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Troy Cartwright Dixon didn’t hang around long after learning he’d won the 2013 B.W. Stevenson songwriting competition, but when he left, the smile on his face said it all, and his fan of $100 bills, the winning $1,000 prize, didn’t hurt either.
Cartwright may have also delivered the most popular of the songs, as well as having eliminated, ultimately, about 60 other songwriters, with his song about having coffee in the morning and whiskey at night. His voice packed power to his songs, and his stage presence added personality to the whole package.
The contest is held annually at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, and has been a continuous event for more than two decades.
Also making the finals, held Wednesday night (April 24), were strong contenders Grady Yates, Rod Ballou, Mark Gorman, Morgan Elam, and Gene Neptune. It was without exception that each musicians gave their appreciation to the others and to (Poor) David Card, who coordinates the event at the classic Poor David’s Pub.
The event opened with two songs from Dan O’Connell, who was the reserve finalist, ready to step in should any of the other six not be able to compete.
Gorman had some strong songs, one especially about the loneliness one can feel even when in a permanent relationship. Ballou also had some well-delivered songs, one of those he calls “5 O’clock Shadow,” about the adoration of his son, and the realization that adoration could change as the child grows up. Yates’ strong song in this set, perhaps, was his tribute to his mother, saying he promised himself and her he would sing the song if he ever made it that far in the contest. He also said his mother was in a stage of Alzheimer’s at the time.
Morgan, age 14, had an accompanist on guitar, and that left her freer to add body and facial expressions to her songs. Card reminded the audience that Marinda Lambert had played at Poor David’s Pub at that tender age, as did some of those in the Dixie Chicks. And Neptune, from Katy, Texas, developed one of his songs from an expression he heard from a rodeo friend. The song, “Rodeo Cool,” he took some poetic liberties with, instead of it being about look-warm beer (rodeo cool beer), it was about a rodeo cowgirl, dressed to the coolest degreee.
Keep your eye on Poor David’s Pub website (click here) for details about the 2014 contest, which will begin with a request for submissions of original songs for consideration into the yearly event. Deadline for entries is usually in early April.