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Seeing the Music: East Texas songwriters

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POSTED: Friday, February 14, 2014 - 11:26pm

UPDATED: Monday, February 17, 2014 - 12:01pm

For every story put to music, there is a storyteller with a tale of their own.

The Blue Frog Grill in Marshall, is just one of many venues in East Texas, where local songwriters can share their passion and keep the long standing tradition alive.

"Most of the time people write songs from a very personal experience and when they can share that there's a saying that songwriting is the cheapest form of psychotherapy that's out there," said Connie Mims, coordinator of the East Texas chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

"Sometimes they start out as a poem sometimes they start as a melody, for me most of the time it's the same time," said Charlie Edwards, a member of the chapter.

Edwards from Longview, truly has songwriting in his blood, his father, Darrell Edwards, wrote songs that were performed by Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, and had a working relationship with the Opossum himself.

"Dad wrote 'Why Baby Why' and he and George Jones over the years wrote and co-wrote songs together.  Dad would have people over writing songs while I was growing up, I picked up on it and after he passed there was a void at the family reunions. it's a hobby I like to do like somebody would go bass fishing or play golf I like to write songs," said Edwards.

"I like seeing that light bulb go off in other songwriters and see them go 'I got it' and write a great song or write a better song than they did last month," said Mims.

Since June of last year, the group has met at the end of every month in Tyler, bouncing ideas off one another, and generating more and more members.

"It's a very exciting and rewarding to be here, especially in East Texas because it's a wide coverage of an area and there's so many songwriters and they're just some of them are hiding and they haven't come out of their cage," said Mims.

One songwriter, however, is not difficult to find.

You can see him perform on every Thursday night, at the Blue Frog Grill.

Robert Cook, or his real name, Blind Dog, makes up for his lack of eyesight, with an uncanny knack for telling a story through song, with a voice that commands the room.

"I enjoy everything about it all my life I've wanted to do one thing and that was be involved some way in music or the music industry, I've been lucky enough that that's basically been my career it's a blessing," said Blind Dog.

"He's just a real fine singer, good song writer, an inspiration to me and others," said Edwards.

Although each sound may differ, amongst these musical architects is an unmatched cohesion, that surpasses any genre lines.

"Whenever you are in the country there's a group of song writers it is sort of a family, it's always been that way for small towns like this, Nashville, there's a sense of community from one writer to another that you just can't beat it," said Blind Dog.

The words on the page, and chords on the strings, take time to cultivate, with every song holding a piece of the one who wrote it.

In some ways it can be hard to hear another performer cover your work, but overall, it's the ultimate form of flattery.

"It's sort of giving up your stuff but you know for every 100 songs that you might write as a writer, it's two or three of them that gets someone's attention by the time somebody actually records one of your songs you're just so happy, that's all that really matters," said Blind Dog.

From the amateur lyricist to the experienced composer, from the aspiring artist to the well traveled troubadour, a song is often a few pen strokes, a willing soul, and a moment of inspiration away.

"You're never too old you're never too young to start writing a song," said Mims.

The East Texas songwriting chapter meets the last Tuesday of every month at Brady's coffee in Tyler from 7 to 9 P.M..

There is no charge to attend, and anyone is welcome to join.

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