Friday, April 8, 2016

Tin Pan South: Songwriting Legends Take Douglas Corner Stage for 10th Straight Year

Wednesday, First show at Douglas Corner

Rob Crosby, Angela Kaset, Bret Jones, and Allen Shamblin

Report from MCAU Contributing Writer Wil Comstock

            These guys have been playing this show at Tin Pan South for at least the last 10 years. I have made it to six of those shows. I never tire of the old tunes, and I look forward to the new ones.  

            Rob Crosby is one of the reasons I started listening to Country Music in 1990. The first time I came to Nashville in ’91, I saw him perform at Douglas Corner. I just love this guy. Rob started with “Somewhere Down the Line”.  Second time around we heard “Till the Last Shots Fired”, a hit for Trace Adkins that was originally recorded by Merle, Willie and Ray Price but never released. Rob loved the Beatles and was excited to write with Carl Perkins. He went to his house and saw all the pictures on the wall of Carl and the Beatles. Perkins was 6-foot, 2-inches tall. Paul looked short standing next to him. When Rob mentioned this to Carl, he said, “Yeah, he’s just a little bitty fella just like you are!” Rob swallowed his pride, and together they wrote the driving “A Mile out of Memphis”.  The crowd also enjoyed hearing the Eric Paslay hit, “Friday Night”.  Rob stays current by writing with younger writers. He laughed, saying they often call him “sir”.  He invited newcomer Tyler Fillmore to the stage to sing their co-write, “Change the Station”.  We all shed a tear on the Martina McBride cut “Concrete Angel” and agreed heartily on Rob’s “One More Day to Try”.  

Rob Crosby (Photo by Wil Comstock)

            Angela Kaset is one of Nashville’s greatest treasures.  It was worth going to this show if I only heard her first number, “Peace in this House”,  a melodic tune written to her children.  We all smiled during her song “Jesus with the Light Brown Hair". Things are not always as they appear.  She also sang her theme song “At this Stage of my Middle Age”, which was recently put on hold much to her surprise.  She did one of my favorite songs, the classic Lori Morgan cut “Something in Red”. The inspiration for the song came one March day when she was driving along interstate 40 and saw the first green of spring.  She closed with “You Fool”, written in the style of the American Songbook.  Hey Lori (Morgan)... are you looking for another number one?

Angela Kaset (Photo by Chuck Whiting)

            Brett Jones used to play football for the University of Georgia, and sometimes that energy comes through his songs like his first number, the Jason Aldean cut “Crazy Town”, a tune about living in Nashville.  Brett is a people watcher. One day he saw a couple who looked like the nursery rhyme Jack Sprat.  He started thinking and wrote “Something for Everybody”. Ten years ago, Jones had his life all figured out. He bought land in Wyoming near a lake, bought a boat, and figured he would spend a few months each year up there fishing and writing.  It worked out for a couple of years until his girlfriend told him she was pregnant. Now all that is left of the boat is the Billy Currington hit, “That’s How Country Boys Roll”. He reminisced on life and the passing of time on the tender “Your Last Day of Being Three”. Brett always wanted to write a song for his brother who was killed in Vietnam. He finally did it, writing "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away". It was eventually recorded by Justin Moore. It's a sentiment everyone who has lost someone dear can relate to.  

Brett Jones (Photo by Wil Comstock)

            Songwriter Hall of Famer Allen Shamblin dedicated the night to Merle Haggard, who had passed away earlier in the day.  Allen said the first time he saw Merle was in a small Texas club where he sat about 15 feet away from him.  Shamblin then segued into “What I’m For”, written with Marc Beeson.  He had us in stiches singing “I Like Frogs”, who along with Allen, do not like Biology! His next song sat on the back burner for six years before he and co-writer Tom Douglas took another look at it. They cleaned it up, and Miranda Lambert recorded “The House That Built Me”.  Allen’s love for his great-grandfather led him to write “He Walked on Water".  He sweetly sang the song in his boy-like way, eyes closed, rocking his body, and touching our hearts once again.  How lucky can a guy get than to hear two of his favorite songs played by the songwriter in one night?  Shamblin made that happen for me when he played his huge hit for Bonnie Raitt, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Kaset did previously with “Something in Red”).  Allen said he doesn’t often play other peoples songs.  When he first started playing guitar as a kid, he was often told his rendition didn’t sound anything like the original.  But he took a chance and closed the night with the Haggard tune, “Sing Me Back Home”.  We were all glad he did.

Allen Shamblin (Photo by Wil Comstock) 
         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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