lodging hill country

Songwriting Retreat with Darden Smith & Eliza Gilkyson 4-21-17 4-22-17 4-23-17


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Songwriting Retreat with Darden Smith & Eliza Gilkyson

April 21-22-23, 2017

What if you took three days and gave yourself the opportunity to spend a weekend with Darden Smith and Eliza Gilkyson, two of Austin’s finest songwriters, hear them talk about their approaches to the craft, listen to your songs and work with you on ways to become a better writer? What if you could spend those days and nights listening while Eliza and Darden talk about creativity, collaboration, getting to the truth in your writing, and then get to share your songs with them and the other participants.


And what if you could do this at a beautiful hilltop site in the Texas Hill Country with amazing food, beautiful weather and a night sky full of stars?

(Ok, there’s no guarantee on the weather and stars, but just go with us on that one!)

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Here’s your chance to make it happen!

We will gather around 5:00 PM on Friday April 21st, eat dinner, talk songs and share stories. Saturday and Sunday will be filled with discussions on different approaches to writing, time spent with Darden and Eliza listening and giving advice on your songs, then gathering in a song circle for sharing and listening to each others’ work, and time to do some writing on your own or with a partner. Late on Sunday afternoon we end the weekend with final meal and a few more songs.


We encourage students to bring their songs “in any form or stage” to the workshop so they can woodshed with a pro and learn from and with other participants in the song circle.


Price — $995 (not including travel and lodging)

There are a limited number of rooms at Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm, and we have contacts for other great places nearby.

Check Availability

Austin Music Hall of Fame member Eliza Gilkyson has discovered a natural bent for teaching and sharing what she has learned over the course of her 40-year career in music. Gilkyson’s bona fides include a second Folk Music Grammy nomination for 2014’s The Nocturne Diaries, Songwriter of the Year and Best Folk Artist awards at the 2014 Austin Chronicle SXSW Music Awards, and countless Folk Alliance and Chronicle Awards garnered over the years, including Best Songwriter, Record of the Year and Best Solo Performer. Her songs have been covered by Joan Baez, Bob Geldof, Tom Rush, Rosanne Cash and more, and have appeared in films, PBS specials and on prime-time TV. With more than 17 recordings under her belt she knows how to write songs. elizagilkyson.com

Darden Smith is a singer-songwriter, educator, and speaker with a 30-year career that continues to evolve and grow. He has released fourteen albums, toured extensively in both the US and Europe, had top-10 hits in the US and UK, written a symphony and scored contemporary dance works. Smith was the Artist-in-Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Riata School of Entrepreneurship (2011-2013) and his Be An Artist Program and Songsmithing workshops bring creativity and collaboration sessions to schools, and corporations and other clients. He is the founder and creative director of SongwritingWith:Soldiers, a program that pairs professional songwriters with wounded soldiers, to create songs based on the soldiers’ stories of combat and returning home. Smith’s 15th album, Everything, will released in April 2017 on Compass Records.   dardensmith.com

Darden Smith

Darden Smith

Eliza Gilkyson

Eliza Gilkyson



Friday  Welcome Dinner Buffet:

Fresh Fruit and Selection of Cheeses

Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Housemade Jam and Crackers

Ricotta Herb Stuffed Pasta Shells with Garlic Tomato Sauce

Pecan Crusted Trout with Salsa Verde Italiano

Feta Strawberry Arugula Salad with Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Almond Crust


Saturday Breakfast:

Coffee-Espresso and Juice Bar

Lemon Rosemary Scones

Morning Glory Muffins (GF,DF)

Vegetable Quiche-Ham and Cheese Quiche

Fresh Fruit Platter


 Saturday Lunch:

Italian Wedding Soup

Spring Vegetable Soup 

JHF Garden Salad

Garlic Bread Knots


Saturday Dinner:

Anasazi Bean Soup

Potato Stuffed Poblanos with Succotash “Salsa”

Fish Tacos with Apple Lime Cilantro Slaw

Fresh Corn Flan

Arugula Melon Basil Salad

Sopapilla Cupcakes

Lime Sorbet


Sunday Breakfast:

Coffee-Espresso and Juice Bar

Taos Potatoes and Eggs

Fruit and Yogurt Cups


Sunday Closing Supper:

Apples and Brie

Rosemary, Sage, Garlic Infused Roasted Chicken

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Season Vegetable  Sauté

Spinach Salad with Almonds, Grapes and Goat Cheese with Citrus Vinaigrette

Fontina and Herbs Biscuits

Chocolate Layer Cake with Fresh Strawberries


Iced Tea, Hot Tea, Coffee and Water provided at all meals.