Friday, January 18, 2013

"Heart of Middletown" Composer Dave Downs

The Eye received a press release in early December (as did other news outlets), publicizing a "Songs for Sandy" contest.

The contest will be run by a new organization, the Connecticut Highly Unsuccessful Songwriters Association (CHUSA), headquartered in Middletown. In the contest, original songs that in some way relate to Hurricane Sandy will be selected by a panel of "un-noteworthy non-experts", and compiled on a CD.

We were intrigued, and to learn more about CHUSA, we emailed its founder, Dave Downs, to ask a few questions.

Here (unedited) is what we got back, Eye questions are in bold.

Dear Ragtag Volunteer Anarchist Devoto:

Thank You So Much for responding to my CHUSA (Connecticut Highly Unsuccessful Songwriters Association) press release:

"Can you tell Eye readers a bit more about the person or people behind CHUSA?"
I, Dave Downs, am the Founding Father, CEO and currently the sole member of the Connecticut Highly Unsuccessful Songwriters Association, headquartered here, in Middletown CT. I am currently excepting [sic] applications for membership.

"What is the inspiration of CHUSA?"
Some thirty years ago I picked up my first guitar, and I've been writing highly unsuccessful songs ever since. Sure, it'd be great to write a song people actually listen to, but the absence of such an event hasn't seemed to inhibit my proclivity for continuing the practice. CHUSA's mission is to nurture this time-honored craft of writing songs many people may very well never hear, or may very well never want to hear again.

"What (I think you mean, 'Who') is your favorite Middletown composer?"

By rights, I should name Henry Clay Work--whose gallant likeness appears on our South Green--as my favorite. But actually, no. I, Dave Downs, am my favorite Middletown composer. I'm currently working on a compilation of songs--to be entitled Leatherman--which will include such titles as "Heart of Middletown," "Mortimer's Cemetery," "Indian Hill," "Chief Sowheag," Why Should I Wanna Be Anyplace Else," and of course, "Leatherman"--all inspired by Middletown and the Connecticut River Valley.

"What song best captures the spirit of our city?"
[SHD note: click on song titles for You Tube video]
My song, "Heart of Middletown," I believe best captures the spirit of our City. Others:
"Why doesn't Middletown have a City Song, or does it?"
I can't find mention of an official City Song, but I think my song, "Heart of Middletown," certainly should be the official city song. I seem to recall sending a copy to our previous Mayor. He sent back a thank you note, but nothing more.

"Anything else you want Middletown residents to know about songwriting, CHUSA, or any other topic?"
As the press release you received indicates, it is my wish that CHUSA become the host of the first-annual Sandy Song Contest, which will invite Middletown-area folks to write and record one song that in some way speaks to the impact of Hurricane on us, and more so our neighbors in New York and New Jersey. The contest will culminate with a summer music festival and a CD compilation, the proceeds from which will go toward Hurricane Sandy releive and reserach on climate change. But I can't do it alone, which is why I'm inviting folks to contact me in advance to attend the first official meeting of The Connecticut Highly Unsuccessful Songwriters Association, on Saturday, February 2, 2013, beginning at 5:00 p.m. They email me (Dave Downs), or 860.344.8297


Shane said...

Great job Dave.

Tree Fanatic said...

What about Reginald deKoven, Middletown's most prolific composer by far? I don't think we can say no song about Middletown has been written until someone goes through the archives of his work at Brandeis University. Certainly "The Things We'd Better Not Know" sounds extremely promising.