By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 15, 2003 at 5:29 AM

The concept of a songwriters circle is simple: put four or five musicians on stage, let each take a turn playing a song and see what happens.

The "what happens" part makes songwriters circles so different from other live shows. Because the performances are spontaneous and unrehearsed, you never know what will evolve, especially considering the musicians rotate from show to show and invariably have different styles and even different instruments. (Most play guitar but other instruments are welcome.)

Local musician Stephanie Dosen decided to organize a songwriters circle after a friend in L.A. told her about their popularity out West. Dosen originally planned to involve all women, but agreed to include male musicians after bassist Matt Krajewski, who had wanted to start a similar group for a few years, approached her.

"It's great to be involved with a group that is about writing and performing and where women are the central force," says Krajewski. "I hope it stays that way."

Unlike real circles, this one isn't closed. Instead, it's open to all serious Milwaukee musicians and currently includes, aside from Dosen and Krajewski, Celia Farran, melaniejane, Sara Pace, Lil Rev, Jamie Edler, Heidi Spencer, Chrissy Dzioba, Jenny Choi and Betsy Ade.

"The performance are pretty spontaneous," says Krajewski, who also plays and sings with New Harmony Indiana. "I doubt they will ever be truly 'rehearsed' and I don't know if anyone will be playing on anybody else's stuff, but there are all kinds of great possibilities."


The workshops, which include constructive critique, idea sharing and support, are held every week at rotating locations. A few musicians are chosen from the workshop group to perform at the gigs, loosely planned for once a month.

The next show, featuring Lil' Rev, Dzioba and Ade, is scheduled for Wed., April 16 at the Ale House. The show starts at 8 p.m. and there isn't a cover.

Although the musicians do not share with one another what they are going to play ahead of time -- often times they do not know themselves -- they often inspire each other during the performance.

"Last week melaniejane started playing a Britney Spears' tune and that definitely called for me to whip out some Justin Timberlake," says Dosen.

"I was going to whip out my Christina on them, but I held back," adds Krajewski.

The key to these shows is not only spontaneity, but also range. All of the musicians have different styles, different voices and even different instruments, resulting in a very dynamic, unpredictable session.

"The thing that excites me the most about this is bringing artists together and sharing our creative juices," says Farran.

For more information about the songwriters circle, contact Stephanie Dosen at

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.