Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tin Pan South: Sensational Songwriters Show Features Berg, Cobb, Combs and Payne

Tin Pan South:

Wednesday, Second show at The Country

Matraca Berg, Brent Cobb, Andrew Combs, and Waylon Payne

Report from MCAU Editor Chuck Whiting

         The late show at The Country was sensational, with some of the best songs and surprising voices I've heard on a Nashville stage in quite a while.

         Described as a country soul singer-songwriter, Andrew Combs melodically drifted to unexpected places, mesmerizing the capacity crowd with a young McCartney-esque appeal. Andrew, who plays a mix of covers and originals at venues in Charleston and other places, said he was excited to perform at one of Nashville's newest venues. He serenaded the ladies with the love ballad "Silk Flowers", then launched into the soulful "Too Stoned to Cry", his closest tie-in to the late, great Merle Haggard. His soft, whispering, crying voice added emotional depth to a story about a lonesome wanderer. He later amazed us by using his voice to realistically imitate the sound of a trumpet on "Ramblin' Rose-Colored Blues", a bluesy tune that conjured the rumble of a slow-moving train. His most beautiful performance of the night was "Hazel", a new song that featured brilliant arrangements with soaring falsetto.  We overheard someone say he was the "surprise of the night". We agree.

Andrew Combs shares the stage with Brent Cobb and Matraca Berg (Photo by Chuck Whiting)

         Brent Cobb was an affable and talented complement, offering a wide range of heartfelt, fun and well-crafted tunes. He encouraged us to face challenges during these trying times with the spirited "Go Outside and Dance". He later credited the Bro Country scene for inspiring him to write the imagery (cricket)-filled "Tailgate Blues", conjuring up memories of girls, Friday nights, and romance under the stars. He invited Andrew to join him on their co-write, "Shine On Rainy Day". They took turns singing lead and harmony. Their voices blended well together, and the song was top-notch. Brent is a witty and clever wordsmith who loves bringing laughs to his listeners.

         Special guest Waylon Payne, who portrayed Jerry Lee Lewis in the 2005 movie "Walk The Line", treated the crowd to country blues-accented songs about loss, rough living, and hope. He is following in the footsteps of his parents. His mother, Sami Smith, was a Grammy-winning vocalist. His late father, Jody, was a longtime guitarist for Willie Nelson. The crowd loved his songs "Diana" (about a mother who disappears), "Solitary Thinking" (about a lonesome whiskey drinker), and "Sins of the Father" (about breaking free from generational bad habits). But his deeply moving rendition of "Blue Eyes", a song about his battle with drug addiction, will remain in our hearts and minds for a long time. After singing the song, he offered to talk with anyone who faced similar challenges. 

Another outstanding show at The Country (Photo by Chuck Whiting)

         What a delight it was to hear the lovely and talented (i.e. brilliant tunesmith) Matraca Berg. Her working relationship with country legend Deana Carter (who recorded "Strawberry Wine") continues to grow. She performed their co-write, "One More Is Never Enough", which was recently placed on hold by Kenny Chesney. She left the audience spellbound with "Oh Cumberland", a beautiful ballad about being homesick from Middle Tennessee. Her co-write with Emmylou Harris celebrates the meandering, playful, go-nowhere river that winds its way quietly into Kentucky. She showed her musical range, playing both harmonica and guitar on the tongue-in-cheek tune, "They Still Smoke in Alabama". She drew laughs from the audience when she invited Andrew to play mouth trumpet on "Jesus and Elvis", a song recently cut by Chesney. But she saved everybody's favorite till last. "Strawberry Wine" drew big smiles and sighs as it always has.

         It was a highly enjoyable show... Now on to the next one!

         From now through April 10, Music City Arts Network will be posting coverage and tweeting out messages about this year's Tin Pan South songwriting festival. Follow us and Please share your TPS experiences with us.

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