May-June 2014 | MAKING NOTES

Wyatt EasterlingPhil MadieraDan NavarroJen and Scott Smith



The second Wood and Stone Retreat promises to really get those creative juices flowing with some of the music industry's best songwriting talent

Written By: Nick Brandi

If you love music and have a little poet in your soul who’s dying to break out and be heard, we have a suggestion for you. Check out the upcoming Wood and Stone Retreat in Crisfield, where professional songwriters/recording artists Jen and Scott Smith are waiting with a cache of top-notch industry pros to bring out the music in you.

The Smiths have been making their living writing, recording, performing and producing songs since 1991 — no mean feat in an industry notorious for chewing up wide-eyed wannabes like a great white at a seal convention. But the Smiths have made it, and with six CDs of their own, contributions to hundreds more and compositions that have appeared on TV and in films, these award-winning musicians want to use their vast experience to share the unique joy, satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from creating original music from nothing more than one’s own imagination.

“We were very pleased with last year’s retreat,” offered Jen in reference to the Wood and Stone’s inaugural outing. “The participants were both male and female, ranged in age from 30 to 80, came from different areas of the country and included everything from an architect and an ad exec to a dog behaviorist. And that’s what we were hoping for: people from all walks of life.” Jen added that all the attendees from last year will be returning to bucolic Crisfield for the four-day workshop that begins June 5 and will be joined by first-timers who are coming from as far away as Georgia and California.

“Scott and I put a lot of thought into making the retreat a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone,” said Jen, who has the distinction of having performed with Scott in six different countries, alongside stars such as John Mayer, Joe Cocker and Dan Fogelberg, “but in my opinion, what really makes the Wood and Stone Retreat extra special is the caliber of our instructors.”

By that she means Phil Madeira, Wyatt Easterling and Dan Navarro. Not only has Madeira written songs for Alison Krauss and Garth Brooks, he has recorded and/or toured with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Toby Keith, The Civil Wars, Amy Grant, Buddy Miller, Keb’ Mo’, Shawn Mullins and jazz legend John Scofield, among many others.

A true Nashville musician, Easterling wrote three songs that appeared on Joe Diffie’s top-40 albums Mr. Christmas and Life’s So Funny, including the title track of the latter. He also penned the title track of Dierks Bentley’s chart-topping platinum album Modern Day Drifter as well as the song “If the Jukebox Took Teardrops,” which became a top-40 country hit for Billy Joe Royal. At one time, Easterling was the head of A&R for the Nashville division of Atlantic Records.
Dan Navarro, meanwhile, is not only the cousin of rock superstar Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers) but a highly accomplished songwriter and performer in his own right. He has written songs for such luminaries as Pat Benatar (including the Grammy-nominated “We Belong”), The Bangles, Jackson Browne, Dave Edmunds, The Temptations and Dionne Warwick and has recorded with Neil Young, Andrea Bocelli, Jose Feliciano and Susanna Hoffs. Moreover, Dan is an accomplished singer and voice actor who has appeared in such major motion pictures as The Lorax, Rock of Ages, Happy Feet (1 & 2), Rio and Ice Age (2 & 3), as well as the TV series Prison Break, Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for people who want to become better songwriters to learn directly from, and network with, real industry insiders who are some of the best in the business,” said Jen, who is contemplating adding an October retreat based on the response to the June event. “In fact, one of our attendees from last year is going to be collaborating with Wyatt [Easterling] on an upcomingproject, which is very exciting.”

On June 7, Easterling, Navarro and Madeira will perform a free concert at The City Docks in Crisfield that is open to the public. The “City Dock Serenade: Three Masters of Song” is being presented by the Somerset County Arts Council and the Wood and Stone Retreat. The all-inclusive Wood and Stone Retreat will also provide accommodations at the Daugherty Creek Conference Center of Janes Island State Park in addition to meals that include the Linton’s Seafood “crab feast,” which Jen is especially enthusiastic about. The Smiths are also offering a scholarship to one lucky but deserving student from Crisfield High School.

For more on the Wood and Stone Songwriting Retreat, visit To learn more about Jen & Scott Smith, visit


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