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Co-Op grows performers

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The last time Pete Laiosa was in the public eye, he was in a laid-back folk/frock duo called the Swivel Rockers. The band has been recently resurrected in a different configuration, but now Laiosa has taken on another performing role, as publicity director for the N.C. Songwriter's Co-op.

"The whole focus is to grow the whole local songwriting community," Laoisa says. "The way we do that, we have things like open mike or songwriter circles where people work on songs. Collaboration among members, anything to do with songwriting is part of the goal." The grassroots organization has been recently revitalized with a membership push to make the community more active and open to vocal music.

One way the organization does that is by opening up venues for some of their players. That doesn't necessarily mean going into new clubs, but getting established ones to host open-mike nights that are singer/songwriter friendly.

A consulting arm is in the works as well. "There's a lot of people in the organization who are knowledgeable about everything from getting record contracts to deals with publishers," Laiosa says. "Some members have a lot of knowledge about how to put their first CD out, or what do you do with it after that, or anything that can grow the person as a player, as a songwriter, as a performer."

The goal of the organization is to help songwriters develop their craft. Experience or expertise doesn't enter into the equation. If you have the desire and the nerve to stand in front of an audience, and can come up with $25 (a one-time initiation fee of $15 and a $10 annual membership fee) you can be a member. ";Part of our focus is taking people who haven't performed, or people who may need help writing lyrics and collaborating--just helping people develop."

The upcoming 8th Annual Songwriters contest is geared toward that goal as well. The contest is open to people of all skill levels and experience. The only qualification is that the participant must have written or co-written both words and music to songs they submit for performance and judging and must perform on the submission tape and in the finals. Deadline for entries is Sept. 30. The contest will take place at the ArtsCenter on Nov. 12. Up to $3,500 in cash and prizes are being awarded.

Past contest winners, as well as new members and old favorites, will display their talents as well at the Carrboro Music Festival Sunday, Sept. 25 at the Armadillo Grill, 120 E. Main Street in Carrboro. Ten performers including Tad Dreis, Greg Taylor and Tracy Feldman perform from 1 to 7 p.m.

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