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"Why Can't I Fall In Love"

Contesant 1 Andrew Bettencourt
Contestant 2 Christof Leininger
Contestant 3 Sam Rabellanos
Contestant 4 Mike McClain/Mike Work
Contestant 5 Bob Owens
Contestant 6 John Bales
Kenny Lee Lewis Opening
Kenney Lee and Sierra Lewis perform "Why Can't I Fall In Love"
Kenny Lee Lewis Closing
Sponsors and Prizes

Dec. 20, 2009
Here are the results for the ‘Xmas Is Forgiveness Now’ song-contest held on Dec. 15, at the Last Stage-West restaurant, near Morro Bay. SLO guitar-pro and Steve Miller Band lead-player Kenny Lee Lewis judged between six local song-writers who participated, to compete for prizes from Ernie Ball Guitars, Alliance Recording in Los Osos, LR Baggs Music Gear, BlipWerx Productions, and others. Gifts included box-sets of 24 new guitar strings, a quality Peavey electric guitar from Kuma’s Kitchen Media, a guitar pre-amp equalizer ‘box’ from LR Baggs Music Gear along with two colorful sweat-shirts, an hour’s worth of recording studio time in Los Osos, and a private one-hour guitar lesson from Kenny Lee Lewis.

More than 30 people attended the evening at the LSW venue on a chilly December 15 evening in the Cerro Alto mountains alongside Highway 41, from about 6 to 9 p.m. The event was recorded on DV-video, with performances to be posted on the LSW website for public review. A $13 entry fee provided for costs, and guests enjoyed wonderful meals from LSW during the show, and also voted on each performance.

“We had a great evening,” said Julian Phillips from Kuma’s Kitchen Freelance Media, who created the event. “Everyone seemed so alive and full of joy of the season, something we maybe miss from simpler times. We’ve had some trouble posting the video to YouTube, but it will be posted on Tom Passon’s website for the restaurant, so I guess I over-extended myself in terms of what I promised everyone. Maybe Santa Claus will forgive me!! Much thanks to all our sponsors and song-writers!”

Kenny Lee Lewis has listed his comments and scores below, and Kuma’s Kitchen also reviewed and tallied all audience vote-slips. With six contestants, everyone was a ‘winner’. Check the LSW website at, for video soon. Tom at LSW has all the performances on a DVD, and the public or song-writers and families can stop by to pick one up (please call ahead so Tom can make duplicate DVD’s).

Thanks to the song-writers and our sponsors. Here are the winners, and comments from Kenny Lee Lewis.

BEST SONG: Six Dollar Wine/ Mike McClain and Mike Work
Prize = Peavey Electric guitar from Kuma’s Kitchen. Pick up at LSW. Congrats!

Mike McClain/Mike Work- "Christmas Breeze" "Six Dollar Wine”

Notes-Don't attempt a song in a contest if you don't have the arrangement rehearsed and tight. It makes the audience feel uncomfortable when you apologize for not knowing your song. You are on a stage. You have a responsibility for people watching you because you are not only entertaining them, but doing something that many of them are terrified to do and they are living a fantasy through you. I liked your accompanist. He was in tune and had a good sound and added harmonies nicely. I like the "Sittin on a Rock" hook and I liked the 6 dollar wine irony. Tie the Christmas experience inside the song with sharing the "wine with the one you love, even though that's all that you can afford on Christmas Day." Nice Dead Head neo-country writing. (Kenny Lee Lewis)

BEST LYRICS-John Bales/’Surfing On Christmas Day’
Prize = LR Baggs acoustic-guitar Pre-Amp Equalizer, plus T-Shirts. Pick up at LSW. Congrats!

- "Surfing on Christmas Day" (John Bales)

Notes- I loved this song. You were telling a story. I love the contrast of a West coast surfer having a great time on Christmas on the waves. You were sharing it with a friend, something we should all do on Christmas. You were the only ones out there. In the face of cold weather you still wanted to play and praise the wonders of nature which God has provided for our delight. And though the trail was washed out, you still found your way to salvation on the water. Nice honest real composition. Bravo! (Kenny Lee Lewis)

BEST PERFORMANCE-Andrew Bettencourt, ‘This Christmas’; prize is a one-hour guitar lesson with Steve Miller Band guitarist Kenny Lee Lewis. Contact Kenny, at, or call 1-661-607-5645; 787-0381. Congrats!

Notes- Nice melody and vocal performance. Try not to strain for high notes you can't nail. Relax. Work the mic. Define your love interest character. Don't just call her your "love", give her a name like "Chrissy" "Christina" "Chrystle". It will personalize the song story and tie-in the love story with Christmastime. Talk about the "gifts" and "presents" she brought into your life, "but now there's nothing under my tree" when she leaves, that sort of stuff. My kids liked you. Thought you were real "EMO". (KLL)

SECOND-PLACE/BEST SONG: Christof Lendinger-‘ChristmasLand’; prize is a one-hour recording session at Alliance Recording Studios in Los Osos. Contact at 528-7995, or visit at 10th and LOVR, Los Osos, during business hours. Congrats!

Christof Leininger- "Christof Carol" "Christmasland" "Stars in Your Eyes"

Notes-Try to enunciate your words a little more clearly. The "Eddie Vedder/Dave Matthews/Springsteen" style of closed mouth muttering works on records, but for live performance you need to communicate your lyrics. Get a steel string guitar so you can have more dynamics in your playing. I noticed references to Jesus in your songs. If you are a Christian, I would go for that market. It's still really big right now. I liked the idea of "Christmasland" Expand more about the commercial retailer/suburban exploitation of Christmastime and how it detracts from the real meaning which is to praise the Messiah's birth. "If everyone would lend a hand to their fellow man then we could life everyday in Christmasland. I liked your "don't burn the turkey" line. Very important part of Christmas! (KLL)

BEST YOUNG ARTIST-Sam Rabellanos, ‘Delayed Christmas’. Prize is 18 sets of Ernie Ball Guitar-strings, as boxed sets. Pick up at LSW. Congrats!

Sam Rabellanos- "Delayed Christmas"

Notes-I know that you just started performing your songs so I will be gentle. Your Samick guitar really has a big low-end bass boom so you need to roll that off like 3 or 4db. Also it sounded like you needed some new strings. You need to work the mic. You have sort of a Lou Reed low volume, low register, story-telling vocal range and style and it does not project unless you really eat that mic. Don't be afraid to have your voice loud. You need it to have your lyrics heard. You would have scored higher in the Lyrics category, but for an old deaf guitar player like myself, I need to hear you! I did notice the humor and sarcasm that you were trying to convey however. (KLL)

THIRD-PLACE BEST SONG-Bob Owens/’God I Have Trouble’. Prize is a five-CD set of original music and songs from Blipwerx Productions. Pick up at LSW. Congrats!

Bob Owens- "Emanuel" "Bethlehem" "God I Have Trouble"

Notes-Don't attempt a song in a contest if you don't have the arrangement rehearsed and tight. It makes the audience feel uncomfortable when you apologize for not knowing your song. You are on a stage. You have a responsibility for people watching you because you are not only entertaining them, but doing something that many of them are terrified to do and they are living a fantasy through you. You were the only writer that had a legit Christmas song. I also liked the Old Testament references in "Trouble" Moses following his garden to find the promised land was a nice sentiment. So often we forget that Jesus was a Jew and that singing about times before his birth also lifts his name because of the story, history, and lineage leading up to His birth. I like your songs in 3/4 time. You are a real country boy and it shows. (KLL)

-Ernie Ball Music. Two complete sets of guitar strings, @ 12-count each, wrapped, total, 24 sets.
-Music teacher Kenny Lewis, 1-hour lesson @ $60-hour. Grand Central Music.
See Kenny's Bio Below

-Kuma’s Kitchen Media; Peavy electric guitar, twin pick-ups, good-quality.

-Alliance Recording, 1-hour of studio time. Los Osos.

  -BlipWerx Prods., Sharine Borslien and Ron Hagadone;
5 CD set of their songs and music-recording, including holiday album; with artwork.