Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Introduction to Fractured Fairy Tales

By Andy Langer

OCTOBER 20, 1997:  Twice annually, a modest internationalal cast of two dozen songwriters converges on a castle in Southwest France for what's called either "Printemps de Troubadours" or "Eight Days a Week." The informal title given to this little jaunt by its exclusive guests is more descriptive: "Summercamp for Songwriters." And rather than bringing home ashtrays and postcards, these campers return with songs and DATs. It's the type of camp where IRS Records founder and Sting manager Miles Copeland is the director, and alumni include Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton, Olivia Newton-John, Desmond Child, Squeeze, Cher, Carole King, and Jules Shear. In the summit's six-year history, Austin has had its share of bunkmates too, including Pat MacDonald, Tonio K, and the Borrower's Mark Addison. But this is no ordinary camp.

For starters, those invited find themselves on the grounds of a 12th century castle that's been equipped with a pool, tennis courts, three recording studios, cable TV, and a cordon bleu chef. Even with all this, however, the holiday is a working one with a simple goal: to foster songwriting. With the expectation that songwriters will team up to produce at least one song a day during their eight-day visit, each studio is put to good use by recording and demoing songs. The rest of what goes on behind the castle's moat is fairly mysterious business, mostly because Copeland says that "to provide a creative atmosphere that inspires co-writing relationships without distraction... our policy is to have no press, media or spouses in attendance." And yet nobody ever told the local singer-songwriter Kris McKay she couldn't keep a diary or share it with the folks back home. -- Andy Langer

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