This past week marked the seventh annual ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) “I Create Music” Expo, which took place April 19 to 21 in Hollywood, California.
While primarily a performance-rights organization (PRO), ASCAP’s hosting of its annual Expo has become a premiere event for aspiring songwriters and has drawn some big names -- including Tom Petty, Steve Miller, John Mayer, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Lindsey Buckingham, Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, just to name a few -- to perform and discuss their music.
Where else can you hear your favorite stars talk about their craft -- and maybe even get to ask them a question? The three-day event is a jam-packed time for workshops, performances and master classes and provides a great opportunity to network with like-minded musicians and songwriters.
This year’s Expo kicked off with the 2012 ASCAP Pop Music Awards, an exclusive event where artists and publishers receive recognition for a successful year in a competitive industry. Katy Perry and Bruno Mars took home a number of honors for their success in the world of pop, but a number of veteran artists -- including Peter Frampton, Trent Reznor and Carly Simon -- also received accolades at the gala event.
Frampton’s top honors came in the form of ASCAP’s Global Impact Award, which is given “in recognition of the enduring popularity of his music.” A highlight of the Expo took place on its opening day as Nic Harcourt sat down to conduct an outstanding interview with the artist in a “Master Session with Peter Frampton.”
The discussion covered his 45-year career with interesting and often humorous stories from his youth to his years in Humble Pie to his solo career. Frampton said he hated the classical guitar lessons he took as a kid, but he admitted they taught him “technique and what fingers should go on what fret at what time.”
He also said he developed as a guitarist when he was with Humble Pie, and he explained how his time as a session musician taught him that there are many approaches to writing music and making records. “I’ve never been what I would call a shredding guitar player," he said. "I have my technique and I can play fast when I want to, but it’s more about the passion behind the notes."
Closing out the Expo in typical ASCAP fashion was the ever-popular Writer’s Jam session, where four successful songwriters and performers from various musical styles come together to showcase their talents by performing of some of their favorite songs.
Guitar aficionados were thrilled by Jonny Lang’s performance, plus the “behind the music” stories. Some of the high points of Lang’s time on stage were “I Don’t Want to Know the Truth” (from his upcoming album) and his gospel-styled “That Great Day,” both of which moved many in the audience to tears.
We are in an age where pop, rap and dance music often seem to dominate the musical landscape, but the inclusion and warm reception of some of the great musicians from the past and the present before large audiences of the next generation of songwriters offers some promise and light to the music industry.
Photo: Steve Matthews