The Reveille Songwriting Retreat is an annual week-long event held at the beautiful and serene TR Ranch in Hallettsville, Texas.
Designed to connect veterans with nationally acclaimed songwriters and performers to perform their life and military experiences into song.
The Retreat provides food and lodging, beverage service, workshop facilities, a performance venue, and a recording studio for the participants.
Written at Reveille
Not A Day Goes By
“NOT A DAY GOES BY”
Written by Bobby Henline, Phoebe Hunt, Dustin Welch
Not A Day Goes By is based on the experience of US Army veteran Bobby Henline. While on a mission in Iraq, Bobby's infantry team was traveling to a combat zone when their vehicle hit an IED, resulting in a huge explosion that took the lives of all of his team members, except Bobby. “I Didn't Die”. This traumatic experience dramatically shifted Bobby's physical appearance. Over 60% of his body is covered in scars from the burns received from the explosion and his left arm was amputated at the elbow.
Prior to the Reveille Songwriting Retreat, Bobby had not found an outlet to share the story of his trauma. On the third day of the Retreat, he woke up at dawn with the inner knowing that it was time to share his story. Our songwriting workshop, led by Dustin Welch the previous morning was about how to 'tell your story through a song'. Songwriting coach Phoebe Hunt found Bobby at the breakfast table early in the morning, and Bobby asked her to join him in writing the song. He shared the paragraphs he had written and together they edited his words and created the melody for Not A Day Goes By. Dustin walked by and noticed the two working together, stepped in and helped shape the arrangement of the song so that it would fully express not only the story of what happened but also the emotional trauma that Bobby experienced through his healing process following the explosion, including his suicidal thoughts. A part of the song hints to the feeling Bobby said he experienced wherein he wondered why the bomb had taken the lives of his brothers but left him here to suffer. After reflecting on this, Bobby shared with the team of songwriters that he realized that he is alive so that he can share the stories of his experiences in war with others who may be feeling the same way as him. He thinks of the men who died that day as his 'angels' who now look after him so that he can continue in his work. Phoebe now performs this song and shares the story of Bobby at her lives shows, and also included it in the TEDx Talk she gave on the power of healing through songwriting, hum your pain away.
Through The Door
“THROUGH THE DOOR”
Written by Erika VandenBerg, Libby Kotch, Susan Gibson, Chuck Hawthorne
Through the Door is based on the experience of US Army veteran Erika VandenBerg. While in Iraq, Erika was part of a unit responsible for securing portions of Baghdad. This had to be done building by building, room by room. To clear and secure a building, a team of four soldiers would silently move to the front door, stand shoulder to shoulder, count to 3 by rocking together side to side, and then burst through the door not knowing if they would face gunfire from the enemy, an empty room or a terrified friendly family. The unit would clear the first room, identify the door into the next room, and repeat the exercise room by room until building after building was secure and the enemy neutralized. It is unusual that a woman would be assigned to this duty, but that speaks to Erika’s strength and skill as a soldier.
From a songwriting perspective, Through the Door began as a stream of consciousness writing exercise by Erika at the Reveille Retreat. She wrote about her experience in dense prose rich with imagery. Several lyrics from the final song are word for word from her prose. She wanted to work with songwriter and fellow veteran Chuck Hawthorne on this particular song, and the two of them started to convert Erikas writings into a song form. The song structure and narrative were well along when Susan Gibson and Libby Koch chimed in. One of the biggest decisions for the song was whether Â the narrative of the song would stay in Iraq or extend back home where my mind fights the war. The decision to extend the song back to her return home and the flashback that occurs every time Erika opens a door makes the song even more powerful. Standing on the front porch...fumbling for my keys...count one two three. Butch Hancock provided some finishing insights, edits, and guidance, which gave the song its final form. Libby Koch has been performing this song at her shows for the past 6 months.
A DAY AT REVEILLE
Each day the Retreat begins with a songwriting circle where experiences and ideas for songs are shared among the participants and coaches. After the circle, participants are free to focus privately on their songwriting/musicianship or work with our songwriter coaches to further the creative songwriting process focusing on lyrics, melody, musicianship, vocal and performance technique. Once a song has been completed, the participants can move to the recording studio and produce a lasting testament of their work. Evenings are spent in the performance barn where our coaches perform for our participants. Of course, participants are also invited to get on stage and perform for their peers. At the end of the Retreat, a closing concert will provide participants an opportunity to perform their songs in front of an audience of appreciative supporters of the Reveille Retreat.
Mentors & Artists
Reveille Songwriting Retreat has proudly featured artists such as:
Steve Earle | Vince Gill | Susan Gibson | Butch Hancock | Shakey Graves
Don Schlitz | Cary Ann Hearst | Adam Carroll | Kevin Welch
Butch Hancock | George Ensle | Phoebe Hunt | Stephanie Hunt
Savannah Welch | Peter Rowan | Dustin Welch