If you want to feel like you're sitting in a living room while musicians share songs with each other, look no further than Tease Unplugged.
Tease, a small nightclub that offers food, drinks and a wealth of cultural events at 303 E. Main St. in Ashland, holds an open mic — sans microphones and amplifiers — on the second Monday of each month.
Local singer and songwriter Gene Burnett hosts the acoustic sessions. Musicians are invited to sign up for two songs beginning at 8:30 p.m. this coming Monday. Burnett will warm things up with a few songs and then let other musicians take their turns.
"Without the amplification, it's nice because people have to listen. In a bar with the sound system, the louder the sound system, the louder people talk. There's a battle going on," Burnett said. "Tease Unplugged has more of a living room feeling."
That type of intimate setting is ideal for the songs that Burnett writes.
They usually tell a story, often are related to world events and sometimes even contradict each other in their point of view.
"Sometimes the point of view isn't totally my point of view. It's like there's a parliament in my head. Sometimes I give the minority government a chance to say something," Burnett said.
For example, in one song, the protagonist of the song may be blaming someone, but in another song, the message may be that people should take responsibility rather than blaming others, he said.
Burnett used last fall's financial meltdown as fodder for a catchy but biting song aimed at Wall Street executives called "Jump You Fuckers."
A video of him singing the song, complete with images of banks and swindler Bernie Madoff, can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yge311sFhC8.
It's garnered more than 50,000 hits, which by Burnett's standards, is a lot.
Burnett said he was mad at the machinations of financial executives, but at the same time, average people signed subprime mortgages while knowing they were getting in over their heads.
For anyone who wants to try turning their own thoughts and feelings into songs, Burnett has penned "Songwriting for Geniuses: 25 Tips for the Genius in Everyone."
His top tip is to listen to songs that release a "charge" in you.
"Songs work for us that release a charge of some kind. You feel better for having heard or sung the song," he said.
He recommended writing down thoughts during the day that give you a charge, and then seeing whether you can craft those ideas into a song.
In January, Burnett will lead song-writing workshops with high school students who are in a program for kids who are in danger of not graduating. He hopes to help them tap into their thoughts and turn those into songs.
"Instead of a parliament in my head, there will be a classroom. I'll invite them to bring their journals. We'll see if we can find something in common," he said.
For more information on Burnett, including how to order "Songwriting for Geniuses," visit www.geneburnett.com.
For more information on events at Tease, visit tsashland.com.
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