Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stop by MySpace...

I just wanted to mention here that I am running a weekly feature at my MySpace profile. Each week I am featuring a different songwriter from the Nashville area who also can be found on MySpace. I post a song by the featured artist on my profile and have the artist in my "top friends" area. Here's hoping you will go to the artist's own profile and check out more of his/her work.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A couple of nights later at the Hall of Fame Lounge...

So I got this MySpace bulletin on Saturday from Brandon Maddox announcing that he, Brian James and Mike Seals would be doing a round at 7 p.m at the Hall of Fame Lounge. With Brandon plus half the lineup of Thursday's amazing show at the Bluebird (see previous post below), this was a little too good to pass up. Though I hadn't been home much at all Saturday and was thinking about kicking back in the evening, well, what's a few more hours away? I jumped in my car and came out to the Hall of Fame Lounge for my first visit there. It's got that "informal" atmosphere much like the Station Inn and reminded me a little of the rumpus room of the house I grew up in.

If the above lineup wasn't enough, the whole thing was kicked up a notch by the addition of the amazing Patrick "Moose" Hovious on harmonica. Though there was only a handful of us in the audience at the time, all these guys brought it as if it were a packed house. Only issue was that the round was way too short, but that's how sets are run in order to get more singer/songwriters on an evening's bill. Brandon, Brian and Mike were promptly booked for next week (update: set time back to 8:30 p.m. on the 12th; Moose will join them for a special appearance, as he's moved from town for awhile to attend college. Good luck and hurry back soon!).

I stuck around for a little bit and was pleasantly surprised to see "Simply Lauri" Merrow, who I knew from Doak's gatherings as a consistently solid singer/songwriter. I hadn't had a chance to listen to her her outside of that setting, so it was a treat to hear her in a half hour set. Joining her was a songwriter new to me, Paul Welch. I enjoyed his songs as well; one particularly touching one was "That's The One I Was Looking For", in tribute to his dad.

I'll be going back here, I'm sure, to check out some more singer/songwriters. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Brian James, Arika Nash, Jody Serrato, Mike Seals-Bluebird Cafe 1/3/08

The first time I heard Brian James play some of his songs at one of Doak Turner's Sunday gatherings, I knew he was a major talent. The round which he put together at the Bluebird along with Arikah Nash, Jody Serrato and Mike Seals further convinced me of that.

This was one of the strongest early evening sets I've seen at the Bluebird, right along with Steve Craig's round of the previous month. The singer/songwriters touched on a variety of styles (country, blues, pop, a touch of gospel) and a couple of common themes: commitment in relationships, having faith to move into the unknown, and importance of family. It was interactive from the get-go, with the souvenir bookmarks on each table to solitication of song ideas from the audience on index cards (taking a cue from the old Mac Davis TV show in which he would make up songs on the spot from audience suggestions). Brian was up to the challenge, creating improv songs about riding a horse and burgers and election day.

Brian clearly has the full package--great songs, great singer, great guitar player, charismatic performer. He won the crowd over in a big way with a comical song, "You Don't Know Jack About Jill", about how little men knew about women. He also did a couple of songs which were already well known to some of us, "Fallen Angels" and "Footprints".

Brian blew me away at a recent gathering with a song about fatherhood, "Daddy Let Me Go". The song was co-written by one of the night's other artists, Jody Serrato. Described by Brian as "a young Mexican Billy Joel", Jody gave us some strong songs about his experience with marriage and fatherhood and the commitment it takes to keep them going as a traveling performer ("First Step", "Worth the Wait").

Arikah Nash, a singer/songwriter/actress, is full of personality and has a very powerful voice that effectively handles a variety of styles. She wrote her first country song while out in L.A., "Faded Blue Jeans" and it worked well with this crowd. She also teamed up with Brian for an electric performance of their song "Walk On Water".

Mike Seals, originally from Chicago, told us he was a rookie songwriter and had only written five songs so far, but they certainly were excellent. Favorites for me were "Crying My Eyes", a traditional country-blues style, and a highlight for the audience, "One Step" a blues number that got the crowd hand clapping and singing along. Mike, keep writing, so far, so good!

The strongest performance of the evening for me was "Stepping Out On Faith", a gospel tinged number with a solid lead vocal from Brian, backups from Arikah and Mike and some nice organ work from Jody.

You can go on the available MySpace pages for these artists and hear some of these songs for yourself. I was talking to someone the other day about how much fun it's going to be to watch some of these marvelous people I've met and heard here so far get that high-profile break that I am absolutely convinced is coming down the road.

It's 2008 and I still love this town.