Northwind Arts Center welcomes Nashville singer-songwriter Buddy Mondlock who writes songs so well that other notable songwriters, from Joan Baez to Peter, Paul and Mary, have recorded his songs on …
Northwind Arts Center welcomes Nashville singer-songwriter Buddy Mondlock who writes songs so well that other notable songwriters, from Joan Baez to Peter, Paul and Mary, have recorded his songs on their own albums.
And this month, not only is Northwind Arts Center offering local music aficionados the opportunity to hear the man who wrote those songs sing them himself in concert, but Rainshadow Recording Studio is also hosting a songwriting workshop by Mondlock, so you can learn his process.
“He’s not going to pin your ears back with those songs,” said Matt Miner, music performance manager for Northwind. “He’s going to draw you into his world, where a single snowflake follows the trajectory of a relationship, where you get your pocket picked by a Roman cat, where you might swim over the edge of the world, if you’re not careful, and where dreams that don’t come true still count.”
At the age of 21, Mondlock opened for Steve Goodman in his native Chicago on New Year’s Eve, and on Mondlock’s first trip to Texas, Guy Clark heard him singing one of his songs under a tree at the Kerrville Folk Festival and liked it, so Clark went back to Nashville and recommended Mondlock’s work, which yielded a publishing deal and a U-Haul to Nashville for Mondlock.
In 1987, Mondlock was a New Folk Award Winner at Kerrville, and released his first album, “On the Line.” He subsequently did some writing with Garth Brooks, who had the same manager — their song, “Every Now and Then,” ended up on Brooks’ album, “The Chase” — and when Janis Ian heard Mondlock singing at the Bluebird Cafe, she asked him if he’d like to write with her. Their song, “Amsterdam,” got recorded by Joan Baez.
When Nanci Griffith asked Mondlock to sing on a show she was taping for Irish television, she liked his song, “Comin’ Down In the Rain,” so much that she included it on her Grammy Award-winning collection, “Other Voices, Other Rooms.”
Mondlock’s song “The Kid” proved even more popular, with Peter, Paul and Mary recording it in 1996, then asking Mondlock himself to sing with them on their “Great Performances” PBS special. “The Kid” also won a Kerrville Music Award for song of the year in 1996.
Peter, Paul and Mary were among the musical sounds that Mondlock grew up with in Chicago, along with Burl Ives, musicals like “The Sound of Music,” his mother’s piano-playing and the classical guitar that his dad bought his mom as a home decor piece, but which an 8-year-old Buddy couldn’t resist trying to play.
“I used to wake up early, before everyone else, and carefully take it down and fool with it, trying to make it work,” Mondlock said. “My parents told me my hands were still too small, and they didn’t want me to get frustrated, but if I still wanted to learn, they would pay for lessons once I turned 10. Of course, that’s the first thing I asked for on my 10th birthday!”
As Mondlock’s career has continued, it’s come to include collaborations such as his 2003 tour of North America and Europe with Art Garfunkel and Maia Sharp, in support of their album, “Everything Waits To Be Noticed,” which they wrote and recorded together as a trio.
For a performer, Mondlock is surprisingly willing to step back from the spotlight, in favor of his work getting the attention instead.
“I tend to get a lot of inspiration from the natural world and that finds its way into my songs,” Mondlock said. “I’m all about using imagery to tell a story, rather than just saying this happened, then that happened. I’d rather lead someone to a certain place, paint the picture for them, then let them figure out the rest for themselves. The songs are not all just ‘me, me, me’ all the time. I tend to write songs more like little short stories, and sometimes, the characters are very different from me.”
Two characters whom Mondlock has already met along the way are Miner, back when he was doing house concerts in Portland — “It might be tight, once we squeezed everybody in, but at the end of it, wow, the food Sasha would make was amazing! Yes, the way to a folksinger’s heart is his stomach” — and Everett Moran of Rainshadow, back when he was promoting shows in Oklahoma City.
“This is 20 years ago or more, so I knew everybody before they knew each other,” Mondlock said. “It’s very cool that they all ended up in Port Townsend, and are working together. I came last year to do a concert and a workshop, and everything came together beautifully. These guys know what they are doing.”
Ultimately, Mondlock hopes his songs resonate with people in a way that lets them know “they are not alone out there.” As a great bonus, his concert will include his friend Mike Lindauer playing fretless bass and singing “these beautiful high harmonies. Mike is so expressive on that bass. The way he plays is really perfect for the kind of music I write. Plus, we’ve been playing together for, wow, almost 40 years now, so he knows how to cover for me when I mess up, and when I’m likely to do it!”
Mondlock’s concert kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, at Northwind Arts Center. Tickets are $20 from buddynwa.brownpapertickets.com, at Northwind or at the door.
And Mondlock’s songwriting workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Rainshadow Recording at Fort Worden. Tickets for the workshop are $50 each at buddyworkshop.brownpapertickets.com, and include a half-price option for concert tickets.
Mondlock spent more than 15 years as a staff songwriter in Nashville, first for EMI and later for Major Bob Music, Garth Brooks’ publisher.
“I’m happy to talk about that experience, and answer questions about how music publishing works, but mostly, I want to talk about what I think goes into a good song,” Mondlock said. “We’ll explore the imagery stuff in some depth, and we’ll do a fun exercise along those lines, but I’ll also spend some time talking about things like structure, rhyme schemes, how the music and lyrics work together, co-writing, stuff like that. The end goal is to express true feelings, in a way that other people can experience, too.”
To further share his music, Mondlock has recently re-teamed with Sharp to produce a musical together, and he and Lindauer have been touring Ireland and Scotland.
“I’ve been extremely lucky, getting to do what I do for all this time,” Mondlock said. “I’ve gotten to know and work with some amazing people along the way, and learned a lot. I sure appreciate all the folks who turn up at the shows, so I can keep working away, doing what I love.”
For more information, contact Northwind Arts Center at 360-379-1086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.