Soundtrack to Social Activism

Attention, activist songwriters! The Rubicon Theatre Company and nonprofit creative production group Music2Life are holding a call for entries for the Music for Changing Times National Songwriting Competition. Open to new and emerging artists in all genres, the competition seeks original work that showcases musicianship, lyrical elegance and clarity of theme and storytelling, with a special award given to the best song for and about social change. Cash prizes (from $1,000 to $5,000) and the opportunity to perform will be awarded to winning entries. “Hopefully it will be a way of encouraging young people to find their voices and be bold and brave,” says Karyl Lynn Burns, the Rubicon’s artistic director. “That’s what’s needed in the world right now.”

The competition is offered in conjunction with the Music for Changing Times: Looking Back/Moving Forward music festival taking place May 8-13 at the Rubicon and curated by folk icon Noel Paul Stookey, formerly of Peter, Paul and Mary and co-founder (with daughter Liz Stookey Sunde) of Music2Life. The top 10 songwriting competition winners will have their music featured at a concert on Thursday, May 11; the top three will be featured in the festival’s closing concert on Saturday, May 13. A slot at Ojai’s Topa Topa Folk Fest in October will go to the top artist in the folk, Americana, gospel, roots, country or bluegrass category. Submissions are due on April 22. For application, contest rules and other information, call Brian McDonald at 667-2912, ext. 234, email or visit

Berry Big Break

The California Strawberry Festival in partnership with Cumulus Media will host a Berry Battle of the Bands Contest ahead of the 34th annual berry fest taking place May 20-21 in Oxnard. The contest, now in its fifth year, is open to all musical genres, and the winner will receive $1,000 and a headline performance at the festival. Local bands should send links to their bands’ song/performance, along with contact information, to before April 30. Bands will be judged on presentation, showmanship and musicality. Winners will be contacted the first week of May. For more information, call 888-288-9242 or visit