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Sing a little tune. Firehouse Art Center welcomes songwriters

The Firehouse Songwriters group meets every third Tuesday night of the month
Angel Corsi, songwriting instructor for the Firehouse Songwriters workshop, adresses the Feb. 21 class at the Firehouse Art Center. The songwriting monthly meetup, founded and hosted by Dwayne Wolff, works with local musicians on their original music. Photo by Ali Mai

At the most recent Firehouse Songwriters event, a monthly meetup at the Firehouse Art Center, musicians trickled into the gallery, guitar case in hand. Some signed up for the open mic portion of the night, while others sat, eager to learn more about the craft of songwriting.

The Firehouse Songwriters group meets every third Tuesday night of the month, with the last gathering on Feb. 21. The two-hour meetup is split between an educational presentation and song sharing.

Though the Firehouse Art Center is known for its visual art galleries and programs, it extends to other creatives including musicians. 

A Firehouse resident painter and graphic artist Dwayne Wolff, founder and host of the Firehouse Songwriters, launched the meetups in June 2022 as a way to build a community for Longmont singer-songwriters. By day, Wolff wields a paintbrush in his upstairs studio in the Firehouse. But for the evening meetups, he trades that in for a guitar and ukulele.

“I am a professional artist, but I'm sort of an amateur enthusiastic musician/songwriter, too. And I've been getting together with friends via the internet with some friends in Nashville and Chicago. We have songwriting meetings like we do song prompts, the challenges,” Wolff said. “I wanted to do something in Longmont that was similar.”

Wolff connected with Angel Corsi, a touring musician with 20 years of performing under his belt, who relocated to Longmont about six months ago. Corsi became the songwriting coach and co-host for the events, advising participants on how to write a compelling song and how to make an impact on stage.

Corsi, who describes his music as folk noir, said he seeks out groups to pass on knowledge through singing and speaking; a folk music tradition. He said he was inspired by his mentors in Los Angeles, where he’s originally from, to learn and share.

For the co-hosts, their goal is to guide and support local musicians in their songwriting journey. But more importantly, the meetups are a way to build community and lasting relationships.

“So my goal moving to Longmont was to focus on community building. Just because I'm a new kid in town, so I didn't really know anybody and I'm kind of just looking for friends. So it's one of those things where you always start with what you're most passionate about, and then you circle out, right?” Corsi said. “So for me, what I see with the Firehouse meetups is I want it to continue to grow, to create a culture behind it. And that means eventually we're going to be doing open mic shows, and Firehouse shows that are focused on singer-songwriter types.”

Longmont resident Nancy Chapman found out about the Firehouse Songwriters after getting out of an appointment and walking past the Firehouse Art Center. She read the flier on the door and thought it was a perfect place for her to explore songwriting. The February meetup was Chapman’s fifth or sixth time attending.

She said she used to write songs, but a busy life with family and work took precedence. Chapman is in a band with her granddaughters called Liquid Lemon Loaf, but added that they play because her bandmates are out of state.

Now that Chapman is retired, she wants to get back into songwriting “just have some fun with it.” She enjoys the meetups because of its welcoming environment and the opportunity to hear her songs.

“I love it. I mean, great people. Great vibe. [Corsi] is so good at teaching like all the different elements of songwriting and stage presence so I really appreciate that,” Chapman said.

Though Wolff and Corsi host and guide the workshops, they hand the reins over to the participants. The agendas are informed by requests from past meetings.

“At first when I started I guess, my idea was, be more like working on song prompts with like minded people. But I found early on that I really had to let the group define the agenda, not me trying to impose one on them,” Wolff said. “I think people are most interested in getting their songs heard so it’s an important element of it to play with their music and have somebody listen to it. And I think that's one thing that this group offers is it's not a pub. It's not someplace where people are doing something else and you happen to be playing music. People come to listen to what you're doing.”

Since some participants may just want to try out their material without critics, Corsi said they have a few parameters to ensure the workshops are welcoming. One of the rules is that feedback can only be given if the musician requests it.

“This event is very driven by people that want to share their original music. It's a safe space for that,” Corsi said.

The next Firehouse Songwriters meeting is on March 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Firehouse Art Center main gallery. Interested parties can see the full calendar here or join the Firehouse Songwriters Facebook group

In addition to the free Firehouse Songwriters meetups, Corsi will host a donation-based songwriting masterclass seminar at the Firehouse Art Center’s south gallery from 1 to 5 p.m. on March 5.


Ali Mai

About the Author: Ali Mai

Ali Mai is freelance writer and photographer, covering business for the Longmont Leader. She writes the weekly column "Longmont Local."
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