Creating 'a three-minute novel'

Everyone who attends Kerry Getz's songwriting workshop Saturday at the Great Park may come away with an idea for a memorable tune.

For that matter, so may Getz herself.

The Newport Beach resident, who has worked as an independent musician for three decades, gets her ideas from a variety of sources. Sometimes, she'll hear a phrase from another performer in a coffeehouse and start jotting down lyrics. Other times, she'll get inspiration from an overheard remark — or even the rhythm of her own body as she takes a walk.

At the Palm Court Arts Complex at the Great Park, Getz plans to engage the crowd the way she has in past workshops. She'll ask for spectators to shout out lines, then work those phrases into a melody. By the end of the workshop, Getz and the audience may not have a finished piece, but the seed for one may have been planted.

"The most important part, I think, is to come up with one line," she said. "Come up with one line you like, and the melody will suggest itself. And then you just have to jump on the horse and go."

The workshop, titled "Songwriting with Kerry Getz," is the fourth in the Great Park's nine-part Palm Court Arts Happenings series. The nonprofit, Arts Orange County, has partnered with Great Park leadership on the shows.

Getz has spent her career without a major label, but she has amassed a fervent following — the Los Angeles Times and OC Weekly have both raved about her — and made a few choice connections. In 2008, she performed live with the Wrecking Crew, the legendary 1960s studio band that backed the Beach Boys and other artists, and she has shared the bill with Dar Williams, Richard Thompson and others.

In between those high-profile gigs, Getz lives the typical life of a self-supporting musician: about three appearances a week, ranging from coffeehouses to senior centers to art festivals. Her constant companions are her guitar, a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus, which help keep her sensibilities sharp.

"Essentially, a song is a three-minute novel," Getz said. "Every word has to be important."

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

If You Go

What: "Songwriting with Kerry Getz"

Where: Palm Court Arts Complex, Great Park, Sand Canyon Avenue and Marine Way, Irvine

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free

Information: (866) 829-3829 or

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