As a hard-touring blues musician, Romi Mayes has seen her share of music scenes, but few blow her away the way Winnipeg's does.
"It seems every couple of months I meet a new songwriter or band that I didn't even know existed in Winnipeg to add to the list of amazing artists in this town. It's endless here," she says.
That was all the inspiration she needed to create her now-annual Romi Mayes' Songwriting Night. Entering its third year, the event -- which takes place Sunday at the Park Theatre -- will see 20 of the city's most talented songsmiths get together for an intimate night of music and, as Mayes says, will be "put on the pedestals they deserve."
"It seemed like a no-brainer to me: A night of Winnipeg for Winnipeg where we can all be proud of how rich our music scene is and celebrate our talented songwriters. There were just too many (songwriters) to not keep the event going," she says.
The lineup features a mix of established and emerging local acts from across genres, including Sweet Alibi's Amber Quesnel, Angry Dragons' Joanne Rodriguez, Little Miss Higgins, Pat Alexandre of the F-Holes, Kevin Roy, Vince Andrushko, the Reverend Rambler and Chris Carmichael, to name just a few.
The night will consist of three sets, each featuring six or seven songwriters who will take turns playing tunes. "Most will be playing solo unless spontaneous accompaniment kicks in from someone else on stage," Mayes adds.
For the songwriters, the event offers unique development opportunities.
"These artists are challenged to sit naked without their bands and their accompaniment and get down to the core of the music and lyrics -- just like how the song started. Often they get to realize how strong of a song it really is," Mayes says.
"And, of course, if you put 20 great songwriters who don't always know each other in a small green room with beers for the night, it's inevitable that they will make new connections, new friendships and ideally the music will inspire each other as well."
It's not just the artists who reap the benefits of a songwriting showcase. For the audience, such an event comes with the thrill of discovery.
"Every year, I hear from people in the audience who hadn't heard a few of the songwriters before, how they are going to buy their album in the lobby and are new fans," Mayes says. "Sharing each other's fan bases and exposing the audience to new songwriters is a major reward from this event."