Local musician hosts workshop and performance on campus

 Photo by Tara Mahoney 

“For the next four minutes, this song fixes everything.”

There were about 20 people sitting around Craig Cardiff at his songwriting workshop in Tabaret Hall on Feb. 25. He played a verse and chorus from “Virginia in the Song” off his new album, Love is Louder (Than All This Noise), and asked us to “make it better.”

This task honestly seemed impossible. Cardiff is a very prolific musician, and he achieves exactly what he set out to do when he wrote “Virginia in the Song” — he fixes everything for four minutes.

It became increasingly evident as the evening continued that Cardiff is extremely focused on and dedicated to self-improvement. He followed up on the constructive feedback from the group, eager to get the most out of the time. He also passed around little notebooks and asked the audience to write ideas down, something he does at all his workshops and performances and has helped fuel his latest album.

But the workshop didn’t only benefit Cardiff. The students who brought things to share with the group probably profited from the workshop more than he did.

The audience was split into smaller groups in an effort to create a smaller, more comfortable space for sharing their own pieces. What resulted was a productive hour in which each individual was able to get feedback on their work in a positive and enriching environment that included the more experienced artists who were also there to perform at the event.

“It fixes Stompin’ Tom leaving … any love that was broken is fixed for the next four minutes,” Cardiff said as he introduced “Virginia in the Song” during the performance part of the evening. “It fixes Stephen Harper meeting with pandas instead of those First Nations kids, and it fixes that Rob Ford thing that happened.”

He closed his eyes and began picking his guitar, his foot twisting and swinging around emphatically, and he fixed us all again.

The show featured fellow local artists Shawna Caspi, a classically trained finger-picking guitarist; Giscar, a strong vocalist accompanied by his guitar; and Carolina Hum, a fabulous, trilling female duo who exhibited bone-chilling harmonies.

Throughout the performances, each artist would play one of their original songs, and the rest would contribute with harmonies and fills. It was a beautiful, brilliant, and spontaneous ensemble, clearly exemplified by the reaction of the room, which applauded after every song.

The success of the evening — the proceeds of which went towards Relay for Life — is a testament to Cardiff’s ability to bring people together within a community for an experience all members can benefit from; he is the glue for events like this. And, like glue, in assembling people in this way, he is able to fix them — at least for the duration of the evening.