, there’s no rule that says youcan’t contact a well-known/successful producer whose work you admire. Maybe they will be too busy ortoo expensive to work with, but you never know and if you’re respectful in your request there’s no reasonnot to try.
     
    Conclusion
    At the end of the day, it’s a good working relationship and the trust between artist and producer thatmakes for the best results. So, be sure that you not only like a producer’s work but feel comfortableworking with them as well. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person and trusting them with yourart, so make sure that you feel like the producer you choose is willing to give you and your music theattention necessary to get a great recording.
     
    Good luck!

    Bio

    Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including a brand new HD video series available at the link below.

    http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/video-podcast-series

    Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos. 

    You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going tohttp://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter

    Twitter: edusongwriter

    Obsessed with Music

     

    I think my obsession with music really started when I was about 9 or 10 and would sneak into my Aunt’s posh room to pick at my cousin’s plastic Elvis guitar.  I had been involved in entertainment before.  When I was about three my aunt would arrange me into the corner of her living room and have me sing “Que Sera Sera” for the relatives that happened to be visiting.  It was a much better experience than when the relatives would come round when my aunt would have me take a bath in the tin tub in the middle of the living room.  The tub filled with hot water from the kettle would chill pretty quickly, and I wasn’t going anywhere with those relatives in the room.  So, singing was a treat compared to that.

    My aunt lived with her husband and my grandparents.  My other aunt lived three doors away.  She had a piano that I would spend a lot of time getting the feel of the keys….but that plastic Elvis was still the draw.

    When I was eleven, I was visiting a friend of mine for the day and a neighbor of his mentioned that he was selling his acoustic guitar.  He took me to see it and it was love at first sight.  I rushed home forgetting that my dad was away on a management course for Dunlops and I had to wait for a week to find out if there was any chance of getting the money for it. I seem to remember it being eleven English pounds to buy.  My parents really didn’t have much money, so when I think back, it must have been a stretch for them to buy it for me.

    Over the next few months I must have driven them mad with the badly fingered chords I was trying to play.  I didn’t use the Bert Weedon “Play In A Day” method, I just focused on chords.

    I was waiting tables at night while I was in high school, and one of the other waiters had an electric guitar he wanted to swap for an acoustic.  I had salivated over electric guitars for a while, tried to win one at the fairground throwing darts or hoops over bottles to no avail, so wiping the drool, I went ahead and swapped guitars…and there it was, the passport to my future in the music business….except business was the furthest thing from my mind….in fact I had no idea it was a business.  I just wanted to play. 

    When I was 14 a few friends were looking to form a band.  “You play don’t you” was the pointed question that would lead to my first real band.  We had a singer with longer hair than was normal at that time, a drummer who didn’t have drums (but the singer did), a bass player that was really a guitar player, another guitarist who hadn’t played much…but who cared. We locked ourselves in the singer’s bedroom and played our hearts out.  The neighbors didn’t care.  We were all living on a council estate where everyone dreams of escaping and most rarely do.

    Music is Free. Now what?

    Blog compliments of Tami Mulcahy

    Music is free.  So now what? 

    Music is free.  This should come as no surprise to anyone.  Recently I lamented the direction music is heading when someone made no bones in pointing out it’s not headed in that direction.  Music is free…now!

    Death to the CD, the record, the album or any other name by which you would listen beginning to end to a collection of work by an artist.  I wonder why the Grammy’s still have an Album of the Year. 

    During four song writing sessions of about 90 high school students each, I asked how many had bought a CD in any recent time.  About 2-5 hands went up. It’s a single song, digital download world.  But it also a world of piracy and subscription services.

    If Music is free, why bother with a physical CD.  I find it ironic that for an artist to even get their songs on the listening cue for consideration on Pandora, that you have to have a physical CD to sell on Amazon.  And CDBaby tells you to get Amazon Advantage (about $50) so Pandora can recognize the tracks listings.

    It takes a huge amount of time to Photoshop your mug shot, yes, so we can all exude the right amount of “cool”.  Then there is the layout, jacket art, credits, the CD art.  All that is done while we tune up mixes and master the CD so there is some uniformity.  Oh, that’s right, you already mastered the song individually but you have to do it again to bring continuity to the project.  Then you go to press for at least 1000 CD’s cause that is a respectable price break.  At the end you are another couple thousand dollars in the hole.

    So here are my reasons why!  A physical CD gives you cred when you tell people I am a performing artist.  I have one, two, three CD’s.  And then they say “wow”.  The physical CD is so you look respectable when you meet industry people and give it away for free.  Yes it hurts.  The physical CD is so a house concert host knows you aren’t a 4 song talent and the rest is ????  The physical CD is so fans can take home a piece of memorabilia after a wonderful performance.

    So music is free.  The important thing is to get out and share it.  Keep active in your artistic community for support.  Share with each other. Mentor each other.  Perform with each other. Perform each other’s songs.  Keep perfecting your craft in pursuit of your own personal growth and excellence.  Music may be free but you can still enrich the world with yours.

    Music revenues increase for first time since Napster's rise 02/26/2013 08:23:55 AM PST

    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_22670995/music-revenues-increase-first-time-since-napsters-rise

    Session Musicians for your Demo

    The Advantages of Using Session Musicians on Your Songwriting Demo
    Written by: Cliff Goldmacher
     
    Why do professional recordings sound, well…professional?  There are a number of reasons including high quality microphones, pre-amps, an experienced engineer and a well-designed studio space.   But one of the single most important elements in a great-sounding, professional recording is the performance of the session musicians.  There is a reason that the job of the session musician exists.  It’s these musicians whose talent and studio experience contribute in a major way to the polished sound of a recording. Because there are different rules that apply when you’re recording an artist demo, I'm going to limit the scope of this article to songwriting demos specifically.
     
    Shouldn’t I Be Able To Do This Myself?
    While I am a big proponent of wearing as many hats as you can in your musical career, there are certain areas where it makes much better sense to rely on experts.  First of all, it’s extremely important that you take ego out of the equation.  There is no shame in having someone else play on your demo. Remember hat a songwriting demo is supposed to put your song in the best possible light in order to “sell” it to prospective artists or place it in films and TV shows.  It is not supposed to be proof of your studio musicianship.  Recording your instrument in the studio requires an entirely different skill set than playing live.  For lack of a better description, studio recording is more like music surgery than a musical performance.  While you might be comfortable playing guitar in your living room or even on a stage in front of hundreds of people, it’s an entirely different ballgame to sit in a four by six-foot booth wearing headphones and listening to a clicking sound.  Giving a note-perfect, dynamic and in-time performance in this kind of unnatural setting requires a special set of skills.
     
    Isn’t It Cheaper if I Do It Myself?
    Given that we all have to keep an eye on the bottom line when it comes to our recording budget, there is the temptation to save money by playing on the demo yourself.  The problem with this method is that often it will take an inexperienced musician twice as long to get a viable take as it would a pro.  One of the many advantages of using session musicians is that they are not only good at what they do but fast.  In other words, the price you pay to hire a session musician translates into savings on studio time compared to playing the part yourself. Being fast in the studio is useful for another reason as well.  When a session bogs down with take after take, it starts to feel a lot more like work.  When things go quickly and smoothly, they stay musical and fun.  Don’t discount the need for a session to stay enjoyable.  My experience has been that everyone does his or her best work when the atmosphere in the studio is light
     
    Great Expectations
    When it comes to recording a demo, it’s essential that you keep your listening audience in mind at all times.  In the music industry, there is a certain level of “polish” that record labels, publishers, managers and producers have come to expect from the demos they listen to.  By bringing in the same musicians that play on hundreds of songwriting demos and major label record projects, you’ll be giving these industry types what they’re used to hearing.  We’ve all heard from time to time industry professionals say that they can “hear through” your rough recordings.  My recommendation is NOT to take that chance.  You’ve only got one opportunity to make a first impression and you should give yourself every advantage.  Also, even if there is one industry professional willing and able to hear through a rough recording, you’ll hopefully be pitching this song to a number of industry people many of whom will be expecting a professional sounding demo.
     
    The Care and Feeding of Session Musicians
    When it comes to working with session musicians, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, if you’re not comfortable writing out a chord chart, professional session musicians are perfectly capable of listening to your rough recording and writing out their own charts.  For them, charting is quick process that should take no longer than 10-15 minutes at the most.  Then, when it comes time for the musicians to play, always suggest that they try it their way first.  There are two reasons for this.  First of all, you’ve hired them to make your demo sound great so you should give them a chance to go with their instincts before you offer any direction.  Secondly, by letting them do what you’ve brought them in to do with a minimum of interference, you’ll create goodwill that will go a long way towards the overall vibe in the studio.  In almost every case, what the session musicians come up with will be better than you ever expected.  HOWEVER, if you’re still not getting what you want after they’ve tried it their way, you’re 100% entitled to politely ask them to try it the way you were hearing it.  The ONLY appropriate response from a session musician to your request is “absolutely.” 
     
    It can be intimidating to work with such talented musicians, but remember, they’re working for you!  One of my favorite expressions is “the best ones have nothing to prove.”  In other words, when you hire pros not only will they be great at what they do but they should be a pleasure to work with as well.  There is no reason to hire even the best session musician if they have a bad attitude.  This is extremely rare but if it happens, I’d recommend never using that musician again.  There are way too many wonderful, friendly and talented session musicians out there to ever settle for one with a chip on their shoulder.
     
    Finally, if you’ve never used a professional musician on your songwriting demo, do yourself a favor and try it out.  You’re in for a treat and you’ll end up with a great demo.
     
    Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including monthly online webinars. Go to http://www.educatedsongwriter.com/webinar/ for the latest schedule.
     
    Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos.  
     
    You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going to http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.
     
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter
     

    Why did I Join WCS?

    West Coast Songwriters and why I chose to be a member.

    It all started a few years back when I was starting back as a songwriter. I was on Myspace (remember that place?) one day and was searching for songwriters and came across the now ubiquitous WCS logo and for some reason it spoke to me. I started corresponding with Joanie and Alison and before long they were cajoling me to come to San Francisco to their conference. But at the time I didn’t think I was good enough and the thought of showcasing anything I had written was something I was terrified to do. I was wrong.

    Step up a few years and in 2011, I finally made it to the West Coast Songwriters Conference. I was welcomed with open arms into a community of like-minded, caring and talented individuals who were either learning to speak the language of song writing, or were industry professionals. Thanks to Ian and Joanie Crombie, I was introduced to and carefully guided towards the people in the organization I would get the most out of meeting. Now I know I’m preaching to the converted but I “got it” immediately. This is a very special organization run by very special people. But the most important thing is so hidden, it’s almost an undercurrent and it’s this: West Coast Songwriters allows you to think you ARE a song writer, to BE a song writer. It gives you that kudos you have been searching for in your bedroom.

    Whether you have a guitar or ukelele, a Keyboard or a grand piano it stops you thinking that your hard drive or journal is a brick wall through which nothing should pass through into the song world. It’s a portal for your work, a worm hole which gives you access to a potential market. Even if you are at the point we all get to, that you have lost your way as a writer or the muse has abandoned you. You can call on your friends. You go to a chapter meeting or have a one on one with an industry professional. The laser focus you use as a songwriter is further fine tuned and that helps you get past whatever the issue du jour is.

    Song writing and golfing are similar. Everyone loses their “swing” from time to time and it takes some guidance to get back to hitting that ball sweetly again. That’s what West Coast Songwriters does for you. It puts an arm around your shoulder, asks you what’s wrong and points you in the direction you might need to take. So why would someone from all the way across the Nation and the following Ocean want to join West Coast Songwriters? It’s simple. To grow. We all have to leave our town or village, hamlet of parish to see what others are doing. We all grow from being away from home. I know a few people in the music industry in Ireland but now I know a lot more incredible people in the business in California, Nashville and New York too.

    This works both ways. I was able to host Kelly and Kamille from Karmina and get them a gig to help pay their way while they were on a short stop-over in Ireland. Ian and Joanie was introduced to my version of West Coast Songwriters here in Ireland called “Stars and Wishes” and we are working hard to be affiliated to West Coast Songwriters and hopefully give our members a taste of what is on offer. Happily, I’ll be coming to the Conference this year with co-writer and Swiss Singer songwriter, Sereina Ueberwasser and the famous Irish raconteur and wit, Finbar Magee from Co Armagh, in N Ireland. Once you join and spend some time interacting with other “West Coasters” you come to the realisation that you are in a very exclusive collective of people who, just like you, need to tell their stories in chorus and verse, through melody and rhyme. You’ll work it out very quickly that you’re finally ‘home’.

    Jessi Teich 1st Runner Up

    With compliments of Jessi Teich, 1st Runner Up 

    2013 WCS International Song Competition

     

    I am honored and excited that I was selected as “1st Runner Up” for the 2013 West Coast Songwriter’s Contest for my original song “The Haunting.” I am also pleased that I received an honorable mention for my songs “The Simple Life” and “Twisted Soul.” Thank you WCS!

    This award was won for the International Song Competition  Although West Coast Songwriters main office is located in CA they have members from around the world who join their program including places as far away as Denmark and Ireland! Being a part of WCS will allow me to meet people and create relationships in the music business in order to further establish myself as a songwriter.

    Growing up, my dad had exposed me to an expansive array of music: everything from John Coltrane’s avant-garde era to Janis Joplin to Frank Zappa to Tom Waits to Billie Holiday (the list goes on forever). Like everyone, I had picked out my favorite songs. At around age 7, I decided that “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” sung by The Shirelles was IT for me. The words were simple, yet effective and the melody was sweet yet sad.

    My dad bet me a quarter if I could tell him who wrote it and I replied “The Shirelles of course!” When he shook his head no I was shocked. If they didn’t write it, then who did? I was floored when he revealed that it was co-written by none other than my main squeeze Carole King! I wondered what else did she write? Come to find out, Miss King had co-written “Natural Woman” (notAretha!), “The Locomotion” (not Little Eva!), “Up On The Roof” (not The Drifter’s!) and many, many more. I never realized one could write a song and have someone else sing it! After this epiphany, I became more intrigued by the process and began writing my own songs.

    After a super intense, life-changing shift in 2011, my whole world came to a halt. As soon as I managed to get my feet on the ground, the first thing I did was write. It just came pouring out of me. I wrote ten songs and was lucky enough in 2012 to record them in Paris with a very talented group of session players. On a whim, my manager sent me several songwriting competitions to enter, including the WCS contest. The three songs that have been recognized by WCS were all from this moment in time. Thank you so much for this amazing award! I am looking forward to becoming a part of the WCS family!

    You can check out more of my work at:

    Jessi Teich

    www.jessiteich.com

    www.youtube.com/jessiteich

    www.facebook.com/jessiteichmusic

     

    Madame Freak & The Funky Fever

    www.madamefreak.com

    www.youtube.com/madamefreakmusic

    www.facebook.com/madamefreakmusic

    www.soulandjazzandfunk.com/news/2341-freak-out-.html

    Are all WCS Locations the same?

    As the 2013-14 WCS chapter competitions have taken off, I’ve had the great opportunity to chat with a few of the managers about their specific locations and how they work and who attends each month. 

    What I found most fascinating is that each chapter has it’s own identity. Albeit they are all part of the grander scheme of WCS, each chapter provides a different support network for our members.  For instance, if you travel to the Palo Alto location, you have the opportunity of performing on the local cable access channel and your performance is streamed live as well as online; the San Rafael chapter prefers to bring in a variety of judges that will give a strong professional judging program; Berkeley offers the excitement of performing live at the well known Freight and Salvage and Portland caters to the indie crowd of young musicians.

    And then there is Petaluma – the low key, songwriter-to-songwriter support network.  Nothing fancy, nothing grand just the opportunity for songwriters to perform in front of other songwriters who know exactly what it means to put all those heartfelt feelings down on paper.

    I asked Jay and Mark, the Petaluma managers, to share with me a bit more about their chapter and this is what they said:

    Mark & I don't feel that we need a fancy venue to have a great WCS competition, in my mind and experience songwriters are the best people to judge another person’s work.

    In order to be a capable judge, one must actually BE a songwriter.  The best-case scenario, one should have written hundreds of songs over some years.  One should have at least previously competed in some songwriting idioms.  One should have experience performing at some level like parties, open mics, a few house concerts maybe...and be able to feel the audience, feel their own song, know that it was worked and re-worked and maybe even honed.  It’s the difference between reading about having a baby, and actually having a baby.  The judges at the Petaluma chapter have, in our opinion, given birth!

    I am in it for the betterment and support of the neophyte songwriter, the songwriter who wants to better their abilities at their craft and performing, and not just find the next song to produce. That’s for another chapter to do.  

    In Petaluma, Mark & I, (and the judges we select), are absolutely committed to supporting songwriters in any positive way we can, letting them know they are welcome, making them sound better, helping them to improve their songwriting; supporting them with our positive energy and applause.  If you come to WCS Petaluma to compete, whether you are a newbie or an experienced songwriter, you will be treated with acceptance & support.  

    We treat songwriters like we would want to be treated.

    Those of us in Petaluma welcome everyone who wishes to hear from other songwriters and hone their skills.  The other chapters provide different support networks and that’s great.  We all have our own ways of working for the betterment of all our songwriters and that gives a greater opportunity for members to gain the experience around all the chapters.

    Those of us on the Board of WCS greatly appreciate the dedication and support from our chapter managers.  Without their generosity of time and organizational programming members would not have the great opportunity of attending the many and varied chapters.

    Be sure to attend as many chapter competitions as possible to experience the very different programs that are offered.

    Stay tuned for updates from each chapter….

    Bernadette Conant Interviewed

    Compliments of Adam Joseph at the Monterey County Weekly

    Adam, Blake, Cee Lo and Christina would swivel their chairs at hurricane velocities if Bernadette Conant performed for them.

    Actually, Conant despises the The Voice, and its bastard stepfather American Idol for that matter, but for the record, she’d sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” if by any chance she found herself on the show one day.

    “My voice fits so well with that song,” she says gleefully.

    Conant’s unfettered – and unsuspecting – vocal prowess fused with overwhelming schoolgirl adorability, adds up to a marketable pop equation. And at only 22 years old, she’s just getting started.

    The Seaside native – currently working as a barista at the Cherry Bean in Salinas – spends her spare time making music with multi-instrumentalist/engineer/producer Erik Lobo. Over the past several months, they’ve dropped a pair of EPs as Bernie and the Wolf, featuring tunes like “Something Beautiful,” an unassuming acoustic gem.

    The thought of Conant appearing on The Voice isn’t really that far-fetched; she made her television debut a couple months ago – and received $500 up front plus songwriting royalties – and may be inches away from doing it again.

    ~ ~ ~

    I heard that you wrote and recorded a song for a TV show.

    I did. I wrote a song called “Fragile” that aired in September on the first episode of “SAF3” [pronounced “safe”] on the CW Network. Dolph Lundgren stars as a firefighter in Malibu. My song was used in the last scene of the show when [Lundgren] is attending his boss’ funeral.

    [The song] sounds kind of like a ballad. I guess the show didn’t do that well and didn’t get me the exposure I wanted, but it inspired me. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. It opened doors in ways that I never thought it would.

    How did you approach writing the song?

    It was difficult to write for someone else because I usually only write for myself. They sent me the script and told me which scene they wanted the song for. [“Fragile”] is about feeling like you’re invincible but then realizing just how fragile you are. That’s definitely how I feel a lot of times.

    Do you want to do more television?

    I’m waiting to see if I’m going to be in a commercial for Extra gum. I was contacted by a music-licensing company called Music Dealers who thought we’d be a good fit so asked us to send a sample recording of a song. They chose Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be With You” [Conant softly sings the song title]. Now we’re just waiting to find out if we got it. It could be any day now.

    What will it mean if you get the commercial?

    More exposure, and the money will sure be nice too. I also want to start touring as Bernie and the Wolf. We just released a three-song EP – we released another EP not long before that – and we recorded all the songs in our garage. We also recorded one of my songs, “Will You,” for an indie film [she says she can’t divulge the title of the film yet] that hasn’t been released yet. It’s a dark and melancholy song.

    Do you want to pursue music full time?

    Oh yeah. I’ve always wanted to. For a little while I was thinking about giving it up but then I met the Wolf and we started recording together and playing. All of the sudden, we’re having all these opportunities and we’re able to do things like record songs for film and TV, and record at our studio at home and produce ourselves. I don’t feel so helpless anymore.

    Do you use your music as a main outlet to express yourself?

    For sure. I’d say, when it comes to everything else, except music, I always have to second-guess myself; there’s always someone that can say it better. But with songwriting, no one else can write my songs except for me and no one else needs to validate the stuff I write. I think [performing] is really helpful in just keeping my sanity.

    To hear Bernie Conant’s music, visit www.bernadetteconant.com