When one of the all-time musical icons of this generation offers a free songwriting clinic at the Berklee Performance Center, Berklee students know not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“I’m excited to see what [James] thinks about music,” opines Ben Marino, a drum set principle from New Jersey. “I hope the clinic is an even ratio of talking about music and actual playing.”
Ben’s buddy guitar principle Chris Brandes (Bergen County, NJ) jumps in, “My parents used to sing James Taylor songs to me to put me to sleep. I called my dad and told him about this clinic – funny how it’s come full circle. I’m excited.”
Ben and Chris weren’t the only excited fans in the room. Students braved frigid and windy weather to wait in line all morning for seating to the sold out clinic. They weren’t disappointed.
“Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect but being familiar with James’ music and Livingston’s workshops, I wanted to see how the two played off each other,” said voice principle Sarah Mount (Amherst, Ohio). “Their approach to this clinic was very engaging.”
Livingston and James dispensed with the formalities of typical shows and processed down the aisle to the stage. “We wanted this to feel like a fireside jam session in James’ living room,” Livingston told the crowd, “so we didn’t even sound check. We want this to be a comfortable conversation between music lovers.”
The lack of regimentation was effective and received positive feedback. “It made the room smaller,” says Sarah. “Even if he was a little explicit at times, I found myself captivated by James. When he opened his mouth, I didn’t want to move.”
The clinic was just over two hours and covered many topics and questions from students ranging from finger picking styles and nail care to sex and death.