Hosted by Mitch Feingold, the night will feature four of San Diego’s top singer-songwriter’s, including Patricia Bahia, Bill Hartwell, Rusty Jones and Dave Howard, in a round-robin setting. All of the performers are well worth hearing, but the opportunity to catch a set from Howard in particular is a treat for pop fans. One of the most covered songwriters in San Diego, his songs have been recorded by the likes of Berkley Hart, Gregory Page and AJ Croce, with his most recent album, “Fate Rumbled,” released earlier this summer.
What started out on Nov. 16, 2008 as a fundraiser for Swedenborg Hall in University Heights has now become an OB institution. “It was originally a way to raise money for that venue,” said Feingold. “But it soon became a labor of love. We moved to Ocean Beach in 2016. So far, there have been 106 shows in this series, plus a number of special concert events. I guess there have been more than 300 performers. That’s my favorite part of all this, the people I get to work with to make this show happen.”
Howard, who has played the event previously, agrees. “I love the variety of talent that Mitch Feingold is able to round up,” he said. “And it's always fun to be able to respond to the other musicians during the show. My favorite thing about concerts like this is not planning what I'm going to play. I typically will respond to what the others on stage are playing and see if we can develop a theme.”
Los Angeles-based tunesmith Bahai, making her San Diego debut, concurs, “I love playing songwriters in the round-type of shows. I love the sort of juke-box effect of sharing songs in the round. The juxtaposition of the different writing and singing styles. It’s one of my favorite types of shows. Hearing what the other writers are doing, occasionally joining in with a spontaneous harmony, it’s the best.”
For his part, Howard considers it an honor that so many artists have recorded his work. “I feel a great amount of gratitude that so many people, and many artists among them, have connected with my words and music,” he said. “When someone puts one of my songs on a record or plays it live, I get a kind of proud feeling that a parent would get if their kid won a trophy or a spelling bee.”
He notes that song-craft is a skill. “The real kudos belong to the song. That is what affected the artist and made the artist want to do something with it,” Howard said. “All I can do as a songwriter is try to refine the words and music to the point where the song can stand on its own, and if it does, it's an amazing feeling.”
Howard cites both international and local heroes as important to his development as a writer. “At the risk of being cliche and sounding like an old fart, The Beatles, The Who, Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen were all musical heroes growing up,” he said. “However, playing in the San Diego acoustic scene I developed a completely different group of heroes like John Katchur, Cindy Lee Berryhill and Frank Lee Drennen. They all had unique styles and were able to build big fan bases that I never could. They all drove me to try to be a better writer and a better performer.”
While Feingold is happy to have made it through nine years of shows, he has no plans to slow down. Next up, on Dec. 17, he will host a show featuring singer-songwriters Evan Robinson, Beth Knight, Victoria Bailey, Erik Stucky.
“The current location is awesome. The accommodations are great and the sound quality is outstanding,” he remarked. “Plus, there is no shortage of great talent out there that we can shine a spotlight on. As long as I have an audience that supports this project, I will continue producing Songwriters Acoustic Nights,” Feingold said.
Songwriter’s Acoustic Nights
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19.
Where: Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 2051 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.