In December, Upstate singer/songwriter Brooks Dixon played a release show for his band’s new album, “Pocketful Of Dreams,” at Swanson’s Warehouse, an event space on Irvine Street in Greenville. The show sold out, and David Stone, the owner of Swanson’s, was so pleased that he and Dixon began planning future events together.
That’s where the idea for the first Songwriters Showcase Contest at Swanson’s began.
“David and I had been trying to put on some shows together at Swanson’s,” Dixon says, “and one of the ideas I had was basically bringing together a bunch of songwriters in a competition format, but doing it all in a one-day, one-show kind of thing. And basically, the audience admission is the prize money. We just thought it’d be a fun event to put together and we decided to give it a try.”
Luckily, in addition to being an experienced musician with multiple releases to his credit, Dixon has also done extensive work behind the scenes in the Upstate music community, hosting open-mic nights at Smiley’s Acoustic Café and the now-closed Moe Joe Coffee in downtown Greenville.
Dixon had recently stopped hosting an open-mic night at Smiley’s after a couple of years to work on his own music, but he missed the experience of giving local musicians a chance to shine, whether they were professionals or amateurs. He thought a similar open-mic concept could work at Swanson’s, as well, with prize money as an added incentive.
“I just really like the songwriting community in Greenville,” he says, “and I like trying to give them a platform. I’ve always been a sucker for someone just playing an acoustic guitar and singing, and really getting to see what their songs are all about at their core. I think Greenville has a wealth of people that perform professionally and write really great songs, but there’s also a whole group of people that don’t really perform professionally; they have something else going on, but they still have a great voice or great songwriting, so I thought it would be fun to put those people kind of side by side and just let it happen and see how it goes forward.”
The first Songwriter Showcase Contest will start at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, and Dixon says that 10 performers have already signed up for one of the 30 slots he has available. The performers will be able to play either one or two songs depending on how full the lineup is, and at the end of the night, there will actually be two prizes awarded.
“The plan is basically that everyone will perform their songs, and then you have two different winners,” Dixon says. “There will be an audience vote, and then we’ll also have just a songwriter vote from the contestants. So two separate winners will come away from the night with prizes, and hopefully they’ll make some friends and some connections.”
The “connections” part is important to Dixon because as a singer-songwriter, he’s benefitted from the networking he’s been able to do at open-mic-style events.
“I met most of my bandmates at the old Moe Joe‘s open mic,” he says, “and we’ve been together now almost five years. So I think those sorts of connections are very special. I also think of the people that I met as an open-mic host that had just moved to Greenville and started playing music. They were really just looking for friends or some sort of family, if you will, and they found that. And now, they’re doing shows of their own, and they’re very supportive of the local scene. So I think events like this are just a cool thing, and something I feel like I’ve benefited from, so I hope that I can pay it forward.”
What: Songwriter Showcase Contest
Where: Swanson’s Warehouse, 12 N. Irvine Drive, Greenville
When: 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19
Info.: (864) 271-4442, https://www.swansonswarehouse.com