Friday, March 28, 2014

'Tin Pan South' Displays Brilliance and Partying on Third Night


Day Three: March 27 (Thursday)

         "Tin Pan South" continues to fill Nashville's music venues with song, drawing thousands of music lovers from across the nation. Covering shows for MCAU on Thursday night (Day Three) were reporters Scott Johnson and Wil Comstock. They decided to take in the 6 p.m. show at Douglas Corner(featuring Rob Crosby, James Dean Hicks, Angela Kaset, and Allen Shamblin); and the 6 p.m. show at the Rutledge (featuring Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, and Luke Laird).

March 27 (Thursday):


         There is something remarkable about Douglas Corner Café. At first glance, it seems like just another tiny music venue, but when you walk inside, you notice it has the “It factor.” It’s dimly lit interior with lamps hanging low establish a certain ambience that is rarely duplicated. This would be a great place to take a date but only if they were ready to listen and enjoy. The songwriters were gathered in the middle of the room at eye level. No stage was needed, as this was an intimate performance. It felt like you were having a group of talented songwriters over to hang in your living room for a jam session.

         The room was packed with creative energy. In fact, over half of the room admitted to being songwriters themselves. Special guests in the audience included legendary album producer Jerry Crutchfield (Tanya Tucker, Lee Greenwood) and Hugh Prestwood (songwriter).

Shamblin, Hicks, Kaset and Crosby
         The songwriters took turns in the round playing some of their most popular hits and telling the stories behind the music. A true highlight was hearing Hall of Fame songwriter Allen Shamblin talk about the iconic Bonnie Raitt hit “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” The lyrics ache with such vulnerability, and I’d easily put it in my Top 5 best written songs of all time. Shamblin happily shared the spotlight with 16-year-old songwriter Athena Koumanelis of Nashville. Shamblin said he met the teen before the show, and she mentioned that the song was one of her favorites to sing live. Koumanelis did a brilliant job singing and playing keyboards. The performance reflected the spirit of "Tin Pan South" – songwriters supporting songwriters. 

         Shamblin’s set included Miranda Lambert’s CMA Song of the Year “The House That Built Me.” The room was nearly silent as he performed the gorgeous song. He also achieved the same effect while performing the Randy Travis hit “He Walked on Water.” During the performance, he gave advice to aspiring songwriters.

Allen Shamblin congratulates
Athena Koumanelis
“My advice is to pray. Ask God for a good idea. I believe God’s got all the good ideas,” he said.

Angela Kaset also had an incredible set of songs. She thanked producer Jerry Crutchfield for taking a chance on her, admitting that her style is a bit different for Nashville. Her voice was reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Carole King; therefore, I was immediately won over! Some of the biggest applause of the night came during her performance of the Lorrie Morgan hit “Something in Red.” Kaset’s feminism came into play several times during the night. “Against My Own Will” had a wonderful line about it being time to “woman up!” and “Peace in This House” (Wynonna) talked of balancing the demands of being a mother and wife.

A night in Music City isn’t complete without a special guest or two. The songwriters called Hugh Prestwood to the stage, and he indulged the crowd by telling stories about how record producer Clive Davis turned down the hit “Ghost in My House” (Shenandoah, Alison Krauss). 

Songwriters James Dean Hicks and Rob Crosby provided humor and infectious enthusiasm during the night by joking about guitar solos gone wrong. Hicks performed the moving “Jesus and Mama” (Confederate Railroad), the #1 hit “Goodbye Time” (Conway Twitty and Blake Shelton), and “Grandpa Told Me So (Kenny Chesney). Hicks admitted that a lot of his inspiration comes from driving and told a great story about being persistent to achieve your dreams. Hicks said he always wanted Merle Haggard to sing one of the lines to his songs, and he achieved that during a Blaine Larsen recording session. Crosby also had plenty of hits to play, including a gorgeous rendition of “Concrete Angel” (Martina McBride) that included out-of-this-world harmonies from the entire group. He had the biggest groove of the night with “Mile Out of Memphis.” He explained that he co-wrote the tune with the legendary Carl Perkins, and that Carl lifted him up during a dark time of his life. The song was recorded with Paul Simon on his last duets CD.
Angela Kaset and James Dean Hicks

This was a "Tin Pan South" show I’ll never forget, and now I have a new favorite musical venue. Thanks to Douglas Café Corner for a great night and fantastic atmosphere. Go see these amazing songwriters if you get a chance. You won’t regret it.

-- Scott Johnson, MCAU Assistant Editor

THE RUTLEDGE (Early Show):

         I had decided to cover the TPS show featuring Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird and band.
         This turned out to be the "Happy Hour Show"... drinking and party songs with a thundering backup band. Working both full-time and part-time jobs, plus covering "Tin Pan South", I was looking forward to the kind of show Luke Laird put together last year with Natalie Hemby and Brett Eldridge: Three writers, three guitars and three wonderful voices whose every word I could hear. I was in for a surprise.
Barry Dean
         Natalie kicked off the party with the Toby Keith hit “Drinks After Work”, a song she penned with Laird and Dean. Barry Dean sang the uncut “Day Drinking”, a fun number with a catchy riff that he taught the audience to whistle on the chorus. We all sang along with Laird on the chorus of “Drink in my Hand”, the Eric Church single he wrote with Eric and Michael P. Heeney.  We were also treated to Dean’s “Mix it with Rum” and the Thomas Rhett cut “Sorry for Partying”, a song inspired by one of Rhett’s crew who arrived late to the bus one night feeling way too good and looking for a fight.
         Natalie introduced us to her lovely co-writer, Maren Morris, who joined her on the beautifully haunting ballad, “Who Told You There Was No Way Out” and the upbeat “Automatic”. Another highlight was Luke’s “Beat This Summer”, last year’s huge hit for Brad Paisley that he wrote with Paisley and Chris Dubois.
Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird
         Remember when you first came to town and got shushed at the Bluebird for talking during a song? No problem at this show. The back-up guitar god was playing riffs while the writers were introducing their songs. And if you spoke to your neighbor during one of the performances, so what? No one seemed to mind... ‘cause this was a party! 
-- Wil Comstock, MCAU Contributing Writer

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