Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nason Music Group Showcase, The Rutledge, 4/21/08

This past week was GMA (Gospel Music Association) week, which means plenty of showcases around Nashville. Literally fresh out of Gaylord Opryland hotel where I spent the previous weekend at Mark Lowry's Spring Fling, I dropped off my bags at home and headed out to the Rutledge for a noontime showcase of Christian independent artists, sponsored by Nason Music Group.

I was hoping that this one would be as enjoyable at the IndieHeaven CIA Summit showcase I raved about earlier. What that had in common with this one was the same drawing card for me: Sean Smith. I'll take any opportunity I can to hear him. As it turned out, like the CIA Summit showcase, I was introduced to many new wonderfully talented folks here as well. I scooped up every bit of promo and CD samples that the artists so generously left on tables for the taking.

The main artist showcased here was Christian Walker, who has spent time in Iraq leading troops. He is a fine vocalist and writer, and I enjoyed his sense of humor, particularly on the song "Elmer Thomas Park", about the place where he was dumped by four different women ("well, I never met Elmer Thomas, but man, I hate his park"...).

Sean Smith, accompanied by another guitarist and percussionist, did "Real", the title song of his current CD, which was great to hear in an acoustic setting. He also did the song he debuted at CIA Summit, co-written by Brad Reynolds, "Choices". Sean made sure I left with a CD of two advance tracks from his upcoming album which included this song and "Front Row Seat". Both of these songs have grabbed hold of my soul. I can't get enough of them. Judging by these two cuts, Sean is on his way to yet another perfect album. I can't wait.

The other artists also did two songs each: Jennifer Benson, a rock edged artist from Chicago; Chad Gentry of Evansville, IN whose day job is in the auto industry; Krystyn Leigh, winner of the female vocalist IndieHeaven Momentum award (easy to see why-great voice and stage presence); Stephen Andrew, a member of the Nashville Soul Choir; Carrie Marshall, a worship leader from Boston; Kyle Obermeier, a powerful singer/guitarist who helps underpriviledged kids with music in his Cleveland, GA studio; and Embassy Music Showcase winner Lance Stafford.

All of these artists had a personal testimony of how God has worked in their lives, some especially under some very difficult circumstances. Their music certainly blessed me and I pray they get many opportunities to serve and share their gifts.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Guitar BQ 6 - 4/6/08

After enduring nearly a full week of rain, the weather timely and appropriately became sunny and glorious just in time for the 6th annual Guitar BQ. This event is a larger version of Doak Turner's monthly 3rd Sunday songwriter potluck and get-together(Doak's Nashville Muse newsletter this week gives the count as over 450 in attendance). That for one thing meant tons more great food. The dessert section in particular was a sight to behold (since I don't do sugar anymore, that's all I did). You also had lots of barbecue chicken and pork, and several other dishes brought by attendees (my biggest weaknesses: the succotash and as usual, grapes).

It goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: It also meant lots more great music. I bounced around from place to place trying to check out as many of the rounds as possible. It was way too large for me to try to capture many new names, but let's just say I heard quite a few new talented folks. More people also meant more variety of instruments brought into the mix: percussion, an accordion, fiddles and mandolins found a place among the sea of guitars.

I had a couple of things to commemorate at this event. It was the official one year anniversary of my arrival here in Nashville, lock, stock and Geo Metro. I didn't get to town in time for last year's Guitar BQ, but last May I came to 3rd Sunday as a fly on the wall, hoping to find out if there was anything I could do to encourage songwriters here. I sure found out in a big way, and I cherish all the hugs I get and give from the many dear people I've met here who have allowed me into their world.

It was also the beginning of the retirement of the red hat, now that I've had a makeover with a new hairdo that is not compatible with hat wearing. I'll be looking forward to the photos taken of me and my new 'do (thanks as always, Kat!).

I love to eat, I love music and I love this town.