Songwriters' Contest part of GumTree Festival fun

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They say there’s a first time for everything.
Cary Hudson has been writing songs for 20 years, but he’s never judged a songwriting competition. After next weekend, he won’t be able to say that.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Hudson said. “I’m expecting to hear some really good songs and, frankly, some really bad songs, and both of those ideas are entertaining. I think it’s going to be fun.”
Hudson is judging the Songwriters’ Competition at the 38th annual Cellular South GumTree Festival in Tupelo. A Sumrall native, Hudson is best known as founder of Southern rock band Blue Mountain and for his solo work.
His idea of a good song has changed over the years, but one truth has stayed with him.
“Basically, for me, it’s a good song if it touches somebody on an emotional level,” Hudson said. “It’s supposed to make a person feel something, whether that something is joy or sadness or laughter. It’s supposed to make you feel something.”
Hudson is currently writing a new Blue Mountain record and said his favorite songwriters include Neil Young, Bob Marley, Willie Nelson and Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
“There’s a part of my brain I try to keep turned on, especially when I’m writing songs, where I’m trying to find a good idea … If something strikes me, I keep a notebook and I write the idea or phrase down. I do that kinda constantly,” he said.
His advice for songwriters is simple: Practice.
“You can’t sit around waiting for inspiration to fall from heaven,” he said. “You have to work at it. Treat it as a craft.”
Hudson said he’s excited to hear local songwriters’ tunes.
“Tell the writers to play their best song first,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to hearing what people bring to the table.”

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal