Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This Says It All...

In the "every picture tells a story, don't it?" department, this pretty much sums up a lot of what I've said in this blog about hearing all these songwriters here and enjoying what they do. This pic is from a recent 3rd Sunday gathering...I'm digging Brandon Maddox and Patrick "Moose" Hovious taking their turn in a round with a lot of other talented folks listening in.

Thanks to the amazing photographer Kat Speer for capturing this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Songwriting To Be Thankful For

On this Thanksgiving week, what am I most thankful for this year? Well, that's obvious. Being here in Nashville and getting to be part of the music community as a non-performer writer/publicist/columnist/blogger/podcaster. It is truly a joy to go to places like Doak's 3rd Sunday, the Bluebird Cafe and other writer's night events and get to hear and support so many wonderful songwriters of various levels. Some of them have had success, others are just time away from having their big breakthrough song, and others are developing their unique artist presence.

A week or so ago at the Bluebird I heard ACM songwriters of the year Jamey Johnson and Buddy Cannon (for "Give It Away"), along with Dallas Frazier and John Scott Sherrill (with Mickey Raphael of Willie Nelson's band on harmonica). At Doak's this week I was sitting in a room listening to a few talented songwriters -- one later arrival happened to be Alan O'Day, writer and singer of the 70s hit "Undercover Angel" as well as writer of "Rock and Roll Heaven" and "Angie Baby", all of which he kindly did for us. I heard him along with Denny Martin, Paul Scott and Craig Monday days later at the Bluebird. As with so many of the shows I've seen there, it was a great evening of solid and clever songwriting (with songs about kids, zoos and women "sexy by accident")and entertaining humor.

Can't beat this, I tell ya. I love living here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bluebird Cafe Double Header 11/2/07

I took in a couple of shows at the Bluebird Cafe Friday for a long, late, wonderful evening. When I plan on going to the second show, I usually like to go to the first as well, since I work a few minutes away from the Bluebird (though on this evening, good old traffic took me half an hour to get there!). No sense going all the way home when I'm that close.

The first show consisted of some fine singer-songwriters: organizer Sonia Lee, who had a lot of friends and family from Rochester and Baltimore on hand to support her; Kim McLean (backed by Devon O'Day on vocals and "potato" percussion), who I last saw there at the JPF showcase; Mary Sue Englund, a Minnesota native who I used to hear from time to time at the Music City Cafe in St. Paul, now doing very well out here as a strong singer-songwriter presence and member of Pam Tillis' band; and Todd Sharp, who has worked as a guitarist with Rod Stewart, Hall and Oates and co-writer of the Christine McVie hit "I've Got Somebody" (which Sonia did the vocals on this evening). The three female songwriters knew each other and worked together (Kim also produced Sonia's CD and Sonia does all of their hairstyles!). Todd blended right in, bringing a warm camraderie and lots of laughs as well as great music. So many of their songs were based on personal experience (theirs or people they knew), creating a sense of intimacy between them and the audience. One common thread running through the set by these writers was letting go and letting God bring the inspiration through for their songwriting.

The second show was billed as "An Evening of Gospel Music, Old Hymns and Spirituals", featuring Buddy Greene (who needs no introduction to readers of this blog), singer-songwriter Ashley Cleveland, who has recorded often with Buddy and countless other artists, and the amazing family group Odessa Settles and the Connection (also featuring Todd Suttles, who appears on Buddy's "Happy Man" CD, and guitarist Bobby Hamrick). The styles ranged from African spirituals, powerful uptempo treatments of traditional hymns from Ashley and acoustic/harmonica renditions from Buddy. The artists backed each other on their songs, making for some wonderful collaborations. The audience loved it all and as I often do, I imagine what it's like to have these kinds of musical gifts.

Like I said, late but great evening of music. I love this town.