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Original songs to be featured at first Songs on Sanibel event

By Staff | Aug 12, 2015


Although Stephen Plein does not fully understand where the idea of gathering talented songwriters in Southwest Florida together stems, he knew they would all benefit from an event that showcases their original music.

It’s time to “take the bull by the horns,” he said. “I live on Sanibel and work at Tween Waters. I’m tired of not having anything to do music wise. I can play gigs and do 85 percent covers, (but) I want the majority to be original (music). There’s not that environment to do that anywhere in town, other than a few places – clubs and bar owners willing to promote that type of atmosphere for their customers.”

The first of what he hopes to be a monthly event, Songs on Sanibel, will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Community House. A $5 donation is requested at the door. Alcoholic beverages and coffee will be available by donation.

While working at Tween Waters Inn on Captiva, Plein said a conversation with Salli Kirkland of Billy’s Bikes about music ended with an idea of holding a singer songwriter event at The Community House.

“The Community House would be perfect,” Plein thought. “Especially the north room with the hardwood floors and the fireplace.”


The first event will feature four singer songwriters – Plein, Michael King, Tim McGeary and Carlene Thissen – in an “in the round” atmosphere. The intimate concert will feature the musicians with a mic stand, a seat and their guitar with the audience surrounding them.

“It’s a more intimate setting and interactive experience for the listener of the audience,” Plein said without a stage 15 feet away. “This is a listening room and listening experience. The crowd can react and interact after the song. There shouldn’t be talking or cell phone usage during a song.”

Plein took a creative writing class at the University of Miami after he was hurt playing football, which eventually led to song writing. He said for the past five or six years he has been writing acoustically and melodically driven simple music. Plein, who is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association, spends time in Nashville where he hopes to jump start his singing career.

McGeary, who also makes frequent trips to Nashville where he co-writes with songwriters, recently released a CD, “Second Hand Saint.” His songwriter career, which began in the 1980s, includes many songs featured on television shows and movies. McGeary was featured at the 2014 Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. In addition to being a songwriter, he works as a full-time firefighter, paramedic and flight medic in Collier County and spent time at Ground Zero volunteering after 9/11.

King is the chapter coordinator of the Nashville Songwriters Association Fort Myers chapter. When he is not playing, King is an instructor with the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy.

Carlene Thissen PHOTO PROVIDED

Thissen, an author and songwriter, began writing music after publishing her book “Immokalee’s Fields of Hope.” She finds her inspiration to write music through stories she learns while working as an educational coordinator of the Farm Labor Supervisor training program. Thissen is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Global Songwriters Connection.

“We all know each other from other shows . . . just from around town,” Plein said. “Everyone has good lyrics, ideas and melodies.”

He said with their ages range from their 20s to the 60s it will add another dimension to Songs on Sanibel.

“We all have the same goal, write original music and get connected to Nashville one way or another to get our songs cut by performers,” Plein said.

The music, he said will be cut down to bare bones so the audience can hear the roots of the music.


“It’s a good thing to get minds thinking about songwriters again,” Plein said of the event.

He said he hopes attendees will walk away from Songs on Sanibel thinking about music in a different way.

“You don’t have to have drums and a big five-piece band,” he said about having good organic music from one person. “I want them to go away on their car ride home thinking that it was a good evening with talented people.”

Plein said he hopes attendees will want to mark their calendars every month for the Songs on Sanibel event.

Reservations are requested for the Aug. 15 event by calling (239) 472-2155.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.