Teen’s song leads to recording contract, spot on a CD
By TANYA ISHIKAWA, Watch Contributor Apr 6, 2017
Frustration about a passionless, money-chasing future led 17-year-old Ridgway songwriter Rosalee Walsh and her bandmates to victory in eTown’s Handmade Songs Series in Fort Collins on March 30.
The performance of Walsh’s composition, “Don’t Want to Be Old,” won the young band a recording contract with a professional producer and crew and a spot on the Handmade Songs compilation CD.
“I wrote this song after a long conversation with my friend, Sofia Phelps,” Walsh recalled. “She was frustrated from people telling her that she needs to start figuring out what she wants to do with her life and that she should follow her passion. But, the world we are in is different than it was for our parents, it feels like you can’t do anything unless you have lots of money, and it always seems that the paths that will make us happy can’t support us.
“Therefore, it feels like we will just be pulled into an endless cycle of working just for money without passion or purpose. Afterwards we just started talking about how we wanted to leave it all and go adventure without a care, like we did when we were kids, lost in our own imaginary worlds,” she added.
That conversation inspired her song, “Don’t Want to Be Old,” which she finished just in time to record a demo, which was sent just in time for the songwriting competition deadline last fall.
After finding out early last week that they had been selected among the finalists, Walsh and her bandmates — 17-year-old Will Purcell of Ouray and 16-year-old George Thorneycroft of Norwood — rearranged their schedules at Telluride Mountain School and rushed to Fort Collins for the March 30 eTown performance.
“It was a bit short notice, so we had to practice in the car on the way there, but it was very exciting getting to leave our hometown to perform. Coming from a small town, you get to know everyone pretty quick, so it was cool meeting more people that share our interests. Also it’s always such a great feeling just getting to perform with my friends,” said Walsh, who sang lead vocals and played mandolin for the song.
She, Purcell and Thorneycroft have been making music together with the Rock and Roll Academy in Telluride since elementary school. Last summer, they formed their band, Salsicha De Amor, meaning “Sausage of Love.” The name was provided by a family friend.
The band credits the Telluride Academy for encouraging them, giving them years of performing experience, including many shows at the Sheridan Opera House. Academy teacher Brett Neuman told the musicians about the competition and even helped them record the demo.
Thorneycroft — who plays acoustic guitar on the song — admitted the eTown performance “was a big deal because it was the first competition we’ve ever been in. We had to perform well, which put more pressure on us, but it was still fun and exciting.”
He also believes the style of the song gave them an advantage over their competitors. “People said it was a little more folksy, and Fort Collins has its roots in Colorado folk. They seemed to like that aspect, compared to the poppy sound of the other songs,” he said.
The band members also agreed their song’s subject matter was unique.
“Most of the other songs were love songs,” explained Purcell, who played electric guitar on the song. “Rosalee kind of hates love songs, so she never plans to write one. That made us stand out more because it was not that. The song seems very much teenager-like. It’s coming from real emotions and stuff.”
The compilation CD featuring Salsicha De Amor performing “Don’t Want to Be Old” is scheduled to be released at the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018, according to Zack Littlefield of eTown.
A goal of the recording session, beyond the professional mentoring and experience, are to give the band a promotional tool for getting more gigs and exposure. The session also will be videotaped.
“In some cases the videos have helped students in college application acceptance, which was a very cool thing to see. In the past, the video content also has been picked up by a few local public television stations as well, and aired as one large program,” Littlefield added.
For Walsh and her bandmates, this recognition is an exhilarating step in their musical careers.
“I think we have a strong sound; it’s unique and true and really has no limits. I mean, Will has a strong influence from punk and heavy metal, George listens to lots of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and other artists such as Paul Simon, and I love bluegrass and I play classical violin. Together I think we can make a strong unique sound. I hope that we keep this going and maybe we’ll go somewhere,” Walsh said.