Steve Kelzer hopes creating a songwriting collective will bring out the lyricists and musicians that usually noodle out songs on their own.

Kelzer is the Arts Consortium of Carver County's music liaison. He and fellow musician Ted Hajnasiewicz have organized a group called the New Song Collective that will meet on the first Friday of every other month at the Arts Center, 7924 Victoria Drive, Studio Level, Victoria. The collective will enable songwriters to perform their compositions and talk about the process with fellow musicians and lyricists.

The next meeting is from 7-8:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6. Other musicians expected to attend include Tanecsha Jones, Stephen Smith, Tom Sedio and Sam Flietman. The space can accommodate up to 30 participants. Meetings are free, but a $5 goodwill donation is suggested.

We reached out to Kelzer to learn more about him and the New Song Collective.

1. How did the idea for the New Song Collective develop?

A: The ACCC has put out a Carver County songwriter CD every year for the last five years. There's about 22 songwriters who participate. The collective is to encourage more songwriters to come out and perform their original songs and get feedback from a live audience, and to talk about the song writing process. We'd like to build a community of songwriters. Sometimes the songwriter is good at lyrics, and vice versa, might be good at the music. This is a way for people to maybe hook up with people to share their ideas and hopefully, make new connections.

2. Have you always been a musician?

A: Music has been in the family. My mother played the organ. My sisters played accordion. I took up keyboards in high school. I'm self-taught. I've taken some music theory classes at the University of Minnesota, but mostly learned on my own. My taste in music is instrumental in the jazz vein and I like musicals. I like all kinds of music, except maybe hip hop. I appreciate it, but everybody's got their thing.

I've composed music for musical theater, done some commercial work, played in bands and play in church a lot. I've put out CDs of my own music and with other artists. I've been able to be successful with the songwriters CDs.

3. Is it your full-time career?

A: I tell people I've never quit my day job. I live on the Kelzer/Grimm historic farm on Pioneer Trail in Chaska. In 2022, my family will have owned it for 150 years. I'm the fifth generation to farm. It goes back to Wendelin Grimm (known for his innovative, seed saving techniques that resulted in North America's first winter-hardy alfalfa), my great-great-grandfather. After he sold his farm in what is the Carver Park Reserve, he lived here for 20 years. His daughter married Hubert Kelzer, my great-grandfather, and the farm then went to George, then Clarence, my dad, and then me.

For more information, contact Steve Kelzer at music@artsofcarvercounty.org, or call 952-465-2384.

— Unsie Zuege

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