Friday, August 11, 2017

Nashville Realist Camille Engel To Celebrate Tennessee With 'My Tennessee Home' Art Exhibition at Parthenon Museum

By Chuck Whiting
Editor of Music City Arts Network

             NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Internationally awarded Nashville visual artist Camille Engel will celebrate her home state of Tennessee with an exhibition of original contemporary realism paintings at the Parthenon Museum of Nashville from Sept. 9-Dec. 31, 2017.

            "My Tennessee Home: the Paintings of Camille Engel" will kick off with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 15 (Friday) in the American art galleries section of the historic Parthenon Museum, 2500 West End Ave. in Nashville. Engel has spent the past two and a half years researching, referencing and creating these contemporary realism, trompe l'oeil, and encaustic paintings that present unique and surprising depictions of state symbols such as the state beverage, cultivated and wild flowers, fruit, wild animal, insects, butterfly, gem, reptile, fish and more.

            The exhibition will also spotlight original artworks by the 12 winners of the "My Tennessee Home Student Art Competition." Winning student artists, grades 1 to 12, from across Middle Tennessee were chosen by jurists Engel, abstract expressionist Jan Batts, and abstract expressionist and contemporary realist Sandra Vanderpool. All are members of the Nashville Artist Guild.

            "I am thrilled to celebrate my beloved state in the 'My Tennessee Home' exhibition," said Engel, who has won dozens of awards from organizations such as Southwest Art Magazine, International Artist Magazine, and the International Guild of Realism. "I have had so much fun learning about each subject and creating these artworks."

            Highlights of Engel's "My Tennessee Home" paintings include

            * "Glory!," an oil painting on canvas measuring 66 inches by 44 inches that features the state cultivated flower, a purple iris. The artist’s focused view of this flower closely examines the inner quietude of a single iris to evoke much larger atmospheric feelings of awe. "I used a variety of soft lavender tones and flowing curves complemented by brilliant golden strokes to illustrate a breathtaking grandeur that is always within reach," Engel said. Interesting Fact: In 1919, the schoolchildren of Tennessee chose the wild passionflower as the state flower. However, in 1933, the Legislature designated iris as the “State Flower of Tennessee” but failed to formally rescind the passionflower as the state flower. To eliminate confusion, in 1973, the General Assembly designated the passionflower the state wildflower and the iris the state cultivated flower.

            *  "Tough Crowd," a 24-by-24 contemporary realism painting on panel, depicts a red tomato seemingly hurled and splattered against a crisp, white surface. "My choice portrayal of this fruit with its insides exposed and juices forming seed-filled puddles, intrigues the imagination with questions as to what actually happened and why," the artist added. Interesting fact: The tomato was designated Tennessee’s official state fruit in 2003. While commonly considered as a vegetable, the tomato is, botanically speaking, a fruit.


            *  "Little Rascal," a 24-by-24 oil on panel, features a friendly raccoon curiously popping through the artist’s crumpled canvas. "His eyes, though masked, shine with playful innocence," Engel noted. Interesting fact: Named the state's wild animal in 1971, raccoons were hunted aggressively in earlier times, mostly for their water repellent fur. In the days of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, the coonskin cap was a common clothing item.

            * "Revealed," a 24-by-24 trompe l'oeil on panel, is a painted display of simplicity. Engel’s linear composition of various river pearls is flanked by the iridescent interior of an opened shell. According to Engel, "the elegance of this shimmering arrangement against a pure white background brings forth the feeling of an enlightened balance." Interesting fact: Named the state's gem in 1979, Tennessee river pearls are remarkable iridescent products of nature, emerging from the indigenous washboard mussel in the fresh water rivers and come in various shapes and colors and are among the most beautiful and durable in the world.


            * "Fish Tale," a 12-by-12 trompe l'oeil on panel, is a clever trick of the eye. The artist suggests that an instructional card describing the smallmouth bass is taped to a weathered board. "A trick of surrealism suggests the fish tail is flipping up off the card," Engel continued.  Interesting fact: Named Tennessee's sports fish in 2005, the smallmouth bass will fight ounce for ounce harder than any other species of sport fish in Tennessee. The current state/world record of 11 pounds, 15 ounces, was caught by D.L. Hayes at Dale Hollow Lake on July 9, 1955. 

            * "The Way The Cookie Crumbles," a 12-by-12 trompe l'oeil on panel, suggests that a tasty photo is taped to a weathered board. "In truth, I have painted every last crumb, crease and indentation in this appealing rendition," Engel said. "The featured glass of creamy milk, the cookies and the jettison crumbs, all stir the viewer’s senses with memories of this legendary snack." Interesting fact: Milk became the state's official beverage in 2009. Tennessee is home to approximately 45,000 milk cows that live on 317 dairy farms.


            "Camille Engel’s trompe l'oeil paintings, with their clever ideas, take the Tennessee state symbols and make them active participants in each picture plane," said Susan Shockley, curator of The Parthenon Museum. "Her vision invites interest."

            Engel, whose paintings have been chosen or commissioned by art collectors from around the world, has emerged as one of America’s most respected realist painters. She was named an "Artist to Watch" by Southwest Art Magazine in 2014 and Fine Art Connoisseur magazine in 2010. A self-taught oil painter known for her passionate oil paintings with rich lighting, colors, textures and intricate detail, Engel works in the "indirect layering" techniques of the Dutch Masters to create her art.

            "Realism, for me, is the most intrinsic and true form of self-expression," the Nashville artist added. "Much like the notes in a musical composition, every stroke is a statement and each one an essential part of the whole."

            Pursuing the aims of the realist movement with passion and skill, her oil paintings have been accepted into prestigious museum tours and art exhibitions from California to New York City. She has won numerous awards, and her paintings have been featured in magazines such as Fine Art Connoisseur, American Art Collector, Western Art Collector, Southwest Art, The Artist's Magazine, American Artist, and International Artist. Major commissions include the Tennessee State Museum, Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and Middle Tennessee Medical Center.

            Each painting in "My Tennessee Home" exhibition invites the viewer to momentarily step into her world and share in her joy of these subjects. For more information about this exhibition, including museum location and hours, visit . To learn more about Camille Engel and view her award-winning artworks, visit

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Award-Winning Artist/Instructor Gail McDaniel To Teach Watercolor Painting Course Near Atlanta

            ATLANTA (July 2017) -- Gail McDaniel, an acclaimed watercolorist who, by invitation, has served as an associate member and demonstrating artist/instructor for the prestigious Winsor & Newton Creative Artist Network of London, will lead an eight-week watercolor painting course this summer near Atlanta.

            The course will be offered to beginning, intermediate and advanced artists on selected Wednesday afternoons starting Aug. 9, 2017 at Griffin First United Methodist Church, 1401 Maple Drive in Griffin, Georgia. Sessions will occur from 1-4 p.m. on Aug. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27.

            The artist/instructor will provide insights on composition, value, color theory and application. She also will demonstrate some of the techniques that have helped make her an award-winning artist, including abstract under paintings, disappearing purples, painting on Masa Paper, white on white, monotype paintings, let it flow, texturize your paintings, portraits, reflective surfaces, and wax-resist Batik. The course is structured to serve artists at all skill levels, from the very raw beginner to the most advanced. McDaniel will close each session with individual critiques.

            Because space is limited for the classes, reservations are required. Tuition is $165 for eight class sessions. For more information or to register, contact the artist by phone at (678) 603-1502 or send an inquiry to Individuals can learn more about the artist/instructor and view her artwork at

            McDaniel recently was commissioned to create four program covers for Griffin Choral Arts' 10th anniversary concert season. Before moving to Georgia, McDaniel spent more than 20 years working as a professional watercolorist and art instructor in Nashville and Brentwood, Tenn. During that time, she taught more than 1,300 students in classes and workshops around the world. A number of her former students have developed into professional artists with exhibitions and commissions.

            "Some people come to find out if they can paint in watercolor," said the artist, who painted the invitation cover for "A Little Night of Music" starring country superstar LeAnn Rimes. "Like me, others love the look of watercolor paintings and want to learn the medium. Many come for the change of pace and the new, wonderful, relaxing challenge it brings. The intermediate and advanced students come to me to grow in the medium."

            Over the years, McDaniel has seen the positive change that comes over many people when they spend three hours with her, creatively thinking from the right side of their brain.

            "It's truly a night-and-day change, not to mention the fun they have," McDaniel added. "Many who come to me with no art background find they really have a true talent for painting. Some of them never had the slightest notion they had any talent. It's such an outstanding reward for them and a source of real pleasure for me."

            A good example is Phyllis Tatum, a watercolorist who studied with McDaniel for 14 years in Middle Tennessee. She and her fellow students were thrilled when she won four blue ribbons and a red ribbon at the Tennessee State Fair. Her crowing achievement came later when she won the fair's "Best of Show", a rare occurrence in watercolor circles.

            McDaniel fondly remembers receiving a thank you note from former student Suzy Foy of Estes Park, Colo., who wrote, "My whole life I have dreamt about being an artist... I never believed I could live that dream, one painting at a time. Because of my workshops, mentoring and support (from McDaniel), it is happening."

            "One of the obvious results of classes is the togetherness that comes upon the group," McDaniel noted. "Friendships develop, and with that interest in each other's lives and the happenings and events in their world. The group watches children grow up, grandchildren being born, and members die. The group celebrates the joys together, as well as the sad times, giving special support. Sometimes, our paintings reflect those experiences."

            The classes near Atlanta should be no exception. McDaniel will demonstrate the techniques, shortcuts and concepts that she has developed or learned by doing, reading or studying with others. She plans to show her students everything she knows, holding nothing back. Her goal is to inspire them without making them feel overwhelmed.

            During her career, McDaniel has trained artists from 36 different states (including Alaska and Hawaii), the District of Columbia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea. She has taught 11 workshops at historic Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, a landmark where the late Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted. She also served as a member of the arts faculty of Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art.

            In 2002, she and her husband, Ken, launched the "Students and Friends of Gail McDaniel Awards", raising more than $90,000 for Middle Tennessee public schools. The fundraising effort earned Gail and Ken a nomination in the "volunteer innovator" category of the 2009 Mary Catherine Strobel Award. In 2012, the artist was named the PENCIL Foundation's "Volunteer of the Year".

            Before leaving Tennessee, she received an award for "Excellence in Community Service" from the Travelers Rest Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was inducted into the Cave City, Ky., Hall of Fame and named (as an eighth generation Kentuckian) to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels as one of  "Kentucky's ambassadors of good will and fellowship around the world."

            In 2001, she was invited by directors of the "Art in Provence" program to conduct an eight-day watercolor workshop in Dieulefit, France. She studied under 38 noted art instructors to help build her reputation as one of the South's top artists/instructors. -- even accepting a commission to paint a family landmark for former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn.

            Gail McDaniel's artwork is featured on the program covers of four major concerts in 2016-17 performed by The Griffin Choral Arts group. The choir, which is led by Artistic Director Dr. Stephen J. Mulder, is celebrating its 10th anniversary season.

            For more information about Gail McDaniel or to see her work, visit

Friday, May 26, 2017

Video Game Composer and Audio Producer Alexander Brandon to Lead Score-Com 'Game Music Bootcamp' Symposium June 17-18 in Nashville

         NASHVILLE -- Video Game Composer and Audio Producer Alexander Brandon will provide insights on composing music for video games during the Nashville Composers Association's annual Score-Com Symposium from June 17-18 in Nashville.
         "Game Music Bootcamp" is expected to draw 50 emerging and professional composers to Ocean Way Studios on Music Row for two full days of game music training. Attendees will learn aspects including non-linear scoring, integration, writing techniques, and working with supervisors. Writing session demonstrations will feature Steinberg's Nuendo with practical techniques that can be used for any digital audio workstation such as Pro Tools, Logic and Reaper.


         All Score-Com symposium attendees will be invited to attend a Film-Com film and television conference networking event on Saturday night. A free Film-Com laminate will provide access to a Film-Com VIP Kick-off Reception, business panels, and the annual Film and Television Industry Gala.

         "We are thrilled to have Alexander Brandon as our workshop leader for our first 'Game Music Bootcamp,'" said Geoff Koch, president of the Nashville Composers Association. "He is a game audio veteran with 20 years of experience and more than 50 titles to his credit, among them for hits such as 'Unreal' and 'Deus Ex.' He runs the audio production house Funky Rustic in Georgetown, Texas."

         Tuition for Score-Com's two-day "Game Music Bootcamp" symposium is $55 for NCA members and $85 for non-members. Individuals must register by June 7 to receive a free Film-Com conference laminate. Ocean Way Studios is located at 1200 17th Avenue South.

         To register, visit To learn more about the Nashville Composers Association, visit
         The symposium will occur from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's schedule will include a brief history of game audio, an overview of the industry, an overview of toolsets, demonstrations of non-linear composition (vertical and horizontal), and typical industry points. Sunday's highlights include integration in Wwise, use of Wwise and Nuendo, integrations in Unreal and Unity, and licensing and networking. 

Alexander Brandon

         Brandon is a game audio veteran with 20 years of experience and over 50 titles to his credit, among them the soundtracks for such hits as “Unreal” and “Deus Ex,” and more recently music, sound and voice for such games as “Torment: Tides of Numenera,” “Wasteland 2,” “Alpha Protocol,” the “Neverwinter Nights” series, “Bejeweled 3,” “Skyrim,” and “DC Universe Online.”
         He has skills in music composition, sound design, voice acting, voice direction, audio direction, and game audio technology. He has written the award-winning book “Audio For Games: Planning, Process and Production” and written columns for Game Developer and Mix magazines. He has also lectured at UCLA Extension, Texas State University, and Berklee School of Music.
         He has also worked with Hollywood voice talent, symphony orchestras, and high-profile music acts such as BT. Brandon continues to write on numerous game audio subjects, and is always honoring his roots, interviewing such Japanese game music rock stars like Hip Tanaka and Tetsuya Mizuguchi. As part of the game audio community he has served on the steering committee of the IA-SIG and as vice president of the Game Audio Network Guild.
         He now runs the audio production house in Georgetown, Texas, “Funky Rustic”, with his wife, Jeanette, and distributes music through Bandcamp and Soundrop, releasing an album every now and again.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tin Pan South: Bob DiPiero and Other Songwriting Legends Delight Full House at 3rd and Lindsay

By Wil Comstock
Music City Arts Contributing Writer

Friday, March 31 -- First Show, 3rd and Lindsay
Bob Dipero, Jim Beavers, Lee Thomas Miller, and Ritchie McDonald

            I met industry photographer Bev Moser and her friend Carol standing in line for the first show on Tuesday at Whiskey Rhythm.  I sat with them on Wednesday at 3rd and Lindsay’s ASCAP show and again tonight. "That’s the great thing about music,” Carol said. “It brings people together.” The CMA songwriters on this this show certainly brought us all together, as we nodded out heads and sang along with these great songwriters.

            Bob DiPiero was born in Youngstown, Ohio. His first hit was the Oak Ridge Boy’s “American Made,” which became a jingle for Miller beer and Baby Ruth Candy bars --not a bad start! Bob rocked the house with his Shenandoah smash “Church on Cumberland Road,” a co-write with John Sherrill and Dennis Robbins. He turned it into a tribute to Chuck Berry, who recently died, by inserting a few lines of “Johnny B Good,” a real crowd pleaser. His next song was by the movie "Forrest Gump." In the film Bob explains, “Forrest talks about his girlfriend, Jenny, and how she would come and go out of his life. At one point, he says, 'And out of the blue clear sky, Jenny came back.' And I was listening, thinking, 'Hey! It’s clear blue sky, it’s not blue clear sky!' Just that little turn of phrase stuck in my head. The next day, I was writing with John Jarrard and Mark D. Sanders. I said, 'I have this idea: blue clear sky. And they said, 'Well, that’s backwards!' (Laughs) I said, 'I know that,' so we wrote it anyway! We demoed it, and about a month later, I got a phone call from Tony Brown. He said, 'I’m in the studio with George Strait, and we want to cut your song — but George has a question for you!' So George gets on the phone and says, 'I’m from Texas … and in Texas it’s clear blue sky. You think it ought to be clear blue sky?' So I told him about going to see 'Forrest Gump,' and life was like a box of chocolates … and that Forrest said, 'blue clear sky.' I told him the song is all about just giving up on love and then, out of nowhere, out of the blue clear sky, comes the love of your life. And George was kind of quiet for a while, and then he says, 'Well, you think there’s many Gumpsters out there?'  And I said, 'Well, yeah, I do!' And he says, 'Well, all right then, we’ll be Gumpsters!' And he recorded 'Blue Clear Sky.''  Next DiPiero performed the upbeat “Daddy’s Money," a song he wrote with Mark D. Sanders and Steve Seskin for the band Ricochet. Introducing his last song, Bob said he and Jeffrey Steele were in Panama City. “We spent three hours on a song that was not going anywhere... in the music business we call it 'polishing the turd.'  (Laughs)  And I said, 'Let’s write a simple song with two verses,'" and they came up with the Montgomery Gentry mid-tempo rocker “Gone.”

            Texas-born Jim Beaver has a BBA from Baylor and an MBA from Vanderbilt. He intended to make a life career in the music business.  He is the former director of marketing for Capitol and Virgin Records,  As well as a professor at MTSU. Since 2002, he has been writing full time. Jim started off with “Am I the Only One,” which he co-wrote with Jeffrey Steele for Dierks Bentley. Introducing his next song Beavers said, “I had just quit my position as a music executive... my wife was pregnant and the future was unclear." This set the stage as he sat down to write with Jonathan Singleton and Darrell Brown. They came up with “Why Don’t We Just Dance," a song about throwing your cares away and being happy. Josh Turner took this song to number one. He followed it up with Luke Bryan’s chart topper “Drink a Beer,” which he co-wrote with Chris Stapleton. The ballad is about the unexpected loss of a loved one. He saved his Gary Allan cut “Watching Airplanes” for last. Jim wrote this power ballad with Jonathan Singleton. 

            Songwriter and sometime producer Lee Thomas Miller hails from Kentucky. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. He is the current president of NSAI, which takes him to Washington as an advocate in congress for composers. He penned Tim McGraw's number one "Southern Girl" with Rodney Clawson and Jaren Johnston. Miller sounded great on the perfect summer song. He followed with a song he wrote with Brad Paisley, Brad’s “I’m Still A Guy." He explained, “We wanted to capture the struggle between men and women in a playful way." Miller said he received a call to write with Brothers Osborne.  They got together and wrote a little. The guys seemed very casual and not in a hurry. They got together again and finished the song. Miller thought they were writing for an album that would be out in a year.  Eight weeks later Lee is driving down the road listening to DJ Bobby Bones when he announces that Brothers Osborne are coming out with a new album. He made a few calls and found out that the song he wrote with them would be the next single! With that, Miller tore into “It Ain’t My Fault.”

            Ritchie McDonald founded Lonestar in 1992 when he lived in Lubbeck Texas. The band charted nine number one singles in their heyday. Ritchie started out with one of their biggest, “My Front Porch Looking In,” a song he wrote with Frank Myers. Ritchie said "the view looking into the house at my beautiful wife and children was far better than anything on the outside." He followed with the beautiful ballad “I’m Already There.” The inspiration came on the road after hanging up the phone with his 4-year-old son, who wanted to know when he was coming home. McDonald laughed and said his son is now 21!  He picked up the guitar to play the mid up-tempo “Mr. Mom,” a co-write with Ron Harbin and Don Pfrimmer. This song brought a smile to my face as I recalled the cartoon video as Ritchie played and sang “Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer, Crayons go up one drawer higher, Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time, Breakfast six, naps at nine."  McDonald closed with Lonestar’s biggest hit, a song written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo, and Chris Lindsay.  “Amazed” spent eight weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot Country Singles and Tracks. McDonald never sounded better!  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tin Pan South: A Memorable Show Featuring Songwriters Victoria Shaw, Keb Mo, and Desmond Child.

By Chuck Whiting 
Music City Arts Editor

Thursday, March 30, 6-7:30 p.m., show at The Listening Room -- Featuring Victoria Shaw, Keb Mo, and Desmond Child 

            On the surface, one might think the combination of a country-pop songstress, a blues extraordinaire, and a songwriting legend from the '80s'/'90s rock scene might be awkward. In fact, I spoke with a couple people who didn't like it. But others raved. What seemed unusual at first turned out to be a very good show.

            Who can't love Victoria Shaw, a beautiful artist known for her touching ballads. Some years ago, I ventured to Italy with two friends. By chance while exploring in Cortona, we started a conversation with an American woman who raved about Italy, then happened to mention that her daughter was a songwriter. After a bit more conversation, we learned that her daughter was Victoria Shaw. On Thursday night, we took the opportunity to say hello to Victoria's mother, who happened to be sitting at a table just off the stage. Surprisingly, she remembered meeting us. It's a small world in Little Big Town.

            Victoria started the show with the lovely grace one would expect, saying how honored she was to be performing on the same stage with Keb and Desmond. The audience loved her performance of "Till The River Runs Dry." Later, she mesmerized the crowd with a tender rendition of the John Michael Montgomery hit, ""I Love The Way You Love Me." Desmond reminded her, laughingly, that she had sung the love ballad at his wedding. How could she forget! Victoria also knows how to write pop, rock, Latin and blues, as she proved with "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely," a hit she co-wrote with Desmond for Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera. She then belted out a satirical song she wrote with Bette Midler that conveys a true-to-life portrayal of the Divine Miss M's spunk and sass. The songwriting legend ended with a stirring performance of the classic hit "Never Alone." 

            Keb Mo is a Nashville legend who lives in another musical world -- the blues. Fans seated at the table in front of us said they drove up from Atlanta to see him. That's not surprising given his three Grammys and international acclaim. Keb grooved up the crowd with the infectious "Soon As I Get Paid," telling his delighted fans afterwards, "Nobody knows my songs... I'm standing between giants." Victoria quickly responded, "You're a real artist," emphasizing the word "real." The pleasant encounter drew a round of applause.  Keb's bluesy ballad, "One Friend," was one of the most moving songs of the evening. The heart-achin' "Old Me Better" made me smile, which is what the true blues are supposed to do. It was a lot of fun hearing him pick a national resonator guitar during a performance of "Suitcase"... "I got a suitcase baby... I take it everywhere I go... It's just a big old bag of trouble, trouble all I know...." He closed with the cleverly penned "For Better or Worse," a song he co-wrote with Victoria.

            Desmond Child is a man of great talents and heart. He is helping NSAI lobby Congress to pass laws that protect and improve the livelihoods of songwriters. "Songwriters don't get credits anymore," he passionately told the audience. "They don't make the Vanderbilts give away their mansions. Why should we have to?" The mostly Baby Boomer/X crowd served as a chorus during performances of his eighties rock hits. First there was "Living On A Prayer," a Bon Jovi hit that Desmond calls the "number-one-played song in strip clubs at the end of the night." Just about everyone seemed to like his performance of "Angel," the first song Aerosmith ever recorded that was written outside the band. Desmond showed off his powerful voice with "Weird," a song he wrote in the '90s for the band Hanson. "I'm nearing the end of my career," he told the audience with a note of sadness, before launching into his final song, the Bon Jovi rock classic "(You Want To) Make A Memory." 

            Good memories and uniqueness make shows like this special. Thanks to Victoria, Keb and Desmond for sharing their stories and talents!

            Tin Pan South continues through April 1. See the show schedule at

Tin Pan South: Frank Rogers, Ben Glover, Kellie Pickler, and Kyle Jacobs Bring Fun to Third & Lindsley

By Wil Comstock
Music City Arts Contributing Writer 

Wednesday, March 29 -- 9 p.m. Show at Third & Lindsley -- Frank Rogers, Ben Glover, Kellie Pickler, and Kyle Jacobs with Dave Baker on guitar.

       This was a fun show! The banter and exchange between the writers on stage was worth the price of admission. They had me laughing all night while listening to superb vocals and well-crafted lyrics.

       Frank Rogers: Music business executive, producer, and writer. Frank is one of the most successful guys in the business. He began with his Darius Rucker hit “Thank God for What I’ve Missed” telling us that if he didn’t have to stop at that light out in LA one morning, the song wouldn’t have been written. He missed the light and wrote the song!  I enjoyed hearing him play his Brad Paisley hit “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishing Song)." It always brings a smile to my face.  Rogers performed a medley that included Paisley’s “Who Needs Pictures," “Me Neither,"  “Swing," Rucker’s “History In the Making,” and Granger Smith’s “Backroad Song”. Whew! Frank said he and Darius had set out to write a positive song... the last song they wrote was about divorce. They had gone out to eat with their wives and started the song. Darius ended the session saying his knee was killing him, and promised to finish the song with Rogers the next day. The following day, Rucker called saying, “I’m in the hospital with a staff infection in my knee.” Eight months later, they were at Rucker’s home in South Carolina. They picked up working on the song and heard a crash… The girl next door accidently slid her huge aquarium off of a dresser, and it crashed into her face. She needed surgery. Frank said it evidently takes eight surgeries, four for Darius and four for the girl next door, to write a positive song! With that, Rogers launched into Darius’ #1, “Alright." Frank closed with his 2017 Crappy Award-winning song, the off-color “Playing Possum,” which he swore was about animals. Hmmm… with a line like “her beaver’s playing possum,” I’m supposed to believe that?
       Ben Glover: Grammy-Award winning songwriter and producer from a small city on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. Glover moved to Nashville in 2000, originally getting his start as an artist. He has penned 26 number one hits in multiple genres and was named ASCAP’s Christian Songwriter of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2013. He kicked off with Lee Brice’s hit, “Show You Off Tonight,” which he wrote with stage-mate Kyle Jacobs. I loved his “Beautiful Messes,” which he co-rote with Hillary Scott, who recorded the song. My favorite line: “Don't forget God used the misfits just like us to do the most amazing things." Ben said he was at a session with Billy Montana and John Ozier and explained, "We thought we’d write a classic song about dudes saying, ‘You know, I’m kind of a pain in the ass.’ We said, ‘Let’s just talk about ourselves in the song.'" The result was the Lee Brice top-five “Hard to Love," which was produced by Kyle Jacobs. Glover wrote his last number with David Crowder and Matt Maher. He gave a stirring performance on the worshipful “Come As You Are."
       Kellie Pickler: Reality show star, recording artist, songwriter, and wife of Kyle Jacobs! Pickler rose to fame on the fifth season of American Idol, finishing in sixth place. She was raised by her grandmother and great-grandmother because her parents were in and out of prison. Writer Billy Montana asked her to talk about her life, and she told him about her great-grandmother, Selma, who never had a driver’s license, didn’t believe in bank accounts, and out-lived her husband by 40 years. She was a simple woman. Billy told Kellie, that is our song right there, and together they wrote “Selma Drye." After Kellie finished performing, husband Kyle said, “That was a goodin'.”  Kellie laughed and pointed out that Kyle’s Minnesota mother was a proper English teacher. The jokes went back and forth, with Kellie imitating Kyle’s mother, to which Kyle said, “When you do that, it takes sex totally out of the equation,” which brought the house down. Kellie told how she and Leslie Ann Satcher got together for a writing session but only talked. Satcher went home and wrote “Tough” for Kellie, and it became the first single on her album 100 Proof. Kellie later said, "Leslie really gets me." Pickler and her husband Kyle were joined by Dave Baker on guitar. Dave sat between them and was the brunt of many of their jokes. Most of them being Kellie’s mock jealously of Dave and her husband’s bromance. Dave, ever the straight man, just sat there and rolled his eyes as Kellie and Kyle sipped whiskey and cut up in between songs. For her next song, Kellie chose the Chris Lindsey, Amy Mayo, and Karyn Rochelle-penned “Don't You Know You're Beautiful." Great message, great delivery! Pickler closed with a song she, Chris Lindsey, Amy Mayo, and Karyn Rochelle wrote about Pickler’s ex boyfriend, the sassy “Red High Heels." Pickler was quick to mention, “It is not about Kyle... It was before Kyle."

       Kyle Jacobs: Producer, songwriter, guitarist, and husband of Kellie Pickler. Kyle’s first number was written with Joe Leathers and Ruston Kelly. They had all played the Bluebird that night and went back to Kyle’s afterwards. His wife, Kellie, was out of town. He lit some candles, poured some drinks, and reflectively said, “Nashville wasn’t Nashville without her (Kellie).” Keeping that in mind, they began to throw out country greats who made Nashville what it is today. Soon, the Tim McGraw cut “Nashville Without You” was born. When Kellie was on Dancing With The Stars, they didn’t get to see each other much. Kyle would write songs for Kellie and send them to her. One of them was the heartbreaking “Spend a Little Time with You." As Lee Brice’s producer, Jacobs listened to 100’s of songs. One of them was written by three writers who were inspired after seeing the father of a soldier, who was killed going into harms way to save others, being interviewed on television. The host asked him how he got through it, to which the father replied, “I drive his truck." Kyle gave a memorable performance on the Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary-penned number. Jacobs closed with the song that changed his life, the Garth Brooks mid-tempo ballad  “More Than A Memory," which he wrote with Billy Montana and Lee Brice.
       I love shows like this where the writers know each other and are comfortable enough to cut up and rag on each other. It always makes for an enjoyable and memorable performance.  

       Tin Pan South continues through April 1. To see the show schedule, visit

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tin Pan South: An Inspirational Wednesday Night at Third & Lindsley in Nashville

By Wil Comstock

Music City Arts Contributing Writer

Wednesday, March 29, 6-7:45 p.m. at 3rd & Lindsley -- An inspirational set with Brandon Heath, Bernie Herms, Ryan Stevenson, and Mike Donehey with special guests Danny Gokey and Emily Weisband

                  Host Brandon Heath started off the evening with a song inspired by Mother Teresa, who said she always liked to be the first to open the door because she knew it would be “Jesus in Disguise." This is Heath’s new single.   


                  Canadian keyboardist, producer and songwriter Bernie Herms was up next.  This Dove Award winner explained that he was not blessed with a good voice, so he asked Danny Gorkey to come and sing for him.  Gorkey was an American Idol third-place finalist on season eight and was once signed to RCA Nashville for a short-lived career in country music.  Herms and co-writers Randy Phillips and Mathew West heard a story about a heart surgeon who operated on a woman. During surgery, the body is hooked up to a machine that pumps the blood for the patient.  After the surgeon repaired the heart, he couldn’t get it to start again.  He leaned over and spoke into the woman’s ear, “Your heart is fixed... You need to tell it to start up again,” and immediately the woman’s heart started beating. Gokey’s powerful vocals sent chills up my spine on “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again."  

                  Northwestern native Ryan Stevenson told us he went to the same church all his life.  That church split recently over gossip that wasn’t even true.  The Lord spoke to Ryan about the power of our words.  This led him to the beginnings of a song he shared with TobyMac.  Toby asked if he could finish the song with him. The result was “Speak Life,” which Toby recorded and brought to #1 along with a Grammy nomination!  

                  Mike Donehey, front man for the band Tenth Avenue North, spoke of how the Church is quick to relieve us of our guilt but also quick to burden us with concerns about our Christian legacy and winning lost souls. The truth is God is not dependent on us, but he does want to use us. Mike wooed us with the tender “Somehow You Want Me."

                  Brandon joked that his next song was not written by the textbook because it had no chorus.  But that didn’t stop “I’m Not Who I Was” from becoming his first number one!

                  Herms wrote the next number with Mike Hall, a youth pastor.  They were talking about a girl in Mike’s youth group who had cancer and had died.  The kids in his group had a hard time reconciling that their prayers were not answered the way they expected. “I Will Praise You in the Storm” was Mike and Bernie’s response to their questions.  Gokey filled in for Mike Hall, who was sick and couldn’t make it, on the vocals, having rehearsed only once backstage an hour before the show.  What an uplifting song!   

                  Ryan followed with a plea from his heart to God on the beautiful “Between Me and You”.  Mike followed with the thought provoking “Worn” inspired by his wife who was worn out by staying up with their new baby.   Next Brandon introduced his phenomenal backup guitarist Adam Lester, who played with Peter Frampton. Adam sang background on Brandon’s upcoming radio friendly single “Whole Heart”.  What a great hook.   

                  Bernie Herms asked Emily Weisband to come to the stage to sing the Hillary Scott song “Thy Will."  It was written by Herms, Weisband and Scott after Scott had a miscarriage. Emily’s contemplative vocal was the perfect match.  

                  Ryan had worked as a paramedic for nine years having a front row seat to tragedy and loss. He put those experiences into his stirring next song “In the Eye of the Storm”.  Mike told us that he and co-writer Jeff Owens wrote this song for Jeff’s 32-year-old sister-in-law, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  Several months later, she asked to be there when the song was recorded.  While the song was being recorded, she received a text from Vanderbilt that her cancer was in remission.

                  Herms brought Danny Gokey and Emily Weisband back to harmonize on “Chasing”.  I love the lyric: “I’ve been chasing dreams and you’ve been chasing me." 

                  Brandon closed the set with his song of surrender “Give Me Your Eyes” as we all sang on the chorus.   This set of songs encouraged me and reminded me of who I am… Thanks guys!

                  Tin Pan South continues through April 1. See the show schedule at

'Tin Pan South' SOURCE Show Spotlights Lari White, Jaida Dreyer, Danielle Bradbery and Jo Smith

By Wil Comstock
Music City Arts Contributing Writer

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 -- 6 p.m. show at Whiskey Rhythm Saloon

         This show was a benefit for SOURCE, the invitation-only women’s music business organization that provides professional contacts, career opportunities, and industry related information and education.  Whiskey Rhythm Saloon provided an intimate spot where these writers could tell us their stories and knock us off our feet with their killer songs.

         Canadian-American singer songwriter Jaida Dreyer is quite the character.  Her “Tease it to Jesus and Spray it to Hell," a quote from Loretta Lynn, had us in stitches.  She delivered quite a tale about her first time in LA. She was a little nervous about working with an unnamed writer.  They hit it off just fine, worked on a song, and Jaida was invited back to her apartment to hang out afterwards.  After a few hits of whiskey and several cigarettes, her host asked Jaida if she could do a Tarot Card reading for her.  For an hour and a half, her new friend proceeded to tell her the most horrible things, 90 percent of which came true! They remained friends, and Jaida put this experience into the haunting “There Will be Blood."  Dreyer closed with her number one hit for Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, “Home Alone Tonight,” telling the crowd excitedly, "I can finally say I have a number one!"

         Big Machine artist Danielle Bradbery, winner of The Voice season four in 2013, sang the memorable “Sway." Lari White commented that the hook would be in our heads for weeks to come.  Bradbery also shared two new songs that really pulled at the heart: “Potential,” about falling in love with the potential of a guy, and the sweet “Laying Low," sometimes you need a quiet time away from the crowds.

         Lari White asked us to imagine it was Saturday night around midnight. We’ve had six or seven beers, and we knew there was no way we would make it to church the next morning.  “So,” she whispered, “We’re gonna have church right here” as she played the beginning chords to “Lead Me Not into Temptation."  Everyone rededicated their lives as she delivered the most soulful performance of the evening, "Hallelujah!"  We were treated to two songs from her "Green Eyed Soul" CD, the sassy “Because I’m a Woman” and “Eden, Before the Fall,” which she co-wrote with Gary Nicholson.  White was in the Broadway musical “Ring of Fire ” about Johnny Cash.  While in New York, she was inspired to write a classic like those in the Great American Songbook.  She exceeded all expectations with the stunning “Champagne." All I could do was shake my head and smile, "Hmm, hmm, hmm..."

         Jo Smith kicked off with “Poster Child,” a song about being good at finding a guy that’s trouble.    Her Motown-torcher “Old School Groove” is a Highway Find on SiriusXM’s “The Highway.” She announced that the video shoot was tonight at the American Legion!  I loved the infectious “Dance Dirty with Me."  And we all could relate to her closing number “This Town” about the ups and downs of life in Music City.  

         This is a night to savor and play over again in my mind as I “Lay Low” and sip a glass of “Champagne"!

            Tin Pan South continues through Saturday, April 1. See the show schedule at