Songwriters Group

Family Folk Machine Shop, our in-house songwriting workshop

In Fall of 2018, Gayla Drake taught a Songwriting Mastery class to several FFM members, which evolved into an ongoing songwriters’ workshop, affectionately called the Family Folk Machine Shop (or FFMShop for short). Members of the FFMShop work both individually and collaboratively on original songs, which are frequently arranged for ensembles made up of other group members. Please feel free to enjoy some of our original music!

Aprille is a writer, translator, volunteer, and enthusiastic FFM-er. She loves the opportunities Family Folk Machine has given her family and believes that continuous learning and growth are the keys to successful living. Songwriting has been an exciting new challenge and a great addition to the FFM experience. Aprille is the current Family Folk Machine board president.
Link to Chemical Apple Pie

Gayla spent decades as a touring singer-songwriter and guitar-slinger, before rooting herself in the Iowa City area to play heart-centered music and become a sound healing practitioner. She has written over 300 songs over the span of her career, and continues to write actively as a member of two songwriters groups, the FFMShop and the Small But Mighty Songwriters based at West Music in Coralville. In Spring 2019 Gayla was invited to become an Associate Artistic Director of the Family Folk Machine, and she jumped for joy and said, “Yes!”
Link to Presidents Day

In the fall of 2016 the Family Folk Machine started working on a songwriting project with the Awful Purdies. Susan was inspired to write her own songs after collaborating on The Single Tree with three other choir members, Jean Littlejohn, and Nicole Upchurch. So far, she has written more than 30 songs. To be able to perform her songs, she started ukulele lessons. Within 6 months of the start of her lessons, she challenged herself to start performing once a month at Uptown Bill’s. She is also a member of the Small But Mighty Songwriting Group at West Music and has had the opportunity to work directly with Gayla Drake on songwriting. She has found musical inspiration from other songs, miscellaneous phrases, the politics of the day, her daughter and husband, and nature.

Evelyn learned to play guitar when she was 17 and she was a volunteer music minister for many years. Although she loves music, she never dreamed she would ever write music. The Family Folk Machine’s songwriter’s project changed all that. After progressing from writing the words to her first song and then being challenged to put the song to music, she has now completed a couple of songs. She finds inspiration in the entire songwriter’s group – where everyone encourages each other and has fun at the same time. Evelyn has an art degree and has worked in education, illustration, and design. Several years ago, she discovered alternative medicine and is now a certified practitioner.

Thia joined Family Folk Machine after she retired from teaching in 2017. She had been enjoying their concerts since her husband Craig Klocke, a band member, joined five years earlier. She was particularly motivated to join when the local all female band, The Awful Purdies, collaborated with FFM for songwriting sessions. Although Thia plays the ukulele and the fiddle, she had never written a song until that time. She enjoyed the process so much that when FFM continued songwriting under Gayla Drake’s leadership, she was thrilled. At this point she has a dozen originals and more in the works.

Susan was very inspired by the Awful Purdies Songwriting Project in 2017 to take ukulele lessons and continue attempts at Songwriting. She is thrilled that Gayla has initiated a group at the FFM. Susan enjoys the sharing and collaborative aspect of the Songwriting group. It is a form of cathartic therapy to pour your ideas and emotions into a song, whether humor or something darker, and then share that with others for supportive feedback. More than solo performance, Susan loves the act of making music together with others. It is such fun to hear something you have written become something larger with harmony, new instruments, new interpretation, and played in cooperation with fellow human beings.