Friday, August 24, 2007

Buddy Greene - Station Inn 8/22/07

After a long day of work, I was pumped to be heading downtown for a gig I long looked forward to: Buddy Greene's CD release show at the Station Inn for his new bluegrass/acoustic album "Happy Man".

First, I'll disclose that I have the honor of doing radio promotion for Buddy Greene's "Happy Man" CD. But even as a regular fan, I would not have missed this show for any reason. It's been way too long since I heard Buddy play live--I think it had been at the last Gaither "Praise Gathering" event I attended a couple of years ago.

The place was sold out to capacity and people were being turned away. All of us lucky people who made it in were treated to an incredible evening of true virtuoso musicianship by Buddy and his two bands (yes, two sets with different bands!). All of Buddy's bandmates for the evening appeared on the "Happy Man" CD: Pat Flynn (guitar), Kenny Malone (percussion), Byron House (upright bass), Jeff Taylor (keyboards, accordion), Luke Bulla (fiddle), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle, mandolin), Dennis Crouch (upright bass).

Some guest musicians stopped by was great hearing Sonya and Ben Isaacs back Buddy on vocals on "Wrasslin' Jacob" and "Walkin' In Jerusalem" (joined also on this tune by Todd Suttles). "Hambone practitioner" Keith Compton sat in on "Little Rabbit". At one point in the evening, Buddy stepped aside and let his players shine on a little "Hillbilly Jazz", led by guitarist Richard Smith.

Along with the stellar musicianship, there was a lot of fun. The guys joked throughout the set and everyone had fun with the good-natured "Denomination Blues", a song described as an "equal opportunity offender."

My personal highlights: a beautiful rendition of "Hard Times", featuring Buddy and Jeff Taylor; Cajun boogie with "Happy Man"; and "Bonaparte's Retreat" which featured Buddy's harmonica wizardry and solid picking by the band.

I told myself I really should leave a little early because I did have to get up for work the next day. But there just was no way I could. I'm glad I stuck it out and opted for getting by on little sleep. Just like at "Praise Gathering", when we'd go out to eat after the evening concert and make it a late one, but got up early the next day because Buddy was doing the music for the early worship service. Sleep deprivation's a small price to pay to hear artistry like Buddy's.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rick Stewart Writers Night - Lyrix 8/15/07

So far, I've been to a few singer/songwriter events here in Nashville, but this was the first regularly held "writer's night" aside from the Bluebird Cafe that I've gone to in Nashville. This one, hosted by Rick Stewart, took place at Lyrix Cafe. This is a great little place to hear music and the food is excellent--do plan on having dinner if you go there for an event.

I didn't get to hear everyone on board to play as I was only there for the early part of the evening. The "small world department" was my reason for choosing this one to come to. Among the many talented people I heard when dropping by at Doak Turner's get togethers was a fellow named Brandon Maddox. I started a temp job across town recently and someone I was introduced to looked quite familiar. It was indeed the same Brandon I heard at Doak's. Thus I wanted to drop by and give him some support. Backed by a rockin' harmonica player, Patrick Hovious, Brandon was musically solid lyrically, vocally and on guitar. I think he's got the whole package to be a success, and he's a terrific young guy as well.

Also part of the same three song round set were Deb Ziems (celebrating her birthday!) and Mary Hartman, who had a good crowd following, both very strong, diverse songwriters and vocalists.

The evening kicked off with a round featuring Jesse McRae, Diana Kelley and Rob Wolf. Diana was another of those I first heard at Doak's, sitting in a den room with a few of us, playing a couple of her songs. I remember being very impressed with her voice and her songs (as did the others in the room), and she showed again this evening that she is a very strong talent to keep an ear on. Jesse and Rob also had some fine material, and Rob's ode to the Titans was a hoot.

Even as a non-songwriter, I easily pick up on the support and encouragement that singer/songwriters in this town give each other...not just by showing up, but also by those on stage with one another stepping up to add a musical part or backup vocal to kick someone's set up a notch. It's great to see them help each other out to achieve the same goal.

By the way, all those I've mentioned have MySpace pages, so do look them up if you have the chance. And as with these and all the singer/songwriters I've mentioned in the Blend, look for their names next time you are scanning the writer's night listings and go give them a listen.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

JPF Showcases 8/2, 8/4/07

I will always remember the Just Plain Folks (JPF) roadtrip showcase I attended in St. Paul a couple of years ago. Many of the musicians taking part were those I knew of or were friends with from the clubs and coffeehouses in the Twin Cities. I was so proud of everyone who played. They were all on their game that night and I met many new musicians, some I stayed in touch with for awhile. So now that I am here in Nashville, I knew I had to take in both of the showcases planned for Nashville this year, at the Bluebird Café and Lyrix, respectively.

The Bluebird Café showcase featured some of the multi award winners from the JPF music awards in a set of two rounds. The first one featured Melody Guy, Cheley Tackett, Chris Young and Kim McLean, who were all very compelling songwriters. I know many people were there to see Chris Young. At 15 years old, Chris would post questions to the JPF message boards about songwriting and getting started in the business. Looks like a lot of that good advice has paid off, since his career is growing steadily since winning "Nashville Star". The second round featured Bob Malone (a hot piano player/singer/songwriter), vocal powerhouse Erika Luckett and the legendary Janis Ian. It was a thrill to hear her perform "At Seventeen" live.

The Lyrix showcase featured over 30 artists who signed up for a one song spot. I didn't realize how many artists come from other parts of the country to play at a JPF showcase in a particular city. Quite a few came from the Massachusetts area. I wish I could say something about every single one of them, but with that many playing, it was just too hard and this entry would go on for days. I will just say they were all uniquely wonderful to watch. But, I did attempt to capture the names of all featured artists who played. JPF founder Brian Austin Whitney (pictured above) kindly let me grab his clipboard once or twice, but if you were there and you see anyone whose name I butchered or left out, let me know and I'll fix it. Anyhow, here goes:

Joe Wickersham, Alan Ross, Tori Sparks, Julie Grower, Judy Klass, Donnie Witt, Jacob Israel, Lisa Lawrence, Mike Dunbar, Lisa Martin, Hal Benoit, Guy-Michael Grande, Harriet Ames, Jack Swain, Susan's Room, John Stoecker, Herbie Gaines, Cowboy Slim, Shelia Quattlebaum, Carolyn Rose Wilson, Joe Wraybek, Melody Guy, Cheyenne Medders, JoAnne Lurgio, Brian Keith, James Norris, Rob U, Ka'hryn, Greg Austin, Lance Allen, Vondelle Hebert, Lee Quick, Barbara Cloyd

This evening was also a great networking opportunity and chance to meet new people. In the end, we capped off the long evening with the traditional JPF group photo. These showcases were just another testament to the great talent to be found out there. Perhaps you will be hearing more of these names again in the future, so take note of them...also try looking them up on the web or MySpace and check them out.