If you created a genealogical map of New Jersey musicians, that family tree would criss-cross throughout the Garden State and beyond. Singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists shift and re-shift into a myriad of musical permutations and combinations.
So it’s no surprise that the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap is about to celebrate a decade-long tradition. Founded by Rebecca Turner and Deena Shoshkes in 2008, the swap has brought together a diverse community of songwriters to share, exchange, and collaborate.
The “Swapstravaganza” concert and album release party will take place on Saturday, September 29 at FM Bar in Jersey City. The event will feature performances by over 40 songwriters. And you’re invited to hear the music that has grown out of their once-per-month gatherings.
The song swap has brought together both experienced songwriters and newly minted writers. “We started the Song Swap just to make New Jersey musical friends, and it really took on a life of its own and became a huge and wonderful community of songwriters,” says Turner.
Here’s just a small sampling of the songwriters who have taken part in the swap throughout the last decade: Glenn Mercer and Dave Weckerman (of The Feelies and Yung Wu), Renee LoBue (Elk City), Rebecca Turner, Jon Fried and Deena Shoshkes (The Cucumbers), John and Toni Baumgartner (Speed The Plough), and Matt Davis (The Thousand Pities).
In addition to the live performances, they’ll be releasing a two-part compilation CD called “Swap Thing: Part 1” and “Swap Thing: Part 2.” The collection features a whopping 70 original songs by songwriters who have performed at the swap. You’ll be able to find the compilation on all major music streaming sites as well as via digital download.
“Everyone’s individuality shines forth, set side by side in this way,” says Shoshkes.
Turner, a singer-songwriter, has released a series of solo albums. In addition, she and her husband Scott Anthony run Storybook Sound in Maplewood.
“If you listen to the whole compilation, there are so many wonderful, funny, beautiful songs, in so many different styles,” says Turner. “[B]ut each one has so much heart, and that’s really been a constant with the Swap.”
You can also listen to their spotify playlist which highlights a selection of the work by the song swap artists.
The Cucumbers, co-founded by Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried, was a staple of the Hoboken music scene in the 1980s one of the most intriguing bands to develop during that timeframe. Since then, Shoshkes has released solo work and has teamed up with many musicians who have been part of the song swap.
Read more about The Cucumbers in an article by Donny Levit.
More recently, Shoshkes plays in The Campfire Flies, an ensemble of six musicians. Shoshkes and Fried are joined by Matt Davis of The Thousand Pities as well as John and Toni Baumgartner from Speed the Plough, and Ed Seifert from Ed Seifert and the Stimulus Package.
Read more about the The Campfire Flies and other indie rock pioneers in an article by Donny Levit.
When speaking of her career, Shoshkes is quick to highlight her collaborations with many of the swap musicians. “We tried to create a place for songwriters to feel free to try out new material, forge friendships, and collaborate creatively,” she says.
The song swap has developed into a powerful tradition that brings together talented NJ and NYC songwriters. They share a devotion to songwriting and their work is steeped in the joyous tradition of collaboration.