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Young Performers Impress Audiences on Fourth Night of 'Tin Pan South'
'TIN PAN SOUTH' REPORT
Day Four: March 27 (Friday)
For day four of
"Tin Pan South", MCAU's writers decided to spotlight emerging and
professional singer-songwriters. The level of talent was well beyond
expectations, reassuring us that the future of music looks promising indeed.
Young writers impress at the Blue Bar
First Show (Early Show
at Blue Bar):
The first show
featured Lance Carpenter, Melissa Fuller, Gavin Slate, and Elana Springsteen.
The last time I was
at the Blue Bar, it was called Trilogy. Do you remember the restaurant owned by
Naomi, Wynonna and Ashley Judd? I hit this show cold knowing nothing about any
of these writers. After the first round, these guys really started to kick into
gear. The waitress brought Gavin and Lance a beer. They toasted on-stage, and
Lance said it would be a few months before Elana could have one. That was when
we learned she's only 14 years old. Melissa wasn't drinking because she was
During this set, we
heard Melissa Fuller's melodic "When Love Had Its Way", a newly recorded
duet by Kacey Jones and Katie Armiger. I liked the encouraging "Don't Quit
Your Daydream", a song she wrote for other emerging tunesmiths in town.
"Heavy Rotation" was written with her co-writer in 15 minutes. They
excitedly brought the song over to their publisher who said, "Now, this is
a song about a record, right?" They enthusiastically told him yes, to
which he responded, "Well I'm not clear what a 38 is." They answered,
"45s and 38s." Laughing, the publishing explained their error, and
the line was re-written.
Gavin Slate's voice
reminds me of the Scottish alternative rock band Del Amitri... and I really
like Del Amitri! Gavin recently moved to Nashville from Toronto. I loved his
confessional song "The Truth". His heartfelt "I've Got to Leave
You to See" had all of us thinking about our own move to Nashville to
pursue our dreams. It's always hard to leave people you love behind. Wes Mack,
who is on the Big Machine label, cut Gavin's "Love the Way You Let Me
Down". The song describes a relationship with "a girl who treats
(him) like garbage, but (he) just can't get enough." Seems most of us have
experienced something like that!
Special guest Elana
Springsteen of Virginia Beach, Va., was the big surprise of the evening. This
14-year-old has already written some great songs, and she's quite a guitarist.
Everyone smiled as she sang the age-appropriate "Too Young to Care".
Ah... the reckless carelessness of youth, which (by the way) I'm sure does not
apply to Elana. I certainly related to her insightful "The
In-Between", the place where we all live between the big events in life.
Telling us she grew up near a military base, she played "What I Wouldn't
Give". The song was sung through the eyes of a deployed soldier, longing
to be home to put his kids to bed and fall asleep next to his wife. This girl
is sure going places.
Lance Carpenter had
quite a few friends to cheer him on. He's a likeable guy with a big heart and
big voice. I enjoyed his "We Still Ride" with its strong hook and
rap-like chorus. Lance tenderly sang as he finger-picked "Better Than
Me", a song of devotion that he wrote with Justin Wilson. One night while
hanging out with his "co-writer family", eating pizza and drinking
beer, someone picked up a guitar. They started writing "Love Me Like You
Mean It", the current single for Kelsea Ballerini. I have an idea
Carpenter will be having a lot more pizza, beer and hits!
-- Wil Comstock, MCAU
Second Show (Late Show at Commodore
The lobby of the
Holiday Inn was packed when we arrived for the second show around 8:20.
Marc-Alan Barnette, whose show had just ended, walked the pass line to thank
everyone for coming. Other songwriters, some visiting from as far away as Great
Britain and Bermuda, shot the bull while waiting to enter the lounge. Once
inside, one couldn't help but notice Debi Champion hurriedly making
preparations for the show. Her dedication and professionalism are always
Ryan Beaver and John Osborne
The lineup for this
show was Ryan Beaver, Maren
Morris, Lucie Silvas, and a surprise replacement (for Jeremy
Spillman)... the amazing Barry Dean.
The talented guitarist John Osborne
provided accompaniment and background vocals.
Country upstart Ryan
Beaver loves to write and perform
sad songs. He kicked off the show with the romantic country ballad "You
Were the Rain" (the opposite of his admitted untenable
"wildfire"). The Texas tenor drew heavy applause from the crowd with
"Kristofferson" (a song honoring the songwriting legend), "When
This World Ends" (an unusual mix of romance and holocaust), and
"Whatever the Night May Bring" (a romance that weathers a terrible
storm). His foot-tapping song "Vegas Doesn't Stay in Vegas" sounds
like a classic country tune one might have heard in the '80s or '90s... with
one-night stands, slot machines, unexpected romance, and broken hearts. Beaver
has a lot of talent... as a singer-guitarist, but especially as a country
songwriter. I expect him to write a lot of hits.
I knew a star was
being born when I heard the first few bars of Lucie Silvas' first song, "Unbreakable Love". Wow...
what a voice! Her vocals transcended from smooth and subtle to soaring R&B
that's reminiscent of the legendary Bonnie Raitt. Silvas is a Brit whose
performance, style and songs exude solid craft along with the unexpected. She
can pull things in close country-style or explore new musical territory (with
ease). Every song kept getting better. "Smoke" was sultry and hip.
"Roots" combined acoustic-style piano with raspy emotion.
"Gold" filled our heads with esoteric images of purple lilac beds and
golden hearts. Silvas admitted that she doesn't always understand her lyrics.
But the words are fascinating when paired with her colorful chord progressions
and "heart and soul" vocals. "I love you all very much," she
told the crowd before performing her song "Shame". "British 'do'
love people, as well as dogs and horses."
Hit songwriter Barry
Dean, calling himself an old man
in a group of youngsters, stepped in for an ill Jeremy Spillman. Dean drew
immediate applause with "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools", a song
recorded by Tim McGraw. Dean Followed with the adult contemporary hit
"Girls Chase Boys" (Ingrid Michaelson), the clever "Day
Drinking" (Little Big Town), and a new tune on piano titled "Doesn't
Give a Damn What Anyone Else Says" (a song for his wife). Dean, who
arrived in Nashville from Kansas only 13 years ago, told the crowd how the
accidental inclusion of a sad ballad ("Moving Oleta") on a work tape
helped launch his songwriting career. The tear-prompting tune tells the story
of an old man admitting the incapacitated love of his life into a nursing home.
The song was recorded, then performed live for several years by Reba McEntire.
His performance of "Moving Oleta" on piano was one of the highlights
of the evening. His success proves that age and locality do not prevent dreams
from coming true.
Barry Dean and Maren Morris
Maren Morris has a strong voice that sounds slightly country
with a strong hint of pop-alternative... revealing a range you don't always
hear with the many tried-and-true country singer-songwriters around town. That
versatility should serve her well in the future. She began by performing
"Company You Keep", a groove-along, melodic tune co-written with
Shane McAnally and Luke Laird. She showed her soulful vocal range (and tenderness)
when she belted out "Second Wind", a song recorded by Kelly Clarkson.
"There's passion in everything I'm hearing tonight," she said before
launching into "I Wish I Was", a song about a girl who longs to be
loved by someone who won't love back. Hasn't that happened to just about
everyone?The crowd also enjoyed
her renditions of the poetic "Last Turn Home" (Tim McGraw), spunky
"Loose Change", and sad-but-true "Bumming Cigarettes"... All
outstanding performances by an excellent songwriter, vocalist and musician.
choose a show without knowing what to expect. This time, I came away very
impressed. NSAI's staff did an excellent job putting this round together.