SS Cape May — Where the Song is Still King
by Debra Donahue
Cape May, NJ — Singer Songwriter Cape May, or SS Cape May as we know it, is taking over our hamlet for the third year running, from Friday March 26 to Saturday night, March 27.
The event features more than 120 songwriters performing in 13 venues throughout Cape May and almost all of the concerts are free!
If you’re a music junkie, you’ll have an opportunity to hear original music in intimate venues.
If you're a songwriter. you can perform your original material, network with other writers and learn more about the performing and business ends of the industry.
John Harris, a music promoter and the organizer of SS Cape May says technology has transformed the music industry. Nearly 40 panelists and keynote speakers representing studios, record labels, songwriting associations and publishing companies will lead workshops for songwriters during the day.
In the evening, the performances begin.
I have a long and rich history with songwriters, having spent 10 years in Nashville. It's a watering hole for songwriters of every stripe and genre including alternative, folk, pop/folk, folk/rock, folk/folk, celtic/folk, you name it.
Visitors who attend SS Cape May will hear each of those genres, plus a few more. But this isn’t cover band land. This is original music, though undoubtedly a cover tune or two will be thrown in to make it even more interesting.
In addition to the more than 120 performance opportunities by songwriters from around the country and Canada, there are two spectacular performers taking the stage in the Grand Ballroom at Congress Hall.
Friday, March 26th will feature Steve Forbert, who some have compared to Bruce Springsteen, John Prine, and Bob Dylan. But Forbert has his own unique style, and having had tremendous commercial success in the late 70’s with “Jackrabbit Slim” and “Romeo’s Tune,” he never stopped writing.
Though the zenith of the songwriter revolution of the 70’s waned, Forbert kept the songwriter genre alive and continued to write and release almost 20 albums/CD’s over the last thirty years.
Performing on Saturday, March 27th , is featured singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, originally from Neptune, NJ, just up the parkway. Atkins is undeniably a chanteuse and if there is a “cross between” description to be made here, it would have to be k.d. lang and Roy Orbison…but without the zoot suit or the dark glasses.
Atkins has received great reviews in Rolling Stone, and has an impressive resume and touring schedule. Just recently, she performed at Carnegie Hall in a tribute concert to The Who.
Both headliner performances are only $10.
Incredibly, all the other performances that weekend are free. Among the dozens of singer songwriters performing their works...
Michael Logen, was raised a Mennonite in the wilds of Pennsylvania, and along the road became an alternative folk artist, meaning that his style gives a nod to the Brits, some undergrounders, but also to traditional folk musicians. He’s won a number of International Songwriting Competitions including 2009 Song of the Year Award in the Folk/Singer-Songwriter Category. In addition to touring, Logen has been co-writing with a pretty lustrous cast of writers…Will Hoge, Jonny Lang and Melissa Manchester. Yes, THAT Melissa Manchester!
Some other alternative/folk performers to look for: double-breasted and Sabrina Chap.
Gordon Vincent, now a resident of Cape May via Nashville, has been mixing a new album this winter. Vincent’s 2004 release “You Should Know” is thrilling…and all his devoted fans agree. His songs are haunting, cerebral, deftly crafted and performed. You can see him at the Mad Batter on Saturday night.
Some other acoustic indie/folk performers to look for: Lisa Bianco, Melillo and the Melillo Brothers.
Suzy Ragsdale, a Nashville native, sang on a Grammy Award winning record when she was 5 years old. Her father, Ray Stevens, was certainly one inspiration. She collaborated with Verlon Thompson and Darrell Scott (“Long time gone”) and her featured vocal work can be heard on countless discs including Suzy Bogguss, Pam Tillis and Tom Paxton. Ragsdale is the real deal, and her voice, so textured and keening, is pure and resonant. Check her out at the Brown Room on Friday night.
Some other acoustic and Americana artists to look for: Michael Kearns and Kat Calvosa.
Don't forget - these are just a few of the many performances that weekend. So, get thee to Cape May March 26-27 for the Third Annual SS Cape May!
When you get here, you can stop by one of the 13 venues and pick up a guide to who's playing where. No tickets needed. Just walk right in.
Here are the venues:
- Aleathea's Restaurant
- C-View Inn
- Cabanas On The Beach
- Congress Hall
- Jackson Mountain Cafe
- Lucky Bones
- Marquis de Lafayette
- Merion Inn
- The Mad Batter
- The Pilot House
- Ugly Mug