WARREN - There was music in the air Monday at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library as aspiring songwriters and those interested in playing songs gathered to get advice from a New York singer-songwriter who travels the country, often singing anti-fracking songs.
Marc Black of Woodstock, N.Y., who plays guitar, spoke to a group of songwriters and residents at a workshop, which was the first of many musical guests and programs at the library throughout April and May.
The workshop allowed residents to ask Black for suggestions and ideas for their songs, which many of them played on instruments or sang for him.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Bob Coupland
Kylen Corley, 13, of Howland, plays on his guitar a Christmas song he wrote over the holidays. He was taking part in a songwriting workshop held Monday at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library.
''I get a lot of questions about what is involved in writing songs, techniques, subjects and what basically makes a good song,'' said Black, who described himself as a folk-rock singer.
He does shows at libraries and other venues in addition to his weekend performances for people of all ages, from children to senior citizens.
''I do a lot of programs for children. ... I feel when I help and teach others, I also learn. It's always good to see and hear someone new,'' he said.
The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library is holding a free program series featuring documentary film screenings and discussions of 20th century American popular music. The schedule is:
April 2, 6 p.m. - The Blues and Gospel Music
April 11, 6 p.m. - Broadway and Tin Pan Alley
April 20, 2 p.m. - Country and Bluegrass
April 30, 6 p.m. - Swing Jazz
May 7, 6 p.m. - Latin Rhythms from Mambo to Hip Hop
May 18, 2 p.m. - Rock
Those in attendance were encouraged to perform songs they had written or present ideas they would like to write about.
''If you want to write a song, it is essential that you have a message or idea. Writing a song is essentially like writing a letter where you know what you want to say. Often songs come from real-life experiences. I tell people to follow their feelings,'' he said.
Black said he himself has written protest songs as he travels across the country fighting hydro-fracking and anti-drilling. He has also written songs about his wire-haired terrier, Ziggy.
Black said he also put music to songs from a friend who was recovering from a stroke.
''We were able to come up with 13 different songs from what he wrote and I was able to put to music,'' he said.
Bob Capo of Warren said he used to write songs when he played in a band and especially enjoyed writing blues. He said shared a recent song he wrote about annoying phone calls from bill collectors, salespeople and ex-wives.
Kylen Corley, 13, of Howland, said he wrote a song over Christmas vacation from school.
''When I was on Christmas break, I wrote 'Christmas Time' for my family,'' he said.
Black said Corley's and Capo's songs had a a clear feeling of what they wanted to share.
''No one knows where a song comes from. Sometimes the ideas come really easy and other times it takes awhile,'' he said.
Charles Brown Jr. of Warren said he has written some lyrics and wanted to share his ideas. He said he was having a bad hair day and Black soon came up with a song on going to the barber.
Cheryl Bush, public relations for the library, said a free six-part American Music Series is being held starting April 2 through May 18 on 20th century American popular music. Bush said the programs will combine documentary films with discussions
In addition, a jazz trio will perform at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at the main library.