Songwriter, Poet, T'ai Chi Instructor
first started writing and performing his songs when he was a senior in
high school. He calls his music a "career ambition, a serious hobby, a
form of therapy, just plain fun or a combination of these things."
During the late 80's-90's Gene performed and recorded with Victor
Cummings in Seattle. Gene says his musical influences as Bob Dylan,
lyrically--especially mid 70's era. His guitar inspirations include
Paul Simon, James Taylor and especially Pete Townsend's solo acoustic
guitar work. Vocal influences include James Taylor, Paul Simon and
especially John Martyn.
Gene comments how music has changed:
"It's pretty easy to get discouraged doing music these
days. There is an incredible amount of music in the world right now.
Not only is all the great music from the past available but there are
literally thousands upon thousands of self-produced CD's put out every
year. There are dozens of cable TV stations all packed with music. It's
playing in every bar, store, ipod, and car. Not only that but for most
people, music is "free" now. It's become this sort of free background
sound that most people don't really pay any deep attention to. Almost
all of us are busier now (many of us making music ourselves) and our
attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. I very rarely see
anyone actually listening to an entire song anymore."
Gene has written
over 300 songs and has recorded 11 albums. His favorite, entitled "Turn
the Corner" is a collection of Gene and his guitar recorded in 1991.
Gene says his songwriting has boomed over the past couple of years. His
latest album, "My Song Now," is filled with energetic and humorous
songs, including a lament about living in a tourist town and a
funny-serious song about rude audience members, aptly called "Shut the
Fuck Up." It reminds us to never try to come between a musician and his
Gene has some tips for songwriters:
- Tip 1: Accept the idea that there is a part of you which knows a song that feels right to you from one that doesn't.
- Tip 2: Learn to play an instrument
- Tip 3: Read. Your Genius is wise but it needs information
- Tip 4: Develop interests outside of music, writing and romance.
- Tip 5: Listen to other people's music.
- Tip 6: Take notes. Keep some scratch paper with you at all times.
- Tip 7: Once your song is "done", go on what my brother Allison calls a "cliche hunt".
- Tip 8: Avoid easy rhymes that don't advance the meaning of your song.
- Tip 9. Make sure each line advances your meaning and doesn't just repeat what you've already said.
- Tip 10: Be willing to not know what the song is about yet while you are writing it.
- Tip 11: It's the song not YOU that's important.
- Tip 12: Live and learn, (cliche, I know) and keep writing.
Gene is also a certified T'ai-Chi
teacher and has been teaching since 1985. Gene explains his techniques
and teachings on his webpage: GeneBurnett.com
He offers private lessons and will work with you according to your
financial abilities. Gene prefers to practice his T'ai-Chi outdoors
where he feels connected to the natural world. You might find him near
the bandstand in Lithia Park.
Gene charms audiences with his "index card" poems. So much is said in few words when Gene reads his poetry:
When I can't bear
To look in the mirror
I resort to cleaning it.
Gene lives in Ashland with his wife, Samarra.
can see Gene perform solo and with a few of his friends in various
venues in town. On Monday, May 12 he'll be at the Siskiyou Pub with
Chris Parreira at 7pm. Tuesdays, catch him with fellow musician Seth
Richardson at Liquid Assets from 8-11pm. On Sunday, May 18, 7pm, Gene
will be at the Starbuck's on Siskiyou Blvd and then on to the Wild
Goose for the open mic. Gene joins others to celebrate Bob Dylan's
birthday on Monday, May 19 at the Wild Goose at 8:30pm.