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The 9 Songwriter Series at Jammin Java

On April 10, Jammin Java saw a gathering of some of the DMV’s strongest songwriters. They tested new material, many playing songs for the first time in front of people (or as Jonny Grave put it, “outside of the privacy of my bedroom.”) There were technical difficulties, missed lyrics and flubbed solos, and it was perfect, spontaneous, live music performed by consummate, dedicated artists.

Founded by Justin Trawick in 2008 “The 9 Songwriter Series” is a touring songwriter collective and live show based in DC. More than 300 artists have performed in “The 9” at shows in DC, Baltimore, Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Richmond, Charlottesville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This particular edition, including Trawick, featured an extensive list of artists inclyuding Siobhán O’Brien, Andy Hawk and Abigail Furr, to name a few.

Although I wasn’t able to get hold of a set list (some of the night’s performances seemed to be made up on the fly), I do remember how the evening flowed flawlessly from one performer to the next. Hayley Fahey (accompanied by Sol Roots) opened the show with her customary high energy and enthusiasm. Our host, emcee Justin Trawick along with Ken Wenzel on sax, took the stage for the next two numbers and so on.

The evening belonged to all nine performers. To make music spontaneously, wholeheartedly and honestly is such a pleasure to experience, for both musicians and audience. That there are showcases like “The 9” is a wonderful gift to the DC community.

Performers were usually accompanied by one or two (or three) of their companions, which made for a wonderfully varied musical palette. The nine songwriters we heard throughout the evening brought a diversity of music to Jammin Java’s stage that included Americana folk-rock, soul, blues and funk. And though the evening ranged from the clearly unrehearsed to the distractions of technical difficulties, in the end it was undeniably warm, professional and real. What else could a listener, or an artist, ask for?

The full list of performers includes: Siobhán O’Brien, Andy Hawk, Abigail Furr, Lisa Johnson with Montree Thepvongsa (November Morning), Sol Roots, Ken Wenzel, Hayley Fahey and Jonny Grave.

Photos and write-up: Mark Caicedo