chicago Get Off The Couch

Get Off The Couch Songwriter's Showcase Celebrates Five Years

Friday, May 08, 2015 Louis Vasseur

The buzz was contagious among the standing room crowd at The Hideout Inn.  These are all music lovers, knowledgeable people who take their music seriously.  The conversations quiet as singer/songwriter Sam Wahl takes the stage with his guitar.  After a quick joke, he begins to play and the founder and host of the Get Off The Couch Songwriter's Showcase smiles as one of those unique events that makes Chicago so special kicks off.

Founded by Sam in 2010, Get Off The Couch is Chicago's premiere and longest running singer/songwriter's showcase.  "There is so much talent in Chicago.  I wanted to put together an event where more people can experience what these amazing artists have to offer."  The list of Get Off The Couch alumni reads like a who's who of Chicago indie music.   The selection criteria for the artists is strict, which is one reason the room is packed month after month.  The amazing music is another. The showcase has moved among several venues before settling in with The Hideout Inn as their current host.  It has been a match that has benefited both venue and showcase.  On May 3, 2015, Get Off The Couch celebrated five years with its 61st showcase event.

The monthly singer/songwriter showcase is performed Nashville style.  Four artists perform four songs each during two showcase rounds, which is then followed by a full headline set by the featured artist with their band to top off the night.  The show  is hosted by Sam each month.  As he introduces each artist during the first showcase round, the crowd encourages each musician to "Get off the couch" to share their music and stories.  (Early in the showcase's history, there was an actual couch.) Sam works with good friend Richard Cole to discover and book the best talent Chicago has to offer. "I am amazed every month at the quality of the artists that Richard puts together each and every month," explains Sam.   "He puts together this awesome line up for February, and then turns around and does even better for the March showcase.   He is one of the reasons Get Off The Couch is as successful as it is."  For his part, Richard constantly goes to shows throughout Chicago in search to for the best songwriters to bring into the showcase.

Joanna Rutzky, an up and coming singer/songwriter (who has been featured in HalfStack Magazine), had her first opportunity to perform at Get Off The Couch last October.  "It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time," said Rutzky.  "The room was packed with people who really know music.  Because the artists each leave the stage after their second round, here I was all alone on the stage for my last two songs.  Fortunately, the piano was facing the wall so I could just focus on my music.  I was pretty nervous, but everyone was so supportive and gracious, especially Sam and Richard.  It was an amazing experience."

With capacity crowds every month and a long waiting list of artists hoping to perform, Get Off The Couch is well placed to continue for another five years.

The Get Off The Couch songwriter's showcase is held the first Sunday of each month at The Hideout Inn, 1354 W. Wabansia Avenue, Chicago, IL.  For more information, including a list of scheduled artists and alumni, please check out the Get Off The Couch website at

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