Toby the Big Mule
Songwriter Stalls

Vince Bennett

Why: I thought about playing guitar for quite a few years so my grandchildren would have music in their lives. I never started because I traveled so much for business. Finally I realized that if I never started I’d never get started so I picked turning 50 as my target date for learning acoustic guitar. I managed to procrastinate until I was 51, but at last I started. This was good timing as I was 52 when the first of my nine grandchildren was born. Song writing never crossed my mind until I was fooling around on the guitar making up a little ditty for Matthew and Adam celebrating their love of chocolate. “The Chocolate Boys” was my first song. I began writing songs for each grandchild. I enjoyed it so much that I began writing songs for my amusement. Later I joined the Songwriters Workshop to improve my craft.

Influences: One does not grow up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s without being influenced by the Beatles. I also love the ability of Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, James Taylor, Johnny Cash and The Band to tell a good story. They all paint such wonderful pictures with so few words. I try to do the same making every word in every song count. Favorite Songs: If I was only allowed to have one album it would have to be ‘Rubber Soul'. My second album would be ‘Music from Big Pink’.

Favorite Guitars: My go to guitar is a Taylor 314CE. It handles strumming and finger style equally well. My back up is a Breedlove AC25/SM. It doesn’t sound as good as the Taylor, but it is a joy to play. Recently I picked up a Taylor GS Mini and find it to be a very good travel guitar.

Where: I am an Air Force Brat so I can’t answer the question ‘where are you from?’ I’ve lived in three foreign countries and seven states. I feel at ‘home’ when I am with my family or with other military brats. I’ve planted myself in Cincinnati for the last 30 plus years, but could leave tomorrow and not look back. I’m sure my transient life is reflected in my writing.

Mike Biere

Mike Biere is an acoustic and electric guitarist with many years of playing in groups as well as solo appearances. 500 Miles was inspired by getting a request from his classmates for a class reuion wanting to have some music to play while showcasing those who had passed away since graduation. Having a song with vocals didn’t seem to apply so the challenge was to come up with a tune that everyone would recognize. Lately he has been performing with an acoustic duet, the Bridge Street Duo, and a retro rock cover band, Strange Brew.

His solo appearances often feature many of the songs he has written and performed. A recent highlight in October 2014 was playing at The House Of Blues with the Rocket band in Las Vegas. He lives in Cincinnati, OH and may be reached by email at:

Dennis Chubinski

(my friends and new bride call me "Doc")
I've been playing guitar since the 60's. My older sister was dating a guitar teacher and was always late when he came to pick her up so my guitar just happened to be out. Got some free advice. That was a time when you could play any song on the A.M. dial with 3 chords, and if you could play a 4th chord you could play "house of the rising sun" and you were really cool. Played in a local garage band. After college and medical school my musical life was dormant for years, life gets in the way.

A few years ago life threw me a curve as it can do, and I found myself newly single and living alone. I had with me an old friendly, nylon string guitar and a beautiful Gibson 12 string that my sister gave me in 1968. I found myself with that old "gut string" (as Verlon Thompson would call it) on my lap a lot and my dormant musical life reemerged. By the way I wrote a love song about that guitar, "My six string love". I have a hat that says "Music was my salvation". For me it was. Music did a lot for my mental health at a time when I really needed it.

Always looking for ideas for songs. The first song I wrote came from a phrase I heard in a marriage counsellor's office. He was asking me about a relationship I had with a good friend (who later became my bride). I actually said these words to him: "Cancer took her husband; crazy took my wife...........NOW THAT'S A SONG." Wrote that song, "My answered prayer".

Recently had an encounter with a patient, showing her x-rays and discussing degenerative arthritis. She made the statement to me, "This is all new to me Doc...I AINT NEVER GROWED OLD BEFORE". Had fun writing that one.

I have been influenced by song writers by some great folks that I've met in instructional settings: Chris Hillman, Jorma Kaukonen, Tim Stafford, Verlon Thompson, as well as several aspiring participants in the classes. I am in their debt. Gear: In response to my new bride's question - how many instruments do you have? My answer was - I only have one collection. Favorite Mandolin is a Red Diamond I got from Don MacRostie. Favorite Guitars - Collings, Pete Huttlinger signature and a Gibson 1928 Blues Tribute L1.

I currently reside and practice Podiatric Medicine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Dan Chute

Dan Chute is a singer, songwriter and performer from Vienna, VA. Dan has been traveling and performing in American country, rockabilly, bluegrass, and rock-n-roll acts for some 35 years, typically performing in about 100 shows per year. He routinely plays electric guitar, bass, mandolin and acoustic guitar at regular performances in Virginia and surrounding states, primarily with his bands The DC3 and The Twangmasters and acoustic duos. Dan's passion for performance is matched only by his tireless energy to seek out interesting honky tonks, musical landmarks, instruments, songwriters and other performers. These travels and pilgrimages have taken him to all 50 US States, and international journeys through England, Canada, Wales, Holland, Germany and Australia.

Dan has studied, performed and recorded with many notable professional musicians including Randy Waller of The Country Gentlemen, Bill Kirchen, James Intveld, Rosie Flores, Will Ray, Van Howard of Ray Price's Original Cherokee Cowboys and Chris Hillman.

Margie Drees

I'm a fiddle player and vocalist with "Ma Crow & the Lady Slippers," a bluegrass/Americana band based in Cincinnati, Ohio. A graduate of CCM (College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati) majoring in piano, I discovered traditional and bluegrass music in the late 90's and eventually became a fiddle player! Inspired by the musicianship and dedication of our band members over the last four years, I started writing songs reflecting our shared interest in and love for traditional music, nature and the Appalachian Mountains. Individual band members' personal connections with the area, as well as the history of the people who lived and struggled there, also motivated me.

Appearing on all the tracks are the members of Ma Crow & the Lady Slippers, consisting of Ma Crow on lead vocals and guitar; Trina Emig on banjo and mandolin; Vicki Abbott on harmony vocals and bass; and myself on harmony vocals and fiddle.

One of my favorite quotations is the following by Simone Weil: "The work of art which I do not make, none other will ever make."

Doug Irwin

Singer-songwriter Doug Irwin hails from Bellefonte in central Pennsylvania. He bought his first guitar at the tender young age of 39. He taught himself a few chords, learned himself a few songs & soon decided to try his hand at writing some songs of his own. He reasoned, how hard can it really be?

He's come to realize that the creative process of song writing is what interests him the most. Constructing or channeling something that wasn't there before, striving to touch on the personal or the universal. That's what keeps drawing him back in.

He's written over three dozen tunes and usually has at least a half dozen more simmering on a back burner. He enjoys most genres of music, but finds Americana to be his favorite.

Depending on the week, some of his influences may include; Ray Charles, Jim Croce, the Drive-By Truckers, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Lucero, Buddy Miller, Randy Newman, Greg Trooper, Todd Snider, or Warren Zevon.

So far, his songs have been about, but not limited to; burning bridges, his beautiful daughter, feeding your soul, Patty Griffin, ice cream for breakfast, our military veterans, his Mom, naysayers, old hotels, playing poker, river queens, sinners, saints & angels & his lovely wife.

He's finally begun to enjoy performing his songs out for folks.

He uses a 2005 Taylor 210E named Jean & belts out three chord, rhythm fueled originals & hand-picked, free range, grass fed covers. He's set up a permanent residence on the corner of 145 Fifth Circle Rd & Capo Lane.

Sometimes, he's lucky enough to be joined by family & friends. Singing with his wife & daughter is one of his great joys.

He almost always writes his bios in the third person. He's happy to be here & thanks you for stopping by. He sure hopes you all hear something that you like.

Walt Leuzinger

Walt Leuzinger has worked at his craft in the studio, as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger for half a century. He’s been lucky enough to have learned from and collaborated with many amazingly creative and skilled folks over the course of those years. He now has the privilege of strawing his work around the spacious confines of “Barnagie Hall” amidst some of those other remarkably talented and like-minded musicians. So never mind the rat snake in the rafters or the road apples on the floor, just grab a spot in the loft and let your ears feed your soul.

Kate Nord

Kate Nord- Songwriter from the Southern Shores of Lake Erie

I’m blessed and proud to to be one of Chris Hillman’s “Mad Mountain Rangers”! I dearly love Chris and all my Ranger partners! Lucky me!!

I’ve been inspired most of my life by folk, bluegrass, country and of course, rock and roll. Folk music is my true love and I tend to write songs in this style. I’ve been influenced greatly by The Byrds, Eagles, Dan Fogelberg , Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe and many others.

Ten years ago, I started taking mandolin lessons. I became close friends with my teacher Jimmy Haynes and his lovely and talented songstress wife, Enola. Jimmy and Enola have performed bluegrass and gospel in many bands and quartets for the past thirty-five years. I started writing songs for Enola and with the help of many extremely talented musician friends we created our first cd called, “Enola-Sleepless Sorrow”. I wrote “The Mandolin Man and the Songbird” for The Haynes. We’re working on our second cd which will be much more slow and folky. Our fiddler is the Haynes’ son, Adam, who plays fiddle for “The Grascals”.

I play the guitar, mandolin and dabble with many instruments. I’m teaching myself to play a mountain harp and the psaltry. I’m the proud owner of Chris Hillman’s Limited Edition Breedlove Guitar, a Martin D-28, a Gibson Fern Mandolin and a Gibson Bill Monroe F-5. Guess which is my favorite? Of course, it’s Chris’s Breedlove!

Currently I’m producing a documentary about the moving of a barn who's caretaker was born a slave around 1860 and died free at age 85 years old. The barn may have been part of The Underground Railroad. Stay tuned as this is very bittersweet, yet exciting! My hobbies include pottery making, kayaking and paddle boarding.

I live in Vermilion Ohio with my darling husband Richard and sweets pets, Bailey, Lexi and Tiger Lily. We spend a lot of time in Canada on The Georgian Bay and in Key Largo Florida.

Gregg Orsag

Gregg is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from Western Pennsylvania. Starting out in garage punk bands and later moving to acoustic Americana-infused music, he hasn't "mellowed" or become sophisticated over the past 20 years. His songs and style are still simple, sometimes rough-edged, and straight-ahead. His latest gigs have been as part of The True NYers, an acoustic duo.

Gregg's songs have been featured on local commercial radio and he has played at many top performance venues in the Pittsburgh area. Gregg likes artists like these a whole lot: Elmore James, The Ramones, Patsy Cline, Richard Thompson, Robert Pete Williams, The Sex Pistols, Woody Guthrie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Howlin' Wolf, Gillian Welch, Elvis, Doc Watson, Jonathan Richman, Ali Farka Toure. He just recently finished a new 15-song CD, which includes several tunes featured here, and expects to release it later in 2015.

Cliff Pazik

A big thank you out to Walt for inviting me to his website. We met at a song writing class and he mentioned he had a stall for me one day. Low and behold; I'm very excited to be part of Walt's vision.

I was born in Chicago into a musical family. Grew up listening to the songs of the fifties and sixties and quite a few musicals. I love the blues and the traditional folk; this is evident in my music. I have an electric guitar but never play it! I play and write acoustic music and when it is not acoustic I make it acoustic.

I'm often asked why I'm called Lonesome Cliff; it is not because I sing/write Lonesome songs. Although I do have my share and i'm not lonesome. The true story is I used to have a partner - Pat Weber - we were called 'Shot and a Beer.' We played local pubs in Chicago and some college parties a long time ago. When Pat left for a new job in New Orleans; I was auditioning as a soloist at some of the local haunts in Chicago. When I was recognized by a former promoter I was asked what happened to Pat. I explained he left for a job in New Orleans; the promotor then laughed and asked what's your name Lonesome Cliff? Funny, who would of thought the name kind of stuck.

I was married for 18 years; during this time raised a family; always played guitar for my kids as they were growing up and jammed with some friends. When the two oldest got out of high school I started playing more. I showed up at open mic nights; i enjoyed it; seemed like the people I played for enjoyed it as well. it has been fun and decided to post some songs I have written over the years.

I write for fun and healing, it helps me express what might be going on in my life; crystallize the moment in time. i.e. Cody's song is for my youngest son; i wrote We for my God daughters wedding.

I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as like playing them. Until next time remember cliff pazik is lonesome cliff

Dave Revels

Former member of the Hall Of Fame group, The Drifters, current lead singer, arranger and producer of The Persuasions. Singer/songwriter, author of the song, Stand Up America, considered by many a contemporary national anthem and used in schools across America as part of their "spirit of unity" and national pride programs. Producer of nostalgia 50's and 60's shows with two current national and International touring productions entitled, "Shadows Of The 60's" Tribute to Motown's Super Groups, " and "Shake, Rattle 'N Roll," Salute to Classic Doo Wop & Early Pioneers of Soul.

Denise Ridgway

I’m a happily retired Air Force Colonel who has put down some roots near Indianapolis. I’ve always loved guitar music and the work of singer/songwriters. While my brothers were rocking out to the heavy stuff, I was always tuned into ‘softer’ fare---artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Gordon Lightfoot, Bread, and Dan Fogelberg.

I don’t have a musical background (5th grade violin doesn’t count), but I always thought about playing the guitar. Just never had the time and motivation until I retired. I’m mostly self-taught on an old classical guitar, and that’s clearly demonstrated in my songs. In fact, the sign over my barn stall should read, “Denise Sings Her Songs….Please Ignore Her Crappy Guitar Playing.” I’ve got a long way to go on the guitar, but a long time left to get there.

I’ve been writing songs since the summer of 2013. Wrote the first one as a challenge to myself and (surprisingly) enjoyed the experience so much I’ve been writing ever since. Attending a workshop with Verlon Thompson at the Fur Peace Ranch really opened up my songwriting. I like to adhere to Verlon’s guiding principles of songwriting: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity. I try to write songs that have a streak of optimism and aren’t too heavy. You’re just not going to find much “Debbie Downer” stuff in my repertoire. My feeling is the world can be a pretty sad place and I want to smile when I write.

When I’m not fiddling with songs you can find me staying busy (enough) with volunteering, gardening, working out, or religiously following the Indianapolis Colts and Auburn University football teams. War Eagle!!

Walt Sample

I have always favored story songs like Harry Chapin’s Taxi, Kevin “Blackie” Farrell’s Sonora’s Death Row, Robert Earl Keen’s Feeling Good Again and Verlon Thompson’s Dinnerbell. I like little ear movies that have an end, middle, and beginning. I don’t like to have to think too much to understand what the song is about. I love words that paint pictures and color characters. I want to be able to walk down the street of the song. I like getting involved and caring about what happens. A few minutes of mild exercise for my imagination like a 200 word novel. A mini vacation for my mind.

I have been strumming on a flattop guitar since the early ‘70s. Being a self-taught guitar player I developed unorthodox fingerings and strums plus a 4 wheeler accident added screws, steel plates and scrambled nerves to my wrists. Playing cover songs became an artistic adventure for brave ears like Salvador Dali co-painting with Jackson Pollack would be for gallant eyes. I knew I could sound like me so I started to write my own songs.

I tend to write simply. Most of my songs I am stingy with words. I try to be clear and concise and get some kind of emotional mood going. A few tears or a big smile, something. I love a good metaphor and simile. It’s all about the images. I try to sketch an engaging story.

I write every day. Get something on paper. Start a new train of thought or grab one from the “need to polish” pile. I like to let new songs simmer for a while. Stir ‘em occasionally maybe add a bit or take something out. Sometimes lines that were brilliant a few weeks ago slowly lose their luster. My go to rig is a 2002 Martin HD-35 strung with Martin SP 13/56 strings. My workhorse Ovation Celebrity I bought new in ’75 still gets picked on as does my trusty 12 string Ovation. I split my time between my Cincinnati home and my farm in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Going up the road and down the road is a perfect time to do songwriter homework. Listen to tunes!

Greg Smith

I'm a singer-song writer currently based out of Mason, Ohio. Song writing has been one of main passions for over 25 years. I realized the power of song early on through my exposure to artists such as Dylan and Leonard Cohen. They were the first ones that were able to capture in words the emotions I was feeling but too inarticulate to express. I first picked up a guitar at the age of 13 to try to become the next Eddie Van Halen. It didn't take long to realize that wasn't in the cards. So I took my talents and dedicated my time to learning the discipline of song writing.

I've released a CD titled DEEP IN MY HEART. It's a mix of solo acoustic and full arrangements with a band. Cincinnati's own City Beat named it one of the areas top releases of 1996 and proclaimed me "one of the areas most promising and untainted performers". I was a one time staple in the open mic community and have played various festivals through out the Midwest including the Undercurrents festival in Cleveland. While promoting DEEP IN MY HEART i was privileged to be interviewed on WNKU. Over the years my writing has somewhat taken a back seat to raising a family and being a husband but a melody and a set of interesting and thought provoking words is never too far from my mind.

Dan Van Vechten

Dan Van Vechten is a singer/songwriter living in Cincinnati, originally from upstate New York. Years ago Dan would play guitar for hours a day and sing around a hunting lodge with friends or a campfire on the farm. For a while there were bar gigs and the occasional talent show, but the artist had not yet been found. As time went by music was played less and less on that guitar until eventually it was tucked back into the case while a more responsible life was being built. When Dan found an open mic by accident on the west side of Cincinnati, he pulled his guitar out and went back the next week. Over the next few months' time, some songs came back and many more were found in the Cincinnati Roots/Folk/Americana sounds. For the first time, Dan began to write songs and play them alongside the ones he learned in the local scene. "Simply Dan" now plays as a solo act with a variety of music and a wide assortment of musician friends who love to jump in and make a band. The songs included include top-notch string players who all have notable projects of their own but some kind of connection to the song they are playing. Every aspect of this album is locally grown, and it celebrates an artist who found himself in Cincinnati, then found himself in Cincinnati. If you'd like more information, check out Enjoy!

Bim Walker

Bim Walker is an aspiring songwriter living in Columbus, OH. He plays guitar, typically acoustic fingerpicking.

Bim’s songwriting influences include Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, and Robert Hunter.

Roger Wheeler

At the age of 5 I was “playing” a tennis racket while I blasted Beatles music on the old Magnavox stereo in the living room on S. 4th St in the mill village of Lanett, AL. I was the youngest of 4 kids and my brother had a really cool Harman Kardon stereo in his front bedroom and all the cool albums of the 60 and 70’s that I listened to constantly He also had a big right handed cheap classical nylon string guitar that he had restrung since he was left handed. Being left handed myself I thought I’d try it out and the rest is history. I was 12 years old and I’ve never looked back!! I will never forgot the day a buddy of mine pulled out the weirdest looking album cover I have ever seen with the strangest title of “Quah”. I had never heard of Jorma Kaukonen but I was mesmerized!!!! I literally wore that album out and he became my hero along with my other influences such as James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg and Pure Prairie League. Wrote some tunes in high school but went to college, got married, had kids and my music was put on hold.

In the year 2001 I got my copy of “Acoustic Guitar” magazine and saw an ad for Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch. I knew at that moment I was going to go and in 2004 I was lucky enough to get in Jorma’s class. Drove all the way from Birmingham to Meigs County OH. nervous as a cat laying next to a rocking chair and found a little slice of heaven on earth and my musical self was reborn! Had never played mandolin before but saw that Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Manassas fame was going to be teaching a mandolin class. I signed up, bought a lefty Collins MT mando and hit the road back to heaven. This weekend literally changed my musical life and Hillman’s Mad Mountain Rangers was born. Not only did I get some excellent instruction but I met someone who was to become a great friend and influence, Marty Zundel as well as Dan Chute. The Rangers assembled 2 more times at the Fur Peace with new friends made in Walt Sample and Kate Nord among others. My writing came back alive and I started getting out and playing and having the time of my life. Became friends with Anthony and Savana Crawford of a local duo called Sugarcane Jane. Anthony is originally from Mountain Brook, AL and was a member of and toured with Neil Young’s International Harvesters band as well as Steve Winwood, Dwight Yoakam. He has a studio in his Dog Trot house in Loxley, AL and has been kind enough to record some of my songs. I continue to write and play and feel extremely lucky to be included with the other talented musicians on this web site!

Marty Zundel

Singer, Songwriter, Multi instrumentalist…

began playing guitar and singing in bands in high school and college in the early 70’s, developing an interest in the country rock music being performed by the Byrds , the Burrito Brothers, Pure Prairie League and others. Returning to Pittsburgh, I performed acoustic versions of this music solo and in duos until 1978. As so often happens, at that time “life got in the way” and music took a back seat to work and family. So it was that I never stopped playing totally, but only casually with friends as opportunities came along.

Fast forward to 2008… interest in playing was revived when an opportunity presented itself to do a workshop with Chris Hillman (again Byrds , Burritos, Desert Rose Band) who had always been a great inspiration musically. Chris got me started playing mandolin and writing songs again. Since then I have been writing, performing and recording.

As a solo artist my music ranges from straight country to old time and bluegrass to “Americana”( which I suppose somebody out there knows what that is) and is influenced mostly by West Coast and Texas country with just a little bluegrass and some countrified R&B thrown in for good measure. I have been most fortunate to have met and learned from some very gifted songwriters and players along the way.

I do some work with other acoustic artists and some bands, currently playing bass, guitar and singing with Westmoreland County oldies favorite “Revival”. I have contributed original music for the Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD project and am active in the Pittsburgh Songwriters Network (NSAI chapter).

I play solo shows, festival and fair dates throughout the year both locally and on the road.

For booking, email:

You may also find me at

and marty zundel on ReverbNation