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

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