A spotlight on songwriting
They wrote hits for other artists.
They composed and performed their own material.
They sold millions of records.
And no one knew them.
Songwriters who write catchy pop, rock and country hits are usually unidentified when a famous performer sings their words.
And Steven McClintock is set on shifting the spotlight.
McClintock, a singer, songwriter and producer who has written hits for Andy Williams, Pat Boone and Tiffany, founded “The Songwriter Series,” a monthly program that will showcase local professional and amateur lyricists performing a variety of genres. Before strumming the guitar, each musician will also tell the story and inspiration behind the composition.
“It’s a really good opportunity for new writers and those who are doing this for years to connect,” said McClintock, a Long Beach resident. “I just want people to be aware this exists because I believe you need all the help and camaraderie out there.”
An All-Star lineup
The concert, which McClintock introduced at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach in 2013, was so well-attended that he decided to bring the event to Orange County last month to the Pilsner Room at McCormick & Schmick’s in Irvine. The second installment of the series will take place Tuesday.
On the lineup of six songwriters is Tracy Newman, lead singer and songwriter of the folk band Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements. Newman, who also is a television producer and founding member of improvisational theater troupe the Groundlings, has released three albums.
There’s Beth Fitchet Wood, a Laguna Beach resident, who was in the Southern California band Honk in the early ‘70s and who toured nationally with Kenny Loggins, Chicago and the Beach Boys. Wood has made five albums on her own and appeared as band member on five others.
Joining them is Kelly Fitzgerald, who has toured as a solo and ensemble performer. Fitzgerald won first place in the fourth annual GINA/LAWIM Singer Songwriter Contest for her song “Summer Rain,” and she made the 2006 “Hot 100 Unsigned Artists” list distributed by the industry magazine Music Connection.
One of the two men playing Tuesday night is Eric Auckerman, a Newport Beach resident who is a folk-style guitarist and member of the West Coasters Band.
Auckerman, whose wedding caterer knew McClintock, shared his aspirations with the producer and was invited to participate in the Hermosa Beach concert, which McClintock said drew a crowd of 130 people.
“I was so impressed to be a part of it,” Auckerman said.
McClintock said he focuses mainly on writing experience, not if they can sing the high notes, when choosing performers for the shows.
“It’s not about performing,” he said. “It’s showing your songwriting chops.”
‘All with a beat’
The first show, which was live-streamed on 37records.com, featured each musician playing three to four songs. The same format will be implemented at the upcoming concert.
McClintock, who will open the show with a few of his songs, is far from an outsider in the songwriting field. Recently, he returned from a trip to Greece, where he collaborated with international songwriters. At his Garden Grove-based recording studio, the Omen Room, McClintock paused during a rehearsal on a recent Friday night and told a story about one of his recent compositions.
“I had this idea of the word ‘collide’ or ‘collision,’ where a relationship was either positive or negative but it blows up again,” McClintock said.
His colleague, a Danish songwriter, didn’t like the word’s connotation, as he thought of a literal explosion.
But 12 hours later, after a talk about literal and figurative language, the song was finished.
“When we were done, we said, ‘I think we wrote something big,’” McClintock said.
Six singers have already asked to cut it, with one already practicing vocals at the Omen Room.
McClintock said he and fellow songwriters get the first choice of who gets to record the new song.
“Songs and lyrics can just turn people around,” McClintock said.
“When music does its job, it makes you feel and think,” Auckerman added. “It’s poetry and confessional, all with a beat.”
Auckerman said he plans to perform a song he wrote specifically for the concert. He said he gave himself 10 days to complete it.
McClintock said he is optimistic about the show and wants aspiring songwriters to continue honing their craft and use the concert as a networking tool within the music industry.
He also said he wants the audience to recognize songwriting skills, inspiration, effective chords and other techniques that have proven successful.
“I want people to think about the writers who put their heart in a song,” McClintock said. “People will say, ‘I didn’t know he or she wrote that,’ and it’s super fun to educate them.”
If You Go
What: The Songwriter Series
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Pilsner Room at McCormick & Schmick’s, 2000 Main St., Irvine
Information: (949) 756-0505 or 37records.com/thesongwriter