Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tin Pan South: Bob DiPiero and Other Songwriting Legends Delight Full House at 3rd and Lindsay

By Wil Comstock
Music City Arts Contributing Writer

Friday, March 31 -- First Show, 3rd and Lindsay
Bob Dipero, Jim Beavers, Lee Thomas Miller, and Ritchie McDonald

            I met industry photographer Bev Moser and her friend Carol standing in line for the first show on Tuesday at Whiskey Rhythm.  I sat with them on Wednesday at 3rd and Lindsay’s ASCAP show and again tonight. "That’s the great thing about music,” Carol said. “It brings people together.” The CMA songwriters on this this show certainly brought us all together, as we nodded out heads and sang along with these great songwriters.

            Bob DiPiero was born in Youngstown, Ohio. His first hit was the Oak Ridge Boy’s “American Made,” which became a jingle for Miller beer and Baby Ruth Candy bars --not a bad start! Bob rocked the house with his Shenandoah smash “Church on Cumberland Road,” a co-write with John Sherrill and Dennis Robbins. He turned it into a tribute to Chuck Berry, who recently died, by inserting a few lines of “Johnny B Good,” a real crowd pleaser. His next song was by the movie "Forrest Gump." In the film Bob explains, “Forrest talks about his girlfriend, Jenny, and how she would come and go out of his life. At one point, he says, 'And out of the blue clear sky, Jenny came back.' And I was listening, thinking, 'Hey! It’s clear blue sky, it’s not blue clear sky!' Just that little turn of phrase stuck in my head. The next day, I was writing with John Jarrard and Mark D. Sanders. I said, 'I have this idea: blue clear sky. And they said, 'Well, that’s backwards!' (Laughs) I said, 'I know that,' so we wrote it anyway! We demoed it, and about a month later, I got a phone call from Tony Brown. He said, 'I’m in the studio with George Strait, and we want to cut your song — but George has a question for you!' So George gets on the phone and says, 'I’m from Texas … and in Texas it’s clear blue sky. You think it ought to be clear blue sky?' So I told him about going to see 'Forrest Gump,' and life was like a box of chocolates … and that Forrest said, 'blue clear sky.' I told him the song is all about just giving up on love and then, out of nowhere, out of the blue clear sky, comes the love of your life. And George was kind of quiet for a while, and then he says, 'Well, you think there’s many Gumpsters out there?'  And I said, 'Well, yeah, I do!' And he says, 'Well, all right then, we’ll be Gumpsters!' And he recorded 'Blue Clear Sky.''  Next DiPiero performed the upbeat “Daddy’s Money," a song he wrote with Mark D. Sanders and Steve Seskin for the band Ricochet. Introducing his last song, Bob said he and Jeffrey Steele were in Panama City. “We spent three hours on a song that was not going anywhere... in the music business we call it 'polishing the turd.'  (Laughs)  And I said, 'Let’s write a simple song with two verses,'" and they came up with the Montgomery Gentry mid-tempo rocker “Gone.”

            Texas-born Jim Beaver has a BBA from Baylor and an MBA from Vanderbilt. He intended to make a life career in the music business.  He is the former director of marketing for Capitol and Virgin Records,  As well as a professor at MTSU. Since 2002, he has been writing full time. Jim started off with “Am I the Only One,” which he co-wrote with Jeffrey Steele for Dierks Bentley. Introducing his next song Beavers said, “I had just quit my position as a music executive... my wife was pregnant and the future was unclear." This set the stage as he sat down to write with Jonathan Singleton and Darrell Brown. They came up with “Why Don’t We Just Dance," a song about throwing your cares away and being happy. Josh Turner took this song to number one. He followed it up with Luke Bryan’s chart topper “Drink a Beer,” which he co-wrote with Chris Stapleton. The ballad is about the unexpected loss of a loved one. He saved his Gary Allan cut “Watching Airplanes” for last. Jim wrote this power ballad with Jonathan Singleton. 

            Songwriter and sometime producer Lee Thomas Miller hails from Kentucky. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. He is the current president of NSAI, which takes him to Washington as an advocate in congress for composers. He penned Tim McGraw's number one "Southern Girl" with Rodney Clawson and Jaren Johnston. Miller sounded great on the perfect summer song. He followed with a song he wrote with Brad Paisley, Brad’s “I’m Still A Guy." He explained, “We wanted to capture the struggle between men and women in a playful way." Miller said he received a call to write with Brothers Osborne.  They got together and wrote a little. The guys seemed very casual and not in a hurry. They got together again and finished the song. Miller thought they were writing for an album that would be out in a year.  Eight weeks later Lee is driving down the road listening to DJ Bobby Bones when he announces that Brothers Osborne are coming out with a new album. He made a few calls and found out that the song he wrote with them would be the next single! With that, Miller tore into “It Ain’t My Fault.”

            Ritchie McDonald founded Lonestar in 1992 when he lived in Lubbeck Texas. The band charted nine number one singles in their heyday. Ritchie started out with one of their biggest, “My Front Porch Looking In,” a song he wrote with Frank Myers. Ritchie said "the view looking into the house at my beautiful wife and children was far better than anything on the outside." He followed with the beautiful ballad “I’m Already There.” The inspiration came on the road after hanging up the phone with his 4-year-old son, who wanted to know when he was coming home. McDonald laughed and said his son is now 21!  He picked up the guitar to play the mid up-tempo “Mr. Mom,” a co-write with Ron Harbin and Don Pfrimmer. This song brought a smile to my face as I recalled the cartoon video as Ritchie played and sang “Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer, Crayons go up one drawer higher, Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time, Breakfast six, naps at nine."  McDonald closed with Lonestar’s biggest hit, a song written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo, and Chris Lindsay.  “Amazed” spent eight weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot Country Singles and Tracks. McDonald never sounded better!  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tin Pan South: A Memorable Show Featuring Songwriters Victoria Shaw, Keb Mo, and Desmond Child.

By Chuck Whiting 
Music City Arts Editor

Thursday, March 30, 6-7:30 p.m., show at The Listening Room -- Featuring Victoria Shaw, Keb Mo, and Desmond Child 

            On the surface, one might think the combination of a country-pop songstress, a blues extraordinaire, and a songwriting legend from the '80s'/'90s rock scene might be awkward. In fact, I spoke with a couple people who didn't like it. But others raved. What seemed unusual at first turned out to be a very good show.

            Who can't love Victoria Shaw, a beautiful artist known for her touching ballads. Some years ago, I ventured to Italy with two friends. By chance while exploring in Cortona, we started a conversation with an American woman who raved about Italy, then happened to mention that her daughter was a songwriter. After a bit more conversation, we learned that her daughter was Victoria Shaw. On Thursday night, we took the opportunity to say hello to Victoria's mother, who happened to be sitting at a table just off the stage. Surprisingly, she remembered meeting us. It's a small world in Little Big Town.

            Victoria started the show with the lovely grace one would expect, saying how honored she was to be performing on the same stage with Keb and Desmond. The audience loved her performance of "Till The River Runs Dry." Later, she mesmerized the crowd with a tender rendition of the John Michael Montgomery hit, ""I Love The Way You Love Me." Desmond reminded her, laughingly, that she had sung the love ballad at his wedding. How could she forget! Victoria also knows how to write pop, rock, Latin and blues, as she proved with "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely," a hit she co-wrote with Desmond for Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera. She then belted out a satirical song she wrote with Bette Midler that conveys a true-to-life portrayal of the Divine Miss M's spunk and sass. The songwriting legend ended with a stirring performance of the classic hit "Never Alone." 

            Keb Mo is a Nashville legend who lives in another musical world -- the blues. Fans seated at the table in front of us said they drove up from Atlanta to see him. That's not surprising given his three Grammys and international acclaim. Keb grooved up the crowd with the infectious "Soon As I Get Paid," telling his delighted fans afterwards, "Nobody knows my songs... I'm standing between giants." Victoria quickly responded, "You're a real artist," emphasizing the word "real." The pleasant encounter drew a round of applause.  Keb's bluesy ballad, "One Friend," was one of the most moving songs of the evening. The heart-achin' "Old Me Better" made me smile, which is what the true blues are supposed to do. It was a lot of fun hearing him pick a national resonator guitar during a performance of "Suitcase"... "I got a suitcase baby... I take it everywhere I go... It's just a big old bag of trouble, trouble all I know...." He closed with the cleverly penned "For Better or Worse," a song he co-wrote with Victoria.

            Desmond Child is a man of great talents and heart. He is helping NSAI lobby Congress to pass laws that protect and improve the livelihoods of songwriters. "Songwriters don't get credits anymore," he passionately told the audience. "They don't make the Vanderbilts give away their mansions. Why should we have to?" The mostly Baby Boomer/X crowd served as a chorus during performances of his eighties rock hits. First there was "Living On A Prayer," a Bon Jovi hit that Desmond calls the "number-one-played song in strip clubs at the end of the night." Just about everyone seemed to like his performance of "Angel," the first song Aerosmith ever recorded that was written outside the band. Desmond showed off his powerful voice with "Weird," a song he wrote in the '90s for the band Hanson. "I'm nearing the end of my career," he told the audience with a note of sadness, before launching into his final song, the Bon Jovi rock classic "(You Want To) Make A Memory." 

            Good memories and uniqueness make shows like this special. Thanks to Victoria, Keb and Desmond for sharing their stories and talents!

            Tin Pan South continues through April 1. See the show schedule at

Tin Pan South: Frank Rogers, Ben Glover, Kellie Pickler, and Kyle Jacobs Bring Fun to Third & Lindsley

By Wil Comstock
Music City Arts Contributing Writer 

Wednesday, March 29 -- 9 p.m. Show at Third & Lindsley -- Frank Rogers, Ben Glover, Kellie Pickler, and Kyle Jacobs with Dave Baker on guitar.

       This was a fun show! The banter and exchange between the writers on stage was worth the price of admission. They had me laughing all night while listening to superb vocals and well-crafted lyrics.

       Frank Rogers: Music business executive, producer, and writer. Frank is one of the most successful guys in the business. He began with his Darius Rucker hit “Thank God for What I’ve Missed” telling us that if he didn’t have to stop at that light out in LA one morning, the song wouldn’t have been written. He missed the light and wrote the song!  I enjoyed hearing him play his Brad Paisley hit “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishing Song)." It always brings a smile to my face.  Rogers performed a medley that included Paisley’s “Who Needs Pictures," “Me Neither,"  “Swing," Rucker’s “History In the Making,” and Granger Smith’s “Backroad Song”. Whew! Frank said he and Darius had set out to write a positive song... the last song they wrote was about divorce. They had gone out to eat with their wives and started the song. Darius ended the session saying his knee was killing him, and promised to finish the song with Rogers the next day. The following day, Rucker called saying, “I’m in the hospital with a staff infection in my knee.” Eight months later, they were at Rucker’s home in South Carolina. They picked up working on the song and heard a crash… The girl next door accidently slid her huge aquarium off of a dresser, and it crashed into her face. She needed surgery. Frank said it evidently takes eight surgeries, four for Darius and four for the girl next door, to write a positive song! With that, Rogers launched into Darius’ #1, “Alright." Frank closed with his 2017 Crappy Award-winning song, the off-color “Playing Possum,” which he swore was about animals. Hmmm… with a line like “her beaver’s playing possum,” I’m supposed to believe that?
       Ben Glover: Grammy-Award winning songwriter and producer from a small city on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. Glover moved to Nashville in 2000, originally getting his start as an artist. He has penned 26 number one hits in multiple genres and was named ASCAP’s Christian Songwriter of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2013. He kicked off with Lee Brice’s hit, “Show You Off Tonight,” which he wrote with stage-mate Kyle Jacobs. I loved his “Beautiful Messes,” which he co-rote with Hillary Scott, who recorded the song. My favorite line: “Don't forget God used the misfits just like us to do the most amazing things." Ben said he was at a session with Billy Montana and John Ozier and explained, "We thought we’d write a classic song about dudes saying, ‘You know, I’m kind of a pain in the ass.’ We said, ‘Let’s just talk about ourselves in the song.'" The result was the Lee Brice top-five “Hard to Love," which was produced by Kyle Jacobs. Glover wrote his last number with David Crowder and Matt Maher. He gave a stirring performance on the worshipful “Come As You Are."
       Kellie Pickler: Reality show star, recording artist, songwriter, and wife of Kyle Jacobs! Pickler rose to fame on the fifth season of American Idol, finishing in sixth place. She was raised by her grandmother and great-grandmother because her parents were in and out of prison. Writer Billy Montana asked her to talk about her life, and she told him about her great-grandmother, Selma, who never had a driver’s license, didn’t believe in bank accounts, and out-lived her husband by 40 years. She was a simple woman. Billy told Kellie, that is our song right there, and together they wrote “Selma Drye." After Kellie finished performing, husband Kyle said, “That was a goodin'.”  Kellie laughed and pointed out that Kyle’s Minnesota mother was a proper English teacher. The jokes went back and forth, with Kellie imitating Kyle’s mother, to which Kyle said, “When you do that, it takes sex totally out of the equation,” which brought the house down. Kellie told how she and Leslie Ann Satcher got together for a writing session but only talked. Satcher went home and wrote “Tough” for Kellie, and it became the first single on her album 100 Proof. Kellie later said, "Leslie really gets me." Pickler and her husband Kyle were joined by Dave Baker on guitar. Dave sat between them and was the brunt of many of their jokes. Most of them being Kellie’s mock jealously of Dave and her husband’s bromance. Dave, ever the straight man, just sat there and rolled his eyes as Kellie and Kyle sipped whiskey and cut up in between songs. For her next song, Kellie chose the Chris Lindsey, Amy Mayo, and Karyn Rochelle-penned “Don't You Know You're Beautiful." Great message, great delivery! Pickler closed with a song she, Chris Lindsey, Amy Mayo, and Karyn Rochelle wrote about Pickler’s ex boyfriend, the sassy “Red High Heels." Pickler was quick to mention, “It is not about Kyle... It was before Kyle."

       Kyle Jacobs: Producer, songwriter, guitarist, and husband of Kellie Pickler. Kyle’s first number was written with Joe Leathers and Ruston Kelly. They had all played the Bluebird that night and went back to Kyle’s afterwards. His wife, Kellie, was out of town. He lit some candles, poured some drinks, and reflectively said, “Nashville wasn’t Nashville without her (Kellie).” Keeping that in mind, they began to throw out country greats who made Nashville what it is today. Soon, the Tim McGraw cut “Nashville Without You” was born. When Kellie was on Dancing With The Stars, they didn’t get to see each other much. Kyle would write songs for Kellie and send them to her. One of them was the heartbreaking “Spend a Little Time with You." As Lee Brice’s producer, Jacobs listened to 100’s of songs. One of them was written by three writers who were inspired after seeing the father of a soldier, who was killed going into harms way to save others, being interviewed on television. The host asked him how he got through it, to which the father replied, “I drive his truck." Kyle gave a memorable performance on the Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary-penned number. Jacobs closed with the song that changed his life, the Garth Brooks mid-tempo ballad  “More Than A Memory," which he wrote with Billy Montana and Lee Brice.
       I love shows like this where the writers know each other and are comfortable enough to cut up and rag on each other. It always makes for an enjoyable and memorable performance.  

       Tin Pan South continues through April 1. To see the show schedule, visit