Monday, March 30, 2015

'Tunesmithing' to Spotlight Five Songwriting Acts on April 15

           NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 2015) -- "Tunesmithing" will spotlight five songwriting acts from 7-9:30 p.m. April 15 (Wednesday) at WXYZ Restaurant/Bar at the Aloft Nashville Hotel, 1719 West End Ave. (near Music Row). 

          Attendees will enjoy original songs by country/folk singer-songwriter-poet Ted Jones, folk/gospel songwriter Jay Hoppus, the Americana/country/pop duo Lisa Hannah & Paul Nielsen, country/Americana singer-songwriter Debbie Pascarella, and country singer-songwriter Andrew Salgado

Singer/songwriter/poet Ted Jones (Photo provided by Ted Jones)

          Admission is free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Publicist Chuck Whiting will emcee the show. Songwriter/audio engineer AJ Bigler will handle sound. "Tunesmithing" songwriters showcase is sponsored by Whiting Publicity & Promotions, Music City Arts Update, and Shine Time Books and Music .

          The monthly show was founded in 2003 to spotlight emerging, professional and hit songwriters. The event offers mentoring, career growth and networking opportunities for tunesmiths at all levels. For more information about "Tunesmithing", call (615) 423-9857, write, or visit .

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Young Performers Impress Audiences on Fourth Night of 'Tin Pan South'


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 pregnant.

         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 Contributing Writer

 Second Show (Late Show at Commodore Lounge):

         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 appreciated.

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."

Lucie Silvas
         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.
         Sometimes, you 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.

-- Chuck Whiting, MCAU Editor

Photos by Chuck Whiting

See photos from the TPS Opening Party at the Roundabout at

Do you have a "Tin Pan South" story/experience to tell.  We can only be so many places at one time. Please send it to us at 

     Check out the "Tin Pan South" schedule at 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Douglas Corner Shows Touch Hearts on 'Tin Pan South's' Second Night


Day Two: March 25 (Wednesday)

         For these two MCAU writers, the quality of day two measured up to the first night, but in a different way. The shows we attended on Wednesday were beautiful, eloquent and less produced, offering a living room-like acoustic feel with playful camaraderie. Douglas Corner is perfect for these kinds of shows with songwriters (most of them good friends) facing each other as they perform in a square-shaped pattern. The give-and-take is warm, friendly and down-to-earth... a pleasant treat for the music lovers and fans who surround them.

Rachel Thibodeau and Blessing Offer Celebrate after their
"Tin Pan South" show at Douglas Corner on March 25

First Show (Early Show at Douglas Corner):  

         The first show featured Rob Crosby, Allen Shamblin, Angela Kaset, and Brett Jones.

         Angela Kaset kicked this round off with her Lorrie Morgan hit, “Something in Red”.  Why does this song always make me cry?  What a slice of life, so honest and true.  She reflected over her life with the tender “Jesus with the Light Brown Hair”, later joking it was inspired by the Stephen Foster song “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”.  Kasset said writing was therapy as she introduced “Sunshine Through the Pain”, which was inspired by the losses the Nashville Music Community has suffered this past year.  She caused a little controversy when she sang a line from the tongue-in-cheek tune "More For Me": "Give up what you've got and they'll be more for me”. Crosby interrupted, saying, "It’s a song about Republicans!" He later confessed, “My father would say it’s a song about Democrats. I guess you could look at it from both sides.”

         Brett Jones (I mistakenly thought I was going to see Brett James but was not disappointed!) had us all rockin’ on His Jason Aldean hit “Crazy Town” (inspired by all of the changes that have taken place in Nashville over the 25 years that Jones has lived here).  I was a little insulted, but smiled, when Brett said don’t look for any country boys in New Jersey as he related an experience he had there while introducing “That’s How Country Boys Grow”.  But I got over it and enjoyed his 2009 cut by Billy Currington.  I hope Brett gets over it too!  Everyone listened intently as he told us that his brother’s name is on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. He then segued into “If Heaven Wasn’t so Far Away”, a tribute to his brother.  He had us belly laughing and shaking our heads on “Monkey with a Blue Tail”, an upbeat cut from his “Cowboy Sailor” album.  The inspiration from this one came one Sunday when his wife dragged him to church to hear a boring preacher. His eyes were on the 4-year-old in front of him coloring a monkey with a blue tail!

         Any bill that has Allen Shamblin on it is going to be great. I love everything he writes and no one puts more heart into his songs than he does. I remember having tears in my eyes the first time I heard co-writer Marc Beeson perform "What I'm For" several years ago. It was just as moving when Shamblin sang the line, “You don't have to guess what I'm against if you know what I'm for”.  Can it get any better?  By the way... Pat Green cut this song.  We all related to “The House That Built Me”, which won a Grammy for Miranda Lambert.  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his first publishing deal, Allen decided to write a children’s song “I Like Frogs” with the line, “Just like me they hate biology!"  Six months after he signed his deal, he was told his option was coming up and he would be dropped if he couldn’t produce a song that was a potential cut.  At an all-time low and thinking of returning home, he turned on the TV and a preacher was pointing his finger at him saying, “There is someone willing to give up on their dream... the last stretch of the race is always the hardest.” Allen took heart and wrote his first number one, “He Walked on Water”, a song we all hope to hear Randy Travis sing again.  Allen closed by saying, shortly after moving to Nashville on Dec. 31, 1987, he had no money, no job, no friends, and he prayed “God help me”.  He then said “God has answered my prayer” as he closed with “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.

         I first started listening to Country Music in 1991. One of the first albums I bought was Rob Crosby’s “Solid Ground”.  I’ve been a fan ever since. Rob’s first song was the Trace Adkins' cut “Till The Last Shot’s Fired”. It begins with the Civil War Battle of Nashville, moves to World War II, and ends with Vietnam and Afghanistan. “No we can’t come home till the last shot’s fired." Everyone clapped and sang along on the chorus of “I Want to be Your Friday Night" (cut by Lady Antebellum and Eric Paslay). You could hear a pin drop when he played “Concrete Angel”, a song about child abuse that Martina McBride brought to number five.  Rob closed with a song he wrote with Carl Perkins and Dottie Moore, the energetic “Mile out of Memphis”, a duet by Paul Simon and Carl Perkins (a song that stayed in my head all night).

-- Wil Comstock, MCAU Contributing Writer

 Second Show (Late Show at Douglas Corner):

         I arrived at Douglas Corner in a rather anxious mood. The night before, I was thrilled by the big-show mix of beautiful voices, guitars and percussion at 3rd and Lindsley. But now my thoughts were on the whirlwind of the day's events. The lovely J.Karen Thomas (who died Thursday) was in her last days of battling a serious illness, and various busy personal challenges cluttered my mind. I needed to be touched and encouraged... moved by messages of love, hope, togetherness and friendship. The evening of heartfelt performances by Jamie Floyd, Blessing Offor, Mark D. Sanders, and Rachel Thibodeau did just that... with "a little bit of country, a little bit of rock 'n' roll, and insatiable accents of R&B, jazz and pop."

         Stevie Wonder is one my favorite artists, so hearing the multi-talented Blessing Offor soulfully sing about love and togetherness was a true blessing. He began his set with a jazzy number called "Star Gazing", delighting the audience with his souring, wandering vocals and expert guitar riffs. His funkiest number, "Bad", was playful and fun... accented with masterful "dobro'n" by Josh Matheny. Tender moments came after he moved to piano. The sultry and romantic "Grow Together" encouraged us to "put (our) roots down", and the gospel-like ballad "This Is Life" (with lovely dobro accents) revealed how a loving relationship can "keep you going in the dark". The song that resonates with me the most though is "Fingers". The gentle tune included the memorable lines, "My fingers are always looking for yours... Tell me what your fingers know." Of course, wise-cracker Mark D. Sanders had to "ruin" the performance afterwards (and prompt a few laughs) by saying he was going to write a song about his wife giving him "the finger". Oh well... Not everyone is a quiet romantic like me.

Blessing Offor
         I loved every song that Jamie Floyd performed. The clarity and power of her vocals came through immediately on the bluesy, knock-out number "Casino". I was deeply touched by "The People You Knew", a song co-written with Bostonian Lori McKenna. How do you feel when you "can't call someone anymore... not (knowing) what we're missing." As I listened, I thought about potential friendships that never happened, romances that never materialized, and the deaths of friends and family members who touched my life. Her background vocalist boyfriend, Dave (sitting to her left), joined Jamie on the delightful "Trouble Get Me Off Your Mind", a song featured in the Dolly Parton movie, "A Country Christmas Story". She closed her set with "The Blade" a tune co-written with Marc Beeson and Allen Shamblin. I can still hear her singing the stinging words, "You caught it by the handle... I caught it by the blade". Unfortunately, we all get hurt sometimes. What can we learn from it?

Josh Matheny's dobro
playing was outstanding
         Piano writer Rachel Thibodeau was very apologetic when she walked in late... seeming to have just stepped out of the shower. She has an exuberant, happy-go-lucky personally (with humility) that works well in a Douglas Corner "living room" environment. "I haven't performed in a year, so I'm very nervous," she told her songwriting friends and the crowd. Her charm made an occasional flub refreshing... encouraging songwriters like me to stop worrying about every note and to just have fun. Her gentle rendition of "Where Do We Go From Here" came to life with the aching cry of Josh's dobro. She introduced "I Give It To You" by thanking Martina McBride. "I was at a crossroads when I wrote it," she told the crowd. "I didn't know that Martina had the song. She told me she had been listening to a rough, taped version for three years." Rachel held her 5-year-old daughter on her knee briefly before performing the Billy Currington hit "Directions", the song that "bought" her house.

Rachel Thibodeau cuts up with Blessing Offor
         I've seen Mark D. Sanders many times over the years, and every one of his performances seems better than the last. Mark is a class act... a humble guy who loves family along with an easy-going life of fishing and shooting the bull. He's an excellent storyteller and "jokemeister" who can get away with saying things someone like me would get slapped for (i.e. "My wife gave me the finger.") The audience was treated to hits like "Blue Clear Sky", "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing", and "Heads Carolina, Tails California". The audience especially appreciated it when he was joined by his daughter, Sophie, on a new song they co-wrote called "Sailing On". "I love my children... all five of them," Mark noted with a smile. "My daughter asked me to write with her after she returned from the Peace Corps." The poignant lyric includes the lines, "It's hard to leave, but you go because you have to... Love can be a distant island." I was glad Mark left one of his best songs for last (one I definitely needed to hear that night). "I Hope You Dance" remains one of my favorite country songs. How many times have we shyly sat on a chair while others danced around us?

Like family... Great music and good times

         In retrospect, hanging out at Douglas Corner was the perfect thing to do on the second night of "Tin Pan South". I feel encouraged... looking forward to hearing more talented artists and writing more songs.
-- Chuck Whiting, MCAU Editor

All photos by Chuck Whiting.

See photos from the TPS Opening Party at the Roundabout at

Do you have a "Tin Pan South" story/experience to tell.  We can only be so many places at one time. Please send it to us at .

     Check out the "Tin Pan South" schedule at .

Beloved Nashville Actor/Singer/Songwriter J.Karen Thomas Dies

Editor's Note: We lost the beautiful, wonderfully talented actor/singer/songwriter J.Karen Thomas on March 26, 2015. I will never forget her performances at my "Tunesmithing" events... She was a lovely, giving and graceful lady in every way. It's hard to believe she's gone. Joe Pagetta, a writer for the blog How To Play Nashville, wrote an excellent article about her. She will definitely be missed. -- Chuck Whiting, MCAU Editor

From the Blog, How To Play Nashville:

            J. Karen Thomas, a beloved and vital member of Nashville’s theater, film, television and music communities, died this morning at age 50, her longtime partner of almost 20 years, Colette Divine, has confirmed.  She was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in January and had been undergoing treatment.

            A native of Nashville and graduate of Mississippi State, Thomas was a professional SAG actress, singer-songwriter and voice-over artist best known to contemporary television viewers for her role as Audrey Carlisle, the wife of mayor Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom) in the first season of ABC’s "NASHVILLE". She was also on "Drop Dead Diva" and "Army Wives". Her numerous other television credits include guest appearances on "Criminal Minds" and "Ellen".  Her film career included working alongside Robin Williams in the Nashville-shot "Boulevard", as well as roles in "The Identical" and "Captive". She and Divine were also in the documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?".

            As a theater performer, she was most recently in the Nashville Repertory Theatre’s 2015 production of "Company". In 2013, she was awarded the  Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress as Shug Avery in "The Color Purple Musical".

            As a singer, she released two CDs and shared the stage with Keb’Mo, Cliff Richmond and The Time Jumpers. Her performance at the Ryman Auditorium as a guest soloist with Nashville in Harmony garnered her a standing ovation. She also sang at Cannes Film Festival’s AmPav and performed in shows for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Disney Sea in Tokyo.

            Thomas was a dedicated community volunteer. Among the many organizations she donated her time to were TreePeople, Outfest, GLADD, Plug in America, ANSA, Nashville Film Festival, POWER UP, Artists for a World without HIV, Fort Campbell’s Barsanti Elementary and SAG’s BookPALS. She and Divine were also avid supporters and frequenters of the Belcourt Theatre.
J.Karen Thomas performs
at "Tunesmithing in December 2015.

            Bo Sebastian, an actor, writer, life and health coach and friend of Thomas’, wrote on Facebook this morning that she passed this morning “at the height of her beautiful singing and acting talent.

            “I had the pleasure of working with her often enough to know her heart and her inner voice,” he continued. “My soul aches at the loss of her humanness.”

            It is asked at this time that flowers and plants not be sent. A GoFundMe Page that is still active was set up in January to help fund Thomas’ rising medical costs. Arrangements have not yet been announced.

-- Joe Pagetta (March 26, 2015)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

'Tin Pan South' Performances Wow Music Lovers On First Night


Day One: March 24 (Tuesday)

         "Tin Pan South" is in full swing, spotlighting professional songwriters at various venues around the city. It's always a challenge deciding which shows to attend. The level of talent in Nashville is amazing. On Wednesday night, hanging out at 3rd and Lindsley seemed a good thing to do... especially with performers such as Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Casey James, Tom Johnston, and Charlie Worsham. Their performances did not disappoint.

(Left to Right): Casey James; Doobie Brothers Tom Johnston and John Cowan; 
Charlie Worsham at 3rd & Lindsley late show. Photo: Moments By Moser 
(Provided by Campbell Entertainment Group)

Kick-off Show (Early Show at 3rd and Lindsley):  

         Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Brandy Clark, with surprise guest!

         This show may turn out to be my favorite this year.  All of these singer-songwriters are riding the crest and deliver a great performance.  Each one witty, entertaining and masters at their craft.

         Josh opened by saying "Tin Pan South" is sponsored by Regions Bank. “A few years ago I didn’t have enough money to open a bank account, (but) now I have a Regions Bank account.”  I’ll bet he does!  Osborne then got things going with the familiar "Leave The Night On", a number one song by Sam Hunt, which he wrote with McAnally.  He also treated us to "I Got A Little Drunk Last Night" recorded by The Eli Young band. We heard Reba’s upcoming killer single "Whichever Way It Hurts the Least". He closed with Blake Shelton’s new release "Sangria".

         This is the first time I saw Brandy Clark live.  I was not disappointed.  Her velvet, rootsy voice reminds me of what country music is all about. I could listen to her all night.  She got the groove going with Miranda Lambert’s #1 "Mama’s Broken Heart". Brandy cracked us up with "Big Day in a Small Town" and brought us to the edge with "Hold My Hand", a song from her debut album.  I sure hope you caught her performance of this ballad on this year’s Grammy’s with Dwight Yoakam.  Unbelievable!  We also heard the number one "Better Dig Two" recorded by The Band Perry.  She had us laughing, identifying and sympathizing with the words to "Get High", another song from her CD. Clark closed with The Craig Campbell cut "You Can Come Over".  This girl knows her way around the guitar oozing out some great accompaniment. 

         Shane McAnally told us the story behind Reba’s "The Day She Got Divorced".  It was about his mother!  Early on, his mom asked him to stop telling people it was about her.  She was embarrassed.  That was until the day she met Reba backstage and told Reba that Shane had written the song about her.  Shane and Josh performed the Blake Shelton hit "I Really Shouldn’t Drink Around You", which came about after a night of drinking with Osborne.  The next day, Josh sent Shane pictures of silly things he was doing and quotes of things he said which lead to the title of the song.  I just loved the line, “There ain't really no such thing as gin and platonic”.   McAnally and Clark had us smiling on the upbeat "Follow Your Arrow", which they wrote with Kacey Musgraves, who turned it into a hit.  Shane left us rockin’ on the Lady Antebellum chart topper "Downtown", co-written with Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird.

         These three writers are responsible for 11 or the 12 songs on Kacey Musgraves’ Grammy-winning album “Same Trailer Different Park”.  So it was no surprise when she was called to the stage to perform her new single "Biscuits", written with Brandy Clark, Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally, and Luke Laird.

         Josh, Kelly, Shane, and Kacey are close friends who wrote together before their songs were cut and made them a lot of money.  They have laughed, drank, kidded and encouraged each other for quite a while.  The ease that they share with one another made this show one to remember.  

-- Wil Comstock, MCAU Contributing Writer

BMI Show (Late Show at 3rd and Lindsley):

         The BMI show featuring Casey James, Tom Johnston and Charlie Worsham (with special guest John Cowan) was splendid from start to finish. An enthusiastic audience was treated to a mix of country, blues pop and Americana songs performed by expert singers, songwriters and musicians. The sound was top-notch with up to six stringed instruments being played at the same time (plus percussion). It was an unforgettable blend of classic and young, with each songwriter holding his own weight.

         Tom Johnston wowed the crowd with stirring renditions of his hits "China Grove" and "Listen to the Music". His voice was in top form, taking Baby Boomers back to the Doobie Brothers days. The audience sang along eagerly, seeming to know every word. The artist introduced the harmony-laced "Nobody" saying, "We do this because we love to make music. Music should be authentic and real, getting you through a tough time."

         It was a pleasant surprise to see John Cowan (who was not listed in the "Tin Pan South" program). The American soul music and progressive bluegrass vocalist/musician, who served as the bassist for New Grass Revival, was outstanding. He played bass (including a beautiful green one) for most of his songs. Cowan showed his range with the remarkable (and moving) ballad "This River" and the fast-moving (clever) tune "Six Red Birds in a Joshua Tree".

         Johnston was very complimentary of brilliant newcomers Casey James (of "American Idol" fame) and Charlie Worsham (a storyteller that someone sitting near me described as a younger Shane McAnally).

         James was eager to play as many of his bluesy, spirited tunes as possible, and the audience urged him on. His ability to powerfully sing original tunes (such as "Devil Down") while playing complicated, syncopated riffs on his guitar inspired Worsham to deem him a "triple threat". "You're a triple threat, too," James replied back.

         Worsham proved James was right with a strong voice, weaving melodies, and creative guitar licks. He is an excellent wordsmith, too. The crowd loved his tongue-in-cheek song "Wired That Way". The thought-provoking (and fun) "You Can't Please People" could be a hit (if he remembers the words).

         We left 3rd and Lindsley invigorated, inspired and ready for more.

-- Chuck Whiting, MCAU Editor

See photos from the TPS Opening Party at the Roundabout at

Do you have a "Tin Pan South" story/experience to tell.  We can only be so many places at one time. Please send it to us at .

     Check out the "Tin Pan South" schedule at .

'Tin Pan South' Kicks Off With Annual Party On Music Row

     NSAI always kicks off "Tin Pan South" with style, celebrating with an annual party at the Regions Bank (at the Roundabout) on Music Row. A host of songwriters and others filled the bank's lobby on March 23. Check out the following photos by MCAU Editor Chuck Whiting. Learn more about "Tin Pan South" at

Monday, March 16, 2015

Congratulations to... Les Kerr, Sam Cooper, Amy Allen and Debbie Mathis Watts

Congratulations to...

Singer-songwriter Les Kerr, who will perform at the event "Trip to the Islands", an arts benefit supporting VSA Tennessee on March 20 at Lexus of Nashville, 2010 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. in Nashville. Learn more:

Singer-songwriter Sam Cooper, who never fails to amaze with how many performances he has. Join Sam at Bobby's Idle Hour on Music Row every Wednesday from noon-5 p.m. for his "Sam's Jams" (and of course all over town at other venues).

Singer-songwriter Amy Allen, who is on a mission trip for the Global Village Education Foundation in Kenya, Africa. Learn more about this amazing outreach for education at .

Playwright/actor/musician Debbie Mathis Watts, who (along with Tom Dolan) had two full houses at the Renaissance Center this past weekend for the play, "The Ryman Diaries". More shows are coming up soon at the downtown Nashville Public Library. Learn more about the play:

Benefit Concert on April 17 in Nashville to Raise Funds for Family of Late Musician/Actress J.Karen Thomas

            NASHVILLE – Lance Hoppen, Ester Nicholson, Jill Colucci, and other musicians will perform at the Center for Spiritual Living Nashville at 7 p.m. April 17 (Friday) to help raise funds for the family of the late J.Karen Thomas

          The acclaimed singer, songwriter and actress died recently from a rare form of blood cancer. All proceeds will go to her surviving partner/wife, Colette Divine, to help offset memorial costs, temporary loss of income, and living expenses. Admission to "Cause de Célèbre: Honoring the Late J.Karen Thomas" is $35, with VIP tickets available for $100. VIP tickets include special seating and a meet-and-greet with performers before the show.  

          To learn more or to buy tickets for the fundraising concert, visit .

          CSLN is located at 6705 Charlotte Pike in West Nashville. Individuals with questions can call (615) 356-0174 or send an e-mail inquiry to

          A Memorial Service honoring the artist will occur in the church sanctuary at 2 p.m. April 18 (Saturday).

           Thomas was a Nashville native who starred in a recurring role as Audrey Carlisle on ABC-TV’s hit series "Nashville". She guest starred on more than 40 other TV shows including "Criminal Minds".  She appeared in the 2014 feature films "The Identical", starring Ashley Judd; "Captive", starring David Oyelowo; and "Boulevard", starring Robin Williams.  Thomas is the 2013 recipient of The Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress as Shug Avery in "The Color Purple Musical".  Locally, she sang with Keb’ Mo', Jimmy Church, The Time Jumpers, and many others. Her CDs, "Love Just Happens" and "Live @ CSLN", are available at  

          To make a donation to the "J.Karen Eternal Love" fundraising campaign, visit

Fast Access Passes Available for 'Tin Pan South' in Nashville

         NASHVILLE -- Fast Access Passes for the 23rd Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival are now on sale.

         The Festival is set to run March 24-28, and the Fast Access Passes allow patrons to bypass the cover charge at the door and allow advance seating (space permitting). 

         Quantities are limited. Last year's passes sold out in record time. Those interested in purchasing a Fast Access Pass may do so online at .

         Ten of Nashville's top music venues are set to host more than 350 songwriters performing 92 shows throughout the week. BB King's Blues Club, The Bluebird Café, The Commodore Grille, Douglas Corner Café, Hard Rock Café Nashville, The Listening Room Café, The Station Inn, and 3rd & Lindsley return this year, and The Blue Bar and The Sutler Saloon have been added.

         Fast Access Passes must be picked up at the NSAI office at 1710 Roy Acuff Place on Music Row from March 17 (Tuesday) through March 20 (Friday) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and March 23 (Monday) through March 27 (Friday) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Passes will not be mailed. Individual tickets ranging from $10 to $25 will be available at the door for most shows on a first-come, first-served basis.

         Produced by Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Tin Pan South reigns as the world's largest all-songwriter festival. Last year nearly 350 talented songwriters performed over 90 shows at ten of Nashville's top music venues. Thousands of music fans attend the event annually to hear songwriters tell stories behind hit songs they have written and perform the songs as they were originally composed. Regions Bank returns for the eighth year as the presenting sponsor of the event.

         For up-to-date lineups, tickets, venues, schedules and other festival information, visit . Updates can also be found on the Tin Pan South Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

Nashville Film Festival Announces Screenwriting Competition Finalists

            NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) has announced the Screenwriting Competition finalists for the 46th Nashville Film Festival, April 16 – 25 at Regal Green Hills Cinema.

            “The finalists for this year’s Screenwriting Competition represent the best in undiscovered writing talent,” said Ted Crockett, NaFF executive director. “They presented everything from hilarious comedies to terrifying horror films, and we are thrilled to be a venue to jumpstart their careers.”

            The 65 finalists were selected from nearly 1,300 international entries. The Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition is unique among thousands of screenwriting competitions in the U.S. because it offers a category for young screenwriters as well as more categories for short screenplays than any other competition.

            “Placing in a screenwriting competition assists up and coming talent with an important step in their careers,” continued Crockett. “It can help them as they establish themselves and their films, whether that’s gaining financing, exposure or both.”

            Top scripts, selected from NaFF winners, will be read by Blossom Films, Nicole Kidman’s Academy-Award nominated production company; noted casting director Laray Mayfield; Sycamore Pictures CEO Ben Nearn; Rich Peluso, senior vice president of AFFIRM Films; famed limit-breaking director/producer Harmony Korine; Lewis Bogach, Emmy-winning vice president of CMT-TV; and Abso Lutely Productions, producer of six current comedy TV hits.

            To learn more about the Nashville Film Festival, visit .

FINALISTS, listed alphabetically by title:

"Code Blues" - Gary Wallach           
"Glen Sherley" - Joe Rassulo, Robert Gibson
"Independence Pass" - Brian MacEvilly        
"Oil and Water" - Alfred Thomas Catalfo, Morgan Webster Dudley
"Shadowman" - Mike Miller             
"The Acadian" - David Vincent       
"The Oracle of Jerald's Bay" - Sarah Bewley
COMEDY FEATURE                       
"Alliance" - Charlie Robinson, Carla Robinson
"Canadian Holiday" - David Rocchio            
"Miss Loving" - Bernard Smith        
"My Bad Day in Hell" - Eric Carlson              
"Poe Boys" - David Van Hooser      
"The Full Irish" - Brian MacEvilly

"Blind Boone" - Moss Hall, Max Morath
"Chris Gaines Saves the World" - Donald Driscoll        
"Stride" - Rick Whelan       

FAMILY FEATURE                         
"Darby Petty and the Lost Treasure" - DC Sayre         
"Eleven Days" - Jaginder Singh        
"The Creepy House" - Shoshana Rosenbaum              

INSPIRATIONAL FEATURE                        
"Heart Stringz" - Barbara Ashdown
"In-Between" - Sandra Webb Smith               
"One Small Step" - Patrick Sherman

ANIMATED FEATURE                   
"My Monster Burrufu" - Alberto Corral         
"The Mythfitz" -  Nicholas Julius    

ACTION/ADVENTURE FEATURE                             
" D.T."    - Ken Comer        
"Guns and Grace" - Odin Ozdil        
"The Third Bomb" - Phillip Parker   
HISTORICAL FEATURE                               
"In Spite of It All" - Rebecca Boyd 
"Kid Convict" - Julie Umbreit           
"Samson: A Savior Will Rise" - Shawn Hoffman, Michael Hoffman

SCIENCE FICTION FEATURE                    
"Bioterror Conspiracy" - Louis Lio  
"Eden"   - Jessica Chou     
"No Man's Land" - Michelle Davidson, Jeffrey Field
"Populous" - Michael Quintero
THRILLER/HORROR FEATURE                               
"A Texas Story" - David Martin-Porras, Julia Fontana               
"Bad Blood" - Billie Bates
"Empathy" - Elvis Wilson 
"Ginseng" - Josh Barkey    
"Lifers"  - Phil Burdette     
"The Apocalypse Chronicles" - Nathan Ludwig, Charles Hill
"Why the Willow Weeps" - Dwight Jolivette  
"Zombie Ward"    - Harry Oxnard   
TENNESSEE SCREENWRITER FEATURE                            
"Empathy" - Elvis Wilson 
"Sink Swim" - Elvis Wilson               
"The Acadian" - David Vincent       
"The Last Drop"   - A. D. Smith        
“Limbo” - Jessica Chou
“Long Lost” - Deanna Shumaker
“Renegades” - Conway Preston
“Tip & Keeper” - Carol Caldwell

“It Could Be Worse” - Tracy Reilly
“The Knot” - Adam Rosenbaum
“Star Pupils” - Tom Ruprecht

“That Other Crazy Thing You Do” - Michelle Leibel
“U Got Tagged” - Andrew Roxby

“Illuminate” - Robert Pawloski        
“Which Spoke of Freedom” - Aria Marrogi, Chris Germiller

“The Home of Rock” - Brian MacEvilly       
“Wiindigoo the Cannibal” - Michael O'Rourke, Winona LaDuke

“Guest” - Charles Dillon Ward
“Lumen 18” - Darren Tibbits

“The Ice Road” - Taylor Albertson
“Incident at Broadway and Grand” - Francis Wolff

“The Favor” - Jack Fossett
“The Pride Club” - Kirill Dyshlovoy