Saturday, December 19, 2009

Musical Christmas Cheer

For me, the best Christmas spirit isn't found in what advertisers and media tell you about how you are supposed to spend your Christmas. It's about what's real, genuine and fun. Two events I went to this week were perfect examples.

WRFN's T.J. Kirby introducing Les Kerr and the Bayou Band

Les Kerr and the Bayou Band Christmas show, 3rd and Lindsley, 12/17/09

It was Christmas on the Bayou with Les Kerr and the Bayou Band. This annual show took a break for a couple of years but returned to its 3rd and Lindsley home this year. Lots of original and well-known tunes served up New Orleans style. Yes of course, those trademark references to food that Les loves so much were mixed in seasonal and non-seasonal songs("Christmas Gumbo", "Camellia Grill"). There were fun songs and touching ones as well, such as a fine cover of John Hartford's "On Christmas Eve", about spending Christmas on a boat on the Mississippi. Les and Caroline Stoker (daughter of bandmate Brent Stoker) did a sweet recitation of "Yes, There Is A Santa Claus".

There was great musicianship throughout the night, with a couple of special band member spotlights. Multi-talent Bryan Cumming celebrated getting a song that he co-wrote played on a soap opera earlier that day. Harmonica player Everett Brown amused folks with his spot-on song about writers nights. Brent Stoker soloed with an Elvis tune...his father Gordon's group the Jordanaires (who also appear on Les' "Christmas on the Coast" CD) are well known for being Elvis' long-time backup vocal group.

Another highlight was the reunion of the "Bayou Babes Chorale" on Robert Earl Keen's "Happy Holidays, Y'all" and the very fun "Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On".

Besides being a great entertainer, Les is one of the true nice guys in town. He is just what you see on stage...warm, genuine, appreciative and a great encourager of others. That's the sort of spirit we need all year long.

Red Tree Coffee Community Christmas Party, 12/18/09

One of the greatest gifts to the Kingston Springs community (and those of us who live within commuting distance) is without a doubt Red Tree Coffee. It was a packed house of love Friday night for the community Christmas party. The offerings included free sweets (the oatmeal raisin cookies were to die for and I overindulged!) and of course, great music. There were guest appearances by several of the regular Red Tree musicians: Those Two, Casey Campbell, E.G. Smith, and Linda McRae each shared a couple of Christmas tunes (and who cared if they didn't know all the chords or the lyrics...we loved them anyway!), along with Chelsea Bills, a singer from Paragould, Arkansas we first heard impressing the crowd at Jon Conley's birthday bash this summer.

We also heard from the Red Tree musical family, with Jon Conley starting off the night and accompanying most everyone (including toddler Polly with a couple of renditions of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" once she got going!). Savannah, Katie and Amy led us all in carols. It was a very sweet moment of warmth and heartfelt emotion from and to the folks who make this little coffeehouse so special.

I couldn't end the night without stopping next door to the Fillin' Station and wishing Merry Christmas to my newer musical friends the Mohawk Slim Band. Mark Willoughby's drum set was decked out in Christmas lights for the occasion and the guys played some smokin' blues as always (with some amazing harmonica licks from Patrick Weickenand...hadn't heard him in quite a while).

You know what, it's been a rough year. But nights like the last two left me filled with a little more hope and optimism that things will be least for now.

I'm taking the rest of the year off. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Danny Ellis, House Concert, Nashville, 11/8/09

When Laurie McClain was a guest on my radio show "Never Too Old" back in September, she was raving about an artist she had met named Danny Ellis. She brought his CD "800 Voices" with her to our interview and asked me if I'd play something off the album. I did and was quite impressed. So, when she invited me to a house concert she was hosting for Danny, I was happy to accept.

Dublin-born Danny Ellis held a group of about 25-30 of us in Laurie's living room totally enthralled with his stories and songs from the "800 Voices" CD about his life in the Irish orphanage Artane Industrial School, run by the Irish Christian Brothers. Due to his parents' divorce and his mother's illness, Danny, his twin brothers and sisters were placed in orphanages. Danny was placed in the Artane School at age eight. As one of 800 boys at the school ranging from ages 8-16, he had to learn to adjust to life in an institution with an infamous reputation. Yet, it was here that he discovered his love for music. He told stories and weaved in songs of how it got him through his time at Artane, listening to it sung in chapel ("Tommy Bonner") and playing trombone in the band ("The Artane Boys Band"). There were also many songs and tales about shenanigans with bullies and buddies ("Who Trew Da Boot?"). Music also became his ticket out of Artane when he turned 16, taking his trombone skills to several show bands.

A couple of fascinating stories: shortly before Danny left Artane, he learned that two of the twin boys he helped teach music to were his lost brothers. After "800 Voices" was released, through a series of circumstances, he managed to also track down Tommy Bonner, the school's chapel singer that he admired so much.

Danny's songs and performance of them were moving and inspiring. There is talk of possible theater and film adaptations of Danny's story.

A memorable afternoon of music, potluck food and fellow music lovers. Turns out I knew several others who were there besides the folks who invited me. That's small town Nashville for you. Thanks, Danny and Laurie.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

George Adams, Red Tree Coffee 11/5/09

It's all about the vibe. It doesn't matter whether it's a large or a small crowd. When everyone's on the same page and paying attention to who's playing on stage and the performer's feeling that, drawing on it and giving it back to the audience, that's when the magic happens.

Tonight was one of those examples. In the cozy setting of Red Tree Coffee, George Adams did one very fine set consisting of several songs from his "Anthology" CD and some of his favorite cover songs. The first time I caught him live, which was just over a year ago, I thought he had one of the finest voices I've heard in Nashville. His set proved that once again and showed his wide vocal range well.

A few highlights: "Fuel To The Fire" (Think Marc Anthony with a band on this one. Well, yours truly did dig the rhythm egg out of her purse and played along...); "Hold On To Love", a beauty of a song from George's "Secrets" band days; "Stronger Than Words", a keyboard-driven song that also worked well done on guitar and with that great falsetto toward the end; very nice renditions of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" and the Larry Gatlin song "I've Done Enough Dying Today". George was also joined for a duet by his friend, local singer/songwriter Annie Sims.

George heads back to sea in December for another run as a cruise ship featured entertainer. Check out more of his music at his MySpace page.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Roundup 10/17-18

The Fillin' Station - Kingston Springs, TN

I'm not one that's real comfortable with going to bars a lot unless there's someone I really want to hear play. I don't even drink and bars are not the place I would go to find the guy of my dreams who would have my non-negotiable ideal traits. But the Fillin' Station in Kingston Springs, just a couple of stops over from my other favorite area hangout, Red Tree Coffee, is a bit different. It's a nice bar, as bars go. It has a friendly, "Cheers"-like atmosphere, small, intimate, and features a lot of great music 4 or 5 nights a week. In fact, the owner, Patrick Weickenand, played harmonica with the group War during the 80s and you can catch him filling in on harmonica behind the bar now and then when someone's playing.

On the previous week there, my friends and I caught a great crowd-pleasing set by Mark Elliott and Gary Culley, and the first of two gigs George Adams played in the area since being back in town after five months of performing on the Carnival Legend cruise ship. This weekend, we made a special trip out to the Fillin' Station to hear more from a group with a regular Friday gig there: the Mohawk Slim Band, a blues power trio led by guitarist/vocalist Sandy Blair (sporting the mohawk!), with Terry Browne on bass and Mark Willoughby on drums. Sandy's an awesome guitarist who likes to wander through the crowd playing and when the spirit moves he'll even jump up on the bar and play. This evening the group was also joined by friends sitting in for a few numbers, one being blues vocalist Miranda Louise, who impressed us a lot. We had such a great time that we stuck it out till the end of the evening... a little late for us but a lot of fun!

Doak Turner's 3rd Sunday

As I normally do, I headed for Doak Turner's 3rd Sunday songwriter potluck get-together. This month Doak celebrated 7 years in Nashville and being an encourager and positive influence on songwriters and those who love them (my kind of person!). Even the weather cooperated for this one...the sun came out and a lot of us were able to enjoy food and friendship outdoors before evening. Many people I know that I haven't seen there for a while also showed up...which meant lots of hugs to and from me. I love it.

Usually my mode of operation there is to jump restlessly from room to room and try to catch as many people play as possible. But this time my buddies Sam Cooper and Mary Hartman were both here, so I decided to follow them to whatever room they were playing at. Before long, we were joined by Don and Karen McNatt, Patti Higgins (debuting her first completed songwriting collaboration with Karen--a special moment for her and us), our buddy Anyta and other talented folks whose names I didn't get but they know who they are (and will of course if they see this!). There's always a great chemistry when friends and collaborators Sam and Mary team up to play. This time, though, there was such a special spirit in the room with all of us coming together and really getting into what was happening that I wasn't going anywhere.

Speaking of debuts, this was also my debut as a round-playing musician. Some time ago I picked up one of those percussion "rhythm eggs". I've been having fun playing it along to songs. (I did make an earlier appearance playing the egg while on stage with my radio buddy T.J. Kirby when we emceed the band intermission at Music in the Park at Pegram Park. We played CDs for the kids to hula hoop to--T.J. sang along on stage and I played percussion.) Sam, Mary, Karen and Don were very encouraging to me to take out my egg and play percussion. Also, special thanks to Jack Boucher for the rhythm sticks he gave me. You know worked and it sounded good. I also felt I sort of understand the rush my musician friends get while playing. Do I have a future here? Who knows! :)

Only in Nashville can a gal who claims to have no musical talent find a place in the band. I love this town.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Orleans and Friends 9/25/09-Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb 9/26/09

Back to back concerts on a weekend in Nashville = late nights with little sleep = one very interesting Sunday morning radio show with a host running on fumes. But hey, it was worth it.

I went to the Orleans and Friends "Rock The Power" concert at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville. All of the net proceeds from the show went to support You Have the Power, Nashville's Crime Victims' Support and Children's Advocacy agency. We were royally entertained with hits galore from Orleans (who served as house band along with other stellar players), Jimi Jamison of Survivor, John Cafferty of the Beaver Brown band (who really rocked the house and got the crowd engaged, Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult, Wayne Nelson of the Little River Band and a surprise appearance by Tommy Tutone (of 867-5309 fame). Linda Davis, Kathie Baillie and Jonelle Mosser sang vocal backup and each got a solo turn (though I do wish they each could have done more than one song). The dance floor by the stage, and occasionally up in the balcony, was jumping. I had forgotten about a lot of those songs the performers did, so it was great to hear tunes like "Tender Years", "Take It Easy on Me", "The Night Owls" and others you just don't hear much anymore on radio these days. Good stuff!

I also had an unexpected opportunity to attend the last evening of a three-night concert series by Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb with the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Seeing them together performing those songs that Jimmy wrote made famous by Glen ("Wichita Lineman", "Galveston") was a thrill. Let me just tell you that Glen Campbell still has it -- great singer, awesome guitar player (even played with the guitar on top of his head!) Jimmy Webb in his solo segment was also quite charming, sharing stories about "Mr. Sinatra" recording his song "Didn't We", and performing other hits like "All I Know" (recorded by Art Garfunkel). The Nashville Symphony opened the evening, conducted by the charismatic Albert-George Schram. I also had a chance to go backstage and meet Glen Campbell, who was very nice and friendly.

The cool thing was that now it seems whenever I go to these events, I'm bound to run into at least a couple of friends of mine and the same was true on both these nights. I also got to attend both concerts with some dear friends. Special thanks to Lance Hoppen of Orleans and Mark McCormack of the Nashville Symphony for making this possible.

I love this town.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A "Birthday Bash" To Remember: 9/9/09

I looked back at my blog entry from my birthday last year when I wrote about spending my birthday at the Commodore Grille writers night. I'd forgotten about the fact that it was my first time at one of Debi Champion's writers nights and met her initially then. But I'd never forgotten her kindness to me that she gave me a piece of chocolate cake for my birthday and had the crowd sing happy birthday to me.

This year, Debi took things a step further by indulging my crazy idea of booking some writers friends of mine on her calendar for my birthday—she gave me an hour to send up a round or two of writers. With all of the dear talented friends in this town, it was for the most part a difficult choice. But I settled on some who didn't have a chance to play often at the Commodore and others who were significant in that I'd heard them there for the first time.

The lineup I chose was Brandon Maddox, Beth Browne, Dr. Jay and Miss Diana, Randi Perkins, Louise Mosrie and John Velora. As luck would have it, 9/9/09 just happened to fall on the regular monthly spot for the Wild Oats Records round, which would precede my round. My good friends and fellow Radio Free Nashville DJs Steve Haggard and Kimberly King were kind enough to indulge my pleadings to book themselves for that round and included with them talented labelmate Joel Alan Lehman and an impressive guest they had on their show earlier that week, Kenny McGeorge, in town recording a CD. The artists were very sweet to plan their playlists around the birthday gal.

I expected that many would have the same dilemma that I face most evenings in Nashville: too many events all happening at once. Would anyone come to my birthday bash? Happily, people did. The place was full of dear friends of mine and fans of those who were playing. I was very glad that all three of the rounds had a good attentive audience. Of course, there were some who weren't there who were noticed and missed...but that's how it is in a town full of choices. It was as perfect an evening as it was possible to be. I wish everyone could have at least one evening in their lives like I did. We should strive to show our love to our friends while they are surrounding us.

Love you, Debi, love you Commodore, love you my friends, and I love this town.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

3rd Home Happenings

If the Commodore Grille is my "second home", then the area of Pegram/Kingston Springs has to be my third. Pegram is, as many know, the home of Fiddle and Pick and its great old-time and acoustic music programs, and Friends of Pegram Park writers nights. In the early part of this year, I was led to Kingston Springs via Red Tree Coffee and its great music lineup and homey atmosphere. I discovered that the area had its own very rich music scene going on and met more people who kindly took me into the fold and accepted me as one of their own.

I had a last minute invite this past Friday to go to the Just Plain Folks awards shows. Since I was a judge for the JPF awards process for the better part of a year, I ordinarily would have gone, and at first thought perhaps I should. But I had made other plans. Sometimes you need to be at the smaller bashes, and those many times end up having a more important impact.

I had no doubt that whoever showed up to play at Jon Conley's birthday bash at Red Tree Coffee would be musically awesome. Jon is an extraordinary guitarist, singer and songwriter, husband and brother in law respectively to Red Tree co-owners Katie and Amy, and dad to an up and coming budding teen talent, Savannah Conley (who he called "his future retirement fund"). I think he's right about that. As I noted the last time I heard Savannah sing, you could hardly hear a pin drop in the audience. She had the audience on background vocals for an acapella song she wrote, "Tick Tock", which was quite remarkable.

Some of the others who entertained were a few of the members of Calico Trail (including Jon and brother in law Cole Bruce, drummer David Racine), guitarist Todd Woolsey, Linda McRae (performing at Red Tree on September 11), singer/songwriter/keyboardist Vic White of the Pitchmen (a group I raved about last time they played here), the duo Carolina Story, Chelsea Bills, a singer from Paragould, Arkansas (who was a huge hit with the folks who were sitting with me!) and sisters Amy and Katie themselves. All these people just tore it up in a packed house.
I have more or less become an "honorary resident" of Pegram. Thanks to the Fiddle and Pick writers nights, Facebook and my WRFN DJ friends T.J. Kirby, Steve Haggard and Kimberly King, I've come to know many of the folks who are active in the Pegram community and have made me feel a part of it all. In fact, I'm now part of the Pegram Special Events Commmittee. One of the events we're doing is a series of concerts in Pegram Park. The series kicked off last week with the band Alchemy 3 and Ronnie Lee Twist and the Future Cats. Ronnie is a rockabilly enthusiast and a very solid entertainer.

This past Saturday's show featured the band Craggie Hope, who were victims of a thunderstorm during the 4th of July festivities and forced to shorten their set then. This time, the weather cooperated and they had lots of time to entertain the families who turned out to hear them and enjoy the park. In between sets, T. J. emceed a segment for the kids, getting them up and dancing and hula hooping. Yours truly got in on the act as the music spinner (once I figured out how the boombox worked) and "Action Kid dancer" (Remember them? I always wanted to be one). The rest of the schedule:
Sept. 12 - Caught Looking Back
Sept. 19 - Pipe Dream
All shows run 7-10 p.m. in Pegram Park--cheap eats and great fun.

I love this town, and all three of my homes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

9/9/09--coming soon!

So what is so special about this date besides it being 9/9/09? Just a couple of weeks away, but for those in the Nashville area, mark your calendars now...I'll be having a "birthday round" at the Commodore Grille( on Wednesday, September 9. Debi Champion so very kindly allowed me to have some very fine writers to be in a round to celebrate my birthday.

Festivities start at 6:30 with the regularly scheduled Wild Oats Records round with my dear friends Steve Haggard and Kimberly King and guests. My birthday round follows at 7 p.m. with Beth Browne, Dr. Jay and Miss Diana, Brandon Maddox, Louise Mosrie, Randi Perkins, and John Velora. Other great rounds to follow throughout the evening!

Hope you can make it for all or part of the evening!

Roundup recap

Holy cow! Has it really been almost a month since I've written anything here? Between being busy and dealing with a sprained foot (which really didn't stop me from getting around), I just haven't had much time to write. But I'll try to recollect a few notes from some things going on recently:

Did a double header night recently, first a Bluebird round with Steve Craig, Katha Harris, Tom Shinness and Roxie Randle. Some great songs and singing as you can usually expect from Steve and'll find a couple of the songs done that evening posted at

Then it was off to Red Tree Coffee at Kingston Springs to catch the Folklahoma Appalachi-Groove Train--who are in the studio working on their first collective release. I for one am looking forward to hearing the recorded version of an awesome song Mark and Kim (and Mark in some solo shows or duo with Gary Culley) do called "Tell You Goodbye".

Also happening recently at Fiddle and Pick was a showcase with new trio Braided Chord (Amber White and the McCarter Sisters, Lisa and Theresa). They pleased the crowd with their tight harmonies, new original songs and lots of humor. They are very down to earth people and if you weren't already a friend of theirs before you came to the show, you probably were by the time you left.

As always, there were lots of great rounds happening at the Commodore Grille (and one big one coming up next month--see additional post!). I'll talk more about those in my "Blog Spot" for September at the Commodore Grille MySpace blog page.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend Roundup 7/24-25/09

Chely Tackett/Annie Mosher, Alex Harvey and band, Douglas Corner Café, 7/24/09

This was my first trip to Douglas Corner Café, which has legendary status as a top songwriters venue. I planned primarily to see Alex Harvey and the band. But it being that the parking situation could be a challenge, I decided to make a night of it and take in the early show featuring Chely Tackett and Annie Mosher. That turned out to be a great call. I’d heard Chely Tackett a time or two and remembered Annie Mosher from a CLC writers night (particularly her green rain boots!). They traded off songs throughout their set--both were musically excellent and personally engaging. Also, it was very nice to be so warmly welcomed and appreciated by both those ladies.

Speaking of appreciation, I’ve said this before: anytime you’re seeing Alex Harvey, whether solo or with his awesome band, he gives you everything he’s got in passion and just plain stellar songwriting. The folks who came out were royally entertained--for my money, Alex Harvey is one of the best live performers in this town. It’s all about honesty and emotion.

Ronnie Fruge, Mark Stephen Jones, Gary Payne, Nick Sturms, Bluebird Café, 7/25/09

Most of the rounds I’ve heard at the Bluebird contained a lot of humor. This round had some of that as well from time to time, but the key element to this one was heart.

I heard Ronnie Fruge play some killer guitar licks all night in Alex Harvey’s band the night before at Douglas Corner. On this evening it was nice to hear him in a setting where he got to play some of his own songs. He explained he was “half Fruge, half Benoit” in his introduction to a tribute song for his grandpa Pierre who helped raise him. His warm personality , sweet spirit and Cajun heritage shined through in all of his songs, again with some fine (acoustic) guitar playing and vocals.

One of the names I keep hearing regularly in the songwriter circles among those most admired is Mark Stephen Jones. He’s written with several writers in town. The songs he played demonstrated why he’s highly regarded, most especially one I’ve been impressed with, “Addicted”. I also enjoyed one hilarious song about being drunker than you ought to be (starting with a mouse declaring “bring on the cat”) and he got a strong reception to his song “Red White and Pink Slip Blues”.

Mark Steven Jones has been working with Nick Sturms, a talented young writer who was part of the round. His songs had a strong spiritual element to them and he brought emotion and passionate vocals to the evening.

A fine storytelling songwriter, Gary Payne provided one of the most moving moments of the evening, introducing and dedicating his song “Hope and Freedom” to a war hero who was in the audience. You can hear that song on Gary’s MySpace page at

By the way, that was the first time I sat at the table next to the soundboard. I think it's my new favorite place to sit.

I had to slip out early on this one because I was due at…

Lorna Flowers 5th Anniversary in Nashville Party, Commodore Grill 7/25/09

I arrived to a packed house at the Commodore Grill in celebration of Lorna Flowers' 5th anniversary in Nashville (and hers and Rick and Tammy Stewart’s 1st anniversary of hosting the weekend writers nights). I wasn’t a bit surprised at the turnout…Lorna’s made quite an impact in this town not only as a singer/songwriter but also because of the genuine friendship and support she extends to everyone (including yours truly). I knew about half the people in the room, which always makes it fun for me!

There was cake, champagne, appetizers (which I missed along with the raffle...oh well!) and of course lots of great music! The one or two rounds I had a chance to hear included Graham Rodgers, Craig Winquist, Jerry Foster, Julie Forester, Brigitte Tatum (“She’s Country”), Kirsti Manna (“Austin”), and Lorna herself. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I of course had a radio show to do the next morning. Love ya Lorna, Rick and Tammy!

Let me close with one thought: if you support any artists, get out to the shows as much as you can, when you can. Don’t assume someone else will fill the seats. If everyone figures someone else will go and it won't matter, the artists may end up with a sparse house. That disappoints the, you’ll miss out on seeing a great show. You being there can make all the difference in the world.

Lorna says it best: “Isn't Nashville the coolest place to live, with the coolest people?” I say amen to that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weekend Roundup 7/10-12

I'm just a little bit behind here with reporting in. I had a couple of events to prepare for. I gave a talk at Indie Connect on Monday and filled in for a couple of friends of mine on Radio Free Nashville on Tuesday. With all of that going on, not much time to sit down and write. So here goes:

I stopped up at Red Tree Coffee in Kingston Springs and heard a couple of terrific artists: Mike Siler from Texas, who did a great job with covers and his own material in a fine authentic country fashion (and gentle humor throughout). Also impressive was Dean Berner, of the trio Eden's Edge, in a solo outing. Also very nice songwriting and one or two good covers in his set. I will certainly watch for Eden's Edge the next time they play.

Saturday night was another in the series of Friends of Pegram Park Writers Nights (the 41st, actually!)at Fiddle and Pick. This one included a couple of friends of mine, both who will be part of my Commodore Grill birthday round on September 9: Louise Mosrie and Brandon Maddox. Louise was magnificent as always. There were a few people there who were hearing her for the first time and were, of course, blown away by her voice and songwriting skill. It was nice to not only hear Brandon, but also "Moose" back on harp...he'd been away from Nashville and music for a bit so it was a nice surprise to hear him sit in with Brandon. Brandon contines to grow stronger as a writer and singer.

Robby Hicks did a very nice job opening the evening. Jeff Miller, who I saw at the writers night here last November, also did a fine set. I must admit I spent most of the night watching his feet after he explained how he uses his Phase Sampler (looper). Using pedals to record guitar and vocal bits in layers, that essentially makes him a one-man band and he did it masterfully.

An evening standout is one to watch: young singer/songwriter Tyler Flowers. Tyler is recording a CD being produced by Pat Flynn. This fellow just absolutely stunned everyone--he is a triple threat singer, songwriter, guitar player. Tyler told me that he performs mostly as part of a band, but I and others assured him that he more than holds his own as a solo act.

This all is yet another example of the considerably strong scene also going on in the smaller Pegram/Kingston Springs area. It's worth venturing west of Nashville if you have the chance to do so.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Where Have I Been??

Yow. I didn't realize it's been a month that I've written anything in here. I haven't been lazy, really. In fact, I've been quite busy running around. I've been once again bemoaning the fact that last month, and sure to carry into this one, it seems that there are 2-3 events every night at the same time that I want to be at. I have to make some tough choices. I really wish I can split myself in 2...or 3. (Clone me? Nah. One of me is enough.)

Unfortunately on some of the evenings I've been out, my notebook decided it had enough of my galavanting and decided to sneak out of my purse and stay home. So I didn't capture as many notes on events as I wanted to. But I'll try to make brief notes as best I can of some of the shows I have been to.

- Some people really should play out more often. One of those is a group called The Pitchmen, a group of stellar players with a ton of great credentials led by singer/songwriter Vic White. These guys rocked the house last month at Red Tree Coffee with solid original songwriting, a few inventive cover versions, some awesome playing and first class vocals (an impressive standout being singer/guitarist Brock Goodwin). Vic told me that these guys play gigs only about every couple of months and have very little rehearsal before they play. You'd never know it the way they got down that night. They'll see me again at a gig for sure (keep me posted, guys!).

- Ever been to Kimbro's Pickin' Parlor? It's a cute little place in the downtown Franklin area with a homey, intimate atmosphere that reminds me a bit of Fiddle and Pick in Pegram. It even has its own little jingle which you can hear on the MySpace page. It has a lot of neat memorabilia on the walls and the food's pretty good. It was a perfect space to hear a solo acoustic performance by Alex Harvey. As I've noted in the past, Alex has a way of creating community with his audience. He quickly established that "living room atmosphere" here with his passionate songs and vocals and warm rapport. Alex will be back at Kimbro's at the end of the month.

- There have of course been a lot of good rounds happening at the Commodore Grill as always. Two of my buddies in this town, Sam Cooper and Mary Hartman, did a great one last week, bringing up hit songwriter Chris Gantry (who teamed with Sam for a fun and powerful version of their song "Orange Man") and a fine talent catching notice in town: Michael Rodgers, son of legendary singer Jimmie Rodgers.

- I also was melting from the heat at the Fillin' Station for a couple of nights with the FolklahomaAppalachi Groove Train (Kim McLean, Devon O'Day, Mark Elliott, Chris Herin) and Mark with Cary Stone. But the music as always was awesome and well received.

- Last but not least, I spent a hot (on many levels, you could say!), long, but great day at the Nashville Songwriters Festival on Music Row. After dropping in some superb workshops by Dave Isaacs (guitar technique and education) and Debi Champion (starting writer's nights), I headed to my post at the Sure Fire Web Cast stage where I served as emcee and act roundup person for a four-hour shift. Folks came and went in the crowd but we had some fine players come through on stage. It was fun for me to be able to introduce some people I knew, like Boomer Castleman and Lois Hess, Kris Miller and Ellen Ohlsson. Only problem was there were some performances happening on other stages at the same time I was on duty. Luckily for me, the main stage was nearby so I was able to sneak away and hear a little of one set I really wanted to catch by John Heinrich. It was the only all-instrumental set there and he rocked the festival with his compositions and sax playing. Singer/songwriter Popcorn did an amazing job pulling this all together with volunteer help. Shows ya what can be done with limited resources and determination.

More to come this month for sure--I'll try to do better staying on top of it.

Things to plug:

- I will be doing a talk for Indie Connect on Monday, July 13 at 11:30 a.m. at Corky's in Brentwood. The topic will be on making radio interviews work effectively for artists. Hope to see you there!

- I will now be a monthly contributing writer to the Commodore Grill MySpace blog. The first piece, "Home Away From Home" is posted now. My thanks to Rick Stewart for making this happen!

- Mark your calendar NOW for my "birthday round" at the Commodore Grill on Wednesday, September 9! I will NOT be playing, but some great writers and singers will to help me celebrate. Scheduled to appear are: Beth Browne, Brandon Maddox, Dr. Jay and Miss Diana, Louise Mosrie, Randi Perkins and John Velora. That round starts at 7 p.m. but please come early at 6:30 for the Wild Oats Records monthly round featuring my dear friends (and fellow WRFN radio hosts) Steve Haggard and Kimberly King. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cirque du Chanson, 12th and Porter, 6/1/09

No aerial feats happening at Cirque du Chanson at 12th and Porter Monday night...just musical ones.

Here's the recipe: take seven dynamite singer/songwriters all on one stage, complete with backing band, throw their names into a jar and create a spontaneous order. Mix all this together and you've got the writers night taken to a new level.

The singer/songwriter lineup was Kim McLean, Mark Elliott (see Folklahoma write-ups), Robin English (she of recent Hippie Chick Twang and Mommapalooza Bluebird round), Leilah (daughter of 70s musical icon Melanie), Mary Sue Englund (of the Pam Tillis band and fellow former Minnesotan), and two wonderful artists new to me: Beth Fox and Mark Sloan. Devon O'Day served as MC and "ringmaster".

We were treated to a superb mix of musical genres from folk, gospel, pop to bluegrass. Each artist had five songs, and it was very well-paced...about 37 songs in a three hour set. It was mostly uptempo, higher energy fare but there were some touching ballads in the night as well. It was one of those nights where you just left amazed by the level of talent on stage and you wonder what it would be like to have even just a fraction of that for yourself.

More, more. This event must be's a hit by me.

What a concept. What a town.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend Roundup

I do a radio show called "Never Too Old" on Radio Free Nashville which celebrates the music we baby boomers grew up with and loved, as well as spotlights musicians of that age demographic presently doing great musical stuff. However, I also believe in supporting and lifting up the young artists who are just getting started with carving out a musical direction. Some young ladies from Georgia who I saw at the Commodore this past weekend proved that it's a worthwhile effort. 14 year olds Anna Harwood and Hayley Golden, 13 year old Katelyn Pope and 12 year old Krysta Nick impressed my socks off with their songwriting, vocals, poise and confidence. Krysta in particular is definitely one to watch..she's already an old pro in performing in front of crowds. Her song, "Why", which she wrote herself at age 11, nailed woes of unrequited love as well as some songs written by adults two or three times her age. These gals will be in town playing at various places during the month of June, so keep your eyes and ears out for them.

On Saturday the FolklahomaAppalachi-Groove Train pulled into the station in Pegram at the Fiddle and Pick (coincidentally, just across the train tracks). Kim McLean, Devon O'Day, birthday boy Mark Elliott and percussion prodigy Will McJ rocked the house down as always. It was a busy day for Kim, Devon and Will who made an earlier stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for the "Songwriter Session" playing for a full house. I also want to say this about these folks. Not only are they incredible musicians...they're great people. As I've been preaching for years, the artist/fan relationship, when done properly and with the right intentions, works both ways. When both sides get and accept what the other's there for, without suspicion or agenda, it's a beautiful thing.

On Sunday many singer-songwriter friends gathered at CJ's 5th Sunday for food, friendship and a golf croquet tournament, with a cool opening set by the Harry James Band. Afterward, a few of us headed for the Commodore to support one of our own who was at the picnic--Mary Hartman, who was part of a round also featuring Ric Sandler and Jon Eben with Kristi Warner. Many times when I go there, I'm pleasantly surprised by who else is on the bill that I may not have known about. I was also delighted to hear Karen Angela Moore and Donna Ulisse (kudos to Donna who's been having a ton of success with her latest bluegrass release "Walk This Mountain Down").

I love my musical friends, old and new. I love this town.

SAVE THE DATE! Wednesday, September 9 at 7 p.m. ... Wendy V's birthday round at the Commodore Grill! No, I'm not playing, but some great people will be...stay tuned for details to follow. The Wild Oats Records round with my friends Steve Haggard and Kimberly King starts just before that at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What makes a good round? My $.02 and change

As some people know, I go out a lot to shows and writers night rounds. Lately I've been to quite a few of them when I've said out loud to myself(or to whoever's sitting with me) "wow...that was a really great round!".

My perspective on what makes a great round for me is based on being a non-musician out in the audience sitting and listening and observing what's on stage. But I've heard and seen a lot, and I know what I like. So at those places like the Commodore which has several writers playing in one evening or other showcases around town, here are some things I look for. I'll use a couple of examples from when I stuck my head in the door at the Commodore last night.

- Energy and enthusiasm to go with a well-written song. Case in point: Scott Sanford of the mighty Dakota Grove, who know a bit about projecting high energy and crowd connection from the stage. Scott did a solo turn and clearly threw himself into his music. He had the audience cheering, whistling and making requests.

- Round members supporting one another. Now, I realize that not every round put together is made up of people who know each other or have played with each other before and that could affect comfort factor. But from time to time, I'll see rounds where while one person is playing, another on stage is staring into space. I just think each player should give the one who's up at the moment their full attention and support...especially if your fellow players have done that for you. If everyone on stage is into what's happening, that's going to project to the audience and it'll catch on.

A great example was in the same night with the round featuring Dan McCorison, Hillary McBride and Joshua Armstrong. It was great to see how much they enjoyed hearing each other and I felt that enthusiasm. I also enjoy it when people in a round spontaneously add a guitar or vocal part to each other's songs. I'd never heard these three before...all of the above plus the fact that each of them were just plain terrific really impressed me enough to give the round a "standing o" and look them up on MySpace afterward. (Of course, being blown away by people I hear for the first time is my very favorite thing of all!)

There you have $.02 and change for what it's worth.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cole Bruce, Eleanor Fye, Red Tree Coffee, 5/22/09

Out at Red Tree Coffee's consistently solid Friday night music offerings, a last minute substitution worked out well. The in-house talents of Cole Bruce, accompanied by Jon Conley (they're the spouses of Red Tree owners Amy and Katie respectively) did a fine fill in job. It was an opportunity for Cole to showcase his CD "Hello Sunshine". Some exciting news announced as well--Cole and Jon have put together a group called Calico Trail. We should be hearing from them fairly soon.

I have this thing about people recognizing me from someplace, but I either don't recall meeting them or maybe I just haven't. Sometimes people see me at the many events I get around to. But much of the time, it's just that I have to see some people at least three times to successfully put a name and a face together (nothing personal toward any of these folks this happens with...I attribute this to age and "the change").

Such was the case with the second act to play this evening...Eleanor Fye. She asked me a question I get often: "don't I know you from somewhere?" I usually run down the list of places I frequent, and this time we figured out it was from Doak Turner's monthly gathering. If I didn't remember Eleanor from there, I certainly won't forget her going forward. Her set was perhaps one of the best I've heard here from a solo artist new to me since Louise Mosrie's back in February.

Eleanor is still fairly new to Nashville, having moved here last September. She hasn't played many gigs to this point, but on this night she successfully used her classical, jazz and pop influences to totally enchant and engage the audience with her warm personality, personal songwriting and excellent vocals (with Jon Conley on guitar). Eleanor sang songs about conquering fear by paragliding, processing being "stood up", and used some cool violin effects on one song she described as her "rocking, angry song". One challenge she threw out to the audience paid off for herself. She asked the crowd to sing along with her cover of the Minnie Riperton hit "Loving You". Now, most folks can handle the "la la la la la" part of this song okay. But I figured perhaps outside of Mariah Carey, few could pull off the stratospheric part of the end of that chorus. Well, Eleanor did. It sure blew us all away. She got a standing ovation for her set from me.

Eleanor Fye is certainly where she belongs being here in Nashville. I say keep an ear out for her to do great things. She plays here again on August 21.

I tell you what, Red Tree Coffee, you sure know how to pick 'em.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mark Elliott, Cary Stone, Aaron Till, Norm's River Road House, 5/20/09

It's been a challenging week. I got cut from a job and there's a mouse in the house. I needed a serious distraction.

I did a wonderful interview with Mark Elliott this past Sunday morning on my radio show "Never Too Old" (read about it here, hear it here). One of the gigs plugged on the show was this one out at Norm's River Road House. I set my VCR (yes, I still have one) for the American Idol finale and headed out for the show. Also on the bill were Cary Stone and Aaron Till.

The intimate venue was filled with family and friends of the three. These guys just brought it for two solid hours. Mark is such a top notch writer, vocalist and guitar player. One of the songs he did was a new one he wrote by request of someone who wanted a song for his baby girl. He was given just a few ideas and came out with a lovely song called "Being You". I wonder what it's like to have that gift.

Cary Stone is a singer/songwriter/guitarist who tours with Mark Chesnutt. It was nice to reconnect with Cary after meeting him at a gathering with Mark Elliott last December. Cary is working on his own album and did this gig on Mark's coaxing to get out and play his tunes. Let me tell you--based on what I heard, not only does Cary need to play his own stuff out more often, but he can easily step into a center stage role. He is a significant talent in the traditional country style.

Mark and Cary were well supported by Aaron Till on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and vocals. He had the opportunity to do a few songs of his own in the set. By far the crowd pleaser was his "stuck record" version of "Tennessee Waltz" which was spot on and had the audiences in stitches.

Commercial radio, pay attention. We love Keith and all the modern sounding folks, but I submit there is just as much of an audience for the traditional sound. Listen to us for once.

By the way, if you get out to Norm's River Road House, you need to try the pizza. It's some of the best I've ever had.

I am rich with musical friends. I love this town.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend Roundup, 5/8-9/09

Red Tree Coffee's 1st Birthday Celebration, 5/8/09

How does a new coffeehouse in a small town manage to flourish in the midst of a recession? The answer is simple, really. Be good at what you do and cause people to care. That's the secret to Red Tree Coffee's success, in my view. This cozy place in Kingston Springs celebrated its first birthday in style this weekend with a loyal crowd, great treats and lots of incredible music.

The musical offerings consisted primarily of the Red Tree family's formidable in-house talent (guitarists/singers Jon Conley, Cole Bruce and sisters Katie Conley and Amy Patience, who sang the house down) and some of the musicians who have played regularly on their Friday night showcases: duo Those Two, fiddler Casey Campbell, Grand Ole Opry player David Jolley, guitarist Billy Thomas and percussionist Todd Wilson, the latter two who smoked in a jam at the end with Jon and Cole. E.G. Smith led the crowd in a rendition of a song written especially for Red Tree's birthday. Without a doubt one of the highlights of the evening was Jon and Katie's 12 year old daughter Savannah. I've never seen a young gal quiet a room as she did when she sang Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love", and her own composition "Reality". She told the crowd how amazed she was when, after singing the song in a school talent contest, she learned how memorable it was to the other kids who were going around singing it the next day. It certainly shows that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and that Savannah's got a bright future ahead of her.

I predict Red Tree will be recession-proof for some time to come because one of its greatest values lies in that which doesn't involve money; it's about creating community and a bonding spirit along with great coffee and great music.

Alex Harvey and Band, Puckett's-Franklin 5/9/09

One week after Alex Harvey's songwriter presentation at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum came one of his regular gigs at Puckett's. I've been to a few of his shows so far and this one was one of the best yet: lots of upbeat, rocking blues, great songwriting and solid musicianship. Alex and the band did many regular crowd favorites like "Rings", "Reuben James", "5 Dollar Fine For Whining", "Cry Like The Rain" and others, and had the audience singing along on "Dangerous". As you would expect, the more serious, heart-tugging moments came during "Somebody New", and "Delta Dawn" and "Next Right Thing" when Alex passionately shares how those songs came about through painful personal experience.

Here's that theme of community again: Alex said he considers folks who come to his shows like family. I can speak to that; I have certainly felt that way since I've been going. It's that second level of support I've written about where the people who have stood out for you keep you coming back over and over again. In this case it's Alex's passionate performances, legendary songwriting and creating that sense of oneness with the audience.

Another great weekend...and another reason to love this town (and a small town or two).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Another Great Night...Commodore Grill 5/7/09

There are great nights of music...and there are GREAT nights of music.

I dropped by the Commodore Grill to check out a few acts on the list for this evening. Two of those I was particularly interested in happened to be paired up for the first round: John Velora and Dr. Jay and Miss Diana. Sometimes the right combinations are just magic and this was one of those. John's catchy pop/rock flavored melodies, skillful guitar playing and excellent vocals are a breath of musical fresh air. If you have not seen and heard Dr. Jay and Miss Diana, you absolutely must. From the moment Diana starts singing "Trying To Get Your Attention", well, you don't take your eyes and ears off her. She draws you in immediately with her voice and her showmanship. Like Eve Selis at the Hippie Chick Twang Tin Pan South show, this gal performs totally from her center. They back it up with great songs and Dr. Jay's fine guitar work (including some very tasty slide playing). In short, I love these folks to death. This round got a standing ovation from me.

It would have been a daunting task for anyone to follow such a dynamic round. Singer/songwriter JW Combs was up for it and delivered with strong material and very fine vocals.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, oh I forgot: Dakota Grove was on the bill for the night, minus CJ Watson and with hit writer Chris Wallin filling in for Daisy Dern.He with Camille Wallin and Scott Sanford grabbed the crowd's attention yet again with as usual superb songwriting, on-stage chemistry and top flight vocals. Camille Wallin is, to me, a major talent, proving so with great songs with "A Good Cry" delivered with power and passion. Scott Sanford is also a strong and diverse writer and vocalist, whether on a ballad or "getting in the groove" (with shades and all during one song). Chris Wallin played his #1 favorites "Don't Blink", "Something To Be Proud Of" and "Love Me If You Can" along with a new song that sounded like it could easily join the others as a future #1.

(Speaking of "Something To Be Proud Of", last time I saw Chris, I told him this story. A couple of years ago, I did the MS Walk in the Twin Cities. I hadn't planned on completing the whole 9 miles, but somehow I did. By the time I got to the finish line, the blisters caught up with me and I could hardly walk. "Something To Be Proud Of" by Montgomery Gentry was one of the songs in my IPod, which I set up for random play that day. The song came on as I made my way to the finish line. I swear to you, the minute I crossed the finish line, the line in the song where Eddie Montgomery says "you did it, man" was playing. True story...I couldn't have planned that one.)

My evening ended with another fine round with writers Ralph Martin, Donnie Winters, Bill Maier and an impressive duo from Houston, Ben and Rose (a beautiful gal with lovely Lady Godiva-like long hair and compelling vocals). My apologies for missing the other scheduled writers on body starts kicking and screaming around 10 p.m.

Debi Champion knows how to serve up a great evening. Thanks to her, there is another sure to be unforgettable night of music in my future...and I'll be telling you more about that very soon.

What can I say except the usual... I love this town.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend Roundup--First weekend in May

It was just about the "no sleep till Sunday tour" for me this weekend. OK, so I'm exaggerating. It was just a whole slew of events happening which actually began Thursday night when I decided to go to the Commodore Grill. It was one of those wonderful warm nights when a dozen friends of mine happened to be there as well, so lots of hugs and company at the table. I also met a couple of great new people there, too. One act I absolutely loved to death was Dr. Jay and Miss Diana--what a great performer she is.

Friday night I stopped up at Red Tree Coffee and caught a "supergroup" known as Emotional Rex...made up of guitarist/vocalist George Hawkins; guitarist Bruce Gaitsch, writer of "Don't Mean Nothing" for Richard Marx and "La Isla Bonita" for Madonna; guitarist extraordinare Jon Conley and drummer/vocalist Kelly Keaggy, well known from Night Ranger. Yes, Kelly did sing "Sister Christian" and "Sentimental Street", the latter with a slower twist than the original recording but sounding super nonetheless. The group mixed some solid rock and blues with fine smooth jazz instrumentals.

Saturday began a 12 hour blitz of musical events pratically back to back. First, off to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum to catch Alex Harvey as part of the museum's Saturday songwriter session series. Alex was accompanied by Ronnie Fruge on guitar (I saw a fine set by him at Red Tree about a month ago) and John Grapes on percussion. Besides the wonderful timeless songs he's written ("Delta Dawn", "Ruben James", "Rings"), the reason Alex is a favorite of mine is that I love his heart and his passion that he brings to his performances. In particular, his very touching song "Somebody New" grabbed the soul in the intimate setting of the Ford Theater.

About an hour or so later, it was back to the Ford Theater for a "Nashville Cats" feature paying recognition to renowned session guitarist Wayne Moss, noted for his famous licks on Roy Orbison's "Oh Pretty Woman" and "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line" by Waylon Jennings, to name a few. Many of Nashville's finest session players were on hand in the audience to support Wayne, such as Charlie McCoy and Pig Robbins.

It couldn't be more perfect to have these events going on the same afternoon as one I've waited a few months for: the Ryman Auditorium broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion". It was really good to see the show live again...of course, living in St. Paul for so many years I've seen dozens of performances, but it was very cool to be in Nashville and see it in the setting which inspired Garrison Keillor to start the show in the first place back in 1974. Special guests were Sam Bush and Brad Paisley (performing acoustically and sitting in with the Guys's All Star Shoe Band). However, I couldn't stay for the whole show, thus my one regret is not having a chance to say hi to my Shoe Band friends Rich Dworsky and Pat Donohue. (Did the gal in front of me with the autograph hat get it signed by Garrison or the band members? I couldn't stay to find that out, either!) Because...

I was due in Pegram for the Friends of Pegram Park Writers's Night at Fiddle and Pick. I am a solid supporter of these shows so I pretty much burned rubber to make it there on time. I actually got brave enough to take the freeway part of the way there! (Well, it was either steel thyself or be sitting at traffic lights on 70S for the beginning of the show). I wanted to catch one of the performers, Les Kerr, before the show started. Les was a last minute add to the evening...he will be my guest on my "Never Too Old" radio show on May 24 and this was my first chance to meet and hear him after a bunch of e-mails. He was absolutely delightful and I can't wait to have him on my show. He was joined by Karen Angela Moore on vocals (I saw her at the Commodore Thursday, and I said to her, "you're playing at Fiddle and Pick on Saturday, right?" She said no at that time...then of course, she was invited to later. Am I a prophet and don't know it?)and her husband Matt Josephson on percussion.

Also on the bill was Gary Culley, who I saw most recently with Mark Elliott (another upcoming radio show guest!) as part of their Culley and Elliott duo. He's a powerful writer and singer and did a lovely song for his mom, "70 Years Of Love". It was a night of artists with diverse side occupations. Dave Parks is a Harpeth High School computer teacher who is also a singer/songwriter. In between songs he gave the audience some very interesting insights on planning and recording a CD. He plans to share videos documenting his process and hopes to create community with others in doing so. Singer/songwriter Renee Wahl is an active duty captain in the Air Force and teaches ROTC Air Force...many of her students showed up to give her support.

As my friend Joe Hrasna puts it, "here's to good music and good friends... I love this town." Me too, Joe. But I better run...Debi Champion's first Sunday writer's night at the Commodore is starting pretty soon...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Kingston Springs/Kim McLean, Red Tree Coffee, 4/17/09

It's a funny thing about Red Tree Coffee. It seems lately whenever I go there, before long I'm pulling out my notebook and writing. Most times it's about the music, or sometimes it's ideas for some of my encouragement pieces or would-be song lyrics that pop into my head (which I haven't yet shared with a potential co-writer). You writers of all types know that you have to grab it as you get it or you lose it. One night there God and the muse wouldn't let up. I wrote through a whole music set with an ear on the music and an eye on the paper. But be that as it may...this evening I wrote about the music I heard.

On this night the place was packed with young people and proud parents along with us upper demographic regulars. The drawing crowd was a teenage band that I'd actually already heard a good buzz on, The Kingston Springs (named after the home of the group and which is also Red Tree's location). I heard their tracks on MySpace and was impressed. These fellows (Bass: Alexander Geddes, Drums: Matthew DeMaio, Vocals/Guitar: Ian Ferguson, Vocals/Guitar: James Guidry) are around 16-17 years old and have only been together for almost a year. But already they've got a loyal and sizable following, strong musicianship and melodic songwriting that shows promise. If they've got this much going on already, then they've got a lot to look forward to. (And thanks to the kind gentleman whose name I didn't get that bought me a cup of coffee!)

After that, the Folkahoma Applachia Groove Train pulled in, a little late but better than never with Kim McLean, Mark Elliott, Devon O'Day, bassist Chris Herin and Will McJ on drums. They'd been up since 4 a.m. having come in from Arkansas. Kim and Devon have been on the "Ain't No Glory" radio tour in support of the first single from Kim's new CD "Rapunzel's Escape" and said they'd driven 47 hours in three days. But no matter...Kim and company rocked the place with the same spirit and joy as they normally do. Mark Elliot, just back from a European tour in which he was plagued with a lung infection, soldiered through its lingering effects and pulled it off in his solo spots. One notable moment: Kim performed a new song devoted to the White Church on the Hill in Kingston Springs and a train whistle came in at an opportune moment in perfect key. A "God-incidence", as Kim put it.

By the way, Red Tree Coffee celebrates its first birthday on May 8.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tin Cup Gypsy, Edgehill Studios Cafe, 4/10/09

Last December, I went to a writers night at the Bluebird Cafe and heard a wonderful young group called Tin Cup Gypsy. They made a fan out of me that night musically and personally. I assured them I'd be back at a gig and made good on it. Despite the challenges of weather and having the wrong start time for the show, I ventured out to the intimate setting of the Edgehill Studios Cafe.

The three musicians of Tin Cup Gypsy also have notable gigs on their own. Brothers Jonathan and Jordan Lawson are backing musicians for Sara Evans and Josh Turner respectively and Cassandra, wife of Jonathan, has been seen in the Trisha Yearwood video "This Is Me You're Talking To". They come together (joined by Tyler Oban on percussion) with a style that mixes swing, acoustic, roots and country influences with smooth lead vocals by Jonathan and tight group harmonies. They shine equally on many original compositions ("To The Sea" and the encouraging "Bury Me" were standouts) and covers such as "Roly Poly" and the Fleetwood Mac song "Break The Chain". As last time I saw them, they did a great cover of Fastball's "The Way".

As I also noted previously, Tin Cup Gypsy bonded with its audience, and mentioned what was going on with several people at the show. To go up on stage and share your songs for an audience and do that well is one thing. But to reach out to fans with your heart and allowing them to connect in return is the thing that's going to get you to the next level and keep a loyal following. Sure, there's risk with that in some cases (I wrote a book on fan/audience relationships), but Tin Cup Gypsy obviously knows taking a chance is worth it. Willingness to be genuine has its rewards.

I recommend catching Tin Cup Gypsy for yourself and you'll be a fan, too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tin Pan South late show, Michael McDonald, etc., Mercy Lounge, 4/4/09

The question of the day: would I or would I not be successful in getting in the door of Mercy Lounge to get to see Michael McDonald in a round with artists Meghan Kabir, Luke Laird, Leigh Nash, Emerson Hart, Kyle Cook and Michael's son Dylan McDonald? I didn't have a Tin Pan South pass so I went early, took my place around 6th in the cash line and waited and hoped. At least I had the possibility of my dear songwriter friend Debbie Pascarella saving me a seat inside. But happily, pass holders and cash payers got in. There were no seats but my consolation was a well-positioned spot at the front of the stage along with a swarm of photographers weaving in and out(note: great spot to see the show but not conducive to note-taking, hence lack of some detail here and there). If I hadn't, though, at least I could have said I saw Michael McDonald. In yet another display of the man's unaffected nature and humility he's known for, he and someone carried his keyboard in from the parking lot and made a joke about doing an honest day's work!

Main performers Meghan Kabir (who appeared to be the round organizer), Luke Laird, Leigh Nash and Michael had four songs each. Leigh, known from Sixpence None the Richer and Meghan gave the audience some powerful personal songs (why were we so quiet, Meghan? We were listening!). Luke Laird is co-writer of two Carrie Underwood hits "So Small" and "Last Name" (which as he noted was comical as he performed it as written in the female point of view!). Michael McDonald, of course, is "the man" in my book. He did a song in tribute of Martin Luther King (on a guitar close to the size of a ukelele...still surprising to those of us who associate him primarily with the keyboard), his song written originally for Christmas called "Peace", and Doobie Brothers hits "It Keeps You Running" and "What A Fool Believes". The audience demanded an encore from him and got "I Keep Forgetting", joined on stage by his sister Maureen who had done the backing vocal on the recording.

Guest artists were Emerson Hart from Tonic (who did a Tonic hit and a lullabye for his daughter), Kyle Cook from Matchbox 20 and Dylan McDonald, who had two songs each.

Along with Michael, the two I was most waiting to hear were Kyle and Dylan. Kyle's Matchbox 20 bandmate Rob Thomas always said Kyle had an excellent voice and I agree. He did one of his own songs and an evening highlight for me, a recent Matchbox single "In These Hard Times". He noted it was not a huge hit for the group and that many people may not have heard the song. Well, I did, and it's one of those many tuning fork of the heart songs that Rob, Kyle and the group have been so successful at hitting me with. So, I was a puddle.

I'd really been looking forward to hearing Dylan, since I've been digging his songs on his MySpace page. He is vastly different from his dad musically, but the apple sure doesn't fall far from the tree. He and guitarist Daniel DelMonaco did two quite excellent acoustic songs. I'd sure like to hear more from him. And you can, when he and his band the Avians play at the Basement on April 17. I got to meet Dylan afterward...a nice and gracious fellow.

Another late but awesome evening. Sleep? What's that? Who cares, anyway? I love this town.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hippie Chick Twang, Tin Pan South, Edgehill Studios Cafe, 4/3/09

This past week I've been reflecting on the fact that this weekend marks two years ago that my little car and a Dodge Caravan rolled into town from St. Paul, MN and brought me and what little left I had here to Nashville. I get asked all the time, "how's life in Nashville?" Well, I use words like "awesome" and such, but honestly, I don't think they come close to describing how truly lucky I am to be living here among such incredible musicians and people.

Nothing came close to capturing that feeling for me than to have been part of the Hippie Chick Twang Tin Pan South showcase. It featured my dear friends Kim McLean and Devon O'Day, my "new buddy" Eve Selis, and new (to me) amazing ladies Shana Morrison and Robin English.

Now, I must share that before this I was privileged to be part of a gathering with most of these folks and many others a couple of days before. All of that capped off with a jam which filled my soul over the top. To be sitting sandwiched in between two musicians I admire most in this town and hear them play together for the first time, hearing these amazing women pour out their heart, soul and passion into their music...well, someone was smart to have put a tissue box where I was sitting because there were times when I needed it. Then, imagine having the daughter of Melanie ("Brand New Key", etc.) sing a little of her mom's song "Beautiful People" just for you. Could anything have been as wonderful? As it turns out, there was more to come.

Many of those who were with me that same day also showed up at Edgehill Studios for the showcase, so we were already "like family". So, the spirit in the room pouring forth from these fabulous women throughout the evening bonded us all, and I would say God showed up as well. Many of the songs in the show were co-written by the amazingly prolific Kim McLean. Having gotten to know her and Devon better over these past few months (and taking in quite a bit of their shows and being dubbed the "support angel" by them), a lot of these songs were already close to heart, like "Angels and Eagles" and several songs from Kim's latest release "Rapunzel's Escape".

Even earlier this week, having met her in the Tuesday night prayer group I attend that Kim and Devon coordinate, no one had quite the impact on me like Eve Selis. You know how you just bond instantly? This lady loves, lives and gives from her center, as a singer and as a person. A mom with a teenager and two year old in her 40s, that life experience only served to enhance the power and passion which she expressed from the deep part of her soul. If we could all follow even a fraction of that in our own lives and how we relate to one another, this world would be much the better for it.

As well, we all were impressed and moved by Robin English and Shana Morrison (daughter of Van), by the sheer power of their voices and the words and passion of their songs. All of whom were backed by the mighty Hippie Chick Twang band of the amazing Tom Shinness on multi-string instruments, Chris Herrin on bass, "Will McJ" on drums, Mark Twang on guitar (and I apologize for not having the name of Shana's guitarist--I'll add it later once I find out).

One thing that made me feel good was that two or three of the performers told me they loved my energy and enthusiasm and it helped them feel supported. That's what I do and what I'm here for...and these dear people sure made it easy to be enthusiastic.

Wow. What a blessing. And what two amazing years so far. I love my life here. I love this town.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Debi Champion's Anniversary, Commodore Grill, 3/30/09

Moments, moments, moments.

That pretty much sums up the time I was able to spend at Debi Champion's celebration of the 5th anniversary of the start of her writers nights at the Commodore Grill. Debi, of course, is known for being a solid supporter of writers and giving them places to be heard long before this five year period, notably at spots like the Broken Spoke (which I heard about often back when I was still living in Minnesota). The place was absolutely packed with writers and friends who came out to play and show up in support of Debi and join in the celebration. My stamina gave out so I couldn't spend the entire evening there, but I will share a few highlights of what I heard.

- Dakota Grove. Oh my gosh. I have told you about these folks before (Daisy Dern, Camille Wallin, Scott Sanford and CJ Watson). They just get up there and make magic with their voices, their songs, their playing and their onstage rapport and charisma. Something's gonna happen with this group.
- Boomer Castleman, Pam Belford and Jim Sales in an amazing round: Boomer adding tasty guitar to the haunting rhythm of Jim's first song, his own guitar artistry during his turn, and Pam Belford charming us and making us laugh. My favorite thing was watching Pam during Boomer's and Jim's songs; she looked as if she was in absolute nirvana taking in the music. We were feeling much the same way out here in the audience.
- Lisa Aschmann totally surprised and impressed me with her two acapella songs. I don't think I'd ever heard her sing before, and to draw in the audience like she did without accompaniment was no easy task.
- A great series of rounds featuring many hit writers: Jimmy Payne, Glen Todd, Bill Carlile Jr., Tony Lane, Chris Wallin, David Lee, Stan Webb, Craig Monday and Jerry Foster. From these folks we got to enjoy and sing along with such hits as "Woman Woman", "Skip A Rope", "I'm Tryin'", "Love Me If You Can", "Don't Blink", "Lucky Man", "We're From The Country", "Got A Little Crazy".

...And much, much more, I'm sure I missed.

You can catch Debi's writers nights during the week at the Commodore Tuesday-Thursday nights. Happy anniversary Debi. Love ya. Love this town.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spirit At the 6th: Doak Turner's 3rd Sunday 6th Anniversary 3/15/09

Each month I have a few standing commitments on my wild and crazy schedule. One of those happens on the third Sunday of the month, when I go to Doak Turner's Nashville Muse songwriter potluck. If you haven't read my previous writing on this event, it's a gathering at Doak's house where songwriters, those who love them and other music types gather to eat, meet, network for opportunities and fill a few rooms in the house and the yard as weather permits for spontaneous song sharing rounds. This month marked the 6th anniversary of the 3rd Sunday potluck.

This event has hosted people from all over the country and beyond its borders, from newbies to hit writers. Some who started coming without ever writing a song went on to become co-writers with people they've met at Doak's. For some of us, it was our introduction to the songwriting community in Nashville. I fully credit 3rd Sunday as the most important factor that helped me get to know many of the songwriters in town and enabled me to support them. I went from a new in town fly on the wall to a member of the "family". I am truly blessed to have been accepted so warmly by these dear people despite never having played a note of music in a round.

Every month at Doak's get together is a good time. But on this 6th anniversary day, everyone knew there was a certain spirit present that seemed to make the gathering extra special. "Moments" were breaking out all over the place. We were visited by a group of young singers from the University of Texas at Austin called "Ransom Notes", who wowed us all with their up tempo a cappella arrangements; our favorite funny man, songwriting teacher and ambassador, Marc Alan Barnette, who jumped in with the group and later held court in one of the rooms with his big power voice and engaging songs; Tom Shinness, musician extraordinaire who brought three different instruments and as always, impressed everyone and was in demand to add his musicianship to rounds; jam packed rooms with great new singers and writers and old friends with new material to share.

Musicians note that there is a unique sensation that takes place whenever the right players get together and find the right groove, one which perhaps those who don't play can't experience. I submit that we non-musician listeners have our own equivalent of that experience. It's that "pinch me" sensation you feel when you're in the midst of hearing something like this. Nashville, of course, is full of those moments for me. Lord knows I've written about many of them here. On this afternoon, from time to time, players and non-players alike, we were all fans.

Experience the magic for yourself through this video clip by Doug Farrar.

Happy anniversary, Doak. And many, many more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beth Browne, Fillin' Station, Kingston Springs, TN 3/14/09

As most who know me can tell you, I tend to favor the acoustic singer/songwriter type of event such as writers nights or coffeehouse gatherings when I venture out. I don't always get to hear bands all that much. But on the spur of the moment, sick and tired of enduring dreary weather by staying indoors, I decided to head to another place in Kingston Springs I've also heard good things about musically, The Fillin' Station, to hear and support an artist who impressed me several months ago during a Commodore Grill round, Beth Browne.

Beth is just back from Los Angeles, where she attended the premiere of a new film, Junkyard Dog, which features two of her songs "Paradise" and "Little Boy Blue". Take note that this all came about for Beth when the writer/director of the movie happened to hear her songs at one of her gigs and was impressed enough to choose some for the film. Proof positive that being out there, ready and on your game and in the right place at the right time, things can happen.

Beth played a solid set at the Fillin Station with bassist and husband Terry Browne, guitarist Max McGuire, and drummer Allen Marshall. Whether she was doing covers ("Break Down Here", "Ain't No Sunshine") or material from her fine new country/bluesy CD "In Your Arms", her powerful, emotive voice brought a rousing reception from the crowd. A small bar/lounge which actually once was a gas station, the Fillin' Station was comfortable, appeared to be family friendly as well, and yeah, the patty melt was pretty good. Everyone was having a grand time enjoying the music and thanks to Beth, the whole place said goodnight to me when I had to split. Sweet.

Catch Beth on the 26th of March as part of James Breedwell's writers night at the Nashville Palace from 6-9 p.m.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bluebird Cafe and Commodore Grill, 3/12/09

Earlier this week I was sitting on my deck enjoying 70 degree weather. The next day or so I was looking at ice. The abrupt contrast was much too depressing. Rather than stay at home out of the weather, I knew I had to get out of the house and forge ahead with my plans.

Happily for Louise Mosrie, Greg Foresman, Julie Grower and Bruce-Jon Brigham, a lot of other people felt the same way and gave them a good turnout for their Bluebird Café round. These folks write together often in various configurations (and Julie and Bruce will celebrate their second wedding anniversary in May), so the four were well acquainted with each other's material to add parts as needed.

I was most familiar with Louise, having met and heard her for the first time at Red Tree Coffee last month. Louise writes a lot of songs about the road (and writes while on the road...she noted she starts many of these songs in her car!). Her upcoming CD, Backroads, will feature some of the songs she did and I am really looking forward to it. I'm particularly waiting on my favorite song of hers which she played, "Maybe I'm Your Angel". It will remind you a little of "Trying To Love You", the Beth Nielsen Chapman song done by Trisha Yearwood.

I first met Greg Foresman last September at Radio Free Nashville...he was being interviewed as I was waiting to go on the air for the first time. I learned then that he was Martina McBride's guitarist and had some pretty solid music of his own. Greg played some very fine slide guitar throughout the evening on his own songs (the bluesy" Something I Can Use" was a standout) as well as the others. He also has a new CD due out soon.

I also enjoyed Julie Grower and Bruce-Jon Brigham, both fine singers and songwriters. I particularly liked Bruce's songs "Prayer of a Simple Man" and "Montana", and Julie's humorous "Save the Drama For Your Mama" and "I Found You", which says that the person of your dreams may not be what you pictured, but turned out fulfilling nonetheless.

Afterward it was off to the Commodore Grill to wish a happy birthday to CJ Watson and to hear him with his friends (Camille Wallin and Scott Sanford, later joined by Jeff Gilkinson). I also heard this combination a few nights earlier. If you're looking at the lineups at the Commodore and you see these folks on it, you need to hear them as well. This is how top-flight songwriting, vocals and on-stage chemistry's done.

It was getting late and some of us were fading and really should have been heading home. But we couldn't because next up was Chris Wallin (writer of "Don't Blink", "Something To Be Proud Of", "Love Me If You Can" and "I'm Tryin", just to name a few...all of which he did). He wasn't sure how much stage time he had, but it seemed nobody wanted to let him go.

That is the magic of these nights. I love this town.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nashville Music Group Writers Nights - Nashville Palace

I thought I've been pretty busy these days, what with a number of writing projects going on and going out almost every night in the week checking out writers nights and other shows in support of many of my singer/songwriter friends. But I got to thinking, maybe I'm not half as busy as James Breedwell.

James hosts Nashville Music Group Writers Nights six nights a week: Mondays and Thursdays at the Nashville Palace from 6-9 p.m., Sunday at Pizza Pelon from 6-9 p.m., Tuesdays at Hooters in Hermitage from 7-10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at Chic-Fil-A in Hermitage from 6-9 p.m.

I went to two recent Nashville Palace writers nights and heard many friends and familiar names on these evenings. And of course, I also met and heard many new artists. Writers play about three or four songs each, with James opening the evening with a short set. When you walk in the door, you're not a stranger...James takes the time to warmly greet everyone who comes in. That's a nice touch. He also puts a lot of time and attention to the details of the evening and makes sure everything runs smoothly. James's focus is on giving writers and musicians networking opportunities and helping to perhaps make some dreams come true.

Some thought this was a joke, but it's absolutely true. Even though I would have liked to have gone to the Legends and Lyrics taping last Monday evening which featured Dwight Yoakam, I chose to come out and support my friends Brandon Maddox, Brian James and Sam Cooper. Hey, I have my priorities.

For more info on these writers nights, contact Pat at .

Monday, February 23, 2009

Legends and Lyrics TV taping, 2/20-22/2009

A few people around here sure have me pegged. I received at least two e-mails from people letting me know about the tapings for the Songwriters In the Round public television series "Legends and Lyrics", happening for the past few days in downtown Nashville and open for the public to be part of the audience. "This is so would enjoy this," my e-mailers said. Absolutely. I promptly signed up for three weekend afternoon tapings.

This series brings together three renowned and established writers and one "rising star" act to play some songs they wrote and tell stories on how they were written. The "rising star" act did three songs to open the show, then the other artists came out and performed "in the round", with four or five rounds. It's taped at the Grand Masonic Lodge in downtown Nashville. The auditorium didn't have a bad seat in the house.

The first show I went to was Friday afternoon, which featured Felix Cavaliere (Rascals), Melissa Manchester, Josh Kelley and Damien Horne. I was most pumped to hear Felix, and I tell you, the guy still has his voice. He did "Groovin' ", "Lonely Too Long", "How Can I Be Sure", and "People Got To Be Free". Melissa Manchester wowed the audience with her singing and her powerful piano playing. She did "Midnight Blue" (originally intended for Dionne Warwick, but producers dug Melissa's voice on the demo and the rest was history), "Come In From The Rain" and two newer songs (didn't have my usually present pen and paper out—didn't want to get caught taking notes on camera!). Quite honestly, I wasn't all that familiar with Josh Kelley, but he was very impressive and engaging with the audience. I knew that "rising star" Damien Horne was part of the present "Musik Mafia" but hadn't heard much of his music. Once again, I was impressed and in particular my friend who was sitting next to me was quite blown away. I think we'll both be looking up more of his music.

On to Saturday afternoon...the lineup was newcomer Jessica Rae, who was excellent; in the round were Glen Phillips (known from Toad the Wet Sprocket), Guy Clark and Roger McGuinn. Glen Phillips was accompanied on guitar and vocals by Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) and among other songs he did was the one I was hoping for, "All I Want". Storytelling songwriter Guy Clark engaged the audience and got some of the largest applause I've heard the artists receive. Roger McGuinn did an awesome version of "Eight Miles High" on acoustic guitar.

The last taping I went to was Sunday afternoon's, which had the largest crowd of the three afternoon tapings I attended. Opening as "rising stars" was a very strong duo, Sam and Ruby. In the round were Mac Davis, Peter Yarrow and David Pack (Ambrosia). In my opinion, the absolute best voice of all the artists I heard in the three days belonged hands down to David Pack. He got all of his Ambrosia hits in: "Biggest Part of Me", "You're The Only Woman", "Holding On to Yesterday" and "How Much I Feel". The beauty and range of his voice was stunning. Peter Yarrow, I think, wanted to talk as much as he did sing, but he did (accompanied by his daughter Brittany) get the audience singing with him to "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Day Is Done". I would like to know Mac Davis' secret for hardly having aged since his TV days. The audience wanted to hear his own personal songs like "Watching Scotty Grow" and "I Believe In Music".

I figured I was going to see at least a few people I knew in the audience at these tapings and indeed I did. It was a great experience for all of us. If you missed out on this group of tapings, there will be more scheduled for spring and the "Legends and Lyrics" series should start airing on PBS in April.

Need I say it? I love this town!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wanda Jackson, Steve Haggard, Those Darlins, 5 Spot, East Nashville, 2/17/09

To be honest, I've never been the most comfortable in bars. I don't drink or smoke and the stereotype situations a gal on her own in one might find don't appeal to me. But my musical friends were successfully persuasive in getting me down to the 5 Spot in East Nashville to check out the queen of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. It turned out to be one of the most fun evenings I've ever had.

As bars go, I found the 5 Spot to have a pleasant atmosphere. The music they play in between sets sounds a lot like my radio show, so I was digging that. A wide age range of people were well-behaved and just having a fun time loving the music and dancing. I also enjoyed seeing some of the retro fashions that folks were coming in with to get in the spirit of the evening.

Wanda Jackson, as you may have heard, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. She looked terrific and her vocals still packed a punch. Elvis Presley was a great encouragement to her as she was beginning her career in the 1950's, so she paid tribute to him with a medley of a few of his songs. Some of the biggest crowd favorites were her own hits such as "Riot In Cell Block #9", the country "Right Or Wrong", and the one I know a lot of us were waiting to hear, "Let's Have A Party".

There were two opening acts for Wanda. A young female group, Those Darlins, combined the power pop high-energy and spirit of the Go-Gos with a country twang. My Radio Free Nashville colleagues, Steve Haggard, Kimberly King and their band (which included Walter Egan) played a short but excellent set. Most of the group also served double duty as Wanda's backup band and did a great job.

I'm glad I decided to come after all when my schedule opened up. I had a nice time with some nice people. I love this town.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Red Tree Coffee, Kingston Springs, TN 2/13/09

I walked into Red Tree Coffee this evening and immediately felt nostalgic.

You see, I spent about 15 years supporting local singer/songwriters on the coffeehouse circuit in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. I credit that time in my life for opening the door for the support I'm blessed with doing here today for the Nashville singer/songwriter community. In the Twin Cities I bonded with many artists and coffeehouses and saw them come and go and change with the times. We rejoiced when we watched singers and writers progress from debuting their first CDs in such coffeehouses to making a living with their music and becoming touring artists.

Red Tree is one such sweet coffeehouse in Kingston Springs that holds that intimate, friendly atmosphere I've loved so much. Two sisters from Arkansas, Amy and Katie, serve up tasty coffee and other goodies and are two "cheerleaders" with great enthusiasm for the music they present every Friday night. This evening, the musical feature was one favorite singer of mine and one new to me.

Now, if you are a true fan of someone and you go to their show, the one thing you want to have happen most is to see that artist or group succeed with a great crowd that is totally attentive and enthusiastic. Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time know I've been on record about George Adams and how I think he's one of this town's greatest talents with a heartbreakingly beautiful, hit the tuning fork of the heart, flip your soul upside down and backwards voice. This night pulled together the best elements of the last couple of times I've seen him. His 45 minute set combined his own strong material with some covers. As I told you last October, George adds first class artistry to well-known songs, and in particular he brought it with "What's Going On", showing off that awesome vocal range of his, and Larry Gatlin's "I've Done Enough Dying Today." He had a good sized, mega-receptive crowd. I couldn't have been more thrilled for him.

It was also a pleasure to hear Louise Mosrie, a fine singer/songwriter with a lovely voice, solid material and engaging presence. One favorite of mine was "Don't Come Looking For Me" and the aforementioned Amy and Katie obviously loved "God Lives In Arkansas". Louise will be playing a few shows around town and is working on a new CD, so I'll be keeping an ear out for her, I'm sure.

As for Red Tree, I'll be back...they've got a couple of good friends of mine playing there in the coming weeks.

I'm very thankful for the presence of some friends who I invited to come down to join me for the show and help show support. I also thought about the friends I've been bumping into at all these events on this jam-packed schedule of mine (see the previous blog entry). How fitting it was that, as I was heading home, I turned on the radio and heard Michael W. Smith singing "Friends" on the Grand Ole Opry. I know it had to be God winking. I felt very lucky on this Friday the 13th.

I love my friends in this town and I love this town.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plugged In Entertainment Writers Night, Blue Bar, 2/11/09

My bemoaning saga of too many great things going on in one night in this town continues...

As I promised readers I would do, I checked out a writer's night that I hadn't yet been to. But first, I stopped in on the Wild Oats Records showcase at the Commodore to hear Steve Haggard and Kimberly King and Joel Alan Lehman. Then conveniently, it was on to the nearby Blue Bar to catch the Wednesday evening Plugged In Entertainment writer's night run by Joy Collins and my friend (and everybody's) Joe Hrasna, hosted this evening by Lacie Madison. I got there a little early so I got to hear the last of a set by a duo whose regular Blue Bar gig ads I'd seen on TV, O'Shea. They have a strong following and are powerful performers.

I picked this evening to come in support of Kim McLean and Devon O'Day. Kim has a fabulous new release called "Rapunzel's Escape" and she, Devin and bass player Chris (assisted by Matthew Burgess, who was awesome in backing everyone on percussion) did five songs from the CD. (Kim and Devon, by the way, will be guests on my radio show Never Too Old on the 22nd.)

There were many other great writers that evening...those I did get to hear were some favorites of mine, Scott Southworth and Stephanie Layne, Rachel Williams (whose autographed picture I got from her at the 2007 CMA Fest hangs on my office wall), and some new to me writers: Terrie Long and Sarah Gayle Taylor (sorry to be ignorant of names, but Sarah had an excellent fellow with her who did one song..I think his name was Mick. If I find out more, I'll edit the info). I could only stay a short time and couldn't make the rest of the evening, so my apologies to all the other writers I missed and hope to catch you elsewhere soon!

What is always so amusing and so wonderful is running into a lot of the same people at these events, even if I've seen them only a night or two before. That was the case at the Blue Bar, too. We laugh about it and we hug, and we enjoy that we're all there for the same reason: supporting these artists.

Next stop: a place I have heard a lot of buzz about, Red Tree Coffeehouse in Kingston Springs. Stay tuned.